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Yoel Aloni vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Tel Aviv Olympiad Final-A (1964), Tel Aviv ISR, rd 1, Nov-10
Benoni Defense: Modern Variation (A56)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-29-09  goodevans: <tonyboy:
why not 37...Rb1 ?>

I don't see an instant win (does anyone else?), merely that once the Qs come off then black's extra pawns are worth far more than the exchange. I'm no endgame expert but I think if black starts pushing the the a-pawns then white will eventually be overwhelmed.

Nov-29-09  donehung: Does anyone out there have an opinion on whether Botvinnik saw the finnish from 29 ..Rxg3 or if it was intuitive? If the former is true my hopes of future greatness have been dashed once again.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <tonyboy>

Fritz finds this:

37. Rb1 Qd3

click for larger view

Threatens d1=Q. 38. Rd1 Bd4+

click for larger view

Now, 39. Kh2 Rf2+ or 39. Kg2 Qf3+ followed by Qxd1 or 39. Kh1 Rf1+.

Or on 39. Rxd4 (probably white's best), we have this piece of typical Fritz butchery.

39. Rxd4 Qe3+ 40. Kh1 Qf3+ 41. Kh2 Qe2+ 42. Kh3 Rf3+ 43. Qg3 Qxd1 44. Rd8+ Kf7 45. Rd7+ Ke6 46. Rxd2 Rxg3+ 47. Kxg3 Qxd2

On balance, I think resignation was about right, especially against Botvinnik. In my local club I might have played on though...

Nov-29-09  tonyboy: thanks ONCE...thats the light at the tunnel's end...
Nov-29-09  goodevans: I really like the line <Once> has come up with, although I doubt it was the reason for Aloni's resignation. Even if he'd seen all this himself then surely he'd have played on if he'd thought black's win would have required such complexity.

As per my previous posting, I think he'd seen that after 37 Rb1 black had a relatively straightforward win by exchanging Qs (albeit not as quick as the line posted by <Once>).

Nov-29-09  goodevans: P.S. I think what Aloni probably saw was

37 Rb1 Qxh4
38 Rxh4 Bc3

and now black threatens ... Re8/Re1 as well as ... a4/a3/etc. e.g.

39 Re4 a4
40 c5 a3

and the R cannot guard both the a- and e-files.

Nov-29-09  randomsac: I actually saw the theme that went down. I figured the pawn could distract the white queen while Qh3+ set up Rf1# threat.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <goodevans> Yes, I think your line wins handily for black. Here's one amusing line (found by Herr Fritz):

37... Qxh4 38.Rxh4 Bc3 39. Kg2 Re8 40. c5 Re1 41. Rh1 Kf7 42. c6 Rxb1 43. Rxb1

click for larger view

Sadistic stuff - all white can do is wait for one of the black pawns to be crowned.

Nov-29-09  karnak64: I imagined that ... d3 was the move because of all of its possibilities, but I went blank on the continuation -- there were so many potential lines.

Botvinnik must have had amazing computational skill. I wonder what he saw at 29 ... Rg3+

Nov-29-09  David2009: Sunday's Insane puzzle I Aloni vs Botvinnik, 1964 Black 31...?

Black is a Rook for four pawns down and has an immediate draw by perpetual check: can he risk the half point by playing for more? Let's look at some tries (A) 31...d3!? (threatening to win the Re4) 32 Re3 Qh4+ and White is suddenly in trouble: 33 Kg1 (not Kg2 Rf2+) Bd4 34 Qxd3 Qe1+ 35 Kg2 (or h2) Rf2+ 36 Kh3 Qh1+ and now (A1) 37 Kg3 Qg8+ 38 Kh4 Rh2+ 39 Bf2+ 0-1 ; (A2) 37 Kg4! Qh5+ 38 Kg3 Qh2+ 39 Kg4 h5+ 40 Kg5 Rg2+ 41 Rg3 forced Rxg3+ 0-1 So d3 may be the right move. Are there alternative defences that protect the Re4? 32 Rf4 Rxf4 33 Nxf4 Qxf4 34 Qxd3 Be5 and anything can happen. Has Black a better first move?

