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Cyros Lakdawala

Botvinnik move by

move

'Ill INW,tiHlfiJ rymafl( he-ss"co m

EVERYMAN CHESS

First published in

2013 by Gloucester Publishers Limited, Northburgh House, 10 Northburgh Street, London ECIV OAT 2013 Cyrus Lakdawala

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The right of Cyrus Lakdawala to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act

1988.

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About the Author
Cyrus Lakdawala is an International Master, a former National Open and American

Open Champion, and a six-time State Champion. He has been teaching chess for over 30 years, and coaches some of the top junior players in the US.
Also by the Author:

Play the London System A Ferocious Opening Repertoire The Slav: Move by Move 1 d6: Move by Move The Caro-Kann: Move by Move The Four Knights: Move by Move Capablanca: Move by Move The Modern Defence: Move by Move Kramnik: Move by Move The Colle: Move by Move The Scandinavian: Move by Move
. . .

Contents
About the Author Bibliography Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 Botvinnik on the Attack Botvinnik on Defence Riding the Dynamic Element Botvinnik on Exploiting Imbalances Botvinnik on Accumulating Advantages Botvinnik on Endings

Index of Opponents

Bibliography
100 Selected Games, Mikhail Botvinnik, (Dover 1960) Botuinnik-Petrosian: The 1963 World Chess Championship Match, Mikhail Botvinnik (New in Chess 2010) Botuinnik's Best Games 1 947-1970, Mikhail Botvinnik (Batsford 1972) Botuinnik's Secret Games, Jan Timman (Hardinge Simpole Publishing 2006) Chess from Morphy to Botwinnik, Imre Konig (Bonanza Books 1950) My 60 Memorable Games, Bobby Fischer, (Batsford 1969) My Great Predecessors Vol. Il, Carry Kasparov (Everyman Chess 2003) Pachman's Decisive Games, Ludek Pachman (Pitman Publishing 1975) Tal-Botuinnik 1960, Mikhail Tal (Russell Enterprises 1970) Twelve Great Chess Players and their Best Games, Irving Chernev (Oxford University Press 1976)

Introduction
"All told, there is not a single weakness in his armour. - Reuben Fine.
11

On August 17th 1911, in St Petersburg, a titan of the game entered the world. Mikhail Botvinnik was born to a dentist mother, and a father who was a dental technician. He learned chess at the unbelievably late age (for a world champion) of 12. It was love at first sight. Botvinnik displayed staggering natural talent (although he claimed, rather outrageously, that he had little) and, through the help of his coach, Abram Model, won the 1931 USSR Championship at age 20, the youngest to do so. In this period he casually annexed a PhD in Electrical Engineering as well. In fact he continued work as an engineer even as world champion - unthinkable by today's requirements to reach the most exalted level. Botvinnik claimed - a claim I don't believe at all! - that his side job as engineer actually helped him in his chess, since he was always hungry to play. By 1936 he was perhaps the strongest player in the world, demonstrated by his performance at Nottingham, with an undefeated tie for first with Capablanca and ahead of World Champion Alekhine. Due to the interruption of WWII, Botvinnik had to wait twelve long years before he became the official sixth World Champion, after having won the great 1948 World Championship tournament at The Hague/ Moscow. He dominated the event, surging a full three (!) points ahead of his closest rival, Smyslov. There were whispers that the Communist Party authorities forced Botvinnik's Soviet rivals to throw games, but there is no proof of this. A similar charge was made later that Bronstein was forced to throw the next to last game in his World Championship match versus Botvinnik, yet Bronstein's widow vehemently denied the claim and said Botvinnik drew the match (and retained his title) fair and square . Max Euwe noted: "Most players feel uncomfortable in difficult positions, but Botvinnik seems to enjoy them!" The match format, Botvinnik's forte, he considered the ultimate test of one's character. Botvinnik held on to the title, which he subconsciously considered his private property, for a full 15 years, with two intermissions - when Smyslov and Tal briefly "borrowed" his title. Botvinnik's lengthy reign quite possibly surpassed Lasker's, since Lasker tended to dodge his great contenders, whereas Botvinnik faced all of them. Botvinnik, through dint of his superior preparation methods, decisively won both rematches. Smyslov he simply outprepped and outplayed strategically. But perhaps most impressive was how he dodged Tal's frantic attempts to complicate and forced his younger, less experienced (World Champion!) opponent into blocked positions and endings. Botvinnik quashed every attempt to confuse, and regained the title in convincing fashion, albeit bolstered by Tal's ill health. Botvinnik - along with Morphy, Capablanca, Fischer, Karpov (and Carlsen!?) was the greatest strategist of his day (or any day!). An argument can be made that Botvinnik was the single most important chess figure of the 20th century - yes, you heard me correctly. Perhaps even more so than Fischer. The reason: players such as Capablanca, Alekhine, Tal, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and Carlsen are merely isolated geniuses, all of whom produced beautiful games, yet none revolutionized modern chess training into a formulation, a school. Botvinnik, on the other hand, through his intensely rigorous pre-game preparation techniques, was the father of the Soviet School of chess and, by proxy, the father of all modern day professional preparation and coaching. Botvinnik's secret (to Westerners) training techniques may be the main reason the Soviets took sole control over the world championship title for the next quarter century, when only the anomaly of Bobby Fischer ripped it from

Soviet hands. The reason we all so frantically order and study the latest opening books is due to Botvinnik, who understood the deep importance of opening theory and pre-game preparation. One senses from Botvinnik's play, the residue of a rigorously efficient personality, utterly incapable of tolerating failure in himself. And when he did fail (his losing matches versus Smyslov and Tal) he returned to the rematches with demonic resurgence, upending the pretenders to what he considered his private kingdom: the title of World Chess Champion.
He was a stern man, who, from my personal

1977 simul meeting with him as a teen, lacked affability.

(He slammed and screwed in the pieces when he moved and glared at your terrified, pimple-faced writer through those scary coke-bottle glasses of his, as a stern principal would to a difficult student.) Botvinnik, a lifelong, devout Communist Party member, was a man his peers mostly disliked and distrusted, yet couldn't help but respect. He was prone to make outrageous overstatements on perceived character flaws of his rivals, and yet, one senses, never bothered to ponder any particular defects in his own. Through chess, this incredibly confrontational personality discovered a novel method of diverting his monumental inner aggression into the harmless realm of the abstract.

Botvinnik's style
With Botvinnik, there emerged a new style of play I call power chess-high end aggression, yet arising from strategic, not solely tactical bases. To my mind Vladimir Kramnik (Botvinnik' s student-yes, yes, I know : nobody equates Kramnik to such an aggressive style, but having written a book on him, I declare to you it' s true !) is Botvinnik's spiritual chess son, who embodies Botvinnik's power chess in the present. As Capablanca, Alekhine, Keres and others learned to their dismay, Botvinnik was not a man to be trifled with in battles of calculation power, and when he seized the initiative - especially in his prime - his fortunes always rose. Initiative was always the prime focus as we see in this book over and over again, Botvinnik rejecting material offers if they interfered with his initiative, the way a picky eater walks through an unappetizing discount buffet line with a nearly empty plate.

Botvinnik claimed his great weakness was his inability to spot combinations at critical junctures. But I harbour grave doubts about Botvinnik's self-confessed, purported weakness. Having gone over most of his games in preparation for the book, I was staggered to discover that Botvinnik virtually never missed a combination in his prime - the mid 1930s to the mid 1950s. If Houdini saw it, Botvinnik saw it too. His alleged weakness began to arise from the late 1950s onward, when Botvinnik was past his prime (yet unbelievably, still world champion!).
Botvinnik, like Lasker before him, cultivated a psychologist's insight into each o f his rival's shortcomings, and deftly and diabolically weaponized this understanding over the board in his pre-game preparation. For instance, if he played Keres, he would try and reach a position where it was bad for Keres to open the game (e. g. the white side of a Nimzo-Indian, where Botvinnik's side had the bishop pair), and yet Botvinnik knew Keres loved open positions! If he played Tal, he frustrated the Latvian's love of tactics by bogging him down in blocked positions and endings, where Botvinnik reigned. Conversely, against the sedate Petrosian, Botvinnik would jar him by provoking an early crisis and opening the position. In this fashion, Botvinnik filed away his opponent's quirks and weaknesses for his own future reference.

King of the Opening
Botvinnik plumbed the depths of the early stages of the game, understanding and dissecting his lines the way a novelist's head is populated with a cast of dozens of characters. B otvinnik virtually kept his opponents in mental shackles, most breathing a relieved sigh if they managed to escape that phase of the game. He understood his opening systems like no other before him. 50 intimately and deeply did he understand the nuances, that even players such as Keres, Tal and 5myslov sometimes failed to emerge alive from the opening stage. He was the first world champion truly to weaponize the opening phase of the game, using it as a whip, which had the effect of cowing nervous opponents into meek theoretical dodges. Each early crush of a strong GM opponent came across as a warning shot to posterity itself.

Botvinnik, like Alekhine before him and Fischer after him, strove for perfection in his pre-game prep, with a work ethic bordering on fanaticism. He exemplified the spirit of modem professionalism - an anomaly in his age - of a game which was then considered a hobby, a pleasant intellectual pastime, in which one relied upon natural ability. He never played blitz: "Yes, I have played a blitz game once," he said, "It was on a train, in 1929." He was also vehement in his scorn for the memorization of opening variations without understanding: "Memorization of variations could be even worse than playing in a tournament without looking in the

books at all!" He was methodical, almost to the point of predictability. He would bring to each game a thermos of secret content to nourish his brain. When his clock ran, Botvinnik would calculate variations in purely mathematical fashion ("If 23 Rxe6, then I have the trick 23 . . . Kh7!" etc). When his opponents were on the move, Botvinnik worked schematically, verbally forging plans and potential futures. Botvinnik's opening/ pre-game research produced a rich yield of new understanding, branching out in multiple directions. Through his unbelievably high level of erudition, Botvinnik gave direct theoretical challenge to the opening ethos of his time in a compendium of lines, including the French Defence, Caro-Kann, G runfe Id, Sicilian Dragon, Nimzo-Indian, and many, many other lines. In fact, he continually altered and improved upon theory in whichever lines he played, always at the forefront of theory. He had a disconcerting habit of radically altering long-held assessments, almost as a routine occurrence, and systematized opening knowledge to new, previously unheard of levels. I for one am grateful to Botvinnik, since those who lack the creativity to invent ourselves (e. g. your writer!), can still imitate giants before us, who blazed new theory on a routine basis.
Here we see the 14-year-old Botvinnik dismantle a great world champion in a simultaneous game. We are reminded of the words from The Who's Acid Queen: "Your boy won't be a boy no more; young, but not a child."

Game 1
J.R.Capablanca-M.Botvinnik Leningrad (simul) 1925

Queen's Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Nbd7 5 e3 Bb4

Botvinnik had a lifelong penchant for meeting queen's pawn openings with . . . Bb4 and . . . c7-cS, Ragozin-style positions. He sidesteps the more solid Queen's Gambit Declined lines S . . . c6 and S . . . Be7.

6 cxd5
Capablanca beat Edward Lasker from Black's side after 6 Nf3 cS 7 Bd3 QaS 8 Qb3?

Exercise (combination alert): Although White's last move was a

blunder, very few of us are awake to combinational possibilities this

early in the game. What did the usually hyper-alert Capa miss here?

Answer: He missed the bizarre anomaly 8 . . . b5! !, winning material no matter how White responds.

Instead, the game continued 8 . . . Ne4? (the natural move but not the best) 9 a-a!? (offering material for development) 9 . . . Nxg5 (Capa always veered toward the simple, avoiding the great complications arising from 9 . . . Bxc3 10 cxd5! which Houdini rates at even) 10 Nxg5 cxd4 11 Nb5? ! (White should sac with 11 exd4! dxc4 12 Qxc4 Bxc3 13 Nxe6! fxe6 14 Qxe6+ Kd8 15 bxc3 with reasonable attacking chances for the piece) 11 . . . Nc5 12 Qc2 Nxd3 13 Qxd3 a6 14 Nxd4 dxc4 15 Qxc4 Bd7 and Capa went on to out-teclmique his opponent from this point in Ed.Lasker­ J.R.Capablanca, New York 1915.
6 0 0 0 exdS 7 Qb3

The queen is vulnerable on b3, both to a future . . . c7-c5-c4 (or d4xc5 Nxc5), and . . . Be6. Today, 7 Nf3 and 7 Bd3 are normally played at this point.
7 0 0 0 cS 8 dxcS QaS

The queen piles on to the pin with the routine of a farmer deciding which of his unfortunate chickens is to be tonight's dinner.
9 Bxf6 Nxf6 10 O-O-O?

.

.

Overly optimistic. The white king's counsellors, fatal advisors, whisper sweet promises of conquest into his ears, and convince him to sign an unwise declaration of war. This opportunistic decision isn't exactly born of the precision or logic to which we are normally accustomed from Capablanca. If you decide to embark on an adventure, be sure not to run into the waiting arms of an enemy! When the powerful congregate in a fixed location, it makes for a tempting target if you are an assassin. Capa launches an unmodulated notion with, one senses, mingled misgivings and exuberance, allowing his king to wander precipitously far from the natural security of his own side. Indeed, he ventures an agitated and clumsy demonstration on the queenside, which soon gets drowned out in a barrage of black threats.

Question: This decision certainly doesn't fit Capablanca's profile, does it?

Answer: Agreed, but simuls exude their own social mores. Capa, not being clairvoyant, doesn't realize the kid in front of him in the simul is destined to be a world champion. Compare this game to Botvinnik's upending of Keres in Game 25. At this point Capa fails to acquire understanding of his rising misery index.

10 0 0 0 0-0 11 Nf3 Be6 12 N d4 Rac8

Perhaps the wrong rook. I would have played the other one to c8; i. e. 12 . . . Rfc8! and if 13 c6 bxc6, when the a8-rook is available for b8.

13 c6
Capa desperately attempts to block the open c-file .

Question: Yes, but at the cost of operung the b-file! Shouldn't White

just play for an ending with the simple 13 Kbl Bxc3 14 Qxc3 - ?

Answer: Capa loved endings - but not lost endings, which he would enter after 14 . . . Qxc3 15 bxc3 Ne4! 16 Rc1 Nxf2 17 Rgl Rxc5, when White's strategic woes continue to accrete like a chemical company's effluent, surreptitiously dumped into the local river.

13 0 0 0 Bxc3

13 . . . bxc6 looks promising as well.
14 Qxc3 Qxa2 1S Bd3 bxc6 16 Kc2!

A little simul cheapo, threatening Ral .
16 0 0 0 cS! 17 Nxe6

Not now 17 Ral?? cxd4 and wins.
17 0 0 0 Qa4+!

17 . . . fxe6? allows an escape after 18 Ral d4! 19 Rxa2 dxc3 20 bxc3 Ng4 21 f3 Nxe3+ 22 Kcl and White should be okay, despite being a pawn down, since he acquires targets on a7 and e6.
18 b3 Qa2+ 19 Qb2

The queen abruptly decides to leave, absolving herself from all involvement in the matter. White's chances look grim in the ending when juxtaposed against Black's, but there is no real choice since retaining queens with 19 Kcl?? fxe6 leaves White's king fatally exposed to the elements.
19 0 0 0 Qxb2+ 20 Kxb2 fxe6

·

.

Understanding dawns, the I/=/f sign at the tail end of a difficult mathematical equation: White is completely busted. Not only is he a pawn down, his king remains terribly insecure. The young Botvinnik embarked on the final assault with great purpose, and never gave his legendary opponent a speck of hope.

21 £3 Rc7
The immediate 21 . . . c4 ! looks a shade more accurate.

22 Ra1
22 e4! Rb8 (22 . . . dxe4 is met by 23 Bc4!) 23 exd5 exd5 24 Kc2 was White's best defensive chance.
22 0 0 0 c4!

Excellent judgment. Botvinnik's salivating remaining pieces luxuriate in the taste of hunting down a world champion's king. The attack isn't over, despite the fact that queens have come off the board.

23 bxc4 dxc4 24 Bc2 Rb8+ 25 Kcl

The king lollops around, the way a drunk attempts to get out of a chair but keeps falling back into it. When surrounded by the courageous, a man is ashamed if he

doesn't follow suit. Unfortunately, 25 Kc3? walks into 25 . . . Nd5+ 26 Kd4 c3! (threatening . . . Rb4+, followed by . . . Nxe3) 27 e4 Nf4 and now 28 Ke5 (28 g3? Rd8+ 29 Ke3 Ng2+ 30 Kf2 Rd2+ mates in a few moves) 28 . . . Nxg2 29 Kxe6 Rb2 is hopeless for White.
25
000

N d5 26 Rei c3! 27 Ra3 Nb4!

Threatening to capture on c2, followed by . . . Rb2+ .
28 Re2 Rd8!

Toying with . . . Rd2 ideas.
29 e4 Rc6!

The rook affects a humble posture with a servile hunch to get past the guards.

Question: Why not 29 . . . Rd2 immediately?

Answer: Even when busted, Capa was always alert to opportunities for mischief. In this case, destitute of defensive resources, White tries his hand in a semi-swindle with 30 Rxc3! when he still harbours some hope of survival.

30 Re3
Botvinnik's attack, now completely out of control, transforms into an unalterable property of nature, outside of White's control. Capa continues to resist desperately as well as fruitlessly. 30 Rxa7 Rd2! also wins.

Exercise (combination alert): How did Botvinnik finish his great opponent off?

Answer: Now Black's trick works.

30

000

Rd2! 31 Rexc3

31 Bb1 is met by the crushing 31 . . . c2!, so the bishop finds himself tied to the sacrificial altar.
31
000

Rxc2+!

The point: X-ray attack.
32 Rxc2 Rxc2+ 0-1
We are unaccustomed to a 14-year-old kid manhandling a reigning world champion in such a manner.

Acknowledgements
Many thanks as always to editors GM John Emms and Jonathan Tait for vigilantly cleaning up your careless writer's numerous go of-ups throughout the book. Thanks also to Nancy and Tim for proof­ reading and computer back-up. May Botvinnik's iron logic percolate into deepened understanding for us all. Cyrus Lakdawala, San Diego, July 2013

Chapter One Botvinnik on the Attack
When researching Botvinnik's games I quickly realized that the entire book could easily be comprised solely of his numerous attacking games. When a young man, Botvinnik, like most of us, loved to attack. But in his case attacks were systematically built. His masterpiece against Capablanca above is a clear example. He would first accrue appreciable strategic gains, and only later attempt to cash out with direct assaults upon the opposing king. Botvinnik's attacks were rarely desperado style-you know the ones I mean: you emit a hoarse war-cry and charge headlong with the sole intention of inflicting as much damage as possible before one side succumbs. Instead, Botvinnik's opponents were subjected to lengthy interrogation under the harsh glare of the lamp, and were gradually brought low, their ragged forces shivering in their tented encampments, awaiting the arrival of the inevitable final blow.

Game 2
I.Rabinovich-M.Botvinnik USSR Championship, Moscow 1927

Dutch Defence
1 d4 e6

Botvinnik was equally comfortable in the French, Semi-Slav or Stonewall Dutch.

2 c4 £5
Dutch it is.

3 g3 N£6 4 Bg2 Be7

Question: In the Stonewall, isn't it better for Black to place

his bishop on d6, a more

aggressive square, which also fights for e5?

Answer: Well, I play Stonewall, albeit usually as White via a Colle move order, and do like to place my bishop on the correspondingly aggressive d3-square if possible. But there are arguments for posting the bishop on e7 as well. If Black posts his bishop on d6:

1 . White may play a set-up like b2-b3, Bb2 and then Ne5. Then if Black exchanges with a d7-knight, he gets forked and drops a piece . However, if his bishop is on e7 in this position, then . . . Nxe5 is just fine for

Black, who manages to plug up the e5-hole. 2. White may challenge the d6-post with something like 4 . . . d5 5 Nf3 c6 6 0-0 Bd6 7 Bf4 ! . Again, Black would be better off with a bishop on e7.

5 Nc3 0-0 6 Nf3 d5
It's official - a Stonewall.

Question: Is the Stonewall a sound line for Black?

Answer: I don't care for it as Black, but there is no accounting for personal tastes. My wife Nancy squeals in joy and claps her hands in delight at the thought of a trip to Disneyland, while I view the same trip as a wilful descent into vulgar commercialism. Instead, 6 . . . d6 would be a Classical Dutch.

7 0-0 c6 8 Qc2
8 b3 Qe8 is another set-up for White .
8 0 0 0 Qe8

.

.

Botvinnik's favourite manoeuvre. He plans to swing the queen over to h5, in the neighbourhood of White's king.

9 Bf4
I am always wary of playing this move on the White side versus a Stonewall, mainly because Stonewallers, nearly always pathological attackers, just love to toss in a quick . . . g7-g5!? to go for mate.

Question: Well then, what would you suggest as an alternative plan for White?

Answer: My tendency is to play for a quick b2-b4; e.g. 9 Rbl Qh5 10 b4 Nbd7 11 b5 as LStohl-M.Kujovic, Slovakian Team Championship 1999. I would be very nervous here as Black, since the queenside opens with alarming rapidity.

9 0 0 0 Qh5 10 Radl

It isn't too late for my favourite plan: 10 Rab1 Ne4 11 b4 Nd7 12 b5 g5 13 Bc1 !? (I would go for 13 Bc7) 13 . . . g4 14 Ne1 Nb6 15 cS Nxc3 16 Qxc3 Nc4 17 bxc6 bxc6, J.Hammer-S.Haubro, Oslo 2012, when 1 still prefer White after 18 Nd3.
10 0 0 0 Nbd7 11 b3

11 Ng5 is met by 11 . . . Ng4!, which forces White to weaken with 12 h4 Ndf6 13 f3 Nh6 with growing complications.
11 0 0 0 Ne4 12 Ne5 Ng5

Botvinnik looks for trouble on h3.
13 h4!?

Risky. Some of us indulge in the transgressive need to disobey that which is considered lawful. Principle: Don't unnecessarily weaken your king's pawn front.

Question: What other move does White have?

Answer: I would go for a more cautious approach like 13 Bxg5! (this move effectively short circuits the black attack's nervous system) 13 . . . Bxg5 14 Nxd7 Bxd7 15 e3 and I prefer White, who slowly expands on the queenside.

Question: Aren't you worried about Black's bishop pair?

Answer: Not here, for two reasons:

1 . From my experience, Black's attack sags considerably in Stonewall structures when you remove his knights from the board. 2. The position is closed and probably will remain so when White plays f2-f4 and c4-c5, in which case, Black's bishops may be more of a liability than advantage.
13 0 0 0 Ne4 14 Bf3 Qe8 15 Nxd7

White is well advised to swap a few pieces.
15 0 0 0 Bxd7 16 Kg2

Now any future . . . g7-g5 will be met by h4xg5 and Rh1, seizing the newly opened h-file.
16 0 0 0 Bb4!

Provoking White's next move.
17 Bxe4?!

White cedes control over key light squares. The humble 17 Na4 looks better.
17
000

fxe4 18 Rhl Qh5!

Black menaces potential exchange sacs on f4, as well as threats to chop the white knight and swipe White's e-pawn.
19 f3?

White engineers his own ruin with this weakening move.
19
000

Qg6!

The vengeful queen's eyes narrow in deliberate calculation. The dual threats are . . . e4xf3+, winning the queen, and . . . Rxf4.

20 Kfl
Evading both threats at the cost of placing his king on the open f-file .
20
000

e5!

Powerfully introducing the light-squared bishop to White's king. 20 . . . Rxf4! 21 gxf4 Qg3! was also very strong.
21 dxe5?

No better was 21 Bxe5? Qg4! 22 Bf4 Rxf4 ! 23 gxf4 exf3 and the attack's leading indicators all out perform expectations. His best chance lay in 21 h5 Bh3+ ! 22 Rxh3 Qe6 23 Rh2 exf4 24 g4 Rae8 with an admittedly awful position for White.

Exercise (planning): Work out a winillng attack for Black.

Answer: Step 1 : Destroy White's only functional defender.

21 0 0 0 Rxf4!

A shot which blows a gaping hole in the white defensive barrier.

22 gxf4
Step 2: Infiltrate deep into the recesses of White's inner sanctum.
22 0 0 0 Qg3!

Black threatens both . . . e4-e3 and . . . Bh3+ . The contagion, gradual in its onset, now proliferates on the dark squares. White's king, exasperated by the intrusive black queen's endless monologue, takes a deep breath, exhales slowly, and takes a sip of wine, praying his dinner-date ordeal soon comes to a conclusion.

23 Nxe4
White's only try.
23 0 0 0 dxe4 24 Rxd7

The f2-square appears to be the epicentre of diverse ambitions: Black's to engineer mate; White's to avoid that fate. Both 24 . . . e3 and 24 . . . Bc5 look like they win for Black but this is an optical illusion. One wins, the other walks into a trap.

Exercise (combination alert/critical decision):

We must make a decision. Choose carefully.

Answer: Black's queen is the super-villain and the dark-squared bishop is her Mini Me. 24

...

BeS!

The genetically altered mutation smiles inwardly at the challenge, which is really no challenge at all, since he now possesses the strength of eight men in one body. The alternative 24 . . . e3?? also looks devastating, until we notice 25 Rxg7+ ! . King and queen trip gracelessly over themselves and wail their loss in simultaneous, inarticulate woe. Black must resign, since either capture of the rook loses to 26 Rgl .

25 e3 Qxf3+ 26 Qf2

26 Kgl Bxe3+ 27 Kh2 Qxf4+ wins the d7-rook.
26 0 0 0 Qxh1 + 27 Ke2 Qh3 28 f5 Qg4+ 29 Kd2 Rf8

White's pawns are going nowhere .
30 e6 Qxf5 31 Qxf5 Rxf5 32 Rxb7 Rf2+ 33 Ke1 Rf6 34 b4 Bxe3 35 Ke2 Bg1 36 e7 Kf7 37 e8Q+ Kxe8 38 Rxg7

White plays on, much like the poor man who buys a lottery ticket, which essentially buys hope, far more than the infinitesimally minute actual chance of winning and striking it rich. At this stage, White's war-weary defenders are only capable of offering token resistance.
38 0 0 0 Rg6 39 Rxh7 B d4

.

.

Black's passed e-pawn soon forces its way through.
40 cS Rg2+ 41 Kf1 Rf2+ 42 Ke1

The dying old king rasps final instructions to his non-existent, now dead generals, his voice sounding like metallic scrapings: "Avenge me !"
42 ... e3 0-1

Game 3 M. Botv innik-V .Alatortsev USSR Championship, Moscow 1931 King's Indian De fence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 f3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nc3 0-0 6 Be3 e5 7 Nge2

7 0 0 0 Nc6

I don't

think

this move works very well against the Samisch.

Question: What do you suggest?

Answer: I like Kasparov's treatment: 7 . . . c6 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 Rdl (9 d5 is probably White's best here) 9 . . . a6 1 0 dxe5 Nxe5! 1 1 b3 b5 1 2 cxb5 axb5 1 3 Qxd6 Nfd7! 1 4 f4 b4!, when Black's pieces suddenly got scarily active, A. Karpov-G.Kasparov, Linares 1993.

8 Qd2 Nd7
Black tends to get squeezed after this move. Instead: a) 8 . . . a6 9 d5 Na5 10 Nc1 cS 11 dxc6 Nxc6 12 Nb3 Be6 13 Rd1 and White exerted pressure on d6, J.5ammour Hasbun-H. Nakamura, US Chess League 2007. b) 8 . . . exd4 is probably Black's best bet; e. g. 9 Nxd4 Nxd4 10 Bxd4 c6 11 Be2 Be6 12 0-0 Qa5 with only a minimal edge for White, V.5hinkevich-P.Enders, Budapest 1996.

9 d5 Ne7 10 g3
Question: Isn't this move a bit odd?

Answer: It is, but remember the King's Indian Defence was in its infancy in the 1930s. At that time everyone played it oddly. Also, Botvinnik's move scores well for White. With the hindsight of 70+ years of theory, 10 g4 f5 11 h3! is probably White's optimal line, as in A. Karpov-P.Virostko, Cannes (simul) 1998, when Black is denied normal KID kingside counterplay.

10 0 0 0 f5 11 Bg2 fxe4 12 fxe4

12 0 0 0 Nf6

M. Botvinnik-L. Szabo, European Team Championship, Hamburg 1965, saw 12 . . . a6 13 h3 Rb8 14 Ba7! Ra8 15 Bf2!, cleverly gaining a tempo.

Question: How did this constitute a tempo gain?

Answer: The difference is with his bishop on f2, White can castle kingside. After 15 . . . h6 16 0-0 Nf6 17 Be3 Kh7, White was ready for queenside expansion, while Black lacked kingside counterplay.

13 h3
Halting . . . Ng4 ideas.
13 0 0 0 b6

This only delays c4-c5, which White can prepare with a future b2(b3)-b4.

14 b3
In those days everyone played KID with excruciating slowness ! No modern GM would even consider this move .
14 0 0 0 Kh8
Question: What is the point of Black's last move?

Answer: He frees g8 for his knight. But after that, who knows? You actually put your finger on Black's main problem: he has no constructive method of improving his position. Clearly, the opening has not gone well for Black, who chafes under the restrictions of the ruling authority. At this point Alatortsev must have experienced that awful intuition one gets upon the realization that the power of penances are sometimes not enough to grant grace.

15 g4

.

.

Played in Botvinnik's younger style: he goes after Black's king. A more positional player would perhaps castle kingside and play for the queenside c4-c5 break.
15 0 0 0 Neg8 16 Ng3 Bd7 17 0-0-0

When going through Botvinnik's games, I was struck by the fact that he nearly always won the game in situations of opposite wing castling. Botvinnik the pure strategist is a myth! 17 g5 Nh5 (17 . . . Ne8 looks even worse, since White eventually forces through h3-h4-h5) 18 Nxh5 gxh5 was tempting too.
17 0 0 0 h6

Perhaps contemplating . . . Nh7, but the move allows White to cleave open a passageway to Black's king even more quickly.
18 g5 hxg5?!

Black has to try 18 . . . Nh7 19 h4 h5, when White may switch plans and expand on

the queenside unchallenged.

-

-

Clearly the white alien mothership rules this quadrant of space - trillions upon trillions of cubic miles - and woe to those spacefarers who dare to trespass upon the claim.

Exercise (planning): Find White's optimal attacking plan.

Answer: Ram through the h-pawn.

19 h4!

The disparate activity ratios of the two parties are plain to see.
19 000 Bg4?

The unfortunate bishop is issued his first and last command: a suicide mission. 19 . . . g4 20 h5 Kh7 21 hxg6+ Kxg6 was Black's last dismal hope of survival, though even here his game looks irredeemable in its inherent wretchedness after 22 Rdfl, intending Nf5 next.
20 hxgS+ NhS 21 Nce2 21 Nxh5! gxh5 22 Bh3! was more effective, eliminating Black's only reliable

defender.
21 0 0 0 N e7 22 Rh4 Qd7 23 Rdh1

White's rooks, wearing their Sunday best, show up on the black king's doorstep, the way Jehovah's Witnesses appear on mine, ready to convert me, despite the prominent "No Solicitors !" sign in my window.
23 0 0 0 KgB?

Black's king, who incautiously borrowed a large sum of money from a mob connection, now listens to his phone messages: two sales calls; three warnings; five outright threats.

Exercise (combination alert): Black's last move was a blunder in a lost position. His position destabilized into a quivering, gelatinous blob, unable to withstand the slightest pressure. How did Botvinnik exploit it?

Answer: Step 1 : Eliminate the defender of the light squares by swatting the pest aside with contemptuous ease.

24 Rxg4! A dark, underground branch of the govermnent is required to do the dirty work, which, if done in the sunlight, would be illegal. Now the defence splinters and cracks open. 24000 Qxg4 Step 2: Transfer his own bishop to a deadly diagonal.

25 Bh3 Qf3
Step 3: Trap Black's wayward queen.

26 Rfl

A move which confirms the black queen's darkest fears: she has no place to run.
26
000

Nxg3 27 Be6+ 1-0

The bishop closes his eyes and listens with rapt bliss to the black king's tormented screams.

Game 4
M.Botvinnik-M.Yudovich USSR Championship, Leningrad 1933

Grii nfeld De fence
1 c4 Nf6 2 d4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Qb3 c6

.

.

A solid but passive choice. The modern treatment runs 5 . . . dxc4 6 Qxc4 0-0 7 e4 a6.

6 cxd5 Nxd5
6 . . . cxd5 7 Bg5 also offers White an edge, as in M. Botvinnik-S. Flohr, AVRO Tournament, The Netherlands 1938. Black's fianchetto doesn't work all that well in an Exchange Slav format, since the bishop hits a wall on d4.

7 Bd2
Of course the more direct 7 e4 is possible too.
7
000

0-0 8 e4 Nb6

8 . . . Nxc3 9 Bxc3 would in a sense justify White's earlier Bd2 move .

9 Rdl N8d7
Black might consider easing his cramped quarters via swaps with 9 . . . Bg4 10 Be3 Bxf3 11 gxf3 N8d7. Here 11 . . . e6 12 h4 h5 13 a4 Qc7 14 f4 N8d7 15 f5 exf5 16 exf5 gave White a dangerous attack, V. Anand-S. Noll, Bad Mergentheim (simul) 1993.

10 a4
Perhaps White should toss in 10 Bg5! to prevent a freeing . . . e7-e5.

10 0 0 0 as
Question: Shouldn't Black break with 10 . . . eS - ?

Answer: I agree, he should indeed. After 11 dxeS (or 11 Be3 exd4 12 Nxd4 Qe7 13 as NcS 14 Qa3 Nbd7 and following . . . Re8, Black begins to generate play against the e4-pawn) 11 . . . NxeS 12 NxeS BxeS 13 Bh6 Qe7 14 Bxf8 Qxf8, Black may get enough dark square play to compensate the loss of the exchange.

