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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Svetozar Gligoric
Moscow Olympiad Final-A (1956), Moscow URS, rd 10, Sep-22
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Two Knights Line (A37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-31-06  offramp: Also unusual in that all white's attacking moves are made on the kingside, whereas the black king is on the queenside.
Sep-21-06  Haeron: Can somebody please explain why exactly the king wanders over to b2? It just seems... senseless to me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Haeron> It does resemble "walking the plank" at the end.

Not forced, but the alternative 25...Rc8 26 Qg5 Rc7 27 Rh8 revives the threat of 28 Re8 winning the queen.

Oct-12-07  DanielBryant: According to Soltis, 11.Qc1 prompted such a reaction from the spectators that play on the other boards had to be stopped for several minutes. This is puzzling; I don't find it to be a particularly difficult move.
Oct-13-07  Calli: <DanielBryant> Sounds like a apocryphal "chess story". In the book, "Twelfth Chess Tournament of Nations" by Salo Flohr, he annotates this game and makes no mention of such an incident. Neither is it mentioned in the general narrative of the tournament.
Jun-25-08  Jesspatrick: The most bizarre king walk I've ever seen. I think they had a summit and peace talks scheduled to take place on c3.

Or maybe it was just unconditional surrender.

Dec-24-08  WhiteRook48: who is forcing the black king to run so far!?
Dec-24-08  Knight to f6: Why Gligoric would ever do that with his king is mystifying, removing the a-pawn left him open to mate threats. White's own pawn was shielding him, and he takes it!
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I don't get Ke7 to begin with.
Jan-05-09  WhiteRook48: a highly entertaining game. Why Gligoric would march his king down to b2 is weird...
Jan-15-09  WhiteRook48: maybe Gligoric was frustrated and plonked his king down into white's territory and then resign.
Jan-19-09  WhiteRook48: I think White's King refused the peace talk.
Jan-27-09  WhiteRook48: this is the greatest Botvinnik game ever
Jan-28-09  WhiteRook48: maybe Gligoric threw the game on purpose
Jan-31-09  WhiteRook48: didn't Botvinnik hunt another king down like this? It was game of the day
Oct-22-11  wordfunph: Botvinnik - Gligoric

after 11.Qc1

click for larger view

"As an eyewitness, I can tell you that there was such loud applause after this move that play on all boards was stopped for about five minutes."

- Nikolay Minev (from the book Mastering Tactical Ideas)

May-13-13  offramp: But after 11.Qc1 the game continues as normal. It is not a knockout queen sacrifice.
Dec-19-13 11.Qc1! kicks off the king hunt. That the move is playable (and was played) must have caused a sensation; the shock and awe of such a move can be overwhelming to the second player. Kudos to Gligoric for carrying on.

While not forcing immediate mate, the move forces Black to exchange off his king-side pieces; the naked Black king is on the run for the rest of the game.

Dec-20-13  offramp: Botvinnik plays 11.Qc1

click for larger view

This was the first time Botvinnik had played Gligoric. This was the disastrous year of 1956 and this was being played in Russia - so the move impressed the locals. They applauded this non-queen sacrifice for a while. If they had kept quiet the perhaps Gligo would have played 11...Bxc1 allowing 12.Rxh8# 11...Bg7 12. Rxh8+ Bxh8 13. Qh6

click for larger view

13...Bxc3+ (is 13...Bf6 better? The dsb would help keep an eye on the k-side) 14. bxc3 e6 15. Ng5 Ke7
The Ng5 is heading for f6 via h7 or e4.
(...Qe7 looks less good after 16.Qh8+ Qf8 17.Qh4 Qg7 18.Ne4) 16. Kd2 (Black's counterplay would be based on ...Qb6-b2) 16...Be8
(He should have tried 16...Qb6. If white made the mistake of keeping the queen out with the natural 17.Kc2, then he would have lost to 17...Nd4+:

click for larger view

18.cxd4 Ba4+ 19.Kc1 Qb4 20.Qg7 Qc3+ 21.Kb1 Qc2#)
17. Qg7 Kd7
(...Qb6 still looked better)
18. f4 Qe7 19. Rh1
(Aiming for h7).

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Benzol...<rover> Gligoric might have just been trying to maintain material equality with 27...Kxa4>

Botvinnik's note to 26....Ka5 was something to the effect that 'Black plays to win back his pawn, but this only succeeds in speeding up the end.'

Forgive any lapse of memory, for mine is not what it once was.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: This game is in my old opening book on the English it is a good example of what not to do as Black in this system.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: 11. Qc1! is a nice move!
Dec-21-13  morfishine: You never know what a GM is thinking, unless he tells you afterwards...


Nov-11-18  Saniyat24: The King's hand-shake...!
Mar-07-22  sholom90: Soltis, in "100 Chess Master Trade Secrets" says that the key move in this game was 6 h4, because black's knight prevents black from responding ...h5. Certainly an h-pawn push is a fundamental idea after ...g6, but black's knight makes it particularly attractive.

He writes: "When a master sees ...g6 and ...Nh6 he at least looks at h2-h4. It's simple pattern recognition"

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