31...Rf2 32 Rb8+ Bf8 33 Rxf8+ Kxf8 34 Rf4+ Rxf4 35 Qb8+ and 36 Nxf4 saves the day. (White uses Q and N to at least draw by perpetual check - I think Black's Pawns are too dangerous for White to play for a win but, hey, that far ahead I may be wrong. Any rate I'm looking for a win for Black here).

So we'll go for d3 and reject the tempting 31...Rf2.

A final pre-check comment - the first move I looked at was d3 expecting to reject it because of 32 Re3, only to find it looked good. Similarly I thougt Rf2 was a killer at first. Time to check:
Well I got the first move but not the game defence. Two brief comments on my analysis: my line A2 is inaccurate - playing it out over the board I see that White has 41 Kh6 instead of 41 Rg3. Perhaps Black has better earlier. Also in the 39...Rf2 line the ending is very difficult for White even when a N up. Exchanging Queens loses to a4 etc, and Black queens first with check. Time to read and diget the other comments.

Nov-29-09  agb2002: Although I saw this game about three decades ago, I recalled 31... d3 (and the subsequent moves) immediately, threatening ... Qf3+ and ... d2, and extending the range of the bishop, but didn't remember why Botvinnik preferred this move to 31... Rf2, so the real puzzle was to work out the consequences of this move. Obviously, White's sole resource is to check the black king:

A) 32.Ne7+ (or 32.Nf6+) Kh8 and White is lost.

B) 32.Re8+ Bf8 (32... Kf7 33.Rb7+ Kxe8 34.Qb5+ Kf8 35.Rb8+ Qxb8 –35... Kf7 36.Qe8#- 36.Qxb8+ + -) 33.Rxf8+ Kxf8 34.Rb8+ Kg7 35.Qc1+ (35.Qb7+ Kh6) g5 winning.

C) 32.Rb8+ Bf8 (32... Kf7 33.Re7#) 33.Rxf8+

C.1) 33... Rxf8 34.Re2 defending the second rank, unclear.

C.2) 33... Kxf8 34.Rf4+

C.2.a) 34... Rxf4 35.Qb8+ Kg7 36.Nxf4 (36.Qxf4 Qxf4 37.Nxf4 a4 38.Nd3 –38.c5 a3 39.c6 a2 40.c7 a1=Q+ wins- a3 39.Nc1 d3 - +) Qf3+ (36... d3 37.Nh5+) 37.Kh2 d3 38.Qd6 wins the d-pawn.

C.2.b) 34... Kg7 35.Rxf2 Qxf2 36.Qe4 and Black doesn't seem to win.

Nov-29-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: Black is down a rook for 4 pawns, but is positioned for the kill with the white king trapped in the corner. Botvinnik has a draw for the taking, but can black play for mate with 31... Rf2 without fearing a counterattack from white's greater force? A little calculation shows that black has nothing to fear; white is not properly organized for counterattack and the black king has plenty of mobility and other defensive resources:

31... Rf2!

The dual threats of Qg2# and Qh2# can't be met by passive defense.

A) 32.Qg1 Qh3+ wins.

Therefore, white is restricted to checks:

B) 32.Ne7+ Kf7 and white is already out of useful checks.

C) 33.Nf6+ Bxf6 34.Rb8+ Kg7 35.Qb7+ Kh6 and the king has safe harbor.

C.1) 34.Re8+ Kg7 35.Rb7+ Kh6 36.Qc1+ Bg5 wins.

C.2) 35.Rb7+ Kh6 36.Qc1+ Bg5 wins

D) 32.Rb8+ Bf8 33.Nf6+ Rxf6 (Kg7?? 34.Qb7+ wins for white) 34.Re2 d3! 35.Rd2 (Rg2 Qh3+ 36.Kg1 Rb6!) Qh3+ 36.Kg1 Rg6! 37.Rxf8+ (Rxg6? Bf5+ forces mate) Kxf8 and white has no chance.

