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John Eric Littlewood vs Mikhail Botvinnik
"The Dragondorf" (game of the day Nov-24-2021)
Hastings (1961/62), Hastings ENG, rd 2, Dec-28
Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation. Yugoslav Attack Early deviations (B75)  ·  0-1



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Given 48 times; par: 31 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-30-09  jerseybob: This system played by Botvinnik, a combo Dragon-Najdorf, is fascinating. I have a dim recollection of a game Browne played against Stewart Reuben in some late 60s British tourney, and he at some point moved a minor piece to d5. I think. And there's the game Fischer-Reuben in this database in which Fischer dispenses with all the Yugoslav niceties like f3 and Qd2 and just kills black down the h-file.
Nov-22-11  King Death: < erimiro1: Ah - missed 20.-c2+ 21.K:c2 Qc8+ and the poor horse is lost>

This was the point White overlooked when he went into this, as Botvinnik mentioned in his annotations. It's very easy for even an outstanding attacker like Littlewood was to miss this kind of resource at the start of one's analysis.

Jul-13-14  samsloan: I cannot understand why Littlewood played 13. cb3 instead of the standard ab3.
Jul-13-14  parisattack: The Dragondorf seems to be regaining popularity. I believe Carlsen essayed it a few times three or four years ago?
Jul-14-14  zanzibar: <samsloan> Boy, I must be out of the loop - how is 13.axb3 more standard than 13.cxb3?

I played out the Tree Window (using SCID) from the Dragondorf 7...a6, where 305 games had it (3.9%). (I'm using <MillBase> with 1.6M games.)

By the time I got to move 13, there were only 2 games in the database which matched, and both played 13.cxb3.

Looking with Stockfish 4 DD 64, out to 22-ply, gives a slight preference to playing 13.Nxb3 (+0.16/22), vs 13.cxb3 (+0.00/22) or 13.axb3 (-0.24/22).

My naive impression is that the open a-file isn't going anywhere, and you'd need a tempo, or even two, to get the king out of the way safely.

Why not fight it out of the c-file? (And not play 17.h4?)

Jul-14-14  zanzibar: Botvinnik had nerves of steel playing this, and the c2+ fork setting up the fork is quite beautiful.

Ironically, Black would have been better off allowing it versus what was played.

Best would have been 20.Nc2, which shows Botvinnik's steel nerves, since he had to calculate the king safe after, let's say:

click for larger view

20.Nc2 Qc7 21.gxh7+ Kh8 22.Ne3 c2+ 23.Nxc2 Rad8 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Ne3 Rc8 26.a3 Bd5 27.Ka1 Be6

click for larger view

Aug-30-14  RookFile: As others have said, Botvinnik showed nerves of steel in this game. It requires supreme confidence in your defensive abilities to play this way.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Remember when this game appeared in a collection by the US GM Larry Evans. 7...a6 is definitely too slow (7...0-0 with the usual mayhem is standard), and Littlewood could have pulled off a major upset. 13.cxb3 is a thematic move in the Dragon, but here it allows 20.Nf5?,c2+!; 21.Kxc2,Qc8+ winning the Nf4. With 13.axb3, Black probably would have tried a different defense, perhaps 13...h5!? or ...b4!? In any case, rather decent defensive brilliancy by Botvinnik.
Nov-24-21  newzild: <samsloan> and <zanzibar> The main idea behind 13. cxb3 is to prevent Black's pawn roller from crashing through on the K-side. This can be achieved by moving the Nc3 and playing a3. Then if Black ever plays a4, White simply plays b4. And if Black ever plays b4, White plays a4. However, Littlewood abandoned this strategic idea when he went for 14. Bh6, giving Black time to play b4 before he was ready to respond with a4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: I think K-side and Q-side are leftover terms from descriptive notation, and we should replace them with a-side and h-side or similar.

It's too easy to slip the pen with "K-side" just cos that's the side the king is currently on.

Nov-24-21  Atking: Facing the dragon sure of his power, little wood e5 is shaking... Why do I have to go to this square when the simple 16.Nce2 was possible...?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <I think K-side and Q-side are leftover terms from descriptive notation, and we should replace them with a-side and h-side or similar. >

I hear that on the chess24 broadcasts with Howell and Houska, they only refer to right and left sides, lest the King and Queen sides confuse the casual viewer.

Nov-24-21  Brenin: <MissScarlett>: White's right is Black's left, and vice versa, so I don't see how this is less confusing. Call them east side and west side?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: White's east is Black's west, and vice versa, so I don't see how this is less confusing. Call them King and Queen side.
Nov-24-21  Immortal Gambit: Is this where the state of GOTD titles has come to? I get it's a pun, but it's simply the accepted name of an opening. Unless perhaps some analysis of this particular game was the provenance of "Dragondorf".
Nov-24-21  Shrinarayanan: at move 24, white is 2 pieces down, what did he expect to do? Should have resigned there
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: If you leave it as it is, don't be surprised if people refer to the K-side as the side where the King is castled, even if it's Q-side. Oh whatever, it's weathered these 75-ish winters. Maybe just leave it alone.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <IG>, well, most the recent puns have been among the highest rated in the voting booth.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Is this where the state of GOTD titles has come to?>

If you think this is bad, in the words of the late, great Al Jolson, <You ain't seen nothing yet!>

<St. George vs. the Dragondorf> would have been better, if historically inaccurate.

Nov-24-21  Brenin: <MissScarlett>: "East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet." If a chessboard is shown in the usual way, with Black and White starting at the top (north) and bottom (south) respectively, then the east side is Black's left and White's right, i.e. what is traditionally called the K-side, while the west side is Black's right and White's left, i.e. the Q-side. If one wants to avoid the potential confusion caused by a K castling into the Q-side (and personally I'm not bothered by it), then east and west are unambiguous: they don't depend on whether a player has the Black or White pieces or where the Ks are.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: If a chessboard is shown in the usual way to a chess24 viewer, then right is right and left is left.
Nov-25-21  Brenin: <MissScarlett>: The subtlety of your logic or humour (I've no idea which it is) baffles me. Bridge players have no problems with east and west (and north and south), so why should it be a problem for chess?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Bridge players would have no problem with left and right either.
Aug-31-22  MaczynskiPratten: This game was anthologised in "Chess with the Masters" in the 1960s in the days when you went to the library and read books to see games rather than being able to look it up on the internet. So near, and yet so far.
Aug-31-22  MaczynskiPratten: Equally entertaining from the same tournament, and with a more successful result, is Bisguier vs J E Littlewood, 1962.
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