11 Be3
Now it will be difficult for Black to engineer either . . . e7-e5 or . . . c6-c5.
11 0 0 0 Qc7 12 Be2 Qd6

Intending . . . Qb4. 12 . . . e5?? is no longer possible, as after 13 dxe5 Black can't recapture because he would lose the knight on b6.
13 Na2!

Oh, nyet you don't!
13 0 0 0 e6 14 0-0 h6 15 Rcl fS!?

.

.

Sensing a gradual squeeze, Black lashes out for counterplay.

16 Nc3

White can also consider 16 e5! (grabbing space at the cost of handing Black a hole on d5) 16 . . . Qe7 17 Nc3 g5 18 Nel ! with a clear advantage.
16 0 0 0 Kh7

16 . . . Qb4?? hangs the e6-pawn.
17 Rfdl fxe4?

Black allows himself to be tempted by the win of the white a-pawn. Instead, he could generate much needed play after 17 . . . Qb4! 18 Qc2 Nc4.
18 Nxe4 Qb4?!

Question: Why dubious? The move looks like it

forces White to swap queens or drop a

pawn.

Answer: This move is less a mistake than a symptom, a flare-up of a degenerative disease: underestimation of an opponent's attacking potential. The issuing of demands from a position of inferiority seems an unwise policy. Black fails to sense the danger and the premise of his plan is flawed, thereby fatally contaminating his position. He should settle for 18 . . . Qe7.

19 Qc2 Qxa4
A child (the a-pawn) inherits not only a parent's wealth, but his enemies too. In Game 8, Botvinnik also gives away his a-pawn in his attacking masterpiece against Capablanca.

20 b3 Qa3
Black soon pays for his avarice since he is unable to deal with a chronically weak square, susceptible to sudden assault.

Exercise (planning): First, you must discover which

square ails Black, then work out the

exploitation.

Answer: Botvinnik constructs his universe through sheer force of will. The chronic weakness of g6 costs Black the game.

21 Nh4!

The knight exhibits the ulU1erving characteristic of popping up where least expected. White's forces, having accumulated vast reserves of resentment against the black king, decide it's payback time and come after him from challenging angles.
21 0 0 0 Qe7

A move which presages a rather dismal tomorrow for Black's king, although it does have the benefit of shortening his suffering.

Question: Can Black save himself by offering an exchange with 21 . . . Rf5

-

?

Answer: Your line is marginally better; the trouble is White isn't obliged to take the exchange. Instead, he can continue attacking by 22 g4! Rd5 23 Nc5 Nf8 24 Nxg6! Nxg6 25 h4! with a crushing attack.

22 N xg6! Kxg6

Black's most awful suppositions have come to pass. Now society stratifies via strict caste distinctions - Black's king, of course, firmly placed in the "untouchable" category.

Exercise (combination alert): An explosive move

is afoot. White to play and force mate.

Answer: Ignore all the tempting knight discoveries and come at Black with the bishop.

23 Bh5+!! 1-0
The bishop destroys his rival, wiping away the stain of his very existence. Now the dreadful attack flows unabated after 23 . . . Kxh5 (on a moonless night, the black king tumbles overboard; otherwise 23 . . . Kh7 24 Nf6+ Kh8 25 Qh7 mate or 23 . . . Kf5 24 g4 mate) 24 Ng3+ Kh4 25 Qe4+ (the queen resurfaces) 25 . . . Rf4 (the spite block!) 26 Qxf4 mate.

GameS
M. Botv innik-V .Alatortsev Leningr ad 1934

Queen's Gambit Declined
1 d4 e6 2 c4 d5 3 Nf3 Be7 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 Bg5 0-0 6 e3 a6

Question: What is the idea behind this move?

Answer: Black hopes for Bd3?! from White. Then he plans . . . d5xc4, . . . b7-b5, . . . Bb7, . . . Nbd7 and . . . c7cS, with a hybrid Queen's Gambit Accepted, but with an extra move since White took two moves, not one, to recapture on c4.

Question: 50 how does White deal with this idea?

Answer: Please see the next move!

7 cxd5!

Transposing to a QGD Exchange variation where Black's . . . a7-a6 may not necessarily come in handy for him.
7
000

exd5

Question: If this is the case, can Black then head

for a QGD Semi-Tarrasch formation with 7

. . . Nxd5 - ?

Answer: He can, but I don't see how . . . a7-a6 helps him in any way in the 5emi-Tarrasch. For example, after 8 Bxe7 Qxe7 9 Rc1 Nxc3 10 Rxc3 c6, as in B.Jobava-Zhang Pengxiang, Dos Hermanas (online blitz) 2006, Black remains in a terribly passive position and everyone is left wondering why he played . . . a7-a6, which is absolutely of no use to him in this position.

S B d3 c6?!

This just doesn't feel right and Black's . . . a7-a6 begins to stick out as a wasted move. Perhaps his best bet is to offer an isolani position with 8 . . . Nbd7 9 Qc2 cS.

9 Qc2 Nbd7
A book position from the QGD Carlsbad line, but with the possibly useless . . . a7a6 tossed in for Black, rather than the developing move 9 . . . Re8. But back then, a7-a6 wasn't considered a waste of time.

Question: Why not?

Answer: Well, the only known plan for White was to castle kingside and then play for a minority attack with Rabl, b2-b4, a2-a4 and b4-b5, where Black's . . . a7-a6 would actually come in handy. Botvinnik's next move was a completely new concept for the time.

10 g4!!

.

.

The rewards of lashing out often exceed the gratification of patience, its obverse. 10 g4 was a theoretical novelty at the time, and a powerful one, which virtually refutes Black's play. White threatens Bxf6 followed by g4-g5. The effect of this move, in 1934, was the equivalent of a man proposing to his parents that he is considering giving up his successful medical practice to follow his dream of becoming a street mime. Time to build a coalition force to take down Black's king.

Question: Isn't this just a standard idea? White plans

to castle queenside and initiate opposite

wing attacks.

Answer: The move is standard today. At the time this game was played, it was a radically new concept. We tend to take such ideas for granted, when in reality we should bring to mind the Isaac Newton quote about standing on the shoulders of giants" .
11

10

000

Nxg4?!

Caveat emptor - buyer beware ! The knight, clearly displaying blithe contempt for principle taboos, happily snatches a pawn and dares to defy the most holy of precepts: Don't open lines to your own king for the opposing major pieces. 10 . . . g6 is a better try, though even there White's attack progresses alarmingly quickly after 11 h3 Re8 12 0-0-0 Nf8 13 Kb1 Be6 14 Bh6 Rc8 15 Ne5 cS 16 f4 cxd4 17 exd4 b5 18 f5 and White's attack was faster, J.Garcia Padron-I. Miladinovic, Las Palmas 1994.
11 Bxh7+ Kh8

Black's king rails at the fact that White's attackers fail to accord him the deference his high birth demands. His desperate sense of isolation grows and he realizes he lacks friends, while his enemy's allies grow by the day.

12 Bf4 Ndf6
The defenders move sluggishly, as if on barbiturates. Black is also unlikely to

survive 12 . . . g6 13 Bxg6 fxg6 14 Qxg6 Rxf4 15 exf4 Nf8 16 Qh5+ Nh7 17 Rgl .

13 Bd3
The bishop scampers back to safety.
13 0 0 0 NhS!?

The knight's flailings only produce an avalanche of further frustrations.

14 h3 Ngf6 15 Be5 Ng8
The defenders brace for the oncoming wave, hoping to arm the perimeter.

16 0-0-0

.

.

A casual glance tells us White's attack is destined to arrive first.
16 0 0 0 Nh6 17 Rdgl Be6 18 Qe2!

Eyeing h5. The queen, rich with scorn, finally condescends to glance in the black king's direction.
18 0 0 0 BfS?

A blunder, but Black wouldn't have been able to save himself after 18 . . . Nf6 19 Ng5 either. Black just blundered in an already troubled position. The geometry shifted ever so slightly, leaving an opening ajar for White's forces to enter. The flimsy mask is stripped away and the black king no longer able to conceal his presence.

Exercise (combination alert): Now BotvimUk orders

the execution with priIn finality. How

did he do it?

Answer:

Step 1 : Lure Black's knight to f5.
19 Bxf5! Nxf5

Step 2: The crushing discovered attack leaves Black's unorganized pieces unable to save themselves. Black's kingside gets sliced apart like an order of sashimi.
20 Nh4! 1-0

.

.

White begins a pincer movement: two arms raking in chips won in a big poker hand. Black's hapless knights are harshly reminded that not all of us can be extraordinary, for then who remains to take on the thankless task of being ordinary?

Game 6
M.Botvinnik-V.Chekhover Moscow 1935

Reti Opening
1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 e6 3 b3

·

.

Botvinnik experiments with Reti's Opening, rare for the time because the idea of controlling the centre from the wing was still considered an eccentric notion, only reserved for hypermoderns.
3
000

Nf6 4 Bb2 Be7 5 e3 0-0

This line occasionally transposes to QGD Tarrasch-style isolani positions. For example, S . . . cS 6 cxd5 exd5 7 d4, as in C. LakdawalaL.Sussman, San Diego (rapid) 2012.

6 Be2
6 g3 leads to a more common set-up after 6 . . . cS 7 Bg2 Nc6 8 0-0 b6 9 Nc3 Bb7 10 cxd5 Nxd5 11 Nxd5 Qxd5 12 d4 Rad8 13 Ne5 Qd6 14 dxc5! Qxc5 15 Qe2 Nxe5 16 Bxb7 with an edge for White due to the bishop pair, Botvinnik/ Polugaevsky­ Keres/Prins, exhibition game, Amsterdam 1966.
6
000

c6

A solid but passive reaction. Black sets up a Semi-Slav vs. Reversed Queen's Indian formation.

Question: How is that passive?

Answer: I reach a position similar to Chekhover's but with White in a Colle vs. Queen's Indian. In that version my bishop is more aggressively posted on d3. Here we see Chekhover's bishop on e7, where it fails to fight for control over the eS-square. Both 6 . . . cS and 6 . . . b6 are more active methods of challenging White's opening.

7 0-0 Nbd7 8 Nc3 a6
Question: Why did Black toss this move in?

Answer: Black probably intended a queenside expansion with . . . b7-bS.

9 Nd4?!

·

.

Well, this move proves that Botvinnik was no true hypermodern!

Question: Doesn't this just lose time? What is the point anyway?

Answer: Botvinnik's mysteriously dubious move must be in response to some fictional exigency - or at least one I can't fathom. And yes, it does lose time. Botvinnik hopes to provoke . . . c6-c5, which may be a good move for Black! His move introduces an unprecedented level of subtlety - either that or it's just a weak move ! My guess goes with the latter theory. 9 d4, 9 Rc1 and 9 Qc2 all look like better options for White.

9 0 0 0 dxc4?!

Question: And now Black voluntarily cedes some control

over the centre by swapping his d­

pawn for Black's b-pawn?

Answer: Well, this is 1935, so even strong GMs played this way in the opening. Today, I think an average club player would know not to make Black's last move and would automatically go for the superior 9 . . . cS!, thinking "Thanks for the tempo !"

Question: How is that a tempo gain? Black moved his c-pawn twice as well.

Answer: Yes, but when White retreats his knight to f3, he will have moved his knight three times to reach a square he already reached in one! Then 10 Nf3 b6 11 cxd5 exd5 12 d4 Bb7 reaches a potential hanging pawns (or isolani) formation. The only other option is 10 Nc2, but there seems little point in putting the knight there.

10 bxc4
Now White's pawns enjoy greater central influence.
10 0 0 0 Nc5?!

More time wasted, since the knight later gets the boot from a d2-d4 push. I wish this hypermodern experiment would end soon! Somehow the mishandled (by both sides !) opening stage of this game grimly reminds me of how I played openings as a

kid, trying and failing in a misguided attempt to transform myself into a wannabe, poor man's Nimzowitsch. Black should go for 10 . . . cS, though after 11 Nb3 b6 12 a4 !, he now has to worry about his backward b6-pawn, and a4-aS is also in the air. If Black halts this with 12 . . . as? !, he creates a hole on bS for White's knight.
11 f4!

Halting . . . e6-eS and finally fighting for some control over the centre.
11 0 0 0 Qc7 12 Nf3

Once again halting . . . e6-eS, and preparing for Qc2 and d2-d4.
12 0 0 0 Rd8

12 . . . bS!? is more active but also weakens the queenside.

13 Qc2 Ncd7
In advance of White's next move.

14 d4

-

-

Thank God. Back to classical chess. Botvinnik's epiphany: he isn't suited for the hypermodern lifestyle ! It's as if a mad scientist, realizing he isn't cut out for a life of evil, unnatural experiments, unexpectedly throws away his lab coat, puts on a business suit and tie, and goes to work for an insurance company to earn an honest living.
14 0 0 0 cS

Chekhover apparently experienced the same epiphany!

15 Ne5
Botvinnik prefers to play to his strength and enter a hanging pawns formation.

Question: What is the alternative?

Answer: I think he missed an opportunity to enter a kind of super Benoni after 15 d5! exd5 (15 . . . Nb6 16 Ng5! is also promising for White, since 16 . . . h6? runs into 17 dxe6 hxg5 18 exf7+ with a decisive attack) 16 cxd5 b5 17 Ng5! Nb6! (not 17 . . . b4?? 18 d6! Qxd6 19 Radl Qb8 20 Nd5 Re8 21 Bc4 and White is winning) 18 e4, when 18 . . . h6 can be met by the promising sac 19 Nxf7! Kxf7 20 e5! Kg8! (20 . . . Nfxd5? 21 Qh7! is crushing) 21 d6 Bxd6 22 exf6 with a dangerous attack.

15 0 0 0 b6 16 Bd3 cxd4 17 exd4 Bb7 18 Qe2

18 Radl was more accurate.
18 0 0 0 Nf8

Understandably, both sides miss the impossible-to-find, computer-generated line 18 . . . Nxe5! ! 19 fxe5 Rxd4! 20 Nb5! (20 exf6?? loses on the spot to 20 . . . Bc5 ! and if 21 Khl Rh4 forces mate) 20 . . . axb5 21 Bxd4 bxc4 22 Bxc4 (or 22 exf6 cxd3 23 Qg4 Bf8) 22 . . . Bc5 23 Bxc5 Qxc5+ 24 Khl Ne4 25 Bd3 Qxe5, when Black gets more than enough compensation for the exchange.
19 Ndl!

-

-

Dual purpose - by interweaving a pair of minor ideas, the effect is the creation of a major plan: 1 . Botvinnik protects d4. 2. Botvinnik transfers his knight to the kingside, where he plans to launch a direct assault.
19 0 0 0 Ra7

Hoping to reinforce f7 via long distance. GM Ludek Pachman, who didn't like this move, writes: "Such unusual moves are only good on the rarest of occasions, and this is not one of them." He suggests the passive manoeuvre . . . Bc6 and . . . Be8, covering f7. The trouble with Pachman's line is that White simply picks off the bishop on c6 with a clear advantage; i.e. 19 . . . Bc6 20 Nxc6 Qxc6 21 Ne3, when f5 is in the air and Black remains far from equality. Instead, Houdini suggests simply 19 . . . Ng6.
20 Nf2!

Intention: Nh3 and Ng5. The immediate 20 f5! looks quite promising too: 20 . . . exf5 is met by 21 Ne3! and if Black "consolidates" with 21 . . . g6? ! there follows 22 Bxf5!, when Black dare not accept the piece.
20 0 0 0 Qb8 21 Nh3 h6

·

.

Black's last move was designed to prevent Ng5. So now what? The blanket of Black's defence may look safe, snug and warm, but it's also too short, unable to cover the king's freezing toes.

Exercise (planning): How did Botvinnik continue his attack?

Answer: Play the move anyway! Perhaps Black's . . . h7-h6 interpreted the position too literally. The experimental scientific model for data gathering - trial and error - is used here. The sac just looks right. An experienced GM would probably play such a move without calculation.

22 Ng5! hxg5

No choice, since f7 falls if he declines.
23 fxg5 N8d7?

He had to try 23 . . . N6h7 24 Nxf7 Nxg5 25 Qh5 (threatening mate in one) 25 . . . Bf3! (the only move; 25 . . . Nxf7?? 26 Qxf7+ Kh8 27 d5! e5 28 Rf5! mates) 26 Rxf3 Nxf3+ 27 Qxf3 Rdd7 28 Ne5 (threatening a queen infiltration to f7) 28 . . . Bd6 29 Nxd7 Bxh2+ 30 Khl Rxd7 31 RH, when White retains a dominating position.

Exercise (combination alert(s»: White's position, flush with promise,

finds access to two

crushing continuations. How would you continue?

Answer: The f7-pawn is the blackened bruise.

24 Nxf7!
Answer #2: 24 Nxd7! Nxd7 25 Rxf7! ! is even stronger, since 25 . . . Kxf7? 26 Qh5+ Kg8 27 Qh7+ Kf8 28 Qh8+ Kf7 29 g6+ Kf6 30 Qh4 is mate.

24 0 0 0 Kxf7 25 g6+?!

Botvinnik goes astray! He misses the pretty line 25 Qh5+ ! Kg8 26 gxf6 Nxf6 27 Rxf6! Bxf6 28 Bg6! Qd6 (28 . . . Kf8? 29 Ba3+ ! mates straight away) 29 Rfl Bc6 30 Qh7+ Kf8 31 Rxf6+ gxf6 32 Qh8+ Ke7 33 Qg7 mate.
25 0 0 0 Kg8?

After his last move Black's struggles fail to dissipate an iota of anxiety around his enfeebled king. Chekhover misses an impossibly hidden defence with 25 . . . Kf8! (25 . . . Ke8? also to 26 Qxe6 Nf8 27 Qf7+ Kd7 28 Bf5+) 26 Qxe6 Ne5! 27 Qh3 (not 27 dxe5? Bc5+ 28 Kh1, intending 28 . . . Bc8?? 29 Rxf6+ ! and wins - Pachman, because of 28 . . . Bxg2+ ! 29 Kxg2 Rxd3 and suddenly it is White, not Black, who is in deep trouble) 27 . . . Nf3+ ! 28 Rxf3 (or 28 gxf3 Qf4) 28 . . . Bxf3 29 Rfl (or 29 Qh8+ Ng8 30 Rfl Bf6) 29 . . . Ke8 30 Rxf3 Bf8 and White still has a strong attack, but there is nothing immediately conclusive.
26 Qxe6+

After the brief but jarring spatio-temporal distortion of the last couple of moves, now all is set aright once again and White is winning . His queen's flagrant, teasing coquetry begins to make Black's very proper king distinctly uncomfortable.
26 0 0 0 Kh8 27 Qh3+ Kg8

.

.

It isn't so easy to take aim at the target, which for now remains shrouded in defensive mist. It looks like Black has everything covered. But does he?

Exercise (planning): Find a plan to flare up the attack.

Answer: Transfer the bishop to e6.

28 Bf5! Nf8 29 Be6+ Nxe6 30 Qxe6+ Kh8 31 Qh3+ Kg8

Exercise (combination alert): Fear of the unknown and raw opportunism

risk war with one

another. Would you sac the exchange on f6?

Answer: In a heartbeat. White must destroy the defender of h7 to progress in his attack. Houdini assessment: +27.85! '

3 2 Rxf6! Bxf6 3 3 Qh7+ Kf8 34 Rei!

A key attacking principle: Don't chase the enemy king. Instead, cut off escape routes.
34 0 0 0 Be5

.

.

Black's last move is akin to tossing coins in a fountain, hoping that his wishes may come to fruition. Chekhover hopes to buy his opponent off by giving up his queen. However, Botvinnik is only interested in the delivery of mate.
35 Qh8+ !

Monica, one of my oid cats, would kill a bird in the yard and then bring it inside as a gift for me, not realizing that, touched as I was, I place no value on a dead bird. In the same way, Botvinnik declines Chekhover's gift and settles for nothing short of mate. White wins after the crass 35 Rxe5 Qxe5 (material is a finite commodity in limited supply; Black's queen, a bored, affluent woman, has no problems in life, so she invents a few just to keep her existence interesting) 36 Ba3+ as well, but doesn't

force mate, the way Botvinnik's move does.
35 0 0 0 Ke7

From this moment on, the black king's assembly line grows monotonous, each remaining repetitive motion naturally following the other.
36 Qxg7+!

The high strung queen, keyed to violence, predictably lunges for Black's king with murderous intent.
36 0 0 0 Kd6 37 Qxe5+ Kd7 38 Qf5+ Kc6 39 d5+ ! Kc5

The king lives in a universe devoid of joy or hope.
40 Ba3+ Kxc4

Exercise (combination alert): Let's see if we can work this one out in

our mind's eye. White to

play and force mate in three moves.

Answer: Just follow the remainder of the game.

41 Qe4+ Kc3

The king's spasming muscles, already sore from the previous day's overuse, now experience yet another unwanted workout.
42 Bb4+! Kb2

In his solitude, the king finds ample time for reflection on a misspent youth.

43 Qbl l-0

.

.

Mate! Your writer is inexplicably left speechless by Botvinnik's staggering attacking skills.

Game 7
M. Botvinnik-S. Tartakower Nottingham 1936

Old Indian De fence 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 d6 3 d4 Nbd7 4 g3 e5 5 Bg2 Be7

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The solid but passive Old Indian, the Philidor of queen's pawn openings.
6 0-0 0-0 7 Nc3 c6 8 e4 Qc7

Painfully passive.

Question: What would you suggest?

Answer: A more modern treatment runs S . . . ReS 9 h3 a6 10 Be3 b5, as in A. Fominyh-V.Malaniuk, St Petersburg 2001, when Black fights back against White's space advantage.

9 h3
Question: Why is h2-h3 played in this kind of position?

Answer: White would like to rest his bishop on e3, without the annoyance of . . . Ng4 from Black.

9 0 0 0 Re8 10 Be3 Nf8?!

The knight has few prospects on g6 or e6. It isn't too late for 10 . . . Bf8 11 Rc1 as 12 Qc2, L.Van Wely-A.Zapata, Ledyards 2006, and now 12 . . . exd4 13 Nxd4 NcS with at least an attempt at counterplay.

11 Re1 h6 12 d5
Grabbing more queenside territory.
12 0 0 0 Bd7 13 Nd2

White is ready for b2-b4 and an eventual c4-cS clash.
13 0 0 0 g5?!

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Some would deem such a move impulsive, while others would label it instinct. Tartakower's arousal to fury falls flat as an opened can of yesterday's Diet Coke. This tirade, curiously at odds with his previously meek play, quickly backfires, subsiding into subdued resentment. Soon a combination of despondency and advanced age leaves black's king three degrees more hunched over than he was on the previous move.

Question: What is Black's idea?

Answer: Black hopes to inhibit f2-f4, or perhaps provoke it. In any case, it looks like a rather shady strategic decision.

14 f4!

A move which casts grave doubt upon the true potency of Black's "counterattack" . Occasionally, direct, brutish confrontation yields more than patience and subterfuge to achieve one's aims. Botvinnik, a ferocious king hunter in his youth, immediately instigates the process of punishment for Black's rash . . . g7-gS move.

Question: Can't White just ignore it and continue his focus on the other side?

Answer: This is a stylistic point. I would guess most positional players, me included, would be more comfortable playing something like the equally strong 14 cS! dxcS 15 Nc4 with growing queenside pressure.

14 0 0 0 gxf4 15 gxf4 Kg7?

There are more fissures and gaping holes in Black's position than he cares to reckon, landing him in a wretched position without recompense . White need not even invest any material for it. Black had to try 15 . . . Ng6 and pray.

16 fxeS dxeS 17 cS

Black is busted on many levels and Tartakower could even contemplate resignation here.
17 0 0 0 cxd5 18 Nxd5 Qc6 19 Nc4 Ng6 20 Nd6 Be6 21 Nxe7

Eliminating Black's sole defender of his now porous dark squares.
21 0 0 0 Nxe7

Exercise (planning): Is an exchange sac on £6 sound, or is it going overboard?

Answer: The exchange sac is crushing since it sucks Black's king into the vortex.

22 Rxf6! Kxf6

Black's king plays the role of unwilling host to White's war party, who files portentously into his position.

23 Qh5 Ng6
After a moment of sour reflection, the e8-rook plucks up his courage and sacrifices himself. It never occurred to him that nobody wants him! Black hopes to appease White by relinquishing his hard-earned gain, the exchange - a devalued currency, unlikely to be accepted.
24 Nf5!

In this harsh, socially Darwinian society, all deformities are utterly rejected and Black's king is left to die in the snow on f6. The knight, who radiates malice from f5, is far more powerful than Black's worthless rook, since Black's king is prevented from running away via e7.
24 0 0 0 Rg8

24 . . . Rh8 is simply met by 25 Bxh6.

25 Qxh6
Threatening mate on the move. The old black king passes his days punctuated with spasms of pain, stemming from memories he wishes he could expunge from his tormented mind.
25 0 0 0 Bxa2 26 Rdl

Threatening Rd6+ . Also powerful is 26 h4!, intending Bg5+ followed by Bh3.
26 0 0 0 Rad8 27 Qg5+ Ke6

The intimidated king gazes intently at his own feet, refusing to meet the queen's eyes.

28 Rxd8 £6
Zwischenzug. This stroke of imagined good fortune has the effect of flooding the now blissfully deluded black king's brain with high levels of serotonin.

Exercise (combination alert): Both white queen and rook hang . . . or do they?

Answer: Bit by bit, Botvinnik dismantles every conceivable aspect of the defence's achievements, until all that remains of its former lustre is a humiliated, blushing opponent.

29 Rxg8! Nf4

29 . . . fxgS 30 Rxg6+ (this rook makes everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable, the way a best man, flush with alcoholically-generated goodwill, delivers an off­ colour toast/joke to the bride and groom about pre-marital sex at the wedding reception) 30 . . . Kf7 31 Rxc6 bxc6 leaves White two pieces up.

30 Qg7 1-0
The poxy constellation of Black's forces isn't a pretty sight and I suggest we all proceed quickly to the next game!

Game 8
M.Botvinnik-J.R.Capablanca AVRO Tournament, The Netherlands 1938

Nimzo-Indian De fence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3

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Botvinnik was faithful to his beloved Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian his entire life. He didn't care to play 4 Qc2, the Capablanca variation, possibly due to the opening's name !
4 0 0 0 d5

The most common response and belief at the time: establish a central grip with your pawns. Nimz 0 wits ch' s radical idea of controlling the centre from the wings was still in its infancy and distrusted by most strong players of era. Today, Black tends to prefer more flexible set-ups after 4 . . . 0-0, 4 . . . cS or 4 . . . b6.
5 a3!?

Botvinnik's Variation of the Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian. Keep in mind that, at the time, this was all relatively new theory.
5 0 0 0 Bxc3+

Capa refuses to back down from the upstart and play the safer S . . . Be7.

6 bxc3 cS
The heck with Nimzowitsch's ideas. Capa, always a classical player, decides to fight for the centre with his pawns. Black's position is quite satisfactory. His lead in development compensates for White's bishop pair.

7 cxd5
In an open position the bishop pair is the coin of the realm, although the move helps Black free his game as well.
7 0 0 0 exd5 8 Bd3 0-0 9 Ne2!

Question: Why not develop the knight to f3 instead?

Answer: White plans a central/kingside expansion with f2-f3 and e3-e4. The knight is to be transferred to g3 to help out in this cause.

9 0 0 0 b6!

Preparing to swap off White's monster light-squared bishop via a6.
10 0-0 Ba6 11 Bxa6?!

Under the assumption that Black's knight will be out of play on a6. The immediate 11 f3! gives White a better version; e. g. 11 . . . Re8 12 Ng3 Bxd3 13 Qxd3 Nc6 14 Bb2 cxd4 15 cxd4 Na5 16 e4 Nc4 17 Bel b5 18 e5 Nd7 19 f4 and I prefer White, who brews an attack on the kingside, V.Korchnoi-A.Lein, Johannesburg 1979.
11 0 0 0 Nxa6 12 Bb2?!

Kasparov writes: "Alas, pioneers are doomed to make mistakes."

Question: Why did Botvinnik develop his bishop into a wall on b2?

Answer: He must have had a hidden idea behind it, but for the life of me I don't understand what. Fortunately, it is an easily repairable inaccuracy. For every dubious decision, Botvinnik compensates with two excellent ones later in the game. All the same, it is better to leave the bishop uncommitted with 12 Qd3.

12 0 0 0 Qd7 13 a4

13 Qd3? ! Qa4! favours Black.
13 0 0 0 Rfe8?!

A natural move isn't always the best one in the position.

Question: I don't see any other reasonable move for Black. What do you suggest?

Answer: White plans a slow central build-up, culminating in a kingside attack. Therefore Black should adhere to the principle: Counter in the centre when attacked on the wing. The only way to create a central distraction for White here is to play 13 . . . cxd4! 14 cxd4 RfcS !, intending . . . Rc4, generating sudden queenside counterplay. More importantly, White just doesn't have the leisure to do what he wants in this line.

14 Qd3 c4?!

Question: Why would you criticize this natural gain of a tempo?

Answer: Capa should consider being a little less partisan in his unwavering faith in his queenside ambitions. His move violates the principle stating: Don't close the centre when attacked on the wing.

Botvinnik responds to your question: "This is a really serious positional blunder. Black evidently assumed that White would be unable to advance the e-pawn later, and Black's superiority would tell on the queenside. However, Black's superiority on the queenside happens to be of no great consequence in this case, and the breakthrough e3-e4 proves inevitable. Black should have contented himself with the modest defence 14 . . . Qb7/f . By keeping the centre fluid, Black would then decrease White's chances of a successful kingside build-up, due to Black's constant threat of central distractions.

15 Qc2 NhS
A case of retrograde ambition, intending . . . Nc6-a5-b3 and eventually . . . Qxa4.
16 Rae1 Nc6 17 Ng3 Na5?!

Allowing White the e3-e4 break without challenge. The players interpret the position with radical, antipodal outlooks. Black should strive to challenge e4 with 17 . . . Ne4!, which is met by the strange 18 Nhl ! f5 (the desperate fight for e4 continues) 19 f3 Nf6 20 Ng3 Ne7 21 Ba3 g6, and even though Black's kingside dark squares have been weakened, his position looks infinitely more defendable than what he got in the game. I assumed White had a clear advantage here, but after playing around with several computers from this position, I realized it was quite difficult to play e3e4 without allowing Black all sorts of counterplay based on the newly vacated d5square.

18 £3 Nb3
The wandering knight is destined to remain a tourist on the queenside for the remainder of the game.

19 e4 Qxa4

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A successful pirate requires the following factors to ensure success: 1 . A ship capable of outrunning the authorities. 2. Lightly defended, concentrated wealth to plunder. 3. A market to unload the spoils. It feels to me that Black's missing elements are numbers 1 and 3 on the list. The problem is that while he does indeed win the pawn, he is also very likely to get mated on the other wing! In essence, Black refuses to yield to safeguards and burns down all bridges. If two of White's enemies (Black's queen and b3-knight) go off to war in a far-off land, does this not benefit him? Evidently, Capa didn't believe the biblical quote about a rich man being unable to enter the kingdom of heaven. In reality, Black is in deep trouble and his extra pawn won't be of much assistance to him.

Question: Does Black have anything better at this stage?

Answer: I don't think so, and he may as well make the attempt and grab the pawn. Still, Capa's strategy resembles that of a lOO-year-old billionaire who suggests to his new 23-year-old bride that they make love. Sometimes determination to get the job done just isn't enough!

20 e5 N d7 21 Qf2!

In order to avoid . . . Nc5 tricks, which allow Black's knight back into the fight. Alternatively, Vladimir Goldin, in Shakmaty v SSSR, suggested the interesting 21 Re2! to counter . . . Nc5. The idea was to sac a knight on f5 on the coming . . . g7-g6 and . . . f7-f5.
21
000

g6?!

·

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Neither Botvinnik nor Kasparov criticized this, but to my mind it's the losing move. Capa generously hands Botvinnik a target to open with f3-f4-f5.

Question: What do you suggest?

1 . Bring Black's wayward queen back into the defensive fold with 21 . . . Qc6 and leave the kingside pawns alone. 2. Push madly on the queenside with . . . a7-as and . . . b6-b5-b4, hoping to undermine d4. 3. Pray Black doesn't get mated! I fiddled around with Houdini with these ideas and Black seemed to obtain better survival chances than in the actual game.
Answer: A three-step defensive plan:

22 £4
White's e-and f-pawns race forward, each one attempting to outdo the other in height. 22 000 f5 No choice, since allowing f4-f5 would be catastrophic.
23 exf6!

When I showed this game to students, many of the lower-rated ones were surprised that White willingly gave up his passed e-pawn. White must pry open Black's kingside at all costs and this is the only way to do so.
23 0 0 0 Nxf6 24 f5

Remarkably, Houdini correctly assesses this in White's favour, showing just how far computers have progressed in their ability to evaluate a difficult position.
24 0 0 0 Rxel

24 . . . g5? fails to stem White's tidal wave after 25 Re6 Rf8 26 Qe3 h6 27 Qe5.
25 Rxel ReS!

Kasparov offers lengthy and convincing analysis on White's winning attack after 25 . . . Rf8 26 Qf4 ! .

Exercise (planning): Capa reduces material as quickly as possible.

How did Botvinnik ramp his attack up to lethal levels?

Answer: Force the creation of another passed e-pawn.

26 Re6!

Not 26 fxg6 hxg6! and Black's knight remains immune on f6.
26 0 0 0 Rxe6

No choice, since 26 . . . Kg7? loses to the shot 27 Rxf6! Kxf6 28 fxg6+ Kxg6 29 Qf5+ Kg7 30 Nh5+ Kh6 31 h4! Rg8 32 g4! (threatening mate in two) 32 . . . Qc6 33 Ba3! when the long-ridiculed bishop has his say in court. White forces mate in three moves.
27 fxe6 Kg7 28 Qf4!

With an ugly threat.
28 0 0 0 Qe8!

28 . . . Qa2? loses at once.

Exercise (combination alert): Capa deftly avoided this

position, since White forces mate here.

How?

Answer: 29 Nf5+! gxf5 30 Qg5+ mates in three moves.

29 Qe5
Kasparov and Houdini point out a simpler win beginning with 29 Qc7+ !, but then we would be deprived of Botvinnik's magnificent concluding combination.
29 0 0 0 Qe7

The position teeters on the precipice of imminent violence. Now follows a combination of monumental scale and scope, one of the greatest in chess history. It is quite evident that Botvinnik envisioned the position to move 41, the end of the game.

Exercise (combination alert): How did Botvinnik break down Capa's resistance?

Answer: The mother of all deflection sacrifices. The bishop, once just a faint outline of a shadowy figure at the edge of the forest, suddenly approaches.

30 Ba3!! Qxa3
Question: Can't Black just decline the sac, sliding the queen to e8?

Answer: This allows White's queen infiltration to c7 with decisive effect: 30 . . . Qe8 (the awed queen can only look at the ground until commanded by the bishop to meet his eyes) 31 Qc7+! Kg8 32 Be7! Kg7 (or 32 . . . Ng4 33 Qd7 Qa8 34 Bd6 and mates) 33 Bxf6+ Kxf6 34 Qe5+ Ke7 35 Ne2!, threatening Nf4, Nxd5+ and wins; e.g. 35 . . . Qa4 36 Qc7+ Kxe6 37 Nf4+ Kf6 38 Nxd5+ Ke6 39 Qe5+ Kd7 40 Qe7+ Kc6 41 Qe8+ and 42 Qxa4.

31 Nh5+!

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A second blow pierces the defensive barrier.
31 . . . gxh5 32 Qg5+

The queen looms large over the puny, chihuahuaesque f6-knight, who falls with check. The black king realizes with dismay that there is no safe haven. White's queen declares to her hated brother on g7: "I wear a crown now - ergo, I, and I alone, rule !"
32 . . . Kf8 33 Qxf6+ Kg8

33 . . . Ke8 34 Qf7+ mates next move.

34 e7

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The e-pawn, an adept in voodoo, squeezes the doll. Instantaneously, Black's king doubles over in agony. Botvinnik relates a story at this point. Euwe walked up to Capa and asked how he was doing. Capa shrugged and said loudly enough for Botvinnik to hear, something to the effect of: "Anything is possible", implying that the position may be drawn by perpetual check. Of course Botvinnik saw through the attempted con job and had worked out the win to the finish line. Even more staggering than the double piece sac of the actual combination is Botvinnik's calculation power. He foresaw that Black had no perpetual check.
34 . . . Qc1 + 35 Kf2

The final part of this famous game - the king starts his long walk up the board.

35 0 0 0 Qc2+

35 . . . Qd2+ 36 Kg3 Qxc3+ 37 Kh4 Qel + 38 Kxh5 Qe2+ 39 Kh4 Qe4+ 40 g4 doesn't alter anything.
36 Kg3 Qd3+

Cap a's queen does all the heavy lifting, following Botvinnik's king around. White also escapes from the checks after 36 . . . Qxc3+ 37 Kh4, as in the previous note.
37 Kh4 Qe4+ 38 Kxh5!

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The duplicitous king is a master of playing one enemy against the other. The h5pawn must be removed. Black's checks are destined to end very shortly.
38 0 0 0 Qe2+ 39 Kh4 Qe4+ 40 g4

Now possible since Black's h5-pawn has been eliminated.
40 0 0 0 Qe1 + 41 Kh5 1-0

The black queen's dramatically tiresome gesticulations finally come to an end. She is denied her most fervent wish: perpetual check.
What a wondrous thing when a once-hazy fantasy takes form into actual reality over the board. Truly one of the greatest attacking masterpieces of the 20th century. It happened again: your normally verbose writer finds himself uncharacteristically rendered mute by such attacking prowess!

Game 9
A.Denker-M.Botvinnik USA vs. USSR radio match 1945

Semi-Slav De fence 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c6 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 Bg5

Boldness isn't necessarily a virtue in every instance. Denker opts to challenge with a line against its very founder.
5 0 0 0 dxc4

5 . . . h6 is the Moscow Variation, played more often today.
6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Nxg5 hxg5 10 Bxg5 Nbd7

The starting position of the Botvinnik Variation. Luckily for me, this isn't an opening book and therefore I sneakily circumvent all discussion of this totally confusing line.

11 exf6
11 g3 is the other main branch here.
11
000

Bb7 12 Be2?!

Question: This move isn't normal, is it?

Answer: The move is inaccurate, but we must remember that the Botvinnik Variation was still in its infancy in 1945, so nobody (except Botvinnik) understood this fact. The problem with developing the bishop to e2 is that Black gets strong play against the g2-square, which may force White into playing g2-g3 later anyway. 50 theory evolved to the conclusion that White should match Black's queenside fianchetto with a kingside fianchetto of his own, to keep his king safer. 12 g3 is normally played today, when 12 . . . Qb6 1 3 Bg2 0-0-0 1 4 0-0 Ne5, V.5myslov-M. Botvinnik, World Championship (5th matchgame), Moscow 1954, was another key Botvinnik game from this line. Or if 12 . . . cS then 13 d5.

Question: Isn't 13 . . . Nb6 strong here?

Answer: Dang, you cleverly drew me into the theory, despite my frantic attempts to dodge! Apparently, Polugaevsky refuted it with the stunning idea 14 dxe6! ! Qxdl + 15 Rxdl Bxhl 16 e7 a6 17 h4! Bh6 18 f4!, L. Polugaevsky-E.Torre, Moscow 1981 .

Question: How on earth is this a refutation? Black is up a rook in the ending!

Answer: And stands clearly worse, possibly busted, despite Houdini's frantic assertions to the contrary! His h8-rook will never see the light of day.

12

000

Qb6 13 0-0 0-0-0

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Battle lines are established and both sides plan to nurse their super-majorities on respective wings, as well as launch attacks against opposing kings.

14 a4 b4 15 Ne4
Question: Why not gain a tempo on Black's queen with 15 as - ?

Answer: A trap. Black simply plays 15 . . . Qc7 and White can resign, since Black threatens both mate on h2 and White's hanging c3-knight. In fact, you just demonstrated exactly why White should fianchetto !

15 0 0 0 cS!

Black's dormant pieces spring to life, pushing White on the defensive .

16 Qb1
If you need to make a move like this in a wide open position, it is a very bad sign about the general health of your game .
16 0 0 0 Qc7

A vulgar checkmate in one move always seems magically to uplift a player's spirits!

Question: So is Botvinnik playing for a one-move cheapo?

Answer: Not at all. He simply probes White's kingside for weakness.

17 Ng3
Perhaps Denker had to try the (admittedly dismal) line 17 g3 cxd4 18 Bxc4 Nc5 19 f3, though even here White's game remains on the critical list after 19 . . . Nxe4 20 fxe4 d3!, clearing the gl-a7 diagonal.
17 0 0 0 cxd4 18 Bxc4 Qc6!

It's a little creepy how Black's queen dotes on her pampered children on b7 and f8. Ah, the sweet nectar of the vulgar one-move mate again! From this point White never gets a chance to rest. Botvinnik quickly adapts to the new ecosystem, his pieces the predators at the top of the food chain.

19 £3 d3!

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-

Black bursts forth in a dazzling starburst of piece activity. Alarmingly, the groove in White's defensive barrier grows wider by the move, destined to be sliced in half, by thrusts of a handsaw to a log of firewood.

20 Qcl
The only move, since 20 Rcl?? Qc5+ 21 Khl Qxg5 picks off a piece. White's queen eyes Black's intruders with apprehension, making certain to remain a good distance ahead of the pursuers. One gets the uneasy feeling that White's last eight moves were amendments in an attempt to correct his first twelve.
20
000

Bc5+

Troubles pour forth for White, as his opponent's pieces stream out.
21 Kh1!

Question: Why doesn't White simply block with his bishop?

Answer: It's not so simple. White's guard is up. He deftly sidesteps a cheapo attempt, having been around the block before. If he enters your suggested line, Black wins with a combination: 21 Be3 d2! (attraction) 22 Qxd2 Ne5 (discovered attack) 23 Qf2, when White's unstable structure looks dried out and crumbly, food left too long in the refrigerator.

Exercise (combination alert): Black to play and force the win of heavy material.

Answer: Overload. 23 . . . Ng4 ! ! and the knight is untouchable since 24 fxg4?? Bxe3 25 Qxe3 Qxg2 is mate. The queen profits from the discord in White's camp, howling off with the spoils.

21

000

Qd6!

Threatening . . . Qxg3. The queen inhales deeply, recharging her lungs for the bellowed tirade which follows. So smooth are Botvinnik's best attacks, they seem almost as if fashioned by natural design, more than human thought.

22 Qf4
22 Bh6 is met by the chillingly quiet move 22 . . . Rh7!, when White has no defence to the coming doubling along the h-file.

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Denker was undoubtedly bewildered by the rapid intensity of his downward spiral. Despite White's best efforts, the kingside proves ungovernable. Any accountant would inform you that White's defence is in the red, perilously close to filing for bankruptcy.

Exercise (combination alert): How can Black

smash his way through to White's king?

Answer: Through the process of impermanence, those in positions of privilege and power don't always remain where they are in perpetuity. White's king realizes he forestalls the onset of madness only by distracting himself from the awful truth - his power, his life itself, is on the wane, about to be usurped by those who despise him, unaided by those who profess to love him. Now he is forced to enter the sarcophagus while still alive.

22 0 0 0 Rxh2+! 23 Kxh2

Die rich or die poor. It doesn't matter. It is of no solace to adorn your tomb with treasure.
23 0 0 0 Rh8+ 24 Qh4 Rxh4+ 25 Bxh4

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The perspiring bishop arrives on h4 in the nick of time, or so he believes, in the aid of his king. It looks like White is okay (he most certainly isn't!). After all, he got two rooks for the queen . . .

Exercise (combination alert): Or did he?

Black's next move tears away the flimsy veil.

Answer: Double attack. Black's queen doles out punishment to the deserving. liThe rich get richer!" bemoan White's bishops, at the queen's endless greed. 25 ... Qf4! 0-1

Game 10
S.Tartakower-M.Botvinnik Staunton Memorial, Groningen 1946

French De fence
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5

Question: A tad cowardly?

Answer: A wise decision. Surviving the opening against Botvinnik was no simple task, so Tartakower takes a suitable precaution and veers clear of Botvinnik's deadly opening arsenal. Sometimes it is okay to give away the first move advantage if your opponent represents a library of theory which you could never

hope to match. Tartakower would most certainly have been killed had he entered the intricacies of almost any other French line against the maestro. Botvinnik said Tartakower played this way "in order to exclude any surprises in the opening . . .
"

3

000

exdS 4 Nf3 B d6 S c4

I think this line is more promising than 5 Bd3 Ne7 6 Bg5 Nbc6 7 c3 Bg4 8 Nbd2 Qd7, as in Z. Bogut-A.Grischuk, European Cup, Kallithea 2008. I reached this position a few times as Black and have the feeling he already stands a shade better since he can castle queenside and launch a swift kingside attack.
S
000

Nf6

6 cS
Logical, since it comes with tempo.

Question: Can White also play in pure isolani fashion with 6 Nc3 0-0 7 cxd5 - ?

Answer: This is possible too, but White gets a more passive version than normal after 7 . . . Re8+ 8 Be2 Nbd7 9 0-0 h6 10 Bc4 Nb6 11 Bb3 Bg4 12 h3 Bh5 13 Be3 Qd7 14 a4 as 15 Rc1 Qf5! 16 Bc2 Bxf3 17 Bxf5 Bxdl 18 Rfxdl Nfxd5. You are witness to a miracle. Your normally bumbling writer managed to achieve the slightly superior ending versus a World Champion (and win!), G.Kasparov-C.Lakdawala, Internet (blitz) 1998.

6

000

Be7 7 Bd3 b6 8 cxb6 axb6 9 0-0 0-0 10 Nc3

Possibly inaccurate as Black's g4-pin now grows irritating. I would play 10 h3 as in G.Russek Libni-A.Valle, Sao Paulo 1991 .
10
000

Bg4 11 h3 BhS 12 g4!?

·

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One man's territorial gain is another's overextension.

Question: Why does White agree to weaken his position to this degree?

Answer: He must, since the alternative is the nauseatingly passive pin-breaker 12 Be2. 12 ... Bg6 13 Ne5 Bxd3 14 Qxd3 c6 15 Bg5?

Exercise (combination alert): The ever-vigilant Botvinnik found

a trick to exploit White's

natural but weak last move. How?

Answer: By engaging an excelsior theme combination.

Question: What is an excelsior theme?

Answer: One of those: "l chop on g4, then he takes e7, then I take his knight on eS, then he takes my

queen on d8 . . . " deals.

15 0 0 0 Nxg4!

From researching this book, I was staggered to discover that from about 1936 to around 1950 Botvinnik almost never missed a combination in his games. I had Houdini running, looking at hundreds and hundreds of games, and whenever Houdini sounded the combination alert, Botvinnik, in stereo, always seemed to find the same combination as well.

16 Nxc6
If 16 hxg4 Bxg5 and Black wins a pawn; as does the line 16 Bxe7 Nxe5 17 Bxd8 Nxd3 18 Bxb6 Nd7 19 Bc7 Nxb2.
16 0 0 0 Nxc6

Tartakower retains the material balance at the cost of his king's security.
17 Bxe7 Nxe7 18 hxg4 fS!

" A great unpleasantness for White." Botvinnik immediately goes after White's weakened king.
19 Rael!

White hands over the pawn, relying on his lead in development. Instead, 19 g5?! f4! looks pretty scary for White; as does 19 gxf5?! Nxf5 with a strong attack.
19 0 0 0 fxg4 20 ReS Rf3 21 QbS Ng6!?

The addict self-medicates, offering yet more material to bring on the blessed relief which attack provides. Botvinnik, who gave himself an exclam for this move, sacs the pawn back to increase his piece activity. His decision is based on the theory that elective, partial defeat is actually a key component to victory. One must first learn to give up something to make gains later on. I'm not as confident; perhaps Black can play the more circumspect 21 . . . Kh8 and try to hang on to the material.

Question: You dare to contradict Botvinnik's assessment of the position?

Answer: Well, normally I would be too gutless to do so if relying upon my own stunted brain, but with 3200-rated big brother Houdini helping out, yes, I dare.

22 Rxd5!?

Question: Why didn't White force queens off the board?

Answer: I had the same thought, but then computer analysis proved that White remains in deep trouble there as well: 22 Qxd5+ Qxd5 23 Rxd5 Raf8 (threatening 24 . . . g3) 24 Ne4 Nf4 25 Rb5 h5! 26 Rxb6 h4, and . . . g4-g3 looms again, a menace upon the landscape. I'm not so sure White can save himself after 27 Rb3 Rxb3 28 axb3 Ne2+ 29 Kg2 Nxd4.

22 0 0 0 Qf6 23 Rg5?!

White's best chance to save himself is to centralize madly with 23 Ne4 Qf4 24 ReS! (threatening QdS+) 24 . . . Rf8 25 Re8! .
23 0 0 0 Rf8 24 Ne4 Qf4

Threatening . . . Rh3 and . . . Qh2 mate. However, the seemingly helpless white king merely feigns sleep and is ready to call on his guards.
25 Qd5+ Kh8 26 Rh5

Covering the mating threat, while threatening NgS himself.
26 0 0 0 Rh3

Threatening mate in one. Botvinnik was in severe time trouble at this point.

27 Rxh3 gxh3 28 N g3
White avoids the trap 28 NgS?? Qg4+ 29 KhI Ne7!, overloading his queen, which can't cover both the g2-mate threat and the gS-knight.
28 0 0 0 Nh4 29 Qe4 Nf3+

·

.

White's king can only faux-smile at the intrusive guest, as he resigns himself to the new reality. His infirmity on f3 is destined to be a fixture in his life and have a paralyzing effect for the remainder of the game.
30 Khl Qxe4?!

A misguided overture. Now his plans to checkmate begin to degenerate into a somewhat incoherent facsimile of an earlier intent.

Question: Shouldn't Black keep queens on the board?

Answer: Strangely enough, Botvinillk doesn't comment on the move, but yes, the computers scream to retain the queens and claim that Black's decisive advantage slips after 30 . . . Qxe4. Perhaps Botvinillk' s decision was based on his time pressure. 30 ... Qf7! was much stronger, threatening to fork on d2. Houdini assesses it at -2.20, winning for Black.

31 Nxe4 Rf4 32 Re1 h6
32 . . . g5 is slightly more accurate and may later save a tempo.
33 Rc3 g5?!

Time trouble, that malignant moment of each game where even unbelievably strong players, without warning, degenerate into flustered beginners. Ah, yes, the tyranny of the improbable. In our chess lives, how many good positions have we all tossed aside to chase some illusion? Botvinnik's chronic time problems nearly mess things up. Black is still winning after the obvious 33 . . . Nxd4, eliminating White's dangerous, passed d-pawn.
34 d5!

.

.

White arrives at the estate of pure desperation, a dangerous realm for both him and his opponent. The derelict archipelago of White's pawns surge forward (well, not his queenside pawns just yet!). Tartakower gratefully seizes upon his chance and pushes the d-pawn forward. After considerable expenditure of capital and resources, Black looks like he received precious little from his earlier investments.
34 0 0 0 g4

Now White's knight really is hanging.
35 Re3 Rf5 36 Nc3 Rf6 37 Re6 Kg7 38 Rxf6 Kxf6 39 d6 Ke6 40 N d5

Black's win isn't so simple after 40 Ne4! Ne5 41 Kh2 Kd5 42 f4! Nd7 43 Ng3 Ke6! 44 b4 Nf6 45 a4 h5 46 Ne2 Kxd6 47 Nc3 Kc6. I tried to defend this as White against Houdini and lost every time . But it may not be so easy for a human to convert Black's position.
40 0 0 0 Kxd6 41 Nxb6 h5!

.

.

The sealed move. Botvinnik had worked out the win in the adjournment.

Question: What win? Isn't Black the one in desperate trouble?

After all, White has two passed pawns, helped forward by the knight.

Answer: Let's do an exercise:

Exercise (planning): White plans to push his passers down

the board. We must act and act

quickly. What can Black do?

Answer: Play for mate! Botvinnik alchemically attempts to transmute a base g-pawn into checkmate on g2. Botvinnik writes: "White's misfortune consists in the desperate position of his king, under mortal threat of . . . h4 followed by . . . g3 and . . . g2 mate." Amazingly, in every variation, Black's mate arrives before White promotes and consolidates.

42 Nc4+

42 a4 Ne5 43 Kh2 h4 44 as Kc6 45 b4 Nf3+ 46 Khl g3 mates.
42 000 Kd5 43 Ne3+ Ke4 44 a4 Kd3!

.

.

Suddenly the unthinkable becomes quite thinkable: Black forces checkmate. 44 . . . g3? only draws after 45 fxg3 Kxe3 46 as Nd4 47 a6 Nb5 48 Kh2 Kf3 49 Kxh3 Na7 50 Kh4.
45 Nd5 Ke2 46 Nf4+ Kxf2 47 Nxh3+

47 as g3 48 Nxh3+ Kfl 49 Nf4 Ne5 and if 50 a6 Ng4 mates next move.
47 0 0 0 Kfl

Alternatively, 47 . . . gxh3 48 as Kg3 49 a6 Nd2 50 a7 Ne4 51 a8Q Nf2+ 52 Kgl h2+ 53 Kfl hlQ+ 54 Qxhl Nxhl 55 b4 Nf2 56 b5 Ne4 57 b6 Nd6 and Black wins by a single tempo - whew!

48 Nf4 g3 49 Ng2
Not 49 Nxh5? g2 mate.
49 0 0 0 Kf2!

The taskmaster approaches White's lazy king with whip in hand. Botvinnik squeezes every ounce of energy from his pieces the way a thrifty person (i. e. my mother!) makes three cups of tea from just one teabag.

50 a5
White's hoped-for transformative potion turns out to be empty of magic and chemically inert as well. The final promotion attempt is no more than a ceremonial gesture.
50 0 0 0 h4 51 Nf4 Kfl! 52 Ng2

Or 52 a6 h3 53 a7 g2+ 54 Nxg2 hxg2 mate. The defibrillator paddle administers a

jolt of electricity to the king. His body spasms and jerks, yet his heart refuses to restart.
52 0 0 0 h3 53 Ne3+ Kf2 54 Ng4+ Ke2 0-1

.

.

A strange picture to observe the emboldened, hungry small confront the large, challenging through sheer numbers. White's king realizes that a rescue operation will not be forthcoming. There is no remedy to the coming pawn mate on g2. Here Tartakower samples the awful truth, like the taste of your own blood after losing a fight with the larger kid two grade levels above yours.

Game 1 1
M.Botvinnik-P.Keres World Championship Tournament, The Hague/Moscow 1948

Nimzo-Indian De fence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+

Question: The same as in Botvinnik's game against Capablanca?

Answer: Not quite. In Game 8, Capa committed to an early . . . d7-dS. In this instance, Keres played the more flexible . . . 0-0, which allows his pawn structure far more leeway.

6 bxc3

6

000

Re8!?

Question: What is the point of this move?

Answer: It's a little odd but actually logical. Black plans to set up his central pawns on dark squares.

Question: What would be the modern treatment of the line?

Answer: A recent game went 6 . . . cS 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 Ne2 b6 9 e4 Ne8 10 e5 Ba6 11 Qa4 Qc8 12 Bf4 f5 13 exf6 Nxf6 14 0-0 (or similarly 14 Bd6 Rf7 15 dxc5 Na5) 14 . . . Na5 15 Bd6 Rf7 16 dxc5 Ne8 and Black had excellent play, A. Ipatov-G. Kamsky, Istanbul Olympiad 2012.

7 Ne2
As in his game against Capa, Botvinnik's knight heads for its optimal post on g3.
7
000

eS 8 Ng3 d6 9 Be2 Nbd7?!

This looks inaccurate and fails to apply sufficient pressure upon White's centre. Keres should reserve the knight for c6, with the plan: . . . c7-cS, . . . Nc6, . . . b7-b6, . . . NaS, . . . Ba6 and . . . Rc8, when Black often picks off the c4-pawn, White's weakest link.
10 0-0 cS 11 f3!

Botvinnik displays deep understanding of the structure. He owns the bishop pair and therefore strives to retain central fluidity.
11
000

cxd4?!

Question: What is wrong with Black's last move?

Answer: Keres falls victim to his love of open games in a position he should keep closed. He violates the principle: Avoid opening the game when the opponent owns the bishop pair.

Botvinnik writes: "Hardly a useful decision in the given position as White's queen's bishop now comes to life, and the doubled pawn is dissolved away."

Botvinnik was a master of ferreting out an opponent's mistaken and recurring patterns. He noted: "Keres nearly always exchanges these pawns in the Nimzo­ Indian . . . but here he should have refrained from doing so." Keres' move may be a sin, albeit of the venial variety, not yet a mortal sin - though he certainly moves in that direction.
12 cxd4 Nb6 13 Bb2 exd4 14 e4!

-

-

The incontrovertible evidence of Black's distress is strewn about him. 1 . White clamps down on Black's . . . d6-d5 pawn break. 2. In doing so he fixes d6 as a chronic weakness. 3. White's dark-squared bishop reigns unopposed on its diagonal and stares menacingly at f6 and g7. 4. In comparison, White's weakened c4-pawn is easy to protect.
14 0 0 0 Be6 1S Rcl Re7 16 Qxd4

The queen vents her displeasure at d6, f6 and g7.
16 0 0 0 Qc7?!

Botvinnik camouflages his true intent (mate !) with success and Keres, blind to the actual menace, grossly underestimates the danger to his king. 16 . . . Na4 should have been played.
17 cS!

Question: Didn't White's last move just dissolve Black's only pawn weakness?

Answer: It did, but White received a lot in return with the multipurpose move. The cumulative end product of Black's anxieties:

1 . White opens the game further. 2. His cl-rook enters the game and may swing over to g5, further stressing out Black's worried king. 3. White dissolves his own pawn weakness on c4.
17 0 0 0 dxcS 18 RxcS Qf4?!

18 . . . Qd8 was a better try, but Botvinnik claims that after 19 Qe3! " [White's] threats can hardly be repulsed."
19 Bel! Qb8?

The black queen, sensing unpleasant commotion in front of her, finds herself exasperated by her fruitless labours, so she blows strands of hair off her forehead and stalks off. After Black's last move, the till of the defence runs empty of funds. 19 . . . Rd7 was his only chance to prolong resistance .
20 RgS!

The rook arrives in a swirl of meaning. Targets: f6 and g7. Black undoubtedly had hopes of keeping his kingside innocent of the rook's contaminating influence.
20 0 0 0 Nbd7

.

.

On the surface Black's defenders may appear a pleasant sight, but they're not of

much actual use in advancing the plot, like bikini-clad extras in a 1950s' Elvis movie. We feel it in our bones. A constrictive band wraps around Black. All about him, he notices a deficit of the friendly and a surplus of the hostile. He realizes he is soon to be evicted from his once safe haven, with nothing to return to but woe .

Exercise (combination alert): Find White's kingside breakthrough

which purees Black's kingside

cover into a smooth paste.

Answer: The rook wallops g7 the way my wife Nancy, in a daily fit of pique, viciously swats her radio I alarm clock each morning as it goes off at 6:00 a.m.

21 Rxg7+ !

After such a sac, for Black's king there is no going back to a place of past Innocence.
21 000 Kxg7 22 Nh5+ Kg6

The walking wounded attempt to cross the mesa to safer territory. 22 . . . Kh8 23 Bb2 Qe5 24 Nxf6 Qxd4+ 25 Bxd4 Kg7 26 Nxd7+ is equally hopeless for Black, while 22 . . . Kf8 23 Nxf6 Nxf6 24 Qxf6 forces mate.
23 Qe3! 1-0

The extent of the queen's wilful evil now grows quite apparent. Black has no remedy to the dual mate threats.
Keep in mind that Keres was a contender for the world title in 1948! In this game (and the next!) Botvinnik made him appear as anything but a contender.

Game 12
M.Botvinnik-P.Keres USSR Championship, Moscow 1952

Queen's Gambit Declined
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5

The Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined.

Question: Doesn't release of the central tension help Black?

Answer: Well, I think such decisions are a matter of style. Personally, I always play the exchange lines versus the Slav and QGD, where I feel equality isn't so easy for Black. Botvinnik writes: "This move causes Black the greatest problems, since now all that he can contemplate is a tenacious defence, whereas White has an enduring initiative." Kasparov also liked this line and piled up an astronomical score with it. In essence, the line in which you score best is the best line!

4

000

exd5 5 Bg5 Be7 6 e3 0-0 7 Bd3 Nbd7 8 Qc2 Re8

9 Nge2
Question: I see a pattern where BotvimUk nearly always develops his gl-knight to the e2-

square rather than f3. Why?

Answer: Once again, a personal preference. BotvimUk deeply understood the nuances of these positions which arose from the Nimzo-Indian and QGD and used the Ng3, followed by f2-f3 and e3-e4, plan to deadly effect in his games. 9 Nf3 is an alternative set-up, and then 9 . . . Nf8 10 h3 Be6 11 0-0 c6.

Question: What is White's plan in this position?

Answer: A person's choice of pawn structure reveals a lot about his personality. Here White has a choice of two plans: Plan A: Stonewall set-up : 12 Ne5 N6d7 13 Bxe7 Rxe7 14 f4, when White

plays Rael and then goes all out with g2-g4 next, V. Kranmik-O. Renet, European Cup, Clichy 1995. Plan B: Minority attack on the queenside : 12 a3 Rc8 13 b4 N6d7 14 Bf4 Ng6 15 Bg3 Ndf8 1 6 Na4 Bd6 17 Bxd6 Qxd6 18 Nc5 Rc7 19 Racl Bc8 20 Rfel Qf6 21 Qdl Ne6 22 Nxe6 Bxe6 23 b5 as in V. Topalov-A.Yusupov, Frankfurt (rapid) 2000.

9 0 0 0 Nf8 10 0-0
At the time it was an almost unheard-of plan to castle kingside .

Question: What else would White do?

Answer: In the 1950s, in such set-ups, White would castle long and then go for an attack. In this case, Botvinnik replicated the same plan he used in his game against Capablanca from this chapter: Ng3, then play for f2-f3 and e3-e4. This took Keres by surprise and he failed to react properly.

10 0 0 0 c6

11 Rab1
Botvinnik toys with the minority attack but later changes his mind due to an inaccurate plan on Keres' part.

I

prefer the more direct path, as in G . Kasparov-

D . Barua, Internet (rapid) 2000: 11 f3 Ng6 12 Radl h6 13 Bxf6 Bxf6 14 Bxg6 (Kasparov is willing to hand over both bishops for Black's knights to engineer the e4-break) 14 . . . fxg6 15 e4 g5 16 e5 Be7 17 f4 ! gxf4 18 Nxf4 Rf8 19 Ng6 Rxfl + 20 Rxfl Be6 21 Ne2 Qd7 22 h4 ! Re8 23 Ng3 Bf7 24 Nxe7+ Rxe7 25 Nf5 Re6 26 Nd6, when White's knight dominates his f7-bishop counterpart.

11 0 0 0 Bd6?
It transpires this bishop is the agent of Black's downfall. Keres, buoyed by false hope, rather naIvely attempts a cheapo with all the markings of a sleazy transaction. The bishop fails to intimidate and Keres falls prey to the temptation of . . . Bxh2+ and makes a poor decision, moving his bishop twice.

12 Khl ! Ng6
12 . . . Bxh2?? fails miserably to the zwischenzug 13 Bxf6.

13 f3!
The opposing factions strive and scheme in discord. Botvinnik alertly revises his plans and vetoes the minority attack in favour of an central pawn break. Botvinnik writes : "Black can no longer prevent e3-e4, since in the given position it is hard for him to counter with . . . c6-c5./f All because of Black's lame 11 . . . Bd6 ! .

13 0 0 0 Be7
Back again. The earlier planting on d6 produced precious little yield, so Black essentially expended two tempi for absolutely nothing in return.

Question: Why not put the question to White's bishop with 13 . . . h6

-

?

Answer: It isn't much of a question since the bishop already knows the answer . White takes over the initiative and attack after 14 Bxf6 Qxf6 15 e4.

14 Rbel Nd7 15 Bxe7 Rxe7 16 Ng3 Nf6 17 Qf2!

.

.

Reinforcing d4, to prepare his future e3-e4 break.

17 0 0 0 Be6 18 Nf5!
More accurate than the immediate 18 e4 dxe4 19 fxe4 Rd7, when Black achieves some central counterplay.

18 0 0 0 Bxf5
Criticized by Botvinnik - but after 18 . . . Re8 he intended 19 g4, when any capture on f5 would be met with g4xf5, prying open the g-file .

19 Bxf5 Qb6 20 e4 dxe4!?

Question: Why did Keres allow Botvinnik to open the f-file?

Answer: This is one of those damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't moments. Keres' last move follows the principle: Counter in the centre when attacked on the wing. However, following principle this time may not have been best, since the extenuating circumstances of White's open f-file may take precedence. On the other hand, 20 . . . Nf8 21 e5 N6d7 22 f4 doesn't look like a whole lot of fun for Black either.

21 fxe4 Rd8 22 e5!
Excellent strategic judgment. Botvinnik gladly hands over d5 to allow

his

knight

access on d6. I marvel at the way Botvinnik skilfully accrues and merges multiple strategic and tactical themes; the cumulative effect leaves Black hopelessly awaiting his fate .

22 0 0 0 Nd5
22 . . . Ne8 retains some pressure on d4, but in the end fails to save Black after 23 Rd1 Nf8 24 Bc2! (intending transfer to b3) 24 ... Nc7 (24 ... Ne6?? loses instantaneously to 25 Qh4) 25 Ne4 Nd5 26 Bb3 with enduring pressure .

23 Ne4 Nf8 24 Nd6 Qc7 25 Be4!

A catalogue of Black's woes: 1. White clears the f-file for his major pieces . 2. White clears f5 for his knight where it eyes the sensitive g7-and h6-squares, as well as gaining a tempo on Black's e7 -rook. 3. White may decide to plug up the d5-hole with Bxd5 .

25 0 0 0 Ne6
Question: Can Black ease the pressure by sac'ing the exchange for a pawn on d6?

Answer: Botvinnik thought this was Black's only hope, but in reality he simply exchanges one problem for another. Black is still busted after 25 . . . Rxd6 26 exd6 Qxd6 27 Bxd5! cxd5 28 Rxe7 Qxe7 29 Qf5 with a technically won position.

26 Qh4
Forcing weakness in Black's camp.

26 0 0 0 g6
Forced, but in making this move, Keres offends an entire demographic: the dark squares around his king.

27 Bxd5
No more hole on d5 .

27 0 0 0 cxd5 28 Rcl
Chasing Black's queen into further passivity.

28 0 0 0 Qd7
The ageing queen's disposition deteriorates in sync with her fading looks .

29 Rc3!
Preparing transference to the kingside .

29 0 0 0 Rf8

Exercise (combination alert): Black's position has been reduced to grovelling passivity. Now

comes the time to strike . How would you continue White's attack?

Answer: Add the final attacker . Black's king had hoped to be spared the insufferable annoyance of the knight's presence, but such was not to be his fate. Now White's heroic knight galvanizes his comrades into action.

30 Nf5! Rfe8
The knight is immune as 30 . . . gxf5?? 31 Rg3+ Ng7 32 Qf6 mates next move . If instead, 30 . . . Ree8 31 Nh6+ Kh8 (or 31 . . . Kg7 32 Qf6+ ! Kxh6 33 Rh3 mate) 32 Qf6+ Ng7 33 Nxf7+, Black must fork over the exchange, since 33 . . . Kg8 34 Nh6+ Kh8 35 Qxf8+ Rxf8 36 Rxf8 is mate again.

31 Nh6+!
The knight thunders past. More cold-bloodedly effective than merely taking the exchange - h6 is the puncture wound through which Black's misery drips. With the feast yet to come, Botvinnik is disinclined to be bought off with gifts of scraps from Black's table .

31 0 0 0 Kf8
31 . . . Kg7 is once again met by 32 Qf6+ Kxh6 (the king wanders off to who-knows­ where, like a child who plays hooky from school) 33 Rh3 mate .

32 Qf6
Threatening mate on the move .

32 0 0 0 Ng7

Black's overcrowded pieces scrunch in close .

33 Rcf3

Game over. White threatens mate, beginning with Qxf7+ ! . In this hopelessly busted position, even Black's most sincere efforts are rendered moot.

33 0 0 0 RcS 34 Nxf7 Re6 35 Qg5 Nf5 36 Nh6 Qg7 37 g4 1-0
Black's king cringes, beleaguered by the swirl of hostiles all around him, and he drops a piece as well, almost as an afterthought.

Game 13
M.Botvinnik-L.Portisch Monte Carlo 1968

English Opening
At the time of this game, Portisch was a contender for the World Championship, while Botvinnik's career entered its twilight.

1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Bg2

-

-

The Reversed Dragon. Botvinnik once wrote that the Open Sicilian position was too potent an opening to allow White to attain it a full move up .

Question: Is this true?

Answer: Probably not. Top GMs continue to allow the Reversed Dragon to this day and score just fine with the black side. However, Black must play one of the quiet, positional lines. If he goes for some ultra­ sharp Yugoslav Attack variation, the extra tempo turns deadly potent against him.

S

000

Be6

GMs play 5 . . . Nb6 today.

Question: What is the difference?

Answer: It is in Black's best interest to keep a firm grip over the d4-square and not allow White to play the move in one go.

6 Nf3 Nc6 7 0-0 Nb6
The most accurate move . White gets a clear edge if allowed d2-d4 . For example : 7 . . . Be7 8 d4 ! Nxc3 9 bxc3 e4 (or 9 . . . exd4 10 Nxd4 Nxd4 11 cxd4 c6 12 Rb1 Qd7 13 Qc2 with advantage to White, who dominates the centre and may apply pressure down the open b-and c-files, L. Christiansen-E. Handoko, Surakarta 1982) 10 Nd2 f5 11 e3 0-0 12 c4 and White's extra central control gave him the edge, G . Kasparov­ V. Korchnoi, Paris (rapid) 1990.

8 d3 Be7 9 a3

9

000

as?!

It isn't worth weakening the queenside to prevent b2-b4. Current theory has Black playing . . . a7-a5 only

in response

to White's b2-b4. For example : 9 . . . 0-0 10 b4 f6 11

Bb2 as (the correct timing) 12 b5 Nd4 13 Nd2 c6 14 bxc6 Nxc6 15 Nb5 a4 16 Rc1 Ra5 with mutual chances, E. Bacrot-V.Topalov, Dubai (rapid) 2002.

10 Be3 0-0 11 Na4
A standard Dragon manoeuvre . The swap of the b6-knight helps White out in his queenside ambitions .

Question: Doesn't taking on b6 damage Black's pawn structure?

Answer: A little, but Black is compensated in the form of increased dark square control and the bishop pair; e.g. 11 Bxb6 cxb6 12 Rc1 f6 13 Nd2 Rc8 14 Nc4 Rf7, when I prefer White but Black's game is quite playable as well, Zhao Xue-B.Yildiz, FIDE Grand Prix, Nanjing 2009.

11 0 0 0 Nxa4
G . Kasparov-Kir. G eorgiev, World Blitz Championship, Saint Jolm 1988, saw 11 Nd5 12 Bc5 Bd6 13 Rcl h6 14 Nd2 Rc8 15 Ne4 and, just as White began to exert a degree of queenside pressure, Black blundered with 15 . . . b6? which allowed Kasparov a combination.

Exercise (combination alert): White to play and win material.

Answer: Deflection. 16 Nxd6! cxd6 17 Bxb6! Nxb6 18 Rxc6, picking off a pawn.

12 Qxa4 Bd5 13 Rfc1
Question: Why not the aI-rook?

Answer: Botvinnik's attack (for now) is on the queenside, so he logically utilizes both of his rooks in that sector of the board.

13 0 0 0 Re8 14 Rc2 Bf8
Labelled "complacency" by Botvinnik, who gave 14 . . . Bd6 15 Nd2 Bxg2 16 Kxg2 as Black's best chance to defend his queenside .

15 Rac1
Now White may contemplate Nd2 and, damaging exchange sac on c6. after a bishop swap, a potentially

15 0 0 0 Nh8

·

.

Welcome, welcome ! Please enter my humble home . If we take on c7, then Portisch plans to slam the door in our face with . . . Bc6, trapping our rook. If we don't take, then Black plans . . . c7-c6, rendering our doubled rooks rather silly on the c-file .

Exercise (critical decision): Should we accept Black's dare and enter with 16 Rxc7

-

?

Answer: Black's last move fails to fit the position's requirements. We absolutely should take the dare. Black's last move was a blunder. Rare is the occasion when one side is able to retreat a fully developed piece back to its home square in an open position and get away with the crime. His knight retreat proves to be a dangerous cocktail, high on ambition and short on effectiveness.

16 Rxc7!
Apparently both parties are amenable to the deal.

16 0 0 0 Bc6 17 R1xc6 bxc6

Exercise (combination alert): White can play 18 Rb7, when he gets excellent compensation for

the exchange . Instead, he found an infinitely stronger continuation. What was it?

Answer: The inherent weakness of f7 wafts its unpleasant odour, until it permeates Black's camp. How often do you see a game where one side gets the good fortune to offer both rooks?

18 Rxf7! !
This move must have come as a jarring shock to Portisch. Now we sense a radical shift of energy, Black's decreasing and White's increasing with each move .

18 0 0 0 h6
The rook's firm grip is met by the black king's dreaded limp-fish handshake . Declining is the only way to continue playing.

Question: Why didn't Black accept?

Answer: Acceptance leads to slaughter after 18 . . . Kxf7? (the old king, overestimating his grip on power, indulges in a poor decision) 19 Qc4+ Kg6 (other moves fail to come into consideration 19 . . . Ke7? 20 Bg5+, 19 . . . Kf6? 20 Bg5+, or 19 . . . Qd5? 20 Ng5+) 20 Qe4+ Kf7 21 Ng5+ Ke7 22 Qxe5+ Kd7 23 Bh3+ and Black's plate is so empty that he sees his own reflection.

19 Rb7 Qc8 20 Qc4+ Kh8
20 . . . Qe6 21 Nxe5 Qxc4 22 Nxc4 is also completely lost for Black. White simply gets too many pawns for the exchange .

21 Nh4!

.

.

Yet another punishing foray - g6 is punctured. Now Botvinnik's pieces spit forth.

21 0 0 0 Qxb7
The queen strives to expunge the unpleasant association with White's intruding rook from her memory.

22 Ng6+ Kh7 23 Be4 Bd6 24 Nxe5+ g6
24 . . . Kh8 (the haunting images dancing within the black king's mind feel more real than actual reality) 25 Nf7+ wins the queen.

25 Bxg6+ Kg7

Exercise (combination alert): The once rich black king's furnishings are now as Spartan as a monk's

in a monastery. How did Botvinnik end all resistance?

Answer: The crushing tide of events press uncomfortably upon Black's king, who is cast out of his domain to wander in dangerous places.

26 Bxh6+ ! 1-0
After 26 . . . Kxh6 27 Qh4+ Kg7 28 Qh7+ Kf8 (the king falls to his knees and prays to some saint who specializes in rescuing believers from lost causes) 29 Qxb7 (the Botvinnik giveth and the Botvinnik taketh away; the duration of the black queen's life comes to a tragic and sudden end, as she slumps forward) 29 . . . Re7 30 Qxa8 does the job. I was about to say something clever here but find that I am unable .

Question: Don't tell me. Let me guess. Could it be that for the third time in just one chapter you

are rendered mute, bedazzled by Botvinnik's attacking prowess?

Answer: . . .

Chapter Two B otvinnik on Defence

I had the black pieces in this position from a 1977 simultaneous game against Botvinnik. Fortune finally smiled on me . Just look at White's trapped gl-bishop and rook, glued to their posts indefinitely, and his pathetic, stray, sick lamb of an h­ pawn, about to fall by the wayside . If victorious, I imagined a wondrous destiny: 1 . The city of Montreal throws a parade in my honour. 2. Popular kids at high school remorsefully seek absolution for past indiscretions toward your humble writer, and high five me incessantly. 3. Curvy high school cheerleaders, aghast at not earlier recognizing my unseen depths, fall tearfully to their knees, hands prayerfully clasped, imploring forgiveness and begging me for dates. 4. My stubborn case of acne finally clears up . In the game, Botvinnik's position stretched elastically, yet never snapped. Alas, none of my dreams came to pass - wait; my mistake; the acne did indeed clear up since Botvinnik hung on like grim death, complicated into a firestorm, and in tacit partnership with your writer's incompetence, managed rudely to steal the point from your deserving writer. When you are so utterly outmatched (even with receiving simul odds) by a legendary opponent, it's not such a bad idea to factor in crushing disappointment. Nevertheless, I remember leaving the building teary­ eyed. I discovered, as did Botvinnik's opponents in this chapter, that achieving a superior or winning position against Botvinnik didn't necessarily equate to actually scoring the point against the legend. In this chapter, we examine just how Botvinnik regains his mojo when under attack or struggling in an inferior position.

Game 14
A.Kotov-M.Botvinnik USSR Championship, Moscow 1944

Queen's Indian De fence
Who among us has not read Kotov's classic book, Think Like a Grandmaster ? 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 b6 3 e3 c5 4 Bd3 Bb7 5 c4 e6 6 0-0 Be7 7 Nc3 7 b3 leads to Zukertort Colle positions.
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7 d5!? Perhaps this move is playable, but I don't like it.
...

Question: Why not? Black simply challenges the centre. Answer: He shouldn't be confronting White and opening the game when lagging in development. Instead: a) The very natural 7 . . . O-O?! may be a strategic error as well. White forces an advantage after 8 d5! exd5 9 cxd5 d6 (or 9 . . . Nxd5 10 Nxd5 Bxd5 11 Bxh7+ Kxh7 12 Qxd5 and White's grip on d5 nets a clear advantage) 10 e4 a6 11 a4 with a good Benoni, since Black's light-squared bishop hits a pawn wall on d5, V.Malaniuk-M.Simantsev, Minsk 1998. b) 7 . . . cxd4 8 exd4 d5 9 cxd5 Nxd5 10 Ne5! 0-0 11 Qh5 g6 12 Qh3 looks like a dangerous version of an isolani for Black, E. Danielian-M. Brodsky, Cappelle la Grande 2006. c) 7 . . . h6! Question: What is the point of Black's last move? Answer: I like this idea, which denies White d4-d5 tricks by removing the Bxh7+ theme. After 8 b3 0-0 9 Bb2 cxd4, Black is okay whichever way White recaptures, R. Edouard-Al.David, Le Port Marly (rapid) 2012.

Principle: Open the game when leading in development.

8 cxd5 exd5
Botvinnik always favoured central control over hypermodern piece play. 8 . . . Nxd5 9 Nxd5 isn't pleasant for Black either. J.Akesson-K. Pilgaard, Gothenburg 2003, continued 9 . . . Qxd5 10 e4 Qd8 11 dxc5 Bxc5, when 12 b4! looks tough for Black. 9 Bb5+!

Principle: Confront the opponent when leading in development.
9 Kf8? If the position were given an EEG, the brainwaves produced would be reliably abnormal. This overreaction looks like a case of the cure exceeding the discomfort of the original ailment. 9 . . . Nbd7 10 Ne5, unpleasant as it appears, may be superior to self-denying castling. 10 b3!
...

Dual purpose: 1. Kotov prepares to fiancheUo his dark-squared bishop. 2. This, in turn, discourages Black from the unravelling plan . . . g7-g6?! and . . . Kg7, since it would put his king in the direct fire of White's fiancheUoed bishop. Botvinnik's opening has been an unquestioned disaster ! 10 ... a6 11 Be2 Nc6 12 Bb2 Rc8 13 Ne5 I don't think this is White's most direct plan.

Question: What would you suggest?

Answer: With Black's king on f8, his h8-rook will be out of play for quite some time. White's best bet is to confront in the centre and on the queenside as soon as possible, when Black is essentially short five fighting units, due to his AWOL h8-rook. Here 13 Rc1 h5 14 dxc5! looks exceedingly difficult for Black, whose position, in the throes of dissolution on every front, hangs by a worn thread. 13 ... Bd6 14 Nxc6 Rxc6 15 Bf3!? White retains a clear advantage after the correct 15 dxc5 ! . The text looks like a case of too much preparation. Kotov's move, a by-product of the main idea - like foam's relationship to beer in the mug may be a sub-optimal choice in a very promising position.

Exercise (planning): How did Botvinnik manage to relieve a good chunk of his troubles with his next move?

Answer: Principle: Close the position when lagging in development. 15 ... e4! 16 g3 Now White threatens to chop on d5. 16 ... Re8 17 bxe4 Rxe4 18 Qd3! Qe8 Botvinnik, still well short of equality, covers against cheapos such as 18 . . . g6?? 19 Nxd5!, picking off an important central pawn. The alternative was 18 . . . Bb4, challenging an enabler of White's e3-e4! break; but even then White retains the advantage by opening the position once again with 19 Nxd5! Bxd5 20 e4 Be6 21 e5 Ne8 22 d5 b5 23 Rfc1 Rxc1 + 24 Rxc1 which gives him a promising attack, despite Black's extra piece. 19 Rac1?! /I An idle mind is the deviY s playground!/I so my third grade math teacher would admonish me when she caught me daydreaming of a mathless world, while gazing out the window at the enticing playground. One can only amend and cross-reference a plan so much and then the need for action overrides the need to edit. No need to cook the banana. Just peel and eat. But Kotov vacillates. The e4-square is the governing body of the position, where authority flows down. White's goal gets bogged down in a series of interminable delays and difficulties - all unnecessary and all self-inflicted. The time is now to seize the initiative with 19 e4! Nxe4 (Black also remains on the defensive in the line 19 . . . Rxc3 20 Qxc3 Qxc3 21 Bxc3 dxe4 22 Bg2 Ke7 23 Rfbl Bc7 24 Ba5! Nd7 25 Bh3 Rb8 26 Bxd7 bxa5 27 Ba4) 20 Nxe4 dxe4 21 Bxe4 Bxe4 22 Qxe4 Qc6 23 Qf5 Qc8 24 Qf3, when the sullen h8-rook will probably cost Black the game. 19 ... Qe6! Fighting for e4, while retaining control over c4. 20 Bg2 h5!

Intending . . . h5-h4, a move which accurately reflects the increasingly hostile tinge to Botvinnik ambitions. He attempts to brazen it out by moulding a virtue from a vice, threatening to activate the h8rook and launch an unexpected kingside attack.

21 Ne2
Now an e3-e4 break will be near impossible to achieve. I would have tossed in 21 h4. 21 ... b5 And here perhaps the immediate 21 . . . h4 should be played.

22 Nf4 Qe7 23 Qd1
The last chance for 23 h4. 23 ... h4 The once-heavy volume of White threats declines to zero. Kotov's sluggish middlegame play allowed Botvinnik to make full repairs and suddenly I prefer Black's position. 24 Qf3 Kg8 25 Rfd1 N e4 26 N d3 Rh6!

The sleeping rook awakens. 27 Qe2 hxg3 28 fxg3?! The wrong recapture. White voluntarily accepts a weak, backward e-pawn. 28 ... Qg5 29 Bxe4? This move is indisputable evidence that White's advantage, now long gone, took a wrong turn. Kotov removes the offending knight, but in so doing, fatally weakens his light squares. 29 ... dxe4 30 Nf4

Exercise (planning): Just compare Black's position to his dismal one after the opening! What a change. Come up with a plan to break White's resistance.

Answer: Principle: Opposite-coloured bishops favour the attacker.
30 ... Bxf4! The bishop greets his wayward brother with precious little warmth or affection. 31 exf4 Qd5! Dual purpose: 1. Blockading White's d-pawn. 2. Threatening to unleash light square pain with . . . e4-e3 next. 32 Qg2 Rhc6 33 Rxc4 Rxc4 34 h3 b4! Advancing his majority and fixing a2 as a target as well. 35 Kh2?

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White is at least consoled with an illusion of safety. His king position, now absent of defenders, stands derelict.

Exercise (combination alert): In fact Kotov just blundered in a busted position. How did Botvinnik exploit it?

Answer: The start of a zwischenzug combination. Botvinnik concludes crisply, without wasted motion. 35 ... e3! 36 Qxd5 Rc2+! There it is: zwischenzug! Black's rook sneaks in and puts finger to lips in a silence" gesture to White's forces. He takes control over the seventh rank, rendering White helpless.
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37 Kgl
The unbelieving king, who up until now had only seen the inside of churches and temples via funerals and weddings, decides to engage upon spiritual matters. 37 ... Bxd5 0-1 White can't save his bishop, since 38 Bel is met by 38 . . . Rg2+ 39 Kf1 (the confused king's eyes glaze over, like discount chinaware) 39 . . . e2+.

Game 15
D.Bronstein-M.Botvinnik World Championship (18th matchgame), Moscow 1951

Semi-Slav De fence
1 d4 One of the great shortcomings of life is that most people rarely achieve their heart's desire, unless blind luck plays a role. Had Bronstein won this game, he would very likely have defeated Botvinnik in their world championship match and had his name enshrined in history, next to the likes of Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, Botvinnik, Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov. Unfortunately, Bronstein's life fell a sliver short of his dreams. 1 ... d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 e6 5 e3 a6

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This line continues to be played by GMs, but it's a thankless task for Black, in my opinion, and I believe 6 . . . Nbd7, the main line, is clearly a superior choice. I was tempted to give Black's move a "?!" mark but realized it would outrage all the people who play this line, so I chickened out!

Question: Can you explain this move?

Answer: Black can either play for an immediate . . . b7-b5, or he can meet 6 Bd3 with 6 . . . dxc4 7 Bxc4 b5 8 Bb3 b5, transposing to a Queen's Gambit Accepted. In my opinion, the . . . a7-a6 lines work better in a pure Slav rather than in a Semi-Slav where Black is already committed to . . . e7-e6. Black's light-squared bishop normally belongs on the outside of the pawn chain.

6 Bd3
The immediate 6 b3 is White's best shot at an advantage. G. Kasparov-B. Gelfand, Linares 1991, continued 6 . . . Bb4 7 Bd2 Nbd7 8 Bd3 0-0 9 0-0 Bd6 10 e4 dxc4 11 bxc4 e5 12 cS! Bc7 13 Na4 exd4 14 h3 Re8 15 ReI h6 16 Rbl Nh7 17 Bc4 Qf6 18 Rb3 Nhf8 19 Bel Ng6 20 Nxd4 (Rf3 is in the air) 20 . . . Nde5 21 Bfl Rd8 22 Bb2 and I prefer White, whose kingside majority feels more potent and his pieces look more threatening than Black's. 6 ... b5 6 . . . dxc4 7 Bxc4 b5 followed by . . . c6-c5, transposes to Queen's Gambit Accepted. But Botvinnik probably declined to enter for two reasons: 1 . Bronstein was a monster in open positions. 2. Botvinnik himself liked to take on the isolated d-pawn positions, with their resulting kingside attacking chances. So, due to this bias, he may have been somewhat hesitant to enter from the Black side. 7 b3! A good reaction. White may recapture on c4 with his b-pawn. 7 ... Nbd7 8 0-0 Bb7

9 cS! White's extra space gives him a slight but enduring advantage. Bronstein's move is stronger than retaining the central tension with something like 9 Bb2 Bd6 (now Black's bishop reaches a superior square) 10 Qe2 (it isn't too late for 10 cS!) 10 . . . bxc4! 11 bxc4 dxc4! 12 Bxc4 cS 13 Rfdl cxd4 14 Rxd4 Bc5 15 Rd2 Qe7 16 Radl 0-0 and Black equalized, D.Zilberstein-V.Akobian, US Championship, San Diego 2004. 9 Be7
...

Question: Can Black free his position with an . . . e6-e5 trick?

Answer: This violates the principle: Avoid confrontation when behind in development. 9 . . . e5? 10 Nxe5 Nxe5 11 dxe5 Nd7 and now 12 e6! looks good for White after 12 . . . Nxc5 (12 . . . fxe6? 13 Qh5+ Ke7 14 e4 is obviously awful for Black) 13 exf7+ Kxf7 14 Bc2, when Black remains behind in development in an open position. 10 a3 as 11 Bb2 0-0 12 Qc2 g6 Question: Is this weakening move necessary?

Answer: Sooner or later it will be. Black wants to retain options of . . . Nxe5 in case of Ne5 from White. 13 b4 axb4 14 axb4 Qc7?! Black should jump on every possible exchange, starting with 14 . . . Rxal 15 Rxal Qc7, followed by . . . Ra8. 15 Rae1!

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In the presence of my mother, I use the word "shoot!" when I'm annoyed; when at home, your foulmouthed writer often uses a similar sounding but different word. My feeling is that Botvinnik's thoughts

were clearly not along the lines of shoot" about here! Bronstein deftly retains rooks.

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Principle: The side with extra space should avoid swaps.
Botvinillk is getting squeezed: 1. The . . . e7-e5 break, his only source of counterplay, remains an impossible dream. 2. A closed centre means that White gets to attack with ease with ideas like Ne5 and f2-f4. 3. Black's light-squared bishop is a disgrace to the brotherhood of bishops, as he continues to sit in Zen­ like silence on b7.

Question: Well, if this is the case, then just where did Botvinnik go wrong?

Answer: Honestly, I think his mistake was entering this lemon of a line in the first place. 15 ... RfeB 16 Ne2 BfB 17 h3 Bg7 1B Ne5 NfB Botvinillk decides upon passive defence, since confrontation favours his opponent after 18 . . . Nxe5 19 dxe5 Nd7 20 f4 f6 21 exf6 Nxf6 (Black must recapture with his knight since 21 . . . Bxf6?? gets slaughtered by 22 Bxg6) 22 Be5 Qd8 23 Nd4 Nd7 24 Bxg7 Kxg7 25 e4! e5 26 Nf3 d4 27 Qd2 Bc8 28 Rdl and Black will eventually drop d4.

19 £3 N6d7 20 £4 £6
The immediate 20 . . . f5. intending . . . Nf6-e4, is a thought.

21 N£3 Re7 22 Nc3 £5
Achieving . . . f7-(f6)-f5 has not brought about equality. 23 Ra1!

Question: Didn't you say earlier that the side with space shouldn't swap?

Answer: Flexibility is important. Sometimes you must deliberately violate a principle if you believe the situation is an exception. By achieving a semi-locked kingside, Black defended well against a coming attack on that flank, so Bronstein switches gears and turns his attention to the queenside. 23 ... ReeB 24 Ne5 Rxa1 25 Rxa1 RaB 26 Qb1!

Question: Why an exclam?

Answer: The queen frees the b2-bishop for duty elsewhere. I can't say anymore about the move or I risk giving away the answer to the coming exercise ! 26 ... QcB?!

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BotvimUk, with his last move, makes a rare strategic evaluation misjudgment. He should have played his queen to b8 instead. Coming up with a viable offensive plan in such a situation is no simple task. Hypotheses rapidly form and as quickly die, killed off by their own future implications. Bronstein enters a hidden portal of thought, discovering a solution.

Exercise (planning/ critical decision): How would you play for the win as White in this position?

Answer: Give up a piece for two connected passed pawns. 27 Bxb5!!

Question: Isn't White in reality making purchases he can't afford?

Answer: Bronstein's move shows brilliant judgment. White's sac sets in motion a new chain of thought. Kasparov writes: /I A purely positional sacrifice: the pair of connected b-and c-pawns will be stronger than the bishop. White's dynamic evaluation proves more correct./I White is probably winning at this stage, but as in horse racing, there is no such thing as a sure winner. 27 ... Nxe5 28 fxe5 Bh6 29 Bel! Now we see the hidden point of 26 Qbl ! . 29 . . . cxb5 30 Nxb5 Nd7 31 Nd6 And now we see why BotvimUk's 26th move was inaccurate. White's knight, who smears d6 with his very presence so deep in Black's territory, arrives with tempo. 31 ... Rxa1 32 Qxa1 Qa8

33 Qc3
BotvimUk felt that 33 Qb2 was more accurate and led to a win, while Kasparov vigorously disputed the claim, giving lengthy analysis on how Black should be able to hold.

Question: And your opinion on the matter?

Answer: As I plead to my mother and sister, when they erupt into an argument and both try and woo me to their camp: " Keep me out of it!" I'm neutral, like the Swiss! Actually, the writer's declaration of the dreaded unclear is in a sense without pertinence to the actual truth over the board and, instead, may simply be a testimonial to the limitations of your writer's not-so-expansive mind to comprehend. 33 Bf8 34 b5 Bxd6 No choice in the matter. Now Bronstein gets three deeply entrenched passers.
11 11 ...

35 exd6 Qa4 36 Qb2
Question: Why not 36 c6 - ?

Answer: Actually, I was about to lecture you and tell you that your suggestion would be an answer to Botvinnik's prayers, since Black angles to sac his piece back to eliminate White's pawn armada. However, looking deeper into the line, apparently your suggestion may be a double exclam, which may win for White ! I realize that most readers don't go over detailed analysis, but I urge you to do so here. I learned a lot studying the breakthrough technique. The analysis: 36 . . . Qxb5 37 cxb7! (37 cxd7? Qxd7 is a near-certain draw) 37 . . . Qxb7 38 Qc7 Qxc7 39 dxc7 Nb6 40 Kf2 Kf7 41 Kf3 g5 (Black must keep White's king out of the kingside, but apparently he cannot do so forever) 42 Ba3 Ke8 43 Bc5! (taming the would-be rescuer knight, who offends more than soothes the harried defenders) 43 . . . Nc8 44 h4! (White must find a way to puncture the kingside) 44 . . . h6 (44 . . . gxh4? 45 Kf4 Kd7 46 Ke5 is an easy win for White) 45 h5!

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(a key move: White fixes h6 as an eternal target; this means Black's king must remain on the kingside) 45 . . . Kf7 46 Ke2! (now White's king infiltrates on the other wing) 46 . . . Ke8 47 Kd3 g4 48 Kc3 Kd7 (otherwise White's king simply marches to b7) 49 Bf8 Kxc7 50 Bxh6 Kd7 51 Bf4 Ke7 52 Kb4 Nb6 53 h6 Kf6 54 Kc5 Nc4 55 Kc6 Kf7.

Exercise (planning): How does White win?

Answer: Deflection. Black's king feels constriction of the chest and a queasy stomach at the thought of the invaders at his gate. After 56 h7! Kg7 57 Kd7, Black's pawns fall. 36 ... Kf7 37 Kh2 Bronstein was critical of his own move and suggested the plan 37 Bd2 and Qb4. And please don't ask me what I think. I just applied for Swiss citizenship. 37 ... h6 38 e4!

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Pawns mesh and clot in the central tangle. Bronstein does his con artist best to contrive deceptive pitfalls for his opponent. liThe best practical chance", according to Kasparov. 38 ... f4? Here, Botvinnik claimed that 38 . . . dxe4 39 d5 wins for White, but Kasparov correctly disputes the evaluation, citing 39 . . . e3! ! (this is not a fair fight, since Kasparov gets to use computers while poor Botvinnik is on his own for the analysis) . After 40 c6 (Houdini's suggestion) 40 . . . Qf4+ 41 Kgl Bc8 42 dxe6+ Kxe6 43 Qb3+ Kxd6 44 Bxe3 Qe4 45 Bf2 Nc5 46 Qg8 Qbl + 47 Kh2 Qxb5 48 Bg3+ Kxc6 49 Qxc8+ Kb6 Black still struggles but may yet hold the game.

39 e5 g5 40 Qe2 Kg7
White wins after 40 . . . Qxd4. For example: 41 c6 Qxe5 42 Qxe5 Nxe5 43 cxb7 Nd7 44 Bd2! e5 45 Ba5 d4 46 Kgl e4 47 Bc7 d3 48 Kfl h5 49 b8Q Nxb8 50 Bxb8 Ke6 51 b6 Kd7 (or 51 . . . g4 52 d7 Kxd7 53 Bxf4) 52 Kel h4 53 b7! Kc6 54 d7 Kxd7 55 Bxf4 etc.

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"In this critical position the game was adjourned and no one, myself included, had any doubts that White would win," wrote Botvinnik. 41 Qd3? Bronstein sealed this move, which raises more questions than answers, and allowed Botvinnik a miraculous escape. 41 h4! is completely winning for White after 41 . . . Qxd4 42 c6 f3 43 gxf3 Qxh4+ 44 Kg2 Bc8 45 cxd7 Bxd7 46 b6 Bc6 47 d7. 41 ... Nb8!! The queenside is littered with warring fiefdoms and municipalities, all determined to establish pre­ eminence over the others. Botvinnik finds an incredibly hidden fortress defence. The key is control over the critical c6-square. 42 h4!

White's best chance: strip Black's king of shelter. 42 ... Qc4 43 Qh3!

43 ... Qxb5! The pawn is more important than the bishop! After 43 . . . Qxc1 ? 44 hxg5 hxg5 45 Qxe6 Qe3 46 Qf6+ Kh7 47 Qxg5 Qg3+ 48 Qxg3+ fxg3+ 49 Kxg3 White wins; or if 45 . . . f3 46 Qf6+ Kg8 47 e6 fxg2, then 48 Qf7+! (not yet 48 Kxg2?? Qc2+ 49 Kg3 Qd3+ 50 Kg4 Qe2+ 51 Kxg5 Qg2+ and draws) 48 . . . Kh8 49 Kxg2 (now there is no perpetual check) 49 . . . Qc2+ 50 Kg3 Qd3+ 51 Kg4 Qe2+ (or 51 . . . Qxd4+ 52 Kf5 Qf4+ 53 Kg6 or 51 . . . Bc8 52 Qf8+ Kh7 53 Qf5+) 52 Kxg5 Qg2+ 53 Kf6 and the white king escapes. 44 hxg5 hxg5 45 Qxe6 Qd3! The two camps fling blows in each other's direction with mutual vehemence. Inspired disorder is a form of energy which should never be underestimated on the chess board. Botvinnik is still within his adjournment analysis at this stage and tidies up with a bit of housekeeping. The threat is a perpetual check, starting with . . . Qg3+ next. 46 Qf6+ Kh7 47 Qf7+ Botvinnik's deep point: after 47 Qxg5 Qg3+! 48 Qxg3 fxg3+ 49 Kxg3 Bc8 50 Kf4 Kg6, Black achieves a fortress draw. Compare this with the variation 43 . . . Qxc1? 44 hxg5 hxg5 45 Qxe6 Qe3 etc above. Here White has an extra piece (instead of a pawn on b5), but can now only draw because he cannot contest the light squares. 47 ... Kh8 48 Qf6+ Kh7

49 Bxf4
Redoubling one's efforts into a hopeless cause (winning!) only adds to one's frustration. Admittedly, Bronstein's move, Wagnerian stuff, displays theatrics more than the infliction of any real damage. But once again, after 49 Qxg5 Qg3+! 50 Qxg3 (White's queen raises a soprano outcry over the intrusion into her chamber) 50 . . . fxg3+ 51 Kxg3 Bc8! 52 Kf4 Kg6 53 g4 Nc6, Black miraculously achieves his fortress and a

draw. 49 ... gxf4 50 Qf7+ Kh8 51 Qe8+ Of course 51 Qxb7 leads to immediate perpetual check by 51 . . . Qg3+ 52 Kgl Qel + etc. 51 ... Kg7 52 Qe7+ Kh8 53 Qe8+ Kg7 54 Qe7+ The queen professes her tender, eternal love for her beloved, Black's king. His cold response: "Whatever ." 54 ... Kh8 55 Qf8+ Kh7 56 Qf7+ Kh8 57 Qxb7 Question: Can White gamble and just take on f4?

Answer: It's still a draw after 57 Qxf4 Qh7+ 58 Kgl Qbl + 59 Kf2 Qc2+. 57 ... Qg3+ The miracle arises and White's king lacks a graceful avenue of escape from his perpetual predicament.

58 Kh1 1/2-1f2 Your bleary-eyed writer invested more time into this game than any other in the book. After their precipitous climb, the white pawns failed to reach the summit. It's scary to think about just how close Botvinnik came to losing the tied World Championship match against his great rival, Bronstein.

Game 1 6
N.Padevsky-M.Botvinnik Alekhine Memorial, Moscow 1956

Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bc4

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The Sozin Sicilian. White's c4-bishop development scheme was a lifetime favourite with Bobby Fischer. 6 ... e6 7 0-0 This tends to be a quieter line (although certainly not in this game!).

Question: How can White play more aggressively?

Answer: By entering the psychotic Velimirovic Attack with 7 Be3 Be7 8 Qe2 a6 9 0-0-0 Qc7 10 Bb3 0-0 11 Rhgl Nd7 12 g4 NcS, when a standard continuation is just to go for it with 13 NfS!? 7 ... Be7 8 Be3 0-0 9 Bb3 Here J. Emms-A.Grischuk, Esbjerg 2000, went 9 Khl a6 10 a4 Qc7 11 Qe2 Bd7 12 f4 Rac8 13 Ba2 Nxd4 14 Bxd4 (now White threatens e4-eS with attacking chances) 14 . . . eS 15 Be3 Be6 16 as! Bxa2 17 Rxa2 Qc4 18 Qf3 exf4 19 Bxf4, and in this equal position my editor John went on to score a draw against his intimidating opponent. 9 ... Na5 Botvinnik goes after the bishop pair. 10 f4 b6!? After 10 . . . a6 11 eS dxeS 12 fxeS NdS 13 NxdS exdS 14 Qf3 Be6 15 Radl Nxb3 16 axb3 White's control over d4 gave him a tiny edge, J.Van der Wiel-F. Nijboer, Dutch Championship, Rotterdam 1997.

11 Qf3
It doesn't make much sense to me to develop the queen in the path of a b7-bishop's angry gaze. 11 eS is probably White's only hope for an edge in this position. 11 ... Bb7 12 g4?!

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Gambling usually represents a vice unless one possesses a surplus of wealth. The g-pawn, determined to defy common sense, unilaterally veers off to attack, all by himself.

Question: Isn't his aggressive g2-g4 push standard in Sicilians?

Answer: Aggressive doesn't always equate with effective or sound. This overly risky attempt to disturb the natural order of life on the kingside is misplaced, since the white bishop normally sits on f3 in Scheveningen Sicilians where White tosses in g2-g4. In this instance, the e4-pawn lacks the necessary protection. White's entire attack appears more possessed by passion and fury, than by exact execution. 12 ReS The most exact move. 12 . . . dS is also possible. Principle: Counter in the centre when menaced on the wing. Mok Tze Meng-K Murugan, Kuala Lumpur 1996, continued 13 eS Ne4 14 fS BcS, when I like Black's chances - but then again, he may get mated! 13 g5 Rxe3!
...

Black's exchange sac is both thematic and sound. Principle: Strike in the centre when assaulted on the wing. Here the road divides.

Exercise (critical decision): White can accept the rook with 14 bxc3, or he can enter the complications of 14 gxf6. One way leads to near-dynamic equality; in the other he is busted. Calculate and evaluate both lines, and make your choice.

14 bxc3? Answer: He should take the f6-knight rather than the rook. White is slightly worse but still remains in the game after 14 gxf6! Rxe3 15 Qxe3 (15 fxe7? Rxf3 16 exd8Q Rxfl + 17 Rxfl Rxd8 leaves White a pawn down and busted) 15 . . . Bxf6, as in P.Poutiainen-Z. Ribli, World Junior Championships, Athens 1971 . I still prefer Black here, but this is infinitely better than what Padevsky got in the actual game. 14 ... Nxe4 White's troubles: 1. Black dominates the light squares and the hl-a8 diagonal. His light-squared bishop's capabilities, when contrasted with any of White's minor pieces, seem godlike in comparison. The bishop goes on to become an enforcer, an instrument of fate, destined to bring on cataclysmic changes upon White. 2. This in turn means White's king is in a lot more danger than Black's. 3. White's queenside structure is ruptured and weak. 4. With a pawn for the exchange, Black isn't really even down material. 15 Qg4 Qc8! 16 Rf3 Planning to load up on the h-file and target h7.

Question: Didn't Black just blunder on his last move? White now can play 16 Nxe6.

Answer: When you set a trap be careful not to be the one trapped. White's shot on e6 is a big blunder, since Black coolly responds with 16 . . . d5! and wins the rash white knight. 16 ... Nxb3!? I'm not sure why Botvinnik decided to repair White's damaged queenside. I would have avoided it and played 16 . . . g6. 17 axb3 f5!

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Black is ready, sitting on his rocking chair on the front porch, pump-action shotgun over his knees. 18 Qh4? Not 18 gxf6?! Rxf6 when it is Black, not White, who attacks. But 18 Qh3! would have prevented Black's next move. It saves us a lot of grief if we avoid a dubious idea in the first place, rather than later try and fix a past error. The delusional queen mistakenly believes that by divine decree, she has been granted dominion over the kingside and all its inhabitants. The wrong square, but White has already savoured the drug of attack in his veins and now demands more. 18 ... e5! Mutual ambitions meet and overlap. This move effectively cancels multiple hostile variables, kills them before their seed has a chance to take root. Time to take a stand. White's kingside build-up, if left unchecked, could spell trouble if his opponent gets careless - something Botvinnik almost never did. Black continues to distract White vigorously in the centre in anticipation of the coming wing attack on h7.

19 Rh3

The tiny flicker of hope's flame soon dies out in the attack which never was. 19 Rxa7 exd4 20 Bxd4 Qc6 21 Rxb7 Qxb7 22 Rh3 h6 23 Qh5 Bxg5! 24 fxg5 Nxg5 leaves White's king fatally exposed. 19 ... h6 Exploiting the pin and effectively undercutting White's attacking ambitions. Now despite White's great efforts, he fails to reach h7 and the square remains tenantless. His attack bogs down, while Black's zooming counterattack slalom's effortlessly to the finish line.

20 Qh5 Qxc3 21 Rd1
The rook must guard the first rank. 21 Rxa7?? Qel + 22 Kg2 Nd2+ mates. 21 ... exd4 22 Bd2 22 Bxd4 Qxc2 23 gxh6 Nf6! overloads White's queen, who cannot simultaneously cover the dl-rook and the mate threat at g2. 22 ... Qc6 The queen's nagging wears on White's king.

23 gxh6

Exercise (combination alert): Pressure mounts on White's king, who sits alone in his provisional rule, soon destined to lose all power. How did Botvinnik force mate?

Answer: The Red Sea parts. Double attack. The threats on g2 and h3 are unanswerable. 23 ... Ng5! White can no longer conceal the ugly blemishes along the hi-aS diagonal. The knight offers a precious gift: his life. Now White can do nothing more than watch hope diminish and recede into the horizon. 24 Rg3 Qhl+ 25 Kf2 Ne4+ 0-1

Game 1 7
M.Tal-M.Botvinnik World Championship (9th matchgame), Moscow 1960

Caro-Kann De fence
One wonders just what heights Tal would have scaled if his mind could have been transplanted into a healthy body, and if he had preferred soymilk tea lattes to vodka. Tal's remarkable chronicle on his 1960 match with Botvinnik is probably the best match book ever written. As a kid I eagerly poured through Tal's insights. My only regret is I would be a stronger player today if I had spent more time in my misspent youth studying games like this (rather than chewing on grass while gazing upon the Canadian, ale-coloured sunrise in a daydream each morning). Tal's book differs from others. Instead of doling out reams of data, Tal offers the reader a glimpse into his "personal feelings, thoughts, agitation, joys and

disappointments of a direct participant in the combat."

1 e4 c6
The Caro-Kann is a sensible choice against a computer-like calculator opponent. 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 N1e2!?

Question: Why block in the fl-bishop?

Answer: The block is only temporary since White plans to move the knight to f4, from where: 1 . It may pick off Black's light-squared bishop. 2. It may assist in harassing the bishop further with h2-h4-h5. 3. It eyes e6, a tempting target for a sacrifice. 6 ... Nf6 7 h4 The immediate 7 Nf4 is more common, as in the later game M.Tal-M.Botvinnik, USSR Spartakiad 1964, which continued 7 . . . e5 (probably better than 7 . . . e6 8 h4 Bd6 9 h5) 8 Nxg6 hxg6 9 dxe5 Qa5+ 10 Bd2 Qxe5+ 11 Qe2 Qxe2+ 12 Bxe2, when White's bishop pair may be offset by Black's active pieces and open h­ file. 7 ... h6 Hurrying to give his bishop some air.

8 Nf4 Bh7 9 Bc4
A sac on e6 beckons. Tal had the equal fortune/misfortune of being tantalized with ideas most others regarded as preposterous. His unhealthy obsession with the e6-square is destined to be the central node to his subsequent misfortunes in this game. 9 ... e6 10 O-O!?

Question: Isn't this rather dangerous for White after he pushed forward his h-pawn?

Answer: It is, but Tal simply looks to make trouble everywhere he can find it. White puts his own king in possible future risk in order to deploy a rook rapidly to el, where it adds a third agitator upon the e6square. 10 c3 may be a safer course, but with the downside of reduced complications as well. After 10 . . . Nbd7 11 Qf3 Nd5 12 Ngh5 N7f6 13 Bd2 Nxf4 14 Bxf4 Nxh5 15 Qxh5 Bd6, Black achieved a reasonable position in O.Korneev-A. Riazantsev, Portuguese Team Championship 2007. 10 ... Bd6 ll Nxe6!?

Such a bold assertion also comes with great peril to the aggressor. This is vintage Tal, whose sacs often exude from the recipient, that credulous, child-like, /lit-can't-possibly-work/l feel to them, yet through his mysteriously awesome power of tactics and deceit, they so often did work. In situations like this, his compulsion to sacrifice something - anything! - was almost Pavlovian. Here he erupts in a typically grand gesture, displaying his lifelong inclination to gamble, even when the smart money would bet against his chances. A machine can't be designed to play like this, since a non-sentient chess program is incapable of Tal's impulsive spontaneity. (Well, okay, not this time. His move was home prep!) Perhaps a computer's fatal flaw is its inability to dream.

Question: Holy mother of Alekhine! ?

Answer: Technically, that is not a question. But I share your sentiments. Clearly, w e are dealing with a man who fails to hold material things dear. Sound sacs were never Tal's strong suit! If he sac' ed, it was often fishy, yet they worked so terrifyingly often against his befuddled opponents. But not this time. Although the sac was pre-game prep, to the Tal camp's dismay Botvinnik made his next few moves very quickly, confirming that he had foreseen it and worked it out the defensive formula at home! Such was the level of Botvinnik's legendary preparation, that he was ready and on the alert for moves which had never been tried before! Tal writes: /lBotvinnik usually won by getting his opponent in a vice-like grip without giving him any respite./I So Tal's successful strategy throughout the match was to disrupt the natural strategic flow with jarring anarchy. He continues: /lOur (Tal's analytical camp) miscalculation was that this time we had somewhat underestimated the phenomenal analytical powers of Botvinnik, even assuming that this sacrifice would be unexpected (which it wasn't!)./I 11 fxe6 12 Bxe6 Qc7
...

Question: What compensation does White get for the piece?

Answer: Suddenly, Black's king gives rise to feelings of consternation upon viewing the approaching hostiles. White's coming attack, for now, is an amorphous creature, devoid of shape, whose presence we merely sense, yet cannot distinguish from its environment. The lowbrow attack, upon closer inspection, turns out to be closer to a middlebrow one - not so easy to refute. Tal himself responds: 1. "His bishop on e6 prevents Black from castling on either side. 2. The open e-file likewise confirms the fact that Black will scarcely be able to castle at all in this game he will not have the time and therefore it might take several moves to get his rooks into the game. 3. If the white-squared bishops are exchanged, then the white knight goes to f5, from where it will be able to put dangerous pressure on Black. If Black prefers to eliminate the knight, giving up his black­ squared bishop for it, he will have catastrophic weakness on the dark squares and White's queen's bishop will take up a very dangerous position on f4." Tal gives the line 12 . . . Bxg3 13 fxg3 Bg8 14 Qel ! ! Qe7 15 Bc8! with the intention to "completely plunder the queenside." 13 Re1 Nbd7! Daring White to launch a discovery. 14 Bg8+ Swapping off Black's best defender so as to weaken f5. 14 ... Kf8! The old king capers about with the agility of a much younger man. Tal laments that Botvinnik in this game, time and time again unearthed the best moves, even under terrible duress, claiming that "The position of the king on d8 would have been much worse."

15 Bxh7 Rxh7 16 Nf5

Exercise (planning): Tal's camp examined this position and incorrectly evaluated it as "rosy, since White's knight is there to stay on f5 and the h7-rook is badly out of position." How did Botvinnik solve both these problems with just one little move?

Answer: 16 ... g6!! Hey, Tal said "White's knight is there to stay!" This startling idea had apparently been overlooked by camp Tal. Botvinnik unearths a brilliant defensive plan which dampens and constricts the flow of White's attack/initiative.

Question: Why did Botvinnik hand over his h-pawn, and with check to boot?

Answer: By returning the pawn, Black solves two major headaches and displays the apparent, impermanent, evaporative nature of White's initiative: 1. He eliminates that hateful knight from f5. 2. He immediately activates the sleeping h7-rook. Very soon, the attack which once was, quickly fades and passes from memory - and Botvinnik's king, by what appears to be some mystical inadvertence, passes through his ordeal unscathed. 17 Bxh6+ Kg8 18 Nxd6 Qxd6 Tal points out the devilish trap 18 . . . Rxh6 19 Re6 Rxh4 20 Qd3?? (20 g3! is correct, when White's super­ active pieces compensate for his material deficit) 20 . . . Nf8! 21 Rxf6 Qh7!.

19 Bg5 Re7
White's attack grows cold in a condition of dismal grandeur and is no more. Just look at the difference: Black's pieces emerge, while White's mope about in desultory fashion. The extra knight is superior to White's three pawns. 20 Qd3 Kg7 21 Qg3?

·

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A lifelong physical aberration or deformity always seems normal to the one gazing in a mirror. The queen attempts to dance away from an earlier promise to deliver checkmate, but I suppose in an economic depression there are few buyers and a glut of people desperate to sell. Tal, in a hurry to sell, inexplicably endeavours to go on strike against logic, without an iota of basis behind the move. The unruly queen flagrantly disobeys societal laws, violating the principle: Avoid trades when behind in material and structure. Tal short-circuits and illogically offers to swap queens (which Black wants) and damages his structure in doing so (which Black wants!). The move strikes one as decidedly out of sync with the position's requirements.

Question: How can a player as formidable as Tal make so lame a decision?

Answer: Tal saw ghosts and malicious spirits hovering around his own king, and felt he had to take queens off the board, like it or not. He confessed: "Unquestionably the weakest move of the match. I frankly thought it was bad, but somehow all the other continuations were worse." World Championship matches have their own rules, and the mind of genius is an unfathomable environment of wonderful secrets and strange motivations. The inconceivable strain, for so long a time period, wears down a player's nervous system. Do you remember Bobby's Fischer's inexplicable 29 . . . Bxh2??, self-trapping his bishop in his first match game against Spassky? Tal points out the plan which puts up the most resistance: 21 f4 RaeS 22 ReS!, but even here my spider senses tell me Black can unravel and consolidate. All the same, this is the one lucid hope to rehabilitate White's flagging initiative. 21 ... Rxe1 + 22 Rxe1 Qxg3 Thanks!

23 fxg3
White's kingside pawn majority has been fatally compromised. 23 ... Rf8! Ruthless accuracy. Botvinnik blocks White's king access to the centre, since . . . Ne4+ would be fatal.

24 c4 Ng4 25 d5
Passive defence fails; e.g. 2S Re4 Ndf6 26 Rf4 ReS. 25 ... cxd5 26 cxd5 N df6 27 d6 Rf7

·

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The overextended d-pawn, a solitary anomaly among Black's multitude, soon falls. "White's pawn has run aground and Black intends to systematically destroy it."

Question: If this is the case, then why did Tal push it to a vulnerable square.

Answer: Tal probably decided to jettison the pawn in the hope of distracting Black's rook, so as to activate his own king.

28 Rei Rd7 29 Re7
Tal noted to his dismay that the "combination" 29 Bf4 Nd5! 30 Rc7?? Nxc7 31 dxc7 Rd1 mate ends on a dismal note for White. 29 ... Kf7 Botvinnik's king dutifully runs off to fetch the d6-pawn with Golden Retrieverish zeal.

30 Bxf6
Tal jumps on the chance to free his king, but only at the cost of another swap. 30 ... Nxf6 31 Kf2 Ke6 32 Rxd7! White's slim hope of a draw is to remove rooks from the board. 32 ... Kxd7 33 Kf3 Kxd6 No desired object is too expensive for a thief, who views it all as free. 34 Kf4 Ke6 35 g4 Nd5+ 36 Ke4 Nf6+ 37 Kf4 Nd5+ In order to gain advantage over Botvinnik's lifelong, hated enemy - his clock.

38 Ke4 Nb4
The immediate 38 ... g5! is very strong too.

39 a3
Tal felt his move was a blunder: " . . . the pawns on a3 and b2 are wonderful targets for Black's knight." 39 a4! "would significantly increase Black's difficulty in realizing his advantage." But I think everything loses at this point.

Question: What would Black's winning technique be after 39 a4 then?

Answer: 39 . . . Nc6 40 h5 g5 41 h6 Kf6 42 Kd5 Nb4+ 43 Kd6 Nd3 44 b3 as 45 Kc7 Nc5 46 Kb6 Nxb3 and if 47 Kxb7 Nc5+ removes White's last chance. 39 ... Nc6 40 h5 g5!

Principle: The piece up side should avoid pawn exchanges.

41 h6
A martyr tends to romanticize his own suffering. The final hope - in order to deflect Black's king and allow White's entry to the queenside. But as it turns out, the lavish expenditure in vain. 41 ... Kf6 42 Kd5 Kg6 43 Ke6 43 Kd6 Na5 44 Kc7 b5 45 Kb8 Nc4 46 Kxa7 Nxb2 47 Ka6 Nc4 is curtains for White. 43 ... Na5 44 a4 Nb3 Tal complains: "This would have been of some use to White if he had correctly played it on the 39th move!" But I don't think it would have mattered. 45 Kd6 a5 46 Kd5 Kxh6 47 Kc4 Nc1 48 Kb5 Nd3 49 b3 Nc1 50 Kxa5 Nxb3+ 51 Kb4 Or 51 Kb6 Kg6 and capture of b7 is again met by . . . Nc5+. 51 ... Nc1 52 Kc3 Kg6 53 Kc2 Ne2 54 Kd3 Nc1+ 55 Kc2 Ne2 56 Kd3 Nf4+ 57 Kc4 Kf6 58 g3 Ne2 0-1

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After 59 Kc5 Nxg3 60 Kb6 (White's king, footsore and weary from his aimless meanderings, now lays down to rest - he can only sigh and muse upon those halcyon pre-sac days when material was even and his kingdom at peace and content) 60 . . . Ne4! 61 as (once again chopping on b7 is met by that annoying knight check on cS) 61 . . . Nd2 62 Kxb7 Nb3 63 a6 Nc5+ 64 Kb6 Nxa6 65 Kxa6 Ke5, Black wins easily.

Game 1 8
J.Littlewood-M.Botvinnik Hastings 1961/62

Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 Botvinnik was an early practitioner of the Dragon, dating back to the 1930s.

6 Be3 Bg7 7 £3 a6

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The Dragodorf, a hybrid line which combines the mean-spiritedness of the Dragon with the deceit of the Najdorf.

8 Bc4
Littlewood proceeds in Yugoslav formation.

Question: Can White hold back the bishop's development to avoid the loss of tempo?

Answer: Yes, White can refrain from Bc4 as well, although his control over dS reduces. A.Shirov­ S. K.Williams, British League 2004, saw 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 0-0-0 bS 10 g4 Bb7 11 gS NhS 12 Nce2 Nb6 13 Ng3 Nxg3 14 hxg3 dS!, when Black took advantage of White's neglect of dS and enforced his thematic break.

Principle: Counter in the centre when attacked on the wing.
S ... b5 9 Bb3 Bb7 10 Qd2 Nbd7 11 0-0-0 Nc5 Botvinnik sets his sights upon the powerful light-squared bishop.

12 Kb1
After 12 Bh6 Bxh6! 13 Qxh6 eS! (Black switches to full Najdorf mode) 14 Nde2 Nxb3+ 15 axb3 Qe7 16 Rd2 0-0-0 Black equalized in S.Feller-T.Gelashvili, Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad 2010. 12 ... Nxb3 13 cxb3 Question: White's last move looks pretty strange to me. Why would he capture away from the centre?

Answer: Not so strange, since every game in my database has White making the same capture in this position! There is a defensive principle: Capture away from the centre if you sense that your king is in danger.

Question: In this case, how does that help White defend his king?

Answer: Now if need be, White has the option of challenging Black on the c-file, which leads to swaps. 13 ... 0-0!? Botvinnik was never afraid of an opposite wing attack in his life. The alternative is to stall with 13 . . . hS! ? as in L.Cernousek-K.Shanava, Olomouc 2006, leaving Black's king in the centre as long as possible.

14 Bh6 Bxh6! Deflecting White's queen from the centre and correctly judging that she will not inflict damage on h6.

15 Qxh6
The queen transmits secret orders to the front, but what she doesn't realize is that her phone link is not secured.

15 ... b4! 16 e5?! Often, fancy doesn't equate with best. 16 Nd5 is stronger and more natural; e.g. 16 . . . Bxd5 17 exd5 Qd7 18 h4! Nxd5 19 h5 Nf6 20 g4 Rac8 21 Rh2 Rc5.

Question: Isn't Black about to get mated?

Answer: White's attack looks scary but if you play around with the computer in this position you see that Black defends. Let's go deeper into the analysis: 22 g5 Nxh5 23 Rxh5 gxh5 24 Rhl e5 25 Rxh5 f6 26 Ne6! Rf7 27 Nxc5 dxc5 28 gxf6 Qdl + 29 Qc1 Qxc1 + 30 Kxc1 Rxf6 31 Rxe5 Rxf3 32 Rxc5 Rf6 with a slight edge to Black, who can still dream about big things to come with his h-pawn. 16 ... Nd7! Not 16 . . . bxc3? 17 exf6 exf6 18 bxc3 when White's knight dominates its bishop counterpart on b7, who may be labelled a sub-species, a cheap facsimile, when compared to his more evolved brother on d4.

17 h4
On

17 e6, Black defends with 17 . . . bxc3 18 exd7 Qxd7 19 h4 e5! .

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-

The differences between the parties reaches irreconcilable levels and war is imminent_ Littlewood goes for it with a dangerous piece sac which would probably have worked against an opponent who didn't calculate like Houdini_

Exercise (critical decision): Can we take the c3-knight and live, or is there a better move?

Answer: Black gets away with the piece grab_ White believes it is Christmas Day_ He is wrong - it is judgment day_ 17 ... bxc3! Thanks, you shouldn't have! Botvinnik worked out every potentiality and came to the correct conclusion that they all fell short for his opponent_ Even though White's sac fails to hold up under analytical scrutiny, this doesn't mean it isn't dangerous to a human labouring against the clock, and also perhaps paranoia_

18 h5

Question: Isn't Black just getting mated !? How does he defend h7?

Answer: I'm afraid your unauthorized outburst calls for a defensive exercise ! Attackers approach Black's king with open intent. It does indeed look as though the defence reaches saturation levels, unable to take the pounding a minute longer as rival factions struggle for hegemony over h7. However, hidden in the secret weaves of the position hides the correct defensive plan, scribed in the cursive of a dead language. Can you extricate it and discover the position's essential core?

Exercise (planning): Black to play and not get mated!

Answer: Clear f6 for his knight. 18 dxe5! 19 hxg6 Nf6 Out of nowhere, Jack materializes from his box.
...

20 bxc3
If a child gets nabbed red-handed while perpetrating mischief, her impulse is to try and lie her way out, no matter how obviously guilty.

Question: Isn't White's last move somewhat accommodating?

Answer: I agree that his overreaction, which is disproportionate to the offending provocation, converts that which was once a drama into a hastily rewritten farce. But it's hard for me to give White a question mark for a move in a position where every other attempt fails as well.

Question: What? It looks like White just went crazy in a position where he must have three or four ways to force mate.

Answer: At first glance, it does indeed look like there should be a mate for White, but there just isn't. It's as if the secret formula, written on a piece of scrap paper, gets inadvertently washed in the pocket of a pair of jeans, and is now hopelessly bleached and unreadable, the discovery lost forever. Littlewood managed

to achieve his fantasia of attacking possibilities, yet not one of them did him a bit of good. The human brain is capable of absorbing only so many fragments of data before it overloads and short circuits - but not Botvinnik's brain apparently! Behold, Botvinnik's co mp-like calculation powers. Every line I tried against the computers failed miserably for White:

a) 20 gxh7+ Kh8 21 Nc2 Nd5 22 Ne3 Qd7 23 g4 Qe6 and Black covers all hostile intent. b) 20 g7 Re8 21 Nf5 is met by the cunning shot 21 . . . c2+! 22 Kxc2 Qc8+!, which picks off the would-be hero on f5. c) 20 gxf7+ Kxf7! covers the fork threat. And remember, any Nf5 is met by the crushing . . . c3-c2+ ! trick. d) 20 Nf5 c2+! (is this theme beginning to have a familiar ring to it?) 21 Kxc2 Qc8+! etc. 20 ... exd4 Wealth concentrates in the greedy, outstretched hands of a single individual (Botvinnik), while the rest are left to starve. 21 gxh7+ Now White's h7-pawn chokes off his own attack and the exhausted yet triumphant black king basks in glowing languor on h8, safe as can be. 21 ... Kh8 22 Rxd4 Qa5 23 Qe3? White's attack proved to be merely a temporary leaven, which deflates to its new and unfortunate state. The two sides are now governed by opposite motivations: Botvinnik's to pursue and Littlewood's to survive. The queen sighs and retreats, the way a teenage girl rolls her eyes at her mother when ordered to perform a distasteful chore around the house. Retreating the queen to d2 was better, but maybe resigning was White's best. Not such an encouraging sign. White is down two pieces and in the middle of his attack he must take time out for a defensive move! 23 ... Nd5 Forking e3 and c3. 24 Qd2 Nxc3+ 25 Ka1 Rad8 26 Rc1

Exercise (combination alert): Calculate 26 . . . Qxa2+. Is it playable?

Answer: It certainly is. Black simplifies down to a trivially won endgame. 26 ... Qxa2+! The controlling shareholder gets the final say.

27 Qxa2 Nxa2
The white king comments: /lWhile I'm not physically in pain, the loss of dignity still really hurts!/I 28 Rxd8 Rxd8 0-1

Game 1 9
M.Botvinnik-R.J.Fischer Varna Olympiad 1962

Griinfeld De fence
The moment had arrived. The World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik faced the future champion in what became a titanic struggle. In a strange way the game proved nothing, since Fischer was only 19 years old and not yet Fischer, while Botvinnik was a tad past his prime (and yet still world champion!) and no longer

Botvinnik!
1 c4 g6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 d5!? Fischer said he intuitively switched from his normal King's Indian to the Grtinfeld because of /I the glint in his [Botvinnik's] eye./I He just had a funny feeling Botvinnik would be ultra-prepared for him in the KID. But as it turns out, Botvinnik had come armed for the Grtinfeld as well.

4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Qb3
Smyslov's specialty. 5 ... dxc4 6 Qxc4

Question: What is the benefit? Isn't White's queen vulnerable to tempo loss?

Answer: It is, but White gets something in return: Black is denied his . . . Nxd5 and . . . Nxc3 freeing exchange, which is important in the Grtinfeld, since Black remains more cramped than normal. 6 ... 0-0 7 e4 Bg4 8 Be3 Question: White isn't concerned about . . . Bxf3 - ?

Answer: Not really - he bags the bishop pair and, after g2xf3, strengthens e4 as well. The downside, of course, is that White's shelter on the kingside grows somewhat compromised. 8 ... Nfd7 Question: Why move the already developed knight?

Answer: Black hopes to engineer . . . c7-c5 or . . . e7-e5. By moving his f6-knight to d7, he lays the groundwork for either pawn break.

9 Be2
9 Qb3, 9 Rdl and even 9 0-0-0 are played here as well. 9 ... Nc6 Fischer wisely veers from 9 . . . Nb6 10 Qc5 c6 11 Rdl N8d7 12 Qa5 e5! which allowed Black dynamic equality in M. Botvinnik-V.Smyslov, World Championship (4th matchgame) Moscow 1958. However, the odds were close to 100% that Botvinnik was ready with an improvement in this variation.

10 Rdl Nb6 11 QcS
The queen must continue to cradle her tender d4-pawn. 11 ... Qd6!

12 h3
12 Qxd6 cxd6 allows Black a very decent Pirc-like position, where White's extra space ceases to be such a great burden on Black with queens off the board. 12 ... Bxf3 13 gxf3 Question: Why not recapture with the bishop?

Answer: Doing so weakens the c4-square. Black looks good after 13 Bxf3 Qxc5 14 dxc5 Nc4 15 Bel Rfd8, when he leads in development. 13 ... Rfd8 Botvinnik would welcome 13 . . . Qxc5 14 dxc5 Bxc3+ 15 bxc3 Na4 16 Kd2!, when his bishops might later have a say.

14 dS NeS 1S NbS Qf6

Fischer gave himself an exclam for this move and called 15 . . . QxcS "weak" . Kasparov disagreed, offering the line 16 BxcS c6 17 Nc7 (17 Nxa7? is met by 17 . . . Na4!) 17 . . . Rab8 18 Bxe7 Rd7 19 d6 Nec4 and Black should be okay. 16 f4 Ned7 17 e5? White's e-pawn gives offence to Black's queen and soon wishes he could unsay what he just said. Pieces and pawns entwine and grapple in desperation, neither side willing to cede even an inch of hard-won territory. Botvinnik writes: "When I was preparing to meet Smyslov, I, of course, made a thorough analysis of the Smyslov System in general and of the position in the diagram in particular !" Botvinnik had only analysed . . . Qh4 and . . . QfS, concluding his analysis with a White advantage in both lines. But then Botvinnik adds: "Alas, my opponent found a third continuation!"

Exercise (combination alert): What did Fischer find in the position which took over the initiative, eventually won a pawn, and threw Botvinnik badly off his prep?

Answer: Upon inventory, White notices an item missing from the shelves. Overload. White's bishop can't simultaneously capture Black's queen and protect his own. 17 ... Qxf4! Fischer comes up with a strong theoretical novelty. The black queen offers her services with insincere solicitude, as she arrives on f4 with good tidings of comfort and joy to all. Botvinnik laments: "I had missed what Fischer had found with the greatest of ease at the board. The reader can guess that my equanimity was wrecked." All the same, the by-blow inflicts damage, yet fails to kill.

18 Bxf4
Black's point is that 18 Qxb6?? fails to collect war dividends because of 18 . . . Qe4! and White loses material, since 19 f3 is completely unplayable due to 19 . . . Qh4+ 20 Bf2 Qb4+, picking off the queen. 18 ... Nxc5 19 Nxc7 Rac8 20 d6 Botvinnik's game borders on overextension, but he has no choice since 20 NbS? RxdS is terrible for White. 20 ... exd6 21 exd6 The d6-pawn may have fallen to his knees, yet remains a dangerous foe, a wounded gladiator, brought low but still managing to clutch sword and shield in each hand.

21 ... Bxb2 22 0-0 Nbd7 BotvimUk preferred 22 . . . Ncd7.

Question: It looks to me like Black is all tied up defending against the cramping effects of the d-pawn. White owns the bishop pair in an open position as well. Don't these two factors constitute full compensation for a pawn here?

Answer: Perhaps some compensation but not full. Black is a healthy pawn up with very active pieces to boot. White's d-pawn remains firmly blockaded and his compensating activity represents a mere abstraction since there doesn't exist an accompanying plan to increase it. 23 Rd5 b6 24 Bf3?! BotvimUk's forces creep forward with enticing lassitude. "There is nothing for the bishop to do here," writes Botvinnik, instead suggesting 24 Bc4!, which keeps an eye on e6 and f7. White may then extract full compensation for his missing pawn. 24 ... Ne6! Fischer seizes upon the inaccuracy. 25 Nxe6? BotvimUk, still shaken by Fischer's superior analysis in the opening stage, begins to fall apart. 25 Bg3 was correct. 25 ... fxe6 26 Rd3 Nc5 27 Re3 Probably played with deep regret. White must hand over his pride and hope on d6 since the exigencies of his very survival demand it. 27 ... e5! Dual purpose: Eliminating White's bishop pair and the deeply entrenched d6-pawn in one swoop.

28 Bxe5 Bxe5 29 Rxe5 Rxd6
The orphaned d6-isolani gets tossed out into the cold.

30 Re7 Rd7 31 Rxd7 Nxd7

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A dismal picture. White deals with a distressing amalgam of woes: 1. Botvinnik finds himself a pawn down. 2. The landscape of White's structure - he nurses three isolated pawns - is the residue of a nightmare upon awakening. 3. Making matters worse, Botvinnik must defend this awful ending against a player who, in the writer's opinion, was the second strongest endgame player of all time. Fortunately for Botvinnik, Fischer was only 19 years old at the time, and hadn't yet reached the peak of his endgame skills.

32 Bg4 Rc7 33 Re1
White might consider 33 Bxd7 Rxd7, transferring to a rook and pawn ending. But even here he nurses multiple, chronic, structural ailments. 33 ... Kf7 34 Kg2 Nc5 35 Re3 Re7 36 Rf3+ Kg7 37 Rc3 Re4 38 Bd1 Rd4 Possibly inaccurate, allowing White's bishop to its best post on c2.

Question: How can Black prevent this?

Answer: By playing 38 . . . ReI !, when 39 Bc2?! walks into a pin after 39 . . . Rd. 39 Bc2! Kf6 40 Kf3

Exercise (planning): Seek out a step-by-step plan for Black to convert to a win.

40 ... Kg5?! Although White's prognosis looks dismal, there now appears a dim hope. Fischer goes off on the wrong track. Botvinnik answers the exercise, with an added anti-Fischer barb as a bonus. Answer: /I An endgame specialist of the class of Capablanca or Smyslov would have immediately transferred his king to d6, defending his knight, after which the advance of the queenside pawns would have decided the outcome./I 41 Kg3 N e4+?! A violation of the principle: Rook and pawn endings are notoriously hard to win a pawn up. Another poor decision and another anti-Fischer statement to come: /lThe defects in the character of my opponent begin to tell. Reckoning that the position was easily won, he was angry with me for playing on, and in his fervour, already after the time control he makes a rash decision./I One sometimes wonders just how much time Botvinnik invested in pondering some of the malice festering within his own psyche.

42 Bxe4
Now White gets a better version of a rook and pawn ending than the one mentioned in the note to move 33 above. 42 ... Rxe4 43 Ra3 Re7 44 Rf3

Exercise (planning): Fischer's king is boxed in. Come up with a concrete plan to free him.

... Re7?! Answer: The trouble with Shangri-La: if you leave, you age rapidly and die. In just the same way, Black's king finds himself trapped within his paradise. Here Fischer, unable to find the solution, should strive to activate his king, which can be accomplished by 44 . . . Kh6!, intending . . . Kg7 and . . . Rf7. 45 a4!

44

Question: What is the point of this move, which just looks like it weakens?

Answer: Botvinnik hopes, with a4-a5 at some stage, to swap one set of pawns on the queenside, which would ease his defensive task. Someone asked Botvinnik at breakfast what he thought his chances were. He said without looking up, "Nichia" - draw! Apparently Fischer felt the position was a straightforward win for Black and hadn't worked too hard on the adjournment. Botvinnik, on the other hand, refused to give up, and laboured on the position until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Apparently it was time well spent, since his dream team - Boleslavsky, Spassky, Geller, Keres and Furman - toiling together with their leader, unearthed an incredibly hidden drawing idea. 45 ... Re5! The sealed move and, as it turns out, the strongest in the position. Fischer, drunk on exultation, can just taste it now. Botvinnik looks busted and Fischer' s victory seems to be in plain sight. What Fischer failed to factor in was Botvinnik's vast database of endgame understanding, which exceeded even that of Fischer's at the time. 46 Rf7 Ra5 47 Rxh7!!

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A stUl1l1illg idea, discovered by Geller. Magic oozes from the wizard's aura, so that candle flames bow in respect when he enters the room. Correspondingly, Black's dark powers noticeably begin to abate. Apparently, Fischer had also analysed the move but misassessed it. White neatly finds a method of unifying aggregate strategic troubles and eventually dissolving them. Soon, Black's once-promising future of a full point is quashed on appeal.

Question: I don't get it. This looks resignable for Botvinnik's side now. Why on earth would White allow Black two connected passed pawns on the queenside?

Answer: White plays on the principle: Keep your rook active at all costs in rook and pawn endings. White correctly assessed that passive defence would lose. Play on to discover the drawing idea. Instead, 47 Rf4? Rf5! 48 Rd4 Rf7! allows Black's king out of his box and into the fight on the queenside. White can't save the game here. 47 ... Rxa4 48 h4+! More accurate than 48 f4+, the move Fischer had concentrated on in his analysis. 48 ... Kf5 48 . . . Kf6 49 Rb7! (the key move, which dramatically slows down Black's pawns) 49 . . . Ra5 50 Kg4 b5 51 f4 a6 52 Rb6+ Kf7 53 Rb7+ also leads to a draw, despite Black's prize pair of passers on the queenside. 49 Rf7+ Ke5 50 Rg7 Ra1 50 . . . Kf6 51 Rb7! transposes to the previous note.

51 Kf3
Botvinnik, even with virtually zero sleep, isn't about to fall for 51 Rxg6?? Rgl +, winning the rook. 51 ... b5?! Botvinnik offers lengthy analysis, claiming that 51 . . . Kd4! is more challenging to White, but still maintains that he draws, whereas Fischer vigorously disputes the assessment and claims a win for Black! Kasparov backs Botvinnik's drawing claim, so take your pick and believe who you like!

52 h5!! A sweet final bar in a rousing symphony. The once inert figure from a two-dimensional painting, through strange magic, takes birth and steps out into our three-dimensional world. Botvinnik wrote, with obvious malicious glee: /lHere my opponent turned pale . . . /I The profound point of White's 47th move, which forces a pair of rook pawns on the a-and h-files, is apparently a drawn position! Supposedly, after this move the titans created more drama. Botvinnik walked up to the Russian captain Abramov and repeated /lNichia!/I most certainly intended to rattle Fischer. The always paranoid Bobby overheard, went ballistic, and accused the Russians of collusion and cheating to the arbiter. Black is faster in the race after the rote 52 Rxg6? b4. 52 ... Ra3+ 53 Kg2 gxh5 54 Rg5+ Kd6 55 Rxb5 h4 56 f4 Kc6 57 Rb8 h3+ 58 Kh2 a5 59 f5 Kc7 Black finds that a lone pawn, the paltry sum of his wealth, is insufficient for victory. 60 Rb5 Kd6 61 f6 Ke6 62 Rb6+ Kf7 Black's king continues to nurse grievances against his tormentor but is powerless to do more than merely voice a complaint. 63 Ra6 Kg6 64 Rc6 a4 65 Ra6 Kf7 66 Rc6 Rd3 67 Ra6 a3 Black attempts to herd cats, prodding the unruly h-and a-pawns forward to nowhere in particular. 68 Kg1 1/2-1/2

Black has no way to make progress. The funny thing is that the computers get fooled here. Houdini misevaluates it at 2.01, winning for Black, when the reality is a dead draw. I played it out against Houdini, and it couldn't do a thing and allowed an easy draw. It was reported that Fischer left the tournament hall in tears. Botvinnik salted the wound further when he wrote of Fischer, who he clearly despised: /lSuccess in chess is decided not only by talent, but also by other qualities, including the character of a player./I He continued later with /I and Fischer's character was always clearly inadequate, as the reader will probably agree, after playing through our game./I Ouch! Kasparov, not a Fischer fan either, piled on, writing about the missed win, /I Bobby lost part of his halo /I As revenge, Fischer, in an article two years later, offered his list of the top ten greatest players of all
• • • • • •

time, with Botvinnik noticeably absent from the list! Ouch again!

Game 20
P. Benko-M. Botvinnik Monte Carlo 1968

English Opening
1 c4 g6 2 g3 Bg7 3 Bg2 e5 4 Nc3 Ne7 Today, theory frowns upon e7 as a sub-par post for the knight, although I still see recent grandmaster games with it in the database. Better to toss in . . . f7-f5 earlier and then follow with . . . Nf6; e.g. 4 . . . Nc6 5 d3 f5 6 e4 Nf6 7 Nge2 0-0 8 0-0 d6, Y.Balashov-S. Dvoirys, European Cup, Cheliabinsk 1991 .

5 e4
Benko, perhaps in an attempt to mess with his opponent's head, played Botvinnik's own variation of the English Opening against its founder. Botvinnik introduced the then startling idea with reversed colours in his 1954 match with Smyslov (which we examine in Chapter Five) and it so utterly discomfited his opponent that it induced Smyslov to abandon the Closed Sicilian altogether as White.

Question: Doesn't it create a gaping hole on d4?

Answer: It does indeed, but Botvinnik realized that the hole's dangers are more appearance than reality. White may later simply capture on d4 and plug the hole with a black pawn. Meanwhile, White receives far greater central control than in other variations of the English versus King's Indian. 5 ... d6 6 Nge2 Nbc6 7 d3 f5 The immediate 7 . . . 0-0 is more common but it probably doesn't make such a great difference here.

8 Nd5
M. Botvinnik-T.V.Petrosian, USSR Team Championship 1966, saw 8 0-0 0-0 9 Nd5 Kh8! ? 10 Be3 Be6 11 Qd2 Qd7 12 Rael Rae8 13 f4 exf4 14 Nexf4 Bg8 15 Nxe7 Nxe7 16 Bh3! b5 17 b3 cS 18 d4!, when Botvinnik held a slight initiative in a very complex position. S ... 0-0 If 8 . . . Nxd5 9 cxd5 Ne7 10 h4!? c6 (10 . . . h6 is a try, intending to bypass any h4-h5 with . . . g6-g5) 11 dxc6 bxc6, N. Miezis-F.Velikhanli, Geneva 1999, then I prefer White's position after 12 h5. 9 Be3 Be6 10 Qd2 Qd7 11 0-0 Rf7! The f-file is the optimal placement for Black's rooks.

12 Rae1 Raf8 13 f4

Believe it or not, this move may actually be slightly inaccurate.

Question: How can such a natural move possibly be inaccurate?

Answer: Kasparov himself questions this move. I agree that it certainly looks thematic in the position, but through one of Caissa's malicious vagaries it just isn't. As you well know, the chess goddess loves to play practical jokes on her worshippers. I have found myself on the wrong end of her jokes for quite some time now.

Question: What else is there for White?

Answer: He can temporize with a quieter plan. Kasparov suggests 13 f3! . White's stats are much higher with this move; e.g. 13 . . . Kh8 14 b3 Ng8 15 exf5! Bxf5 16 d4! with an edge for White, J.Smejkal-A.Yusupov, German League 1992. 13 ... fxe4! 14 dxe4 NeS!

Question: What is the idea behind this convoluted-looking move?

Answer: This is actually Step 2 in an incredibly deep strategic plan. Botvinnik explained his construct in the following stages: 1 . Exchange on e4, inducing White to recapture with a pawn, since a bishop recapture allows an eventual . . . Nf5. 2. Exchange on f4, forcing White to once again recapture with a pawn, since a piece recapture hands over the e5-square to Black. 3. Swap off light-squared bishops via h3, weakening White's e-pawn. 4. Shift rook (or rooks) to the e-file. 5. This in turn induces Ng3, to cover the weakened e4-pawn. 6. Follow with . . . h7-h5! and . . . h6-h4, undermining the defender of e4, after which White may have great difficulties defending the pawn.

Question: This plan sounds absolutely logical and strong but how did he work all of this out over the board!? I would never be able to do this kind of planning.

Answer: Because he was Botvinnik! His games, especially ones involving strategic planning, are remarkable for their iron clarity, as well as their incredible depth. As I mentioned in the introduction to the book, Botvinnik, Morphy, Capablanca, Fischer and Karpov (I have a feeling Carlsen may soon be added to this list) were the dominant strategists of their generation (or any generation for that matter!) and were, in my opinion, the greatest positional players of all time. I remember going over this game when I was around 10 years old. Botvinnik's explanation of his in-depth plan blew my kid mind! It was actually a revelation to me at the time. I realized that depth mattered, and to improve my game I had to get past vulgar, two-move cheapos (my deadly arsenal back then!) and actually work out plans schematically, not just mathematically.

15 c5
Benko softens up Black's centre, meeting a wing attack with a central counter. Kasparov also mentions 15 b4. 15 ... Bh3! Step 3: Swap off light-squared bishops. 16 b4 Bxg2 17 Kxg2 exf4! Step 4: Weaken e4. 18 gxf4 Re8! Step 5: Pressure e4, to induce Ng3.

19 N93

19 ... h5?! Step 6: Undermine the defender of e4.

Question: What? Why did you criticize Botvinnik's logical move, which was all part of his plan?

Answer: Kasparov gave Botvinnik's move an exclam and Botvinnik gave it the seal of approval too, but it is mistimed. 19 . . . N6e7 is better here.

Question: You, a puny little IM, dare to challenge the assessment of two World Champions?

Answer: Well, it does appear a bit presumptuous on your writer's part, but in my defence, there are mitigating factors: Botvinnik didn't have access to a computer. Kasparov did but he wrote his annotations around 2002/03, using computers much weaker than today's models. The Houdini and Fritz programs of 2013 are several levels stronger and apparently found a hole in Botvinnik's move order.

Believe me, ten years from now if you put this analysis in the top program of 2023, you will unearth a million improvements as well. This is why (I believe, at least) actual analysis in a chess book isn't all that important (!), since the "best" move or line is in constant flux, due to the increasing strength of chess programs. Only the prose, assessments, opinions, and verbal explanations of the thought process will be of real use in a few years to come. 20 b5?! Houdini's impossible-to-find refutation of this classic game runs: 20 f5 ! h4 21 fxg6! ! (the grinning, red­ bodied imp continues to poke and prod with his trident from g6) 21 . . . Rxf1 22 Rxf1 ! hxg3 23 Qd1 ! (threatening Qh5, which in turn forces Black to return his hard-earned gains) 23 . . . NSe7 (23 . . . RfS?? 24 Qb3! ! KhS 25 RxfS+ BxfS 26 Qd1 ! and it's game over!) 24 Qh5 Nxg6 25 Qxg6 RfS 26 RxfS+ KxfS 27 cxd6 cxd6 2S hxg3 with a winning position for White. Dang. 1 simultaneously loathe/love these hateful yet alluring chess machines. They have the awful power to embolden the weak and confused (sadly, your writer must be included in this unfortunate group) and delude us into believing we play better than Capa, Botvinnik or Fischer, when in reality the computer performs all the work while we are just along for the ride! 20 ... N6e7 21 f5!

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Benko, sensing strategic vulnerability from his side, goes for it. 21 ... h4 22 fxg6 White' s hope is that the g6-tumour grows so deeply and intricately embedded within the vital organs of Black's king position, that it may be inoperable. Houdini once again unearths another impossible yet playable line in 22 Bh6 ! ! (the order to execute Black's king is delivered by papal seal on h6 - after this move, White's unending attack is a magic treasure chest which, when emptied, miraculously replenishes itself with gold and jewels) 22 . . . Nxd5 (not 22 . . . hxg3? 23 Bxg7 Nxd5 24 c6! ! - power doesn't always equate to a numerical advantage if one side has access to a secret weapon to offset the superior numbers 24 . . . bxc6 25 bxc6 Qxc6 26 exd5 Qb5 27 f6 with a decisive attack) 23 Bxg7 Kxg7 24 fxg6! Rxf1 25 Rxf1 Qg4 (25 . . . Nf6?? loses on the spot to 26 Qg5!) 26 Qxd5 Qxg6 27 Rf3! with raging complications and even a tiny edge for White, according to Houdini. 22 ... Rxfl 23 Rxfl! It is too late to back down now with 23 Nxf1?? Qg4+. 23 ... hxg3 24 Rf'7!

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Very few players would survive Botvinnik's side against a top-level GM. Black's defensive hurdles are: 1. White's pieces swarm over the kingside. It feels to Black's king like his guard callously abandoned him in his time of need. 2. The dark squares are near collapse around the black king. 3. White' s rook infiltrated f7 and pins the e7-knight, while his lazy, feckless brother continues to lounge on cS. With this kind of raw data assaulting Black, it is hard not to distil it into panic. Remarkably, Botvinnik manages to stay calm and form defensive coherence from confusion. 24 ... Be5! Chastity, poverty, humble submission, are the holy vows the bishop once took and now deeply regrets. The dark squares must be challenged at all costs. 24 . . . Qe6?? 25 Rxg7+ ! Kxg7 26 Bd4+ wins. 25 Bd4 Qg4!

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Kasparov writes: "It's difficult to reconcile Black's contradictory, hostile attacking gesture from his overall passivity." Yet Botvinnik does just that. Black's queen attempts to pull off an unseemly power grab from her brother on g2, who suspects nothing. Kasparov calls this "the turning point of the game, in which both sides have played brilliantly up till now."

Exercise (critical decision): Two moves occur to us: White can play 26 Bxe5, destroying a key black defender of the dark squares, or he can go for 26 Rf4, issuing challenge to Black's queen. Take your time here. What would you play?

26 Rf4? Occam's razor advises that when given a choice, the simplest is usually the best. After White' s incorrect

decision, opportunity vanishes. If you seek to destroy an enemy, then do it without hesitation. In this instance, the rook takes half measures, writing his hated sister on g4 a threatening letter instead, alerting his foe, now on high guard. Answer: Correct was 26 Bxe5! gxh2+ 27 Bg3! (27 Kxh2?? loses to 27 . . . Qh5+ 28 Kg2 Qxg6+) 27 . . . Qxe4+ 28 Kxh2 Qxg6! (not 28 . . . Qxd5?? 29 Qh6), when Black stands better with his extra pawn, but White retains some initiative and conversion will not be so easy. Botvinnik was of the opinion that White was in danger of losing, whereas Kasparov, while partially agreeing, felt White should hold the game. 26 ... Qh5! A killing shot. Black threatens h2.

27 Bxe5
Perhaps the best practical chance, since 27 hxg3? Nxd5 leaves White a piece down with his attack run aground. 27 ... Qxh2+ 28 Kf3 Qxd2 White' s queen clasped her palms together in fervent prayer, but they obviously went unanswered. Benko's remaining attempts to attack are soon rendered useless from his recent run of reverses. 29 Nf6+ Kg7 30 Nxe8+

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The game isn't over yet, despite White's massive material deficit. Black must broach the delicate matter of his own king's safety. Botvinnik allows his opponent some leeway to attack, but only with the proviso of carefully defined, calculable limits and restrictions. To us humans such positions are still pretty scary from Black's perspective. Yet Houdini calmly assesses it at -7.74; i.e. completely resignable for White ! Unfortunately, it isn't possible to superimpose the human will upon a position which lacks the essential raw ingredients for success. In this instance, the camel somehow does indeed fit through the eye of the needle and the rich man is granted entry through heaven's gates. 30 ... Kxg6 31 Rf6+ Kh7 32 Bxg3 At last, the checks run out and now it's Black's turn. White is already dead. The remainder is simply Black dancing upon the grave. The would-be attack ends abruptly after 32 Rf7+ Kg8 33 Rg7+ Kf8. 32 ... Qd3+ 33 Kf2 Sometimes a grievously wounded soldier feels no pain. If there is pain everywhere in the body, his brain gets confused at the lack of a localized point of origin, and simply gives the co mmand: lino pain" . 33 ... Qxb5 34 cxd6 Qxe8 0-1

Chapter Three Riding the Dynamic Element
When researching this book I was surprised to read Kasparov's statement that Botvinnik, who we normally associate with iron logic and patient manoeuvring, was a veritable thaumaturge with the initiative, and worked wonders and miracles when he seized power over the board. In fact, Kasparov claimed Botvinnik's feel for initiative rivalled or surpassed that of any legendary player in the history of the game . As I went through more and more of Botvinnik's early games, I saw very clearly that Kasparov's assertion was true.
In this chapter, we examine Botvinnik's remarkable handling of the initiative, mainly from his heyday, from the mid 1930s to the early 50s. Botvinnik's disputatious pieces surge forth, always seeking initiative, always finding conflict. His initiative, like unfulfilled malice, had a way of growing by feeding on itself. Even players associated with the initiative, such as Keres, were often casually brushed aside by Botvinnik in his prime.

Game 21
M.Botvinnik-M.Vidmar Sr. Nottingham 1936

Queen's Gambit Declined
1 c4 e6 2 Nf3 d5 3 d4 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7

Back in the 1930s, virtually everyone played the Queen's Gambit Declined response to 1 d4.

ill

5 Nc3 0-0 6 e3 Nbd7 7 B d3
Question: Doesn't this lose White a tempo? Answer: I'm not a big fan of this move, which obligingly cedes a tempo to Black. But it is played, even today by top GMs, so it can't be all that bad. I would go for 7 Rc1, 7 Qc2 or 7 cxd5.

7 cS 7 . . . dxc4 8 Bxc4 a6, inducing 9 a4, is more accurate and only then 9 . . . cS 10 0-0
000

cxd4 11 exd4, when Black reaches a more favourable version of the game, since he goaded a weakening of the b4-square .

8 0-0 cxd4 9 exd4 dxc4 10 Bxc4

Tyrants, in order to subjugate, keep the masses in the dark. They bum books,

along with the heretics who read them. To my mind, Botvinnik, a similar iron-fisted despot in such structures, was possibly the greatest practitioner of all time of both isolani and hanging pawns positions, inviting them all his life, especially arising from his Nimzo-Indians . If you look at his isolanijhanging pawn games from the 1920s and 30s, his opponents look like bumbling incompetents, while Botvinnik, infused with knowledge which his opponents lack, appears as a modern day GM, like Carlsen or Kramnik. Kasparov writes that in such positions Botvinnik "disclosed virtually all their resources !" He continues : "But Botvinnik demonstrated that the activity of the pieces and the pressure in the centre more than compensate for the insignificant defect in the pawn structure ."

10 0 0 0 Nb6
Botvinnik suggested 10 . . . a6 as Black's most accurate move here .

11 Bb3 Bd7
M. Botvinnik-A. Batuyev, Leningrad 1930, saw 11 . . . Nbd5 12 Ne5 Nd7 13 Bxe7 Nxe7 14 Qe2 Nf6 15 Rfd1 b6 16 Rac1 Bb7 17 f3 Rc8? (17 . . . Nfd5 was necessary) .

Exercise (critical decision): Black has just blundered. How did Botvinnik punish it?

Answer: Sac on f7 and force Black into a death-pin: 18 Nxf7! Rxf7 19 Qxe6 Qf8 20 Ne4 Rxc1?! 21 Rxc1 Nfd5 22 Nd6 Ba8 23 ReI g6 24 Nxf7 Qxf7 25 Qxe7! 1-0.

12 Qd3 Nbd5
Black should seek swaps in such isolani positions . Therefore 12 . . . Nfd5 may be more accurate .

13 Ne5 Bc6 14 Rad1
Question: Why did Botvinnik avoid 14 Nxc6 which picks Up the bishop pair and also hands

Black an isolani on c6?

Answer: This plan was tried in one game, D.Breder-R. Fridman, German League 2005. After 14 . . . bxc6, Black reinforces d5 with a strong grip. This plus the fact that White's e5-knight, a dangerous attacker, may be the superior piece was probably why Botvinnik rejected the idea, and I believe rightly so.

14 0 0 0 Nb4 15 Qh3 Bd5 16 Nxd5 Nbxd5?!
The knight moves out of his jurisdiction and holds little authority where he stands . This natural yet inaccurate move allows Botvinnik an attacking build-up on the kingside . Vidmar should have played 16 . . . Nfxd5 ! . This minor yet significant emendation helps free Black's game .

Question: But with this recapture doesn't Black also move a defender away from his king and

leave his b4-knight dangling on the queenside?

Answer: I prefer White after 17 Bd2 Nc6! (the wayward b4-knight comes back into play) 18 Bc2 g6 19 Bh6 Re8 20 Qf3 Bf6, but Black's position is not so bad, and certainly infinitely better than what he got in the game.

17 f4!

From this point on, Botvinnik intersperses direct threats with strengthening manoeuvres.

17 000 Rc8
Question: I realize 17 . . . g6 weakens, but isn't it necessary for Black to halt f4-f5 - ?

Answer: The trouble is that it fails tactically to 18 Bh6 Re8 19 Ba4, winning the exchange. Houdini thinks the thematic 19 f5! is even stronger.

18 f5!
Botvinnik massages his once rigid structure into relaxed pliability.

18 0 0 0 exf5?
Vidmar grossly underestimates the explosive potential to White's game . He had to try 18 . . . Qd6.

19 Rxf5
The old black king's joints begin to ache from the inclement weather. White's rook looms ominously and pressures d5, f6 and f7, all tender points in Black's camp .

19 0 0 0 Qd6

19 . . . Rc7 was better, but even then Black is busted after 20 Rdfl, and if 20 . . . Qd6 then 21 Nxf7! Rxf7 22 Bxd5. Clearly, White prepares to make trouble on the kingside, yet the piece destined to perform the harsh. dirty deed for now remains shrouded in anonymity. Black just blundered in an already busted position. A hearing is convened and the sentence

Exercise (combination alert): How did Botvinnik exploit Black's last move?

Answer: Deflection/discovered attack. Force Black into multiple, deadly pins.

20 Nxf7!
Now White's forces dance with facile ease to the music of Botvinnik's desires.

20 0 0 0 Rxf7
To negotiate successfully, one must first possess something of value the other side desires - a something Black utterly lacks . Vidmar can do nothing but glumly await the further deterioration of his once sound position.

21 Bxf6!
Undermining the defender of d5.

21 0 0 0 Bxf6
21 . . . Nxf6 22 Rxf6 ! exploits Black's dangling rook on c8.

22 Rxd5 Qc6
One winces at the thought of Black's position. That's a lot of past sin to expiate . Black's queen backs off, exhaling reproachfully, while his king, precious little life left in him with such grievous threats pending, now comes to the awful realization that his so-called protectors are worthless. Some murmur prayers, while others lie around drunk.

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Black's game reeks of unpunished strategic crimes, mainly imputed upon multiple underestimations of White's power, as his seemingly endless initiative flows unpunctuated and without resistance.

Exercise (combination alert): How did Botvinnik finish the job energetically?

Answer: Overload, since c8 again hangs if the offered rook is taken. "This unnatural abomination is not by God's design!" rails Black's queen at the offending rook, who floats to d6 as if propelled by dark magic.

23 Rd6!
Note that 23 Rc5?? fails miserably to 23 . . . Bxd4+ ! .

23 0 0 0 Qe8
23 . . . Qxd6 24 Qxc8+ Qf8 25 Qxb7 ends the matter as well.

24 Rd7 1-0
Black's queen and king curse White's forces in one language, then plead for mercy in another. If all the games I annotated were this simple, my job would be so much easier ! Vidmar was a strong GM, yet appeared crudely inept in comparison with Botvinnik. It felt like the skill gap widened as the game went on. Even top GMs of Botvinnik's day recognized their own marked inferiority - which was almost shouted out - in comparison to Botvinnik in his prime. Such was his dominance from 1936 to the ear ly 1950s.

Game 22
A.Alekhine-M. Botv innik Nottingham 1936

Sicilian Defence
Botvinnik acquitted himself well in his showdown against the reigning world champion, and at the height of Alekhine's powers. Alekhine himself wrote: "Botvinnik's wonderful achievement in Nottingham confirms that he is the most probable candidate for the title of world champion."

1 e4 cS 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6
The obscure (for 1936) Dragon Sicilian apparently didn't come as a surprise to the heavily prepared Alekhine, perhaps Botvinnik's only equal in the opening phase of the game .

6 Be2

Alekhine would surely have jumped aboard the popular attacking set-up 6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 0-0 8 Qd2, had it been invented at the time .

6 0 0 0 Bg7 7 Be3 Nc6 8 Nb3 Be6 9 £4 0-0 10 g4!?

In space, an object may generate incredible speed in the absence of friction's resistance. Botvinnik occasionally took on calculated risks; Alekhine, on the other hand, simply loved to gamble . It may be that Alekhine's brain had a curious defect: an enlarged lobe which controlled aggression. So to advise him to calm down would be belated and unheeded council. Here we see a brazen attempt by the world champion to put the young upstart in his place. (Unfortunately for Alekhine, Botvinnik's place at Nottingham was a tie for first with Capa!)
Question: The risk entailed in White's lunge feels disproportionately burdensome to the dreamed­

of rewards, and it looks borderline unsound. Is it playable?

Answer: A crime in one society may be an honourable deed in another. I don't trust it under the theory: an attack must be comprised of more than just elemental will; there must exist an underlying strategic basis as well - a basis which I fail to identify in this position. But saying this, believe it or not, White's stats are quite reasonable after 10 g4!? and it is still played by GMs today, so it must be sound or, if failing that, borderline sound.

10 0 0 0 d5
Principle: Counter in the centre when attacked on the wing. A logical temporary pawn sac. Botvinnik hopes to deny Alekhine the attack to which he feels entitled. Botvinnik quickly adapts to the rapidly altering circumstances swirling about the centre. Now the combination of Alekhine's lust for adventure, mingled with Botvinnik's itch for counterplay tears a giant hole in the position's equanimity.
Alternatively, 10 . . . Rc8 has scored well for Black; novelty) 14 bxc3 Ng7.

e. g.

11 f5 Bd7 12 g5 Ne8 13 0-0,

M. Bartel-R Wojtaszek, Wroclaw 2010, and here I would try 13 . . . Bxc3 ! ? (a theoretical

Question: Are you serious? Black just gave up his powerful dark-squared bishop.

Answer: The reason I suggest giving it up, in order to damage the opposing structure, is that White's g­ pawn sits on gS, blocking access to h6. I actually prefer Black's chances here, but please don't send me an angry Facebook message if you try my suggestion and get mated!

11 £5
Surging forward and knocking off a defender of d5.

Question: Isn't 11 e5 better, to keep the centre closed?

Answer: It isn't so closed after 11 . . . d4! 12 Nxd4 (12 exf6? Bxf6 favours Black) 12 . . . Nxd4 13 Bxd4, and now in G.Levenfish-M. Botvinnik, Moscow 1936, Black pulled an overload combination with 13 . . . Nxg4! and attained the slightly better position.

11 0 0 0 Bc8 12 exd5 Nb4

13 d6!?
Alekhine's novelty.

Question: Why did Alekhine return the pawn?

Answer: He hoped to disrupt the flow of Black's initiative, and there is no way to hang on to the material anyway. For example: a) 13 fxg6 hxg6 14 Bf3 has occurred four times and no one

found 14 . . . Bxg4 ! (a novelty) 15 Bxg4 Nxg4 16 Qxg4 Nxc2+ 17 Kf2 Nxal 18 Rxal Bxc3 19 bxc3 Qxd5. I'm not exactly sure whose king is in greater danger, but I like Black's chances in this wild position. b) 13 Bf3 gxf5 14 a3 fxg4 15 Bg2 Na6 16 Qd3, intending to castle long next move, as in R.J. Fischer-S. Reshevsky, New York/ Los Angeles (2nd matchgame) 1961, is the usual choice nowadays, when White looks like he has enough for a pawn.

13 0 0 0 Qxd6
Botvinnik claimed 13 . . . exd6 was unplayable but

Houdini

disagrees and offers 14

a3 Re8 ! 15 Bg5 (certainly not 15 Qd2?? Nxg4 ! or 15 Bf2? Nxg4 ! 16 axb4 Nxf2 17 Kxf2 Qh4+ 18 Kgl Bxf5 and White's exposed king spells big trouble) 15 . . . Nc6 and it's anybody's game .

14 Bc5
The bishop looms menacingly, the same way I do when a student dares to yawn loudly during a chess lesson. The alternative is the crazy line 14 Qxd6 exd6 15 0-0-0 Re8 16 Bg5 Nxa2+ ! 17 Nxa2 Rxe2 18 Rxd6 Ne8 19 Rd8 h6 20 Kdl ReS 21 ReI Rxel+ 22 Kxel hxg5 23 Rxe8+ Kh7, when Black may be okay since he unravels with . . . b7b6 and . . . Bb7.

14 0 0 0 Qf4

.

.

The queen continues to sow agitation. Black can also try 14 . . . Qxdl + 15 Rxdl Nc6 16 g5 Nd7 17 f6 exf6 ! (Botvinnik suggests the inferior 1 7 . . . Bh8) 18 Bxf8 Nxf8 1 9 gxf6 Bxf6, when his pawn and bishop pair give him more than enough compensation for the exchange .

15 Rfl!
The rook hopes to circumvent the black queen's authority.

Question: Doesn't Black lack the funds to subsidize his expensive war? Now his queen can't

cover the knight on b4.

Answer: This had been foreseen by Botvinnik. Play on!

15

000

Qxh2 16 Bxb4

.

.

If an assassin's target is one saturated in power, my advice is : don't miss. The creditors seize Black's assets, now in a state of arrears, on the queenside . But fortune is a fickle companion in times of confusion. Botvinnik had foreseen this position and had accurately calculated it to a forced draw. The possibilities appear as shifting shadows of leaves dancing in the sunlight.

Exercise (critical decision): Find the correct idea and work out Botvinnik's sequence. Black to

play and force a draw:

Answer: Sac a second piece.

16 0 0 0 Nxg4!
Through dark powers the shaman, in death, transfers his spirit into the body of the black queen, who rises to take up the battle once again. Botvinnik actuates the final lunge at White's king - not enough to kill, but enough to neutralize. With the sac he tears away the fabric of Ale khine , s king's shelter, now exposed to the elements . The move order 16 . . . Qg3+ 17 Rf2 Nxg4 ! works too.

17 Bxg4 Qg3+ 18 Rf2
The rook block is forced and a perpetual check ensues .

1 8 0 0 0 Qgl + 19 Rfl Qg3+ 20 Rf2 Qgl + 1fz-1fz
This game, like a sudden thunderstorm, erupts, rages for only a few minutes and, just as suddenly, subsides.

Game 23
M. Botv innik-S .Reshev sky AVRO Tournament, The Netherlands 1938

English Opening
In the mid 1980s I had the opportunity to meet the great Sammy Reshevsky at several Los Angeles tournaments, as well as a simul he gave at the San Diego Chess Club. I got the impression, as I did with Botvinnik, of a deeply serious personality, of a person who never cracked a joke or smiled in his entire life. In fact, of all the world class players I met, with the exception of Boris Spassky, I noticed they all seemed to share this trait. Or, who knows, maybe I was just intimidated by being in their presence, and conjured this impression up in my own head.

1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 e3
Question: Why didn't Botvinnik play his own e2-e4 variation of the English?

Answer: He hadn't invented it yet! He worked out his system, originally intended with colours reversed against Closed Sicilian, in preparation for his 1954 match with Smyslov. Then it occurred to him: why not play the same system with White, a move up, in the English?

5 0 0 0 d6 6 Nge2

6 0 0 0 Nge7
Question: Why not play . . . f7-f5 and only then . . . Nf6, rather than post the knight on a passive

square on e7?

Answer: Well, that is exactly what most modern GMs would play, but that which we take for granted now was simply unknown back in 1938. The course of P.Leko-L. Ding, Beijing (blitz) 2012, 6 . . . f5 7 0-0 Nf6 8 d3 0-0 9 b3 Be6 10 Nd5 Qd7 11 Bb2 Rae8 12 Qd2, shows a typical set-up for both White and Black.

7 d4
It's a little more common to hold the d-pawn back to d3 in these English lines.

Question: But isn't d3 a more passive square?

Answer: Think of it as flexible instead. By playing the pawn to d3, White retains both future d3-d4 and e3-e4 options.

7

000

exd4!

Question: Why an exclam to a move which cedes White greater central influence?

Answer: In compensation, Black exerts piece pressure on White's centre and, especially, a softened up d4-square.

8 exd4 0-0 9 0-0 NfS l0 dS NeS?!
Inaccurate . Black should follow the principle . . . Ncd4 ! 11 Nxd4 Nxd4 12 Be3 NfS, when

Seek trades when cramped,

and play 10

his

piece activity and dark square control

make up for his territorial deficit, H.Vonthron-V. Kostic, Vienna 2006.

11 b3 as?!

.

.

Perhaps the beginning of an incorrect plan. Black intends . . . Nd7-cS, but the trouble is that White simply ejects the intruder with a2-a3 and b3-b4.

Question: What do you suggest for Black?

Answer: Probably he should opt for an . . . a7-a6, . . . Bd7, . . . Rb8, . . . b7-bS plan, to generate counterplay.

12 Bb2 Nd7 13 a3!
Warning Black that he will not tolerate an uninvited guest an extended stay on cS.

13 0 0 0 Nc5!?
Anyway.

14 b4 Nd7
Question: Didn't Black just lose two tempi?

Answer: He did, but he goads White' s pawns forward in order to overextend them. Having played over hundreds and hundreds of Botvinnik's games in preparation for this book, I am hard pressed to find any where he overextended. Botvinnik's superior strategic grasp gave him the understanding of exactly when to push and when to hold back. On 14 . . . axb4 15 axb4 Rxal 16 Bxal Na6, Botvinnik said he intended 17 Ne4! Nxb4 18 g4! with a tremendous initiative for the pawn.

15 Qb3
Botvinnik would like to enforce an eventual c7-cS break.

15 0 0 0 Nd4
Botvinnik felt this was an error, but I don't see any great alternatives on Black's part.

16 Nxd4 Bxd4 17 Radl Bg7 18 Rfel axb4 19 axb4 Nf6 20 h3!

.

.

Will Neil Armstrong's footprints on the moon still be there a million years from now? Black's counterplay deficit feels like an atmosphereless environment, trapped in eternal stasis . It's instructive to watch Botvinnik make progress.

Question: What is the idea behind his last move?

Answer: White denies his opponent the use of g4, and secondly, he plans to meet . . . BfS with g3-g4, annexing even more territory.

20 0 0 0 h5
In order to post a bishop on fS in comfort.

21 cS
Gaining more space.

21 000 Bf5 22 Nb5
Intending to harass the bishop with Nd4 next.

22 0 0 0 Bd7?!
Almost unconsciously, without volition, Black's forces back up until they reach the lip of the precipice. Reshevsky provokes Botvinnik's next move, but as the old saying goes: be careful for what you wish for - you may get it.

23 c6! bxc6 24 dxc6 Bc8

-

-

Black's cosmopolitan bishop wallows out of his element in the rural outskirts on c8. This game would be a serious candidate for the

Accumulating Advantages

chapter,

if not for Botvinnik's amazingly energetic finish. White's forces share conspiratorial glances in each other's direction, while Black's ambitions of survival flow in a reverse polarity of decreasing levels of feasibility. Black's once tough defensive barrier now lies fluffy and pliable .

Exercise (combination alert): Do you see how Botvinnik struck a serious blow from this

position?

Answer: Discovered attack! double attack. The knight offers himself up as bait to lure Black's defenders out of their trenches.

25 Nxd6! Be6
The delinquent bishop can only shrug and blow out his cheeks in response to White's open aggression. Reshevsky desperately tries to complicate, seeing that the line 25 . . . cxd6 (the aggrieved party demands heavy recompense, which it will never receive) 26 c7! (discovered attack/ double attack - Black's queen and rook hang simultaneously) 26 . . . Qxc7 27 Bxa8 Bxh3 28 Bf3 is hopeless for Black. White simply pushes his b-pawn down the board.

26 Rxe6!
Intelligence, cunning and resourcefulness are no match when faced against a logician, brute-force calculator. Like a savvy investor, Botvinnik has a sharp eye for profitable ventures . An exchange is a trifle to eliminate Black's only active piece .

26 0 0 0 fxe6 27 Nf5!

.

.

Discovered attack. The persistent knight insinuates himself into Black's business once again. Botvinnik goes after Black's g7-bishop, steward of

his

dark squares.

27 000 Qe8 28 Nxg7
After the elimination of Black's most important defensive piece, the remainder of his tangled forces find themselves garlanded with the hangman's noose .

28 0 0 0 Kxg7 29 Rd7+ Rf7 3 0 Be5!

.

.

The bishop's services are freely at anyone's disposal; his blessings, however, require cold, hard cash up front. The powerful legate on eS, already a prince of the church, brooks even higher aspirations as supreme pontifex of the board. White's rook remains immune and c7 falls, after which White's advanced passers take the day.

30 0 0 0 Kg8
Black's destitute king lacks even basic amenities and his defenders, completely unequal to the organizational task required, scatter in panicked confusion. 30 . . . Rc8 31 Qd3 is too horrible to contemplate .

31 Rxc7
The rook's startling accession to power continues unabated.

31 0 0 0 Rxc7 32 Bxc7 Ra1 + 33 Kh2 Ra7 34 Be5 Rf7 35 c7 N d7 36 Qc2 Rf8

·

.

Black's confused defenders stumble about, disoriented. His pieces receive a memorandum from the bank, warning of a lack of funds in his account and imminent foreclosure on all properties. They find themselves surrounded by screaming creditors and conniving litigants .

Exercise (combination alert): Find one simple move and Black's position crumbles.

Answer: Overload. 37 c8Q! 1-0

Game 24
M. Botv innik-G. Lev enfish USSR Championship, Moscow 1940

English Opening
1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 d4!?

4 g3 and 4 e3 are much more commonly played today.

4 0 0 0 exd4 5 Nxd4 Bb4 6 Bg5

Question: Doesn't Botvinnik care that Black can do great harm to his structure by taking on

c3?

Answer: Objectively, this line isn't so hot for White, but Botvinnik probably felt comfortable in this position, due to his advocacy of the White side of the Nimzo-Indian, where he commonly encouraged a bishop to chop on c3. Here matters are more structurally serious for White, since he soon takes on a set of doubled isolanis on the c-file.

6 0 0 0 h6 7 Bh4 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3
Question: Those broken pawns are no joking matter.

What is White's motivation behind allowing the damage?

Answer: White gets the bishop pair and fair piece activity. Should the game drift toward an ending, then White would probably regret his decision.

8 0 0 0 Ne5
I like this move more than allowing 8 . . . d6 9 Nxc6 bxc6 10 cS !, L Smirin-S. Tiviakov, Rostov on Don 1993.

9 e3
After 9 f4 Ng6 10 Bxf6 Qxf6 11 g3 Nf8 12 Bg2 Ne6 13 0-0 0-0 14 e4 d6 15 Qd2 NcS 16 Rae1, White's greater central influence compensated for his inferior structure, V. Kramnik-A. Karpov, Las Palmas 1996.

9 0 0 0 Ng6
So as to break White's pin without weakening with . . . g7-gS.

10 Bg3 Ne4!?
Often, that which we want and that which we actually need appear contradictory. Levenfish eliminates Botvinnik's bishop pair, when it may actually be better to refrain from this move and simply develop with 10 . . . d6.

Question: Why?

Answer: Handing White an open h-file means that Black's king never rests easy castling kingside. Queenside castling remains tricky due to the open b-file.

11 Qc2 Nxg3 12 hxg3

·

.

White's extra space and attacking chances easily compensate for his damaged cpawns .

12 0 0 0 d6 13 f4!
Grabbing more space and denying Black use of e5. Already we sense hostile overtones from Botvinnik's side .

Question: But didn't White just inflict a backward e-pawn upon himself?

Answer: The backwardness of the pawn is merely cosmetic, since Black is in no position to add pressure to it.

13 0 0 0 Qe7 14 Kf2
The correct home for the king, where it is quite secure and helps out defending e3.

14 0 0 0 NfB?!
After

this

move

Black's

mighty

labours

are

rewarded

with

distressingly

diminutive returns . The intention is probably to head for cS, but Black doesn't have time in an open position for such retrograde luxuries .

Question: What do you suggest?

Answer: I like my Everyman cousin IM Richard Palliser's treatment: 14 . . . cS! (Black grabs much needed central influence) 15 Nf3 (perhaps White should try 15 Nf5, but he probably feared too many swaps with his inferior structure - Black may continue 15 . . . Bxf5 16 Qxf5 Qe6! to allow queenside castling) 15 . . . Bd7 16 Bd3 O-O-O! and suddenly I prefer Black's position, since his king looks safe enough and he retains structural benefits, V.Krutti-R. Palliser, York 2000.

15 cS!

·

.

Botvinnik's nimble mind rapidly adjusts to the changed circumstances, and from this moment, he seizes the initiative and never lets go.

15 0 0 0 dxcS?
An apology to the deity before commission of the crime hardly counts as an expiated sin. With his last move, Levenfish impregnates his position with more optimism than efficiency. He should balk at an offer of early confrontation when he clearly isn't ready for it. Unfortunately, we all desire that which we don't possess . Hemy VIII romanced Mary Boleyn, when all along he desired sister Anne . How to reconcile the discrepancy of yearning with the harsh vicissitudes of ill fortune? Black soon regrets his decision and the vagaries of a fickle wind blow his position far off course. Wretched as it looks, Black had to try 15 . . . Nh7! (heading for e4 or g4) 16 cxd6 cxd6 1 7 Bb5+ Kf8 with an inferior but still playable game .

16 BbS+! Nd7?
Black has to try 16 . . . Bd7 (16 . . . c6?? loses to 17 Nxc6) 17 Nf5 Qf6 18 Qe4+ Ne6 19 Bxd7+ Kxd7 20 Rhdl + Kc8 21 Rabl Rb8, when he still hangs on, albeit just barely.

17 Nf5 Qf6
The queen raises an eyebrow, with ample justification.

18 Rad1
Just like that, Black is helpless .

18 0 0 0 g6
18 . . . a6?? loses immediately to 19 Qe4+ Kd8 20 Bxd7 Bxd7 21 Qxb7 Rc8 22 Rxd7+ ! and mates.

19 Nxh6 Rf8 20 g4!
The kingside brims with White's hostile intent.

20 0 0 0 a6 21 gS Qe6

Exercise (planning): What is the best post for White's bishop? Come up with an attacking

plan.

Answer: That which is beneficial to white's bishop is also good for his brother on h6, and vice versa. The bishop convenes a clandestine meeting with his h6 counterpart by taking control of g4, after which White threatens to swing his knight round to either to eS or f6, while clearing the path for Rh7.

22 Be2! Nb6
Question: Why did Black move his defender of f6

away and allow White a devastating knight entry?

Answer: All true, but what else can Black try? He is in virtual zugzwang. For example, 22 . . . as 23 Ng4 and then what? Black is paralysed.

23 Ng4 Ke7 24 Nf6
Black is unable to remain outside the breadth of the toxic knight's influence .

24 0 0 0 Qc6 25 Rh7
Threatening Qxg6.

25 0 0 0 B£5 26 e4 Be6 27 £5 1-0
Oh, the wondrous possibilities . Botvinnik looks here, looks there, like a bedazzled eight-year-old at the county fair, not knowing which ride or what food to begin with. Black's game morphed into an allegory on the evils of sloth.

Question: I realize Black is in bad shape, but is this position really resignable?

Answer: Houdini assessment: + 6.15(!) - more than a rook up if converted into the realm of the material! In every variation Black simply gets pushed off the board.

One possible nightmarish future for Black: 27 f5 gxf5 28 exf5 Bd7 29 Bf3 Qa4 30 Qe2+ (the ruthless queen's eyes gaze coldly on those foolish enough to cross her) 30 . . . Kd8 (the exhausted black king slumps over, limp as an old, worn-out pillow; he once couldn't conceive of a world without himself in it, and now must reconfigure his thoughts, and contemplate his own imminent non-existence) 31 Rxf7! and if 31 . . . Rxf7 then 32 Qe8 is a brutal mate .

.

.

A complete annihilation of one of Botvinnik's key Russian rivals of the 1930s.

Game 25
P.Keres-M.Botvinnik USSR Absolute Championship, Leningrad/Moscow 1941

Nimzo-Indian De fence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2

Capablanca's variation.

4 0 0 0 d5

4 . . . 0-0 and 4 . . . cS are Black's main lines.

5 cxd5
S a3 is also played here .

S

000

exdS

.

.

We reach a position akin to the Ragozin Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, one of Black's sharpest options, where he often sacrifices both structure and bishop pair to gain a lead in development and early initiative - the only difference being that White has played Qc2 here, instead of Nf3. Botvinnik was fond of S . . . QxdS throughout the 1930s . For example : 6 Nf3 (or 6 e3 cS 7 a3 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 Nbd7 9 Nf3 b6 1 0 c4 Qd6 11 Bb2 Bb7 and Black has developed harmoniously and looks okay, despite White's bishop pair, M. Euwe-M. Botvinnik, Nottingham 1936) 6 . . . cS 7 Bd2 Bxc3 8 Bxc3 cxd4 9 Nxd4 eS 10 Nf3 Nc6 11 Rd1 QcS, and Black's superior development and greater central influence compensate for White's bishop pair, G . Levenfish-M.Botvinnik, Moscow/ Leningrad (7th matchgame) 1937.

6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 cS
Question: It looks to me like Black tries to wrest the initiative in an unjustified manner. Am

I correct?

Answer: It has always looked that way to me too, but the variation is sound and White must know what he is doing or face an early loss of initiative, as occurs in this game.

S O-O-O?

·

.

The devil invariably offers unlimited power. Just make certain you read the fine print before signing any contracts . White's king suffers from a congenital impairment which leaves him no match for his healthy twin on e8. Usually I don't dole out question marks early on in older games, but this time Keres had it coming! This move is weak, even in the context of 1941 . His theory of parallel evolution in separate solar systems doesn't apply in this instance to his own attack, which fails to materialize in this game . His somewhat outlandish decision is based upon the philosophy: that which is never strived for, never transpires .

Question: I fail to see the problem. What is so awful about Keres' idea of initiating opposite

wing attacks?

Answer: If two princes of the realm vie for the throne by engaging in a civil war, then you had better not pick the pretender's side as an ally. Here we have a situation where Black is clearly faster, due to the soon-to-be open c-file, where White's king and queen huddle against the coming . . . RcS.

Question: If the move is as bad as you claim, then what was Keres' motivation behind it?

Answer: I conjecture: Keres understood that he was clearly Botvinnik's inferior strategically and may have felt that his best shot was to nUx things up. The problem was that Keres (and many others, including myself in my simul game against Botvinnik!) underestimated Botvinnik's power tactically and with the initiative, which was at least equal to Keres' level, if not superior. Secondly, I believe Keres naIvely - like a person who tells his interviewer: "1 would like the job, but I have absolutely no aptitude or work experience with it!" - hoped to get the better game by following in the footsteps of Mikenas-Botvinnik played a year previously (see the next note) .

But here Keres learned a painful lesson: never ever repeat a line against Botvinnik, unless you are ready to face the wrath of his formidable home preparation. 8 dxc5, 8 Nf3 and 8 e3 are all superior options for White .

S

000

Bxc3!

Superior to 8 . . . 0-0 9 dxc5 Bxc3 10 Qxc3 g5 11 Bg3 Ne4 12 Qa3 Be6 13 f3 Nxg3 14 hxg3 Qf6 15 e3 Rc8 16 Kb1, when White stood a shade better in V. Mikenas­ M. Botvinnik, USSR Championship, Moscow 1940.

9 Qxc3 g5!
This kind of move is routine today, though it was considered a radical weakening back then.

Question: Why does Black get away with such a blatant weakening move?

Answer: For one simple reason: he owns, and will never relinquish, the initiative. White simply isn't given the time to exploit Black's structural weaknesses.

10 Bg3
The fuming bishop clearly deems Black's last move an impertinence.

10

000

cxd4!

A theoretical novelty for the time . Black takes on d4 before White can play Nf3 or e2-e3 and recapture on d4 with knight or pawn. Botvinnik's move is a clear improvement over 10 . . . Ne4, as played in 5. Belavenets-VSimagin, Moscow 1 941 .

11 Qxd4 Nc6 12 Qa4 Bf5!

Dual purpose : 1 . Cutting off a b 1 escape route for White's king, who now lounges in the centre . 2. Black clears c8 for a rook.

13 e3
If Botvinnik had a character flaw, it was that he loved to trash his rivals in his annotations : "The deficiencies of Keres' character tell. He was unable to endure the stoically unpleasant surprise, and he misses an obligatory opportunity to complicate the play: 13 f3 Qb6 14 e4 dxe4 15 Kb1, moving his king away from the threats of the enemy pieces." However, in Kasparov's opinion, this position is completely hopeless for White .

Houdini

backs him up assessing it at a dismal -5 .36! So perhaps

Botvinnik owes Keres (and Fischer too !) an apology !

13

000

RcS 14 B d3?!

A half-fulfilled promise is a half-broken one as well. Keres hopes to cleanse his kingdom of an evil influence but only manages to make matters worse. Now White's hI-rook and gl-knight clearly suffer an aversion to hard work and are content to remain in stasis, unpromoted. Then again White's game was beyond saving, even after the superior 14 Ne2 0-0 15 Nc3 Ne4 16 Nxe4 Bxe4, and now White must play the god-awful 17 Kd2, a move no chess player wants to make when facing the strongest player in the world across the board!

14

000

Qd7!

Black breaks the pin on c6 and threatens . . . Nb4+ . Both queens arrive at the party wearing the same blue dress - a dress which both believe fails to suit the other in the least.

15 Kbl Bxd3+ 16 Rxd3
This guy lumbers up the board with cumbersome, mastodonic apathy.

16 0 0 0 Qf5!

-

-

Botvinnik embroiders a not-so-delicate attacking pattern. Now the incongruous parts converge into a harmonious whole . We see the second deadly point behind 14 . . . Qd7! . White is forced into a death pin.

17 e4
No choice, since 17 Qb3 Nb4 is crushing.

17 0 0 0 Nxe4 18 Kal
The white king's haggard face feels disproportionate to his actual years.

18 0 0 0 0-0
Threatening . . . Nc5 .

19 Rd1
Question: Why not 19 Rf3
-

?

Answer: White' s back rank is vulnerable and Black responds with the crushing shot 19 . . . Nd4!, winning on the spot.

19 0 0 0 b5!
The general's philosophy: kill first; negotiate later.

20 Qxb5

.

.

White's queen raises eyebrows in sharp, silent rebuke, only to be hit with a devastating counter next move when she turns her back.

Exercise (combination alert): Find a path which finishes White' s resistance.

Answer: Back rank/fork/ overload. Black's knight reaches out and smites, like the Old Testament hand of God to the disobedient and the wicked.

20 0 0 0 Nd4! 21 Qd3 Nc2+ 22 Kb1
A prisoner harbours two primal thoughts : 1 . How to avoid discomfort. 2. How to escape. In this instance, Keres' king achieves neither.

22 0 0 0 Nb4! 0-1

.

.

If White's queen moves, Black unleashes a horrific discovered check. How does one go about defeating a leading contender for the world chess crown in 22 moves and with the black pieces? Somehow, Botvinnik managed to pull it off, making Keres look like a bumbling amateur in the process. Botvinnik couldn't resist stating the obvious: "White's kingside pieces took no part in the game." I'm pretty sure Keres was well aware of this unhappy fact!

Game 26
I.Bondarevsky-M.Botvinnik

USSR Absolute Championship, Leningrad/Moscow 1941

French De fence
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 Nf3

Question: Why didn't White back up his centre with 4 c3 - ?

Answer: Bondarevsky tries a Nimzowitsch idea, where he temporarily sacs his d4-pawn. Later on White plays Nbd2 and Nb3, hoping to regain his pawn with a blockading piece on d4. I think it's a sub-par line because Black eventually erodes away White's centre entirely - although, having looked at the database stats, White seems to do okay with it, I suspect, due to its surprise value.

4 0 0 0 Nc6 5 B d3
5 c3 transposes to the main line .

5 0 0 0 cxd4
Question: Why not gain a tempo with 5 . . . c4 - ?

Answer: Because Black gives up too much for a mere tempo. By playing . . . c5-c4, Black releases the tension on d4, allowing White's centre to remain unchallenged - after which White has the leisure to use his space and central influence to build up an attack.

6 0-0 Bc5 7 a3
If Black underestimates the danger he/ she/ it can easily walk into disaster, as in this game : 7 ReI Nge7 8 Nbd2

O-O??

9 Bxh7+ ! (the bishop piously raises his eyes

heavenward and sacrifices himself on h7) 9 . . . Kxh7 10 Ng5+ Kg6 11 Qg4 and White had a winning attack, R. Dzindzichashvili-Comp Fritz, New York (blitz match) 1991 .

7 0 0 0 Nge7 8 Nbd2 Ng6
Having undermined the e5-pawn's support, Black now pressures the head of the chain.

9 Nb3
M.Crosa Coll-Lui. Gonzalez, Mendoza 2004, saw 9 ReI f6 10 Nb3 Bb6 11 Bxg6+ hxg6 12 Qd3 Kf7 13 Bf4 g5 14 Bg3, when I have grave doubts about White's

compensation after 14 . . . g4 15 Nfxd4 Nxe5 16 Qe2 (16 Bxe5? fxe5 17 Rxe5 Bc7 even worse) 16 . . . Bc7 17 Radl .

is

Question: Isn't 9 b4 White' s most logical move here?

Answer: Your move seizes queenside space with tempo and leaves open possibilities of Bb2 if necessary. Curiously, I don't see a single game with this move in the database. So perhaps the problem lies in the line 9 . . . Bb6 10 Rel Qc7, after which White has trouble defending his e-pawn. He can either sac it, which looks fishy, or he can play 11 Bxg6 hxg6 12 Nb3, when he reaches a position similar to what Bondarevsky gets in the game, except that it isn't clear if the inclusion of b2-b4 actually helps White.

9

000

Bb6 10 ReI Bd7 11 g3

Question: What is the point of this move?

Answer: Dual purpose:

1 . White intends h2-h4-h5, chasing away the g6-knight, but Botvinnik simply doesn't give Bondarevsky the time. 2. White prevents all future . . . Nh4, or even . . . Qh4, tricks. Instead, L. Maltsev-J. Bai, World Junior Championships, Kemer 2009, saw 11 Bxg6 hxg6 12 Bf4 (12 Nbxd4?? Nxd4 13 Nxd4 Qh4 wins, due to simultaneous attacks on h2 and d4 - and f2, should White retreat his knight to f3) 12 . . . Rc8 13 Qd3 as! 14 Racl a4, and now White fell for the same trap with 15 Nbxd4?? Nxd4 16 Nxd4 Qh4! and was busted, having too many loose points in his position.
11
A
000

£6

direct challenge to the head of the chain.

12 Bxg6+

12 exf6? ! Qxf6 would simply give Black an automatic attack down the f-file.
12
000

hxg6 13 Qd3

Question: Why does White settle for a truncated version of his original

desire when he can

simply regain the lost pawn with 13 Nbxd4 - ?

Answer: This may be White' s best bet, though I still like Black with his bishop pair and open h-file.

13 0 0 0 Kf7 14 h4

Exercise (planning): White plans Bf4 and then the leisurely recapture of his lost

d4-pawn. How did

Botvinnik completely cross him up and disrupt this plan?

Warning: This one is unbelievably difficult to solve. If you find GM or will be one soon!

this

idea you are a

Answer: The sorceress traces strange patterns with her forefinger in the air, which begin to swirl with power. The queen, graceful and supple, glides about on the contours of the back rank to enter the attack. Botvinnik embarks upon a quixotic - one may argue unreasonable - idea. His plan, opaque as frosted glass, comes across as artificial, yet it works.

14 0 0 0 Qg8!!

Question: What on earth?

Answer: A move which leaves an indelible imprint upon our minds. I realize the move looks incomprehensible, designed to transport who-knows-what-piece-to-who-knows-where? The idea is actually quite straightforward: . . . Qh7, followed by . . . g6-g5 ! which pries open White's king, even though it may soon be an ending.

15 Bd2
Question: Why did White back off from his Bf4 plan?

Answer: If 15 Bf4 Qh7 16 Nbxd4?, then Black strikes with 16 . . . Nxd4 17 Nxd4 g5! 18 Qxh7 Rxh7 (two white pieces hang) 19 Be3 gxh4 and White drops a pawn.

15 0 0 0 Qh7

15 . . . Rh5! is also powerful, increasing pressure to e5 and thinking about adding major pieces behind the rook and then following with . . . g6-g5.

16 Bb4
Intending to enter to d6.

16 0 0 0 g5!

-

-

The impulse to sac bubbles up. Now Botvinnik's forces erupt into frenzied activity around Black's king, even in the absence of queens on the board.

17 Qxh7 Rxh7 18 exf6
If 18 hxg5 fxe5 19 Nxe5+? then 19 . . . Nxe5 20 Rxe5 Rah8 21 Kg2 d3! (threatening . . . Rh2+) 22 Kf3 dxc2 23 Rcl Ba4 and White is busted.
18 0 0 0 gxf6 19 hxg5 e5!

Just look at Black's rolling centre !

20 gxf6 Kxf6

Question: Does Black have enough compensation?

1 . An open h-file and serious threats to White's king. In fact, he even has access to an open g-file, which he later uses to advantage as well.
Answer: For the pawn, Black received:

2. A powerful, centre, just itching to surge . 3. The bishop pair in an open position. 4. An explosion of light square activity from his bishop, now unchained and unopposed. 5. Black's king, unlike his cowering counterpart, participates in the fight, bolstering the centre. This means that Black essentially has a bonus, three extra fighting units on his side. Conclusion: Discounting a miracle, the odds of White's survival are negligible.

21 Bd6 ReS
Cautious, but there is no need for it. He should plough ahead with 21 . . . e4! 22 Nh4 Rg8 23 Kfl Ne5 ! 24 Bxe5+ Kxe5 25 Nf3+ Kd6 26 Nfxd4 Bg4 ! 27 Kg2 Rgh8, when White is helpless to deal with the coming rook invasion, since 28 Rh1 is met by 28 . . . Bf3+, winning on the spot.

22 Nh4
This loses - as do all other tries.
22 0 0 0 Rg8

Threatening a cheapo on h4.

23 Kh2
The king hides in the corner, his face a lambent picture of terror. After 23 Nf3 d3! Black threatens both c2 and . . . Rxg3+ .
23 0 0 0 Bf5!

.

.

Another attacker brought into the mix. Now . . . d4-d3! becomes a major threat.

24 Re2
Covering c2. The rook makes an impassioned plea for calm and co-operation to his panic-stricken brethren, who refuse either to listen, stay calm or co-operate. He soon learns a harsh lesson: a single dissenting voice is no match for an authoritarian regnne.
24 0 0 0 d3! 25 Rd2

The equivalent of resignation, though 25 cxd3 Bxd3 26 Rd2 Bc4 27 Nc1 (27 Nc5

Rd8 wins) 27 . . . Nd4 is crushing anyway.
25
000

dxc2 26 f4

26 Rh1 Ke6 27 Bc5 Bd8! wins. Bondarevsky makes a desperate attempt to mix it up, but fails to confuse his opponent.
26
000

Be3!

Yet another member of the attack force begins to haunt the vicinity of White's king.
27 Bxe5+ Nxe5 28 fxe5+ Ke7! 29 Rf1

Instead, 29 Rg2 is met by 29 . . . Be4, while 29 Rxd5 Rxh4+ ! 30 gxh4 Bf4+ 31 Kh1 Be4 is mate.

-

-

The ruling authority collapses and the makeshift interim government is clearly inadequate to deal with the baleful threats. Bondarevsky holds on by the most tenuous wisp of threads, but now it finally snaps.

Exercise (combination alert): Black can simply capture the rook on d2, but

there is a more deadly

and more elegant finish in the position. How can we expedite the process and force White's immediate resignation?
Answer: 29 ... c1Q! 0-1 Overload/ deflection. To play on constitutes an exercise in futility: 30 Rxc1 (the absence of White's £1rook allows a mating combination; 30 Nxc1 Bxd2 31 RxfS Bxc2 wins a whole rook) 30 . . . Rxh4+! (forensic analysis of blood spatter patterns indicate that the killer is left-handed) 31 gxh4 Bf4+ 32 Khl Be4+ and White' s king stares with incredulity at the insolence of the upstart on e4. Soon, he breathes his last, his face set in the severity of the deceased.

Game 27
M.Botvinnik-M.Euwe World Championship Tournament, The Hague/Moscow 1948

Semi-Slav De fence 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 dxc4 7 Bxc4 b5 8 Bd3 a6

What once was new is now old. The combatants VIe for control in what IS currently a fashionable line of the Semi-Slav.

9 e4 c5 10 e5
10 d5 is White's major option in the position.
10 0 0 0 cxd4 11 Nxb5

The knight sells himself as dearly as possible before White captures f6.
11 0 0 0 axb5

Considered superior to 11 . . . Nxe5 12 Nxe5 axb5 13 Bxb5+ Bd7 14 Nxd7 Qa5+ 15 Bd2 Qxb5 16 Nxf8 - White tends to score well in this position after either recapture on f8.

12 exf6 Qb6
Botvinnik and Euwe, two of the giants of opening theory of their time, agree to enter the wildest recesses of an already bewildering variation, ignoring its terrors or privations. The modern move order is 12 . . . gxf6 - it is generally believed that this position cost Kramnik his world champion title. He suffered two stinging losses, mainly due to Anand's superior opening prep, in their 2008 match. One cannot lose two games with the white pieces and then salvage a title match - 13 0-0 Qb6 14 Qe2 Bb7!? 15 Bxb5.

Question: Is the sac of b5 sound?

Answer: Opinions naturally differ widely, even among very strong players. My feeling is absolute, incontrovertible evidence isn't always necessary when deciding to embark on such a course. It just looks

a) 15 . . . Bd6 16 Rdl Rg8 17 g3 Rg4!? with dizzying complications. V. Kranmik-V. Anand, World Championship (3rd matchgame), Bonn 2008. b) 15 . . . Rg8 16 Bf4 Bd6 17 Bg3 f5 18 Rfcl f4 19 Bh4 Be7 20 a4 Bxh4 21 Nxh4 Ke7 and your guess is as good as mine here, V.Kranmik-V. Anand, World Championship (5th matchgame), Bonn 2008. right. For example:

13 fxg7
Question: This helps Black develop. Can White sac

to increase his lead in development with

13 0-0 - ?

Answer: That is quite possible, when play would likely transpose to the Kramnik-Anand games above after 13 . . . gxf6 14 Qe2.

13

000

Bxg7 14 0-0

14 0 0 0 Nc5!?

Risky, but probably playable if Black follows through correctly.

Question: Why? It is played in accordance to principle:

Bishops are more valuable than knights in

an open position.

Answer: True enough, yet Black goes after the bishop pair at the cost of time, in violation of the spirit of the precept he intended to follow. From my experience, a lead in development means more than bishop pair in open games. Moreover, Black relinquishes control over the key e5-square, a factor Botvinnik was later able to exploit. 14 . . . Bb7 and 14 . . . 0-0 are common and, in my opinion, superior alternatives.

15 Bf4
15 ReI may be slightly more accurate, retaining options for White's dark-squared bishop.
15 000 Bb7 16 Rei Rd8?!

This move looks okay, but be warned: the stats show a 9% success rate for Black!

Question: What do you suggest instead?

Answer: I like Black's treatment in the following game: 16 . . . Nxd3! 17 Qxd3 Bxf3 ! (relinquishing the bishop pair but, in doing so, diluting White's kingside attacking chances) 18 Qxf3 0-0 19 Qg3 Kh8, when Black has a central pawn majority and a safe (for now) king, E.Bogoljubow-P. F.Schmidt, Salzburg 1943.

17 Re1 Rd5

·

.

Euwe fights for control over e5, but Botvinnik still owns the square.

Exercise (planning): Come up with a plan to strengthen White's position.

Answer: Eliminate Black's best piece.

18 Be5! Bxe5?

After this move Black's position degenerates quickly. Houdini suggests the rather desperate-looking exchange sac IS . . . RgS ! ! (an anomalous move which only a computer could find) 19 Bxh7 Bxe5! 20 BxgS Bf4!, after which it looks like he gets reasonable play for the exchange.
19 Rxe5 Rxe5?!

Question: Why did Euwe allow the white knight a free jump into e5?

Answer: It doesn't look right to me either. Euwe probably didn't want to drop a pawn in the line 19 . . . Ke7 20 Rxd5 Bxd5 21 Nxd4, but at least Black remains active after 21 . . . Rg8.

20 Nxe5
Threatening Qh5.
20 0 0 0 Nxd3

Black, fearing for his king's safety, understandably feels an urgency to swap down. Instead: a) 20 . . . RgS 21 Bf1 ! (threatening both the d4-pawn and Qh5) 21 . . . Nd7 22 Qh5 Nxe5 23 Qxe5 Ba6 24 a4! is hopeless for Black as well. b) 20 . . . h5 21 b4! Nxd3 22 Qxd3 RgS 23 Qh7! and if 23 . . . Rxg2+ ? (an unwise incursion since White's king is amply fortified with able defenders, whereas Black's isn't so lucky) 24 Kfl, when there is no good way to cover f7.

21 Qxd3 £6

·

.

Even in the most terrifying natural disasters, there is always a handful of recalcitrant citizenry who refuse to leave their homes. Black's king is destined to remain in the centre.

Exercise (planning/ combination alert): One glance tells us that Black's

king experiences serious

difficulties. How did Botvinnik manage to get at it?

Answer: Sac the knight in order to infiltrate at g7. The black king nervously mops his forehead with a handkerchief upon hearing that rumours begin to fly and proliferate about his inability to rule the kingdom. Meanwhile, White's queen brushes aside all petty, intervening functionaries and demands a private audience with Black's king.

22 Qg3!!

White's knight, to the exasperation of Euwe" rejects the philosophy: after reaching the brink of a precipice, there is no other sane direction but reverse. And so he remains intransigent in his continued refusal to remove himself from e5.
22 0 0 0 fxe5

White's knight may be gone, yet somehow its presence is still felt, like the spectral death-shriek of a long-dead warrior. Black may as well accept, since if he refrains from capture, Black toils without pay. In the year 1456, astronomers spotted what is now known as Halley's comet, seen streaking across the heavens. In those days the common belief was that comets were portents of ill tidings and the precursor to the fall of entire nations. So Pope Callixtus III saved the day. His solution: excommunicate the comet! I'm guessing Callixtus' action didn't bother the comet much, just as Euwe's chopping of the e5-knight didn't exactly worry Botvinnik.
23 Qg7 RfS 24 Rc7!

The point. Black must hand over his queen to avoid immediate annihilation.
24 0 0 0 Qxc7

The disoriented queen sees only blurred shapes and muted colours dancing before her eyes.

25 Qxc7
Tears well up in the black king's swollen eyes at the sight of his now deceased queen.
25 0 0 0 Bd5 26 Qxe5 d3

The d-pawn is Euwe's final prayer. He hopes to lodge it deeply enough into enemy territory to force White to take perpetual check.
27 Qe3 Bc4 28 b3 Rf7!

Question: Why did Black hand over a piece?

Answer: Euwe continues to offer tenacious resistance in the face of insurmountable difficulties. 28 . . . Bd5 29 Qxd3 is resignable for Black. The deeply entrenched d-pawn is Black's lone hope. When heavily down in material, the losing side has little to lose and much to gain in continuing the generosity to feed an idea, even one conceived in desperation's womb. Nevertheless, Euwe's clever idea is flawed by a single insurmountable obstacle: it doesn't work if White follows through correctly.

29 £3
White's king heads for d2, the key blockade square .
29
000

Rd7 30 Qd2

Most certainly not 30 bxc4?? d2, when White must take perpetual check with 31 Qxe6+ .
30 31
000

e5 31 bxc4! bxc4

Now he can take it.
000

Black threatens to deflect the queen with his c-pawn next.

32 K£2

·

.

The reinforcement arrives, as cool rain to a wilting, thirsty plant. At first glance it appears as if Black's passers continue to hold the white king and queen hostage, but Botvinnik easily sees through the attempted subterfuge .
32 0 0 0 Kf7
Question: Can't Black draw with the deflection sac 32 . . . c3 33 Qxc3 d2 - ? White's queen can't get back to dl, so he must now take a perpetual check, correct?

Answer: Incorrect. White simply returns the queen to win a trivially easy king and pawn ending with 34 Qc8+ Ke7 35 Qxd7+! Kxd7 36 Ke2, eliminating the renegade d-pawn.

33 Ke3 Ke6

�7 �7 �7 �

��'�I[ '��� � m t � ft m ft m � m ft � � ��' '� �I'll ' ,
Exercise (planning): How can White transform his

considerable material advantage into the

full point?

Answer: Transfer the king to the job of menial labour on d2 to free White' s queen.

34 Qb4!

A move which effectively locks the gate on Black's further cheapo attempts.
34 0 0 0 Rc7

34 . . . d2 fails to the simple 35 Qxd2.

35 Kd2
Black's passers have been constrained, leaving White's a-pawn free to surge to its queerung square.
35 ... Rc6 36 a4 1-0

Game 28
V.Smyslov-M.Botvinnik Trailling match, Moscow 1952

Dutch Defence
1 d4 f5

Botvinnik normally began his Dutch lines with the 1 . . . e6 2 c4 f5 move order.

2 e4
The Staunton Gambit, greatly feared at club level but really not so hot for White, according to current theory. In reality, the line, much like a disparaging comment, only has the power to dent Black's ego, rather than inflict physical pain. Sometimes players who essay this shaky gambit emerge with a scalp, but often than not, the scalp ends up being from their own heads.

Question: Why is that?

Answer: In the age of computers, most gambits dwindle and die. The comps are just too savvy at grabbing and holding the extra material. All we have to do as humans is to spar with them, and watch and learn their techniques.

2 0 0 0 fxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 g4!?

.

.

Reason and logic collapse when attempting to negotiate with an unpredictable and unreasonable foe. Played under the theory: sometimes the only way for a lesson to sink in is to teach with a pair of swinging fists.

4

000

h6!

Question: Doesn't this move dramatically

weaken the light squares around Black's king?

Answer: It's a calculated risk, and probably a good one. His defensive armour may not look pretty, yet it proves capable of withstanding a fearsome blow without piercing.

Black loses a lot of time if he refuses to weaken. For example, after 4 . . . d5 5 g5 Ng8 6 f3!, White gets an especially mean-spirited-Iooking version of the Blackmar­ Diemer, as Black lags dangerously behind in development, S.Tartakower-J. Mieses, Baden-Baden 1925.
S Nh3!? A new move in the position which looks like a poor one, and has never been tried

again, probably due to this game. Smyslov gathers the data but collates to a faulty inference. His move has the effect of adulterating an already waning initiative. Soon, Smyslov learns: if you risk confrontation, you must also be psychologically prepared for a re buff.

Question: How should White continue?

Answer: He should chip away at e4, starting with 5 f3, though even then, I don't believe in White' s compensation after 5 . . . d 5 6 h3 Nc6, D.Bronstein-M.Gurevich, Moscow 1987.

S

000

dS 6 f3 cS!?

.

.

Botvinnik ups the ante and complicates further, attempting to dismantle White's centre completely. I would go for the more thematic 6 . . . Nc6, simply because it is a developing move. Black intends . . . e7-e5, freeing his kingside pieces.

7 dxc5
7 g5 hxg5 8 Nxg5 Nc6 9 fxe4 cxd4 also looks rather sickly for White.
7
000

eS 8 fxe4 Bxg4

The simple 8 . . . d4 looks quite promising for Black too.

9 Qd3

Black takes clear control after this move. Perhaps it was time to go psycho with a speculative piece sac, starting 9 Be2!? Bxh3 10 Bh5+ Kd7 11 exd5 (threatening Qf3) 11 . . . Kc8 12 Be3. White may have some compensation here with those intimidating central pawns and a disrupted black king. Still, a piece is a piece.
9
000

Bxc5!

Moses would agree: "An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth." Botvinnik refuses to get outsac' ed by Smyslov and keeps pace by promptly returning his extra material to increase his growing lead in development. Persuasion or coercive threats had little effect on Botvinnik who, from the very start, desired one thing only: the initiative. The archbishop on cS dreams of one day becoming a cardinal, just as the cardinal on g4 dreams of becoming pope. Our good and evil are sometimes compartmentalized: knights of the middle ages conducted themselves with a strict chivalric code of honour, yet at the same time, they committed savage, murderous acts upon their enemies on the field of battle, burned crops and holy books, pillaged and murdered peasants who had the misfortune to live under the enemy's domain. In the same way, Botvinnik goes into kill mode, laying waste to all in his path. He seeks initiative not material, and isn't sidetracked with bribery lines like 9 . . . d4 10 Nd5 Nxd5 11 exd5 Qxd5 12 Qg6+ Kd8 13 Qxg4! Qxh1, when White's light square grip, coupled with Black's insecure king, offers some compensation for the exchange .

10 exd5 0-0

Question: How would you assess this position?

Answer: Advantage Botvinnik. Material is even but Black leads in development in a wide open position.

11 Be3
The piece sac 11 Bxh6 appears refuted by 11 . . . gxh6 12 Qg6+ Kh8 13 Qxh6+ Nh7 14 Bd3 Rf7 and if 15 Rfl Rxfl + and if 16 Kxfl Qf6+, when queens come off the board.
11
000

e4!

The e-pawn, which cannot be captured, allows Black an infiltration hook into f3 and acts as a caustic agent, slowly eroding White's patience .

12 Qd2
Not 12 Nxe4?? Nxe4 13 Qxe4 Bf5 and White can resign.
12 0 0 0 Bxe3 13 Qxe3 Bf3 14 Rgl Ng4! 15 Rxg4

There is no lengthy mourning period for a plague victim. The rook's corpse gets tossed unceremoniously into a lime-soaked ditch. No choice anyway, since . . . Qh4+ was in the air.
15 0 0 0 Bxg4 16 Nf2 Bf3 17 Bh3!?

After recent depletions, White tries to make do with a Spartan attacking force, but there just is no attack to be found. Instead, Smyslov should probably see to the welfare and comfort of his king, starting with 17 Kd2.
17 0 0 0 Qd6 18 Be6+ Kh8 19 Kd2 Na6 20 Rei Nc7

Ejecting the intruder.
21 Nfxe4 Qxh2+ 22 Kcl Rae8 23 Qc5 Qf4+

Or 23 . . . Bxe4! 24 Nxe4 Qh4! (double attack) 25 Re2 Rf1+ 26 Kd2 Qf4+, winning .

24 Nd2

Exercise (combination alert): We arrive at a moment which

requires divination and magic as

much as rational analysis. White's game teeters. How do we push him over?

Answer: Pin.

24 0 0 0 Bxd5! 25 Nxd5 Nxe6!

Leaves near the black witch on f4 rustle and swirl; the air around her begins to crackle with power.

26 Qxa7

Exercise (combination alert): The air is ripe with presentiment of

imminent misfortune in the

region of White's king. Black has access to tactics and two ways to force the win. Find one of them.

Answer: Back rank.

26 0 0 0 Nc7!

"J' adoube," announces the emboldened knight, who operates under the aegis of his rook and queen's authority. Black's hanging queen isn't really hanging at all.

Answer #2: Black has a secondary back rank trick with 26 . . . Nd4! and White collapses.

27 Rxe8 Rxe8! 0-1
Due to 28 Nxf4 Rei mate. White' s king lays down the burden of this life as his spirit moves on to the next.

Game 29
T.V.Petrosian-M.Botvinnik Training match, Moscow 1952

Semi-Slav De fence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 c6 5 cxd5

Petrosian prefers to clarify the position, rather than challenge Botvinnik theoretical showdown with 5 Bg5 or 5 e3.
5 0 0 0 cxd5

ill

a

.

.

Transposing to the Exchange Slav, a virtually unlosable position for White - but as Petrosian discovers in this game, there are exceptions to every rule. Instead, S . . . exdS leads to the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, albeit a less testing version, since White has already committed a knight to f3.

Question: What difference does that make?

Answer: The early f3-knight deployment cuts out set-ups like e2-e3, Bd3, Nge2, f2-f3 and then later e3e4, which is generally considered one of White' s more dangerous formations in QGD Exchange lines.

6 Bf4 Nc6 7 e3 NhS!?

.

.

Dreev's favourite line, perhaps Black's most combative and also most perilous course. He attempts to chase down the f4-bishop and grab the bishop pair, but at the heavy cost of weakening and risking a lag in his own development. A more sedate developing set-up like 7 . . . Be7 8 Rc1 0-0 9 Bd3 Bd7 10 0-0 Rc8 11 NeS, as in Wang Hao-V.Malakhov, China vs. Russia match, Ningbo 2010, would suit the tranquil Petrosian just fine.

8 Bg5 Qb6 9 a3

9 Bb5 is White's main option; e. g. 9 . . . Bd7 10 0-0 h6 11 Bh4 Bd6! (11 . . . g5? ! 12 Bxc6 Bxc6 13 Ne5 Ng7 14 Bg3, V.Bhat-J. Becerra Rivero, US Team Championship 2005, is dangerous for Black who cannot grab on b2; e. g. 14 . . . Qxb2? 15 Nxc6 bxc6 16 Qa4! is awful) 12 Nd2 Nf6 13 Nb3 Ne4!? 14 Nxe4 dxe4 15 Be2 Ne7! 16 Bg3 Bxg3 17 hxg3 Ba4 and Black stood at least equal, V.Milov-A.Dreev, Internet (blitz) 2004.
9 0 0 0 h6

After 9 . . . Qxb2?? the genie's boon proves illusory and loses on the spot to 10 Na4, when Black's queen breaks down into a hiccupping sob.

10 Bh4 g5 11 Bg3
Question: Why not toss in 11 Ne5 - ?

Answer: In some lines b2 is tactically vulnerable, especially ones where White's queen gets diverted from dl . For example, 11 . . . Nxe5 12 dxe5 Bd7 13 Na4 (after 13 Qxh5?? Qxb2, White has too many pieces hanging simultaneously) 13 . . . Qa5+ 14 Nc3 gxh4 15 Qxh5 RcS, when Black enjoys the bishop pair, development lead and initiative.

11 0 0 0 Nxg3 12 hxg3 Bg7 13 Bd3 Qd8

.

.

The queen no longer serves a purpose on b6 and returns home. We reach a classic imbalance of slightly superior structure and open h-file versus Black's bishop pair and potential on the dark squares. For now, the position remains closed, so the bishop pair doesn't constitute much. But if the game later opens up, they grow meaningful.
14 Nh2?!

A head-scratching moment. Petrosian's pieces begin to behave irrationally, like characters in a dream who say and do the incomprehensible.

Question: What is White's idea behind this bizarre retreat?

Answer: I suspect that Petrosian, like your unfortunate writer, over-studied Nimzowitsch in a misspent youth and hyper-finesses in a position where he should be making simple developing moves. Petrosian may have planned Qh5, followed by Ng4, when his idea works well. But with his contortion, he pays too high a price in decentralizing a knight, sending it on to a mission to nowhere. What we see here is the positional player's disease, with which your writer has also been afflicted his entire life: an oblivious underestimation of a position's dynamic potential. Botvinnik, who suffered no such illness, soon began a vigorous exploitation of Petrosian's eccentricity.

L Morovic Fernandez-A. Dreev, Moscow 2010, continued far more naturally: 14 Rcl Bd7 15 Nd2!? (White stalls, nervous about castling and walking into some sort of . . . h6-h5-h4 attack) 15 . . . e5! (a good reaction to White's last move - Black opens the position for his bishop pair) 16 dxe5 Nxe5, and now 17 Nf3 again would leave the position dynamically even.
14 0 0 0 hS!

Botvinnik alertly prevents Qh5.
15 Rcl Bd7 16 NhS!?

Yet another eccentricity and yet another mission to nowhere. As is White's custom in this game, he is a bit too keen to weird it up. Petrosian, lulled by the rigidity of the position, incorrectly believed this fact gave him license to manoeuvre to his heart's content. It was probably high time to apologize, lose face, concede that his previous idea was weak, and play 16 Nf3.
16 0 0 0 Kf8!

Sidestepping the vulgar cheapo on d6.

Question: But at the cost of losing castling rights?

Answer: After playing . . . h6-h5, Black never intended to castle kingside, since his rook now belongs on the h-file. Here f8 is a safe haven for Black's king - in fact, far safer than castling.

17 Nfl?!

The "to each his own" philosophy has its limits, and here Petrosian takes personal self-expression a bit too far. The knight sighs, reconciling himself to his new, demoted post. To a classical player, Petrosian's hyper-refined finesses and odd strategic gesticulations may look incomprehensible. White's knights, oblivious to danger, caper about like children at play at a picnic. White's dilemma: continue even further down an obviously incorrect path, or submit to a humiliating reversal of his previous efforts? Petrosian opts for the former, indulging in a further contortion to threaten h5, but he forgets that positions fraught with tension are not conducive to such leisurely manoeuvres.
17 000 g4 18 Nd2 eS!
Principle: Open the position when you own the bishop pair. Black hopes to kindle some central heat.

19 Qb3
Black controls the initiative after 19 dxe5 h4! too.

19 0 0 0 exd4 20 Nxd4 Nxd4 21 exd4 Qe7+

22 Kdl?!

Petrosian's normally astonishing receptivity to the most minute strategic nuance apparently took an extended vacation this game. The eccentricity-fest continues and White's wacky pieces wander about the board in hallucinatory fashion. Petrosian can ill afford yet another extravagance when he should busy himself putting his ramshackle house in order.

Question: Why did Petrosian's king veer toward the centre?

Answer: He wanted to activate his hl-rook at el, at the cost of an insecure king - too high a price. His move is simply at odds with the position's requirements. He should settle for 22 Kfl Bxd4 23 Qxb7 Rd8 24 Qxd5 Bxb2 25 Rbl Be6 with only a clear advantage to Black.

22 0 0 0 Bxd4 23 Rc7

23 Qxb7?? fails miserably to 23 . . . Ba4+, picking off the queen; while 23 Qxd5?? is also a no-go due to 23 . . . Bxb2 24 Rbl Ba4+ 25 Bc2 Rd8 with a crushing attack after 26 Qa5 b6! 27 Qxa4 Bc3.
23 0 0 0 Bb6 24 Rei Qd6 25 Rxb7

Now Botvinnik finds a path to freedom for his king's rook.
25 0 0 0 Rh6!

The rook emerges, eager to participate.

26 Bb5 Be6 27 f4
Petrosian probably wanted to avoid the dismal ending which arose after 27 Re2 h4 28 gxh4 Rxh4 29 Qb4 Qxb4 30 axb4.
27 0 0 0 gxf3!?

A trade-off: Botvinnik opens the position further but allows White's knight back into the game.

28 Nxf3 Re8 29 Ne5 Qe5

Exercise (critical decision): Black threatens a huge check on cl,

after which White's king goes

for a ride . White can play 30 Qb4, agreeing to an inferior ending, or else the startling shot 30 Rxf7+, which exploits a fork tactic on d7. Analyse both and decide carefully.

30 Rxf7+?
Answer: If a person with a dark, violent past invites us into his home, we should be disinclined to enter. Petrosian, whose restraint vanishes when pitted against such temptation, displays tactical ingenuity, but unfortunately not enough to save him from himself! Not all combinations should be played. White should have entered the inferior ending with 30 Qb4! Qxb4 31 axb4 with some hope of saving the game.

30 0 0 0 KgB!

A strange double attack arises: Black threatens the hanging rook on f7, as well as a deadly queen check on cl .
31 Rf3?

Petrosian had to appease the gods with sacrifice by tossing the exchange after 31 Nd3 Qd4 32 Rf3 Bg4.
31 0 0 0 Qc1 +

Black seeks to force the extradition of White's king to face trial for past crimes.

32 Ke2
The king receives his guest with cold indifference.
32 0 0 0 Rc2+

Black's queen and rook toss the king's body aside, the way a rancher would diseased livestock.

33 Kf1 Qd2 0-1
Black's major pieces leave a plume of misery along White's second rank. The white king's dilemma reminds me of the Pink Floyd lyrics: "Your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying. I've become comfortably numb."

Question: Why did White resign when he had two ways to block on e2?

Answer: Both fail miserably: 34 Re2 Rc1 +! or 34 Be2 Qd4!.

Game 30
M.Botvinnik-V.Smyslov World Championship (2nd matchgame), Moscow 1954

Nimzo-Indian De fence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Ne2

.

.

White covers c3 against structural damage but contorts a bit to do so.
S
000

Ba6

Smyslov immediately puts his finger on the downside to White's last move and pressures the now hanging c4-pawn. S . . . cS, S . . . Bb7 and S . . . Ne4 are Black's alternatives.

6 a3 Be7 7 Nf4
More active than the g3-square.

7 0 0 0 d5 8 cxd5
Question: This move compromises White's

castling rights. Can he avoid losing them?

Answer: If he wants, he can retain the central tension with 8 b3 0-0 9 Bb2, as in the earlier game M.Botvinnik-N.Novotelnov, USSR Championship, Moscow 1951 .

8 0 0 0 Bxfl 9 Kxfl exd5
Question: It looks to me like White may have botched the opening.

He has a bad bishop on cl and can't castle, meaning his hI-rook will be out of play for quite some time. Is this correct?

Answer: Not if you factor in White' s next move. His rook may actually be well placed on hI with his kingside expansion plan. White may also later play for e3-e4, as he does in this game, which frees the c1bishop. The chances are probably closer to even.

10 g4!

.

.

If you work for a mob boss it's useful to understand his weaknesses - but never, ever mention them aloud. Now this move is routine, whereas at the time it was a startlingly new plan for White, who attacks with a kingside pawn storm. His once out-of-play rook now looks well posted on hI .
10 0 0 0 c6

Smyslov stabilizes his d-pawn. Black's main alternative is to lash out with 10 . . . g5!, which may in fact be Black's best bet in the position; e. g. 1 1 NhS Nxh5 12 gxh5 c6 13 Qf3 Qd7 14 e4 with tremendous complications, M. Nacu-J.Tait, correspondence 2002.

11 g5 Nfd7
11 . . . Ne4 12 Nxe4 dxe4 13 h4, J. Rendboe-MSechting, Pardubice 2005, is another possibility.
12 h4 B d6?!

Black agrees to the deal in principle but hesitates to put it into writing and sign by castling immediately. The bishop unwisely diverts himself with a side issue. The threat to damage White's structure on f4 comes at the serious price of time, never mind that White easily avoids it with his next move. Instead, Black should probably enter the storm head on with 12 . . . 0-0, and if

White follows Botvinnik with 13 e4 dxe4 14 Nxe4, then 14 . . . Nc5! has a freeing effect on Black's game, T. Irzhanov-R.Rizzo, correspondence 2006.
13 e4!

Botvinnik, at the cost of an isolani on d4, solves the secondary problem of his formally inactive bishop and augments his piece activity further.
13 0 0 0 dxe4 14 Nxe4

Question: Does White risk overextension?

Answer: He certainly does if he mishandles the position (which Botvinnik doesn't), but Black risks under extension, which is a greater threat. Botvinnik willingly takes on structural deficiencies in exchange for piece activity, which he now enjoys in abundance. At this stage Smyslov must have endured extreme frustration in his inability to locate a single fissure or crevice in Botvinnik's seamless campaign of offence.

14 0 0 0 Bxf4?!

The bishop engages in an exaggerated reaction to a trivial slight, and fails to collect fair remuneration for his toil. Sometimes the medicine itself is the factor which kills the patient. Smyslov appraises the position incorrectly, hoping to solve one difficulty, but by doing so he takes on another one even larger. Black, probably looking for pressure-easing swaps, agrees to a bad deal. Now White soon posts a knight on d6 with powerful effect. Here 14 . . . Bc7, retaining some degree of control over his dark squares, was relatively best.

15 Bxf4 0-0 16 h5 ReS
Walking into White's next move, but 16 . . . Na6 17 h6 g6 18 Qa4 improvement.
IS

no

17 Nd6
Eight beams of power radiate from the knight, like spokes on a wheel.
17 0 0 0 Re6

Black is unable to survive 17 . . . Re7 18 g6! .

Exercise (planning): Botvinnik found a way to seize

the initiative. What can you come up

with in this position?

Answer: Principle: Create confrontation when your opponent lags in development.

18 d5!

The human move.
Answer #2: Houdini points out that 18 g6! fxg6 19 hxg6 h6 20 d5 is also quite awful for Black.

18 0 0 0 Rxd6!

Black's only chance. Smyslov deftly sidesteps immediate annihilation, the same way George W. Bush did when the Iraqi journalist shoe-thrower flung two smelly projectiles Bushward. Passive play is fatal here. After 18 . . . Re7? 19 Qd4 cS 20 Qc3, Black can barely move and h5-h6 is a horrific threat.

19 Bxd6 Qxg5 20 Qf3
Black's queen and her odious sister on f3 silently regard one another with mutual detestation. Botvinnik takes the steam out of Black's counterplay before it even begins. A pure attacker like Tal would undoubtedly have retained queens and continued with something like 20 Rgl Qf5 21 Qd4 g6 22 hxg6 fxg6 23 ReI .
20 0 0 0 Qxd5

Black's queen exhales in consternation and agrees to the deal: a vastly inferior ending. To do otherwise is suicidal. For example, 20 . . . cxd5?? 21 Rgl Qd2 22 Rdl Qc2 23 Qxd5 Nc6 24 Rd2! Qa4 25 Be7! Nf8 26 Rxg7+ ! Kxg7 27 Qg5+ Ng6 28 Bf6+ Kf8 29 hxg6 is crushing.

21 Qxd5 cxd5
Black's king lets out a happy sigh of relief. To him the absence of the white queen is infinitely preferable over her presence. Unfortunately, the ending is lost for him as well.

22 Rc1

Threatening a back rank mate.
22 0 0 0 Na6 23 b4!

-

-

Black's offside knight is less than flattered by the lowly role assigned to him. The parasite on b4 controls its a6-host, who is dead, yet alive and absolutely under the pawn's insidious control.
23 0 0 0 h6 24 Rh3

Botvinnik activates his last undeveloped piece.
24 0 0 0 Kh7 25 Rd3 Nf6 26 b5

Deciding the time has arrived to cash out.
26 0 0 0 Nc5

The castaway waves his arms frantically, only to watch the cruise liner recede over the horizon.
27 Bxc5 bxc5 28 Rxc5 Rb8 29 a4 Rb7

-

-

Blasphemous thoughts continue to bubble up in the minds of Black's forsaken pieces, which they dare not utter aloud. The lone survivors of his desperate campaign are encumbered with a porous defensive border.

Exercise (planning): Come up with a concrete

plan to convert White's advantage to victory.

Answer: Double rooks on the c-file to invade the seventh rank, after which Black's defenders are unequal to the task of fending off the queenside pawn majority, which soon rolls forward.

30 Rdc3! 1-0
Black resigns, beset with the understanding that he has little time before White's rooks overwhelm him on the queenside.

Game 31
M.Botvinnik-M.Tal World Championship (7th matchgame), Moscow 1961

Nimzo-Indian De fence
1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 d4 Bb4 4 a3

Question: This move just doesn't appear logical, does it? White expends a precious tempo, only to force Black into inflicting damage upon the white structure.

Answer: In a sense this line is the epitome of dynamism. White willingly hands over a tempo and allows damage, but he gets both bishop pair and strengthened centre in return. Today, satisfactory defensive plans have been worked out for Black, but at the time it was mysterious territory to most of Botvinnik's opponents. In this game, Botvinnik displayed far deeper understanding of the opening, from which Tal never managed to recover equilibrium.

4 0 0 0 Bxc3+ 5 bxc3 b6

Today 5 . . . cS and 5 . . . 0-0 are more popular.

6 £3

6 0 0 0 Ba6

Instead: a) 6 . . . d5 enters similar waters to Botvinnik-Capablanca (Game 8) from Chapter One, and indeed 7 cxd5 exd5 8 e3 0-0 9 Bd3 cS 10 Ne2 Ba6 11 0-0 transposes to the note with 11 f3 in that game. b) 6 . . . Nc6 (going directly after White's sore spot, the c4-pawn) 7 e4 Ba6 8 e5 Ng8 9 Nh3 Na5 10 Qa4 Ne7 reaching an unbalanced position with mutual chances, A. Kotov-P.Keres, Budapest Candidates 1950.

7 e4 d5

The last chance for 7 . . . Nc6 which seems like a superior way for Black to play this position.
S cxd5 Bxfl 9 Kxfl exd5 10 Bg5

Retaining central tension feels stronger intuitively than 10 e5 Nfd7 11 Nh3 0-0, after which Black is ready for central counters with . . . c7-c5, R Meulders-R.Douven, Hilversum 1997.
10 0 0 0 h6

Botvinnik frowned upon this move; but I don't much care for Black's game after 10 . . . dxe4 11 Qe2 Nbd7 12 fxe4 h6 13 Bh4, F.Gonda-R.Hirr, correspondence 1990.

11 Qa4+!?

Botvinnik employs a crafty psychological ploy, correctly guessing that Tal's love of complications and distrust of simplification would be his own worst enemy in the position. Chess isn't always about playing the intrinsically best move. Sometimes there is a best move for a given opponent, which supersedes the overall best move.

Question: Why didn't White win a pawn with 11 Bxf6 Qxf6 12 exd5 - ?

Answer: That is probably the line Tal hoped to enter. After 12 . . . 0-0 Black's lead in development somewhat compensates for the missing pawn. Botvinnik writes: "True to my match tactics, I declined the pawn sacrifice, so as not to concede the initiative to my opponent."

White can also speculate with 11 Bh4 dxe4 12 Qc2!? (entering a strange Nimzo­ Blackmar-Diemer hybrid) 12 . . . exf3 (perhaps declining is better: 12 . . . 0-0 13 fxe4 Ng4 ! 14 Bxd8 Ne3+ 15 Ke2 Nxc2 16 Rc1 Nxd4+ 17 cxd4 Rxd8 18 Nf3 cS! 19 dxc5 Na6 20 cxb6 axb6 with at least equal chances for Black, who has fewer weaknesses to nurse) 13 ReI + Kf8 14 Nxf3 Nbd7 15 Kf2, when White obtained full compensation for his pawn, G.Khodos-M. Mukhitdinov, Novosibirsk 1962.
11 0 0 0 c6?!

Tal is understandably nervous about challenging Botvinnik in the ending. Nevertheless, he should remain resolute and play the best move: 11 . . . Qd7! 12 Qxd7+ Nbxd7 13 Bxf6 Nxf6 14 ReI ! (stronger than pushing forward, according to Botvinnik) 14 . . . Kd7 15 Nh3 with a microbe of an edge for White. I have a feeling Tal wouldn't have lost this position.
12 Bh4!

Botvinnik, wisely distrustful, isn't fooled a bit by his opponent's falsely benign manner. Sac'ing a pawn is much stronger than grabbing one with 12 Bxf6 Qxf6 13 exd5 0-0 14 dxc6 Nxc6, when Black's lead in development more than compensates.
12 0 0 0 dxe4

Somewhat forced, since e4-e5 is in the air. Botvinnik gives this move a "?!" mark and writes: "A highly dubious decision. The opening of lines in the centre merely assists the development of White's initiative." But Kasparov very sensibly responds with: "It is easy to criticize - but what should Black play?" I agree. The big question: "Now what?" finds no easy answer.
13 Rei g5 14 Bf2!

Covering d4 and reinforcing against a future . . . c6-c5 break. Botvinnik's move is more accurate than 14 Bg3, which allows 14 . . . Qd5 ! .
14 0 0 0 Qe7

Now 14 . . . Qd5? ! is met by 15 fxe4 Nxe4 16 c4 (only possible because of White's bishop on f2) 16 . . . Qe6 17 Qc2 f5 18 g4 ! and Black finds himself in danger of being undermined on e4.
15 Ne2!

The knight heads for g3, where it eyes both the e4-and f5-squares. This is much stronger than 15 fxe4 Nxe4! (this time Black gets away with the crime) 16 Qc2 f5 17 g4 Nd7 18 gxf5 Ndf6 and Black looks okay, despite the pin on the e4-knight.
15 0 0 0 b5 16 Qc2

16 0 0 0 Qxa3!

Question: This looks crazy. Why would Tal,

under fire, take time out for pawn grabbing?

Answer: It may appear outlandishly greedy but it' s played under the theory: it's better to have something without need, rather than need something you don't have. Tal didn't like the looks of his position after 16 . . . e3 17 Bxe3 Qxa3 18 h4 g4 19 Ng3, when Black is in deep trouble.

17 h4 gxh4?!

Tal's pieces hold back and mill about, none willing to be at the forefront of the fight.

Question: Why did Black just allow the decimation of his already poor structure?

Answer: I don't understand the motivation behind the move, except to say: in a position where there are no good answers, all moves are bad. Kasparov called Tal's last move "negligent" and recommended 17 . . . g4, which would be my choice, o r 17 . . . Rg8. In all cases, White has a firm grip on the advantage.

18 Bxh4
Tal's opening experiment goes horribly awry, much like the scientist who builds a time machine, goes back 60 years, and falls in love with and marries his own grandmother, becoming his own grandfather. Tal's aversion to endings (especially versus Botvinnik) costs him this game. Tal said afterwards: "For the first time in my life I was knocked out in the opening!"
18 0 0 0 Nbd7 19 Ng3 0-0-0

Black's king runs away, tired of the flow of White's reproaches down the e-file. There is no safe haven for the king across the board, but Tal continues to cling to his shred of faith.
20 Nxe4 Rhe8!?

·

.

Tal attempts to mix it up with a piece sac. He is unlikely to save himself in the line 20 . . . Nxe4 21 Qxe4 Qxc3 22 Bxd8 Rxd8 23 Rxh6 Nb8 24 Rh4, when White's extra exchange should be decisive, despite Black's two connected passers.
21 Kf2!

A great practical decision, which deems material inconsequential over initiative and board control. Each of Tal's frantic attempts to complicate run aground on the reef of ineffectuality, and his hopes fall one by one . Instead, after 21 Nxf6 Rxe1 + 22 Kxe1 Qa1 + 23 Qd1 Qxc3+ 24 Kfl NcS 25 Bf2 as, Black would still retain fishing chances.
21 0 0 0 Nxe4+ 22 fxe4 f6 23 Ra1!

White's initiative grows to lethal levels.
23 0 0 0 Qe7

After the rebuff, the queen's dour silence makes everyone around her uncomfortable. Now she cocks her ear as she listens for the approach of enemy footsteps near her king's chambers.

24 Rxa7 Qxe4 25 Qxe4
One can be a pragmatic realist, and at the same time believe Botvinnik's attack continues, even queenless.
25 0 0 0 Rxe4 ill miracles.

Tal must have breathed a bit easier at this point, having forced queens off the board. However, Botvinnik had seen deeper and soon surges forward with attack­ induced elan.
26 Ra8+ Nh8

Black is forced into the unpleasant pin, since 26 . . . Kc7? 27 Bg3+ wins on the spot.

27 Bg3 Kb7 28 Rhal Re8

·

.

What was once thought to be a safe haven is now a bomb-scarred, tangled abstraction of fragmented metal and concrete. Black's king is caught in a box, despite the comforting absence of queens on the board.

Exercise (combination alert): Find White's most accurate path to victory.

Answer: The black king's survival skills, accumulated over a long life of hardship and deprivation, are still not enough to save him.

29 R8a7+ !

29 R1a7+ Kb6 (the king, cowering in his closet, claps hands to ears, the sounds of White's army's forced ingress unbearable to his ears) 30 Bd6 cS 31 dxcS+ Kc6 32 RxbS is still winning but not as strong as the game continuation.
29 0 0 0 Kb6 30 Bxb8!

The bishop adheres to bS.
30 0 0 0 b4

Dazed and dejected, Tal can only muster token resistance. Botvinnik's point: he procures a piece from his labours since the automatic recapture 30 . . . RxbS?? runs into 31 R1a6 mate.
31 B d6 bxc3 32 Bc5+ Kb5

Exercise (combination alert): Black's king loathes his

doctor's enforced callisthenics. White to

play and force mate.

Answer: The creature, inconceivable in size and scope, looms above the horizon, blotting out the entire sky. The first principle of the king hunt: Cut o f the enemy king, rather than give chase. f

33 R1a4! 1-0
The other rook delivers mate on as and Tars king floats belly up, a dead fish in a polluted bay.

Chapter Four B otvinnik on Exploiting Imbalances
In this chapter we study Botvinnik's acute receptivity to imbalances on the chess board. The games which stick out to me in this chapter are the last two: Medina Garcia-Botvinnik and Matulovic-Botvinnik (Games 37 and 38) - both variants of the Bc4 Pirc, and both strikingly similar in their exploitation of opposite-coloured bishops when attacking. Soon it becomes clear that Botvinnik's domination of the dark squares - which his bishops in both games root out like pigs sniffing out truffles - heavily outweighs White's control of the light. As it is with most great strategists, their imbalance always shines while the opponent's grows irrelevant.

Game 32
M.Botvinnik-M.Euwe

World Championship Tournament, The Hague/ Moscow 1948 Semi-Slav