D.1) 33.Ne7+ Kf7 and white runs out of checks.

D.2) 33.Rxf8+ Kxf8 wins similarly.

D.3) 34.Rxd4 Qh3+ followed by Qe3+ wins.

D.4) 34.Re8 Rf2 35.Rxf8+ Rxf8 36.Rxf8+ Kxf8 36.Qf1+ (c5 Qh4+ 37.Kg1 Qg5+) Kg7 is an ending easily won.

E) 32.Re8+ Bf8 33.Rxf8+ Kxf8 (33.Nf6+ Rxf6 is similar to D) 34.Rb8+ Kg7 35.Rb7+ Kh6 36.Qc1+ g5 and white runs out of useful checks.

A likely winning alternative to 31... Rf2 is 31...d3 threatening Qf3+, where 32.Re7 is met by 32... Qh3+ followed by Bd4+ winning.

Let's see...

Nov-29-09  johnlspouge: Sunday (Insane):

I Aloni vs Botvinnik, 1964 (31...?)

Black to play and win.

Material: 4P for R. The White Kh8 is stalemated. The Black Rf8 has an open f-file and the threat …Rf1#, so the White Qb1 bears an absolute burden of staying on the 1-st rank. The Black passed Pd4 can advance to interfere with Qb1 and its (presently illusory) protection of Re4. The Black Bg7 requires activation. The Black Kg8 is vulnerable to checks from Nd5 and requires Rf8 to protect from back-rank checks. (Note, however: the Black Qg3 covers the invasion point b8; and Pa5, b4 (preventing Qb4-f8).)

Candidates (31...): Rf2

31…Rf2 (threatening 32…Qg2# or 32…Qh2#)

<[Analysis deleted.]>

I am glad I quit when I did :)

Between yesterday and today, I have lots to learn.

Nov-29-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: I see that a few other folks who were unfamiliar with the game were torn between d3 and Rf2. The C.2 line (34.Rf4+) from <agb2002> seems to cook my D.2, so 31...d3 is clearly best.
Nov-29-09  muralman: Got the first move, missed the next two, got the last ones. I couldn't decide which way to move the king. And the queen moving to the H file didn't follow my plan. Looking at that choice, I recognized the plan.
Nov-29-09  Samagonka: <muralman>: Got the first move, missed the next two, got the last ones.

How possible is that? If you missed the second move, then that meant that your whole sequence was different from the actual one played. How then do you arrive at the same end-position?

Nov-29-09  patzer2: For today's Sunday puzzle solution, Botvinnik's 31...d3!! brings the right force to bear (a lonely isolated pawn) to exploit the exposed and helpless White King position.

Bringing the passed pawn into play is better than the tempting 31...Rf2!? when White escapes Black's mating web and equalizes after 32. Rb8+ Bf8 33. Rxf8+! Kxf8 34. Rf4+ Rxf4 35. Qb8+ Kg7 36. Nxf4 Qf3+ 37. Kg1 Qd1+ 38. Kg2 Qc2+ 39. Kf3 Qxc4 40. Qxa7+ Qf7 41. Qxd4+ =.

Here's some move by move anlaysis with Fritz 10:

<31...d3!! 32. Ne7+>

32. Re3 Qh4+! 33. Kg1 Qg4+ 34. Kh1 d2

<32... Kh8 33. Qe1 Qh3+! 34. Kg1 d2 35. Nxg6+>

35. Qd1 Bd4+ 36. Rxd4 Qe3+ 37. Kh1 Qe1+ 38. Kh2 Rf2+ 39. Kg3 Qe3+ 40. Kh4 Rh2+ 41. Kg4 Rg2+ 42. Kh4 Qg3#

<35... hxg6 36. Qh4+ Kg8> 0-1

White resigns in lieu of 37. Qxh3 d1=Q+ when play might continue 38. Kh2 Qc2+ 39. Qg2 Rf2 40. Rb8+ Kh7 41. Rh4+ Bh6 42. Rb7+ Kg8 43. Rb8+ Kg7 44. Rb7+ Kf6 45. Rg4 Rxg2+ 46. Rxg2 Qxc4 .

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: <Bringing the passed pawn into play is better than the tempting 31...Rf2!?> That's what makes this a Sunday puzzle: it's not so much the variations after ...d3!! but the variations after the red-herring of ...Rf2?.

Not being able to get my head around the ocean of variations, I would just play ...Rf2? and hope for the best.

Nov-29-09  patzer2: Black's winning combination, an attack on the weak castled White King, begins prior to today's puzzle solution (31...d3!) with 27...Rf3!! after 27. Re1?! (better is 27. Kg2 with drawing chances).
Nov-29-09  WhiteRook48: just had 31...Rf2 instead
Nov-29-09  patzer2: <RV> indicates 26. c5! offers White's last best chance for equality. Best play appears to go 26. c5!! Rac8 27. Qc4 Kh8 28. c6 Rf5 29. c7 Rh5 30. f4 Qh2+ 31. Kf2 Rxd5 32. Rxd5 =.
Nov-29-09  Coigach: donehung:
and karnak64: "Botvinnik must have had amazing computational skill. I wonder what he saw at 29 ... Rg3+"

I'm sure he saw he had excellent winning chances with 31...d3 after which W lacks a good continuation. Perhaps he didn't need to calculate everything to a finish at that point because the draw is always at hand. Pleasanter to amble around the hall and look at a few other games while W sweats over his move 32.

I got drawn into spending a lot of time on 32.Re3 trying to find mates in the king hunts that can follow, when the further advance of the d pawn is more quickly conclusive. It's a weakness in my calculation to get lost analysing a particular line that interests me rather than take time to appreciate the possibilities in the position and find the candidate moves first.

Nov-29-09  VincentL: In this "insane" position, the move I see immediately is .....Rf2

This threatens mate by Rh2, Qg2 or Qh2, so is a powerful move.

But black must be careful. White has back rank threats. Let us examine the possiblities.

32. Rb8+ Bf8 33. Ne7+ Kf7 and black will checkmate.

If 33. Rxf8+ Kxf8 and black will checkmate unless white plays 34. Rxf4+ Then 34... Rxf4 35. Nf4 Qxf4 and black, with Q+5P x Q+P will win the ending.

If 32. Ne7+ Kf7 Here the only way to stop immediate mate is with 33. Rxf4+ Then 33.... Rxf4 and the mate cannot be stopped.

This must be it. Seems a bit easy for a Sunday. Am I missing something?

Nov-29-09  VincentL: <gofer>has the line I am missing, which refutes 31... Rf2

After 32. Rb8+ Bf8 33. Rxf8+ Kxf8 34. Rf4+ ! Now if 34.... Rxf4 35. Qb8+ ! and black loses

I didn't even examine 31... d3, but I see from others' analysis that it wins.

A good Sunday puzzle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In "Half a Century of Chess", Botvinnik stated that in this, his last Olympiad, he played a number of interesting games, and he rated his game with Aloni as, <"undoubtedly the most fascinating and dynamic".>

Botvinnik's 31...d3!! is a brilliant example of the power of a passed pawn. This move is clearly winning, and is far superior to 31...Rf2. However, it is interesting to review the move 31...Rf2.

Botvinnik did comment on the move 31...Rf2. On this move, Botvinnik indicated White could then play 32.Rb8+ Bf8 33.Nf6+ Rxf6 34.Rb3. However, his variation is incorrect, as Black has a large advantage after 34...Rf3.

Others on this page have given the line 31...Rf2 32.Rb8+ Bf8 33.Rxf8.

At this point Black's best move is 33...Rxf8!, with an interesting ending, with advantage for Black after: 34.Re2 (Fritz indicates 34.Nf4 g5! is winning for Black) Qf3+ 35.Rg2 Qf1+ 36.Qxf1 Rxf1+ 37.Kh2 Rc1.

Additional analysis is needed to determine if White can draw after 33...Rxf8!.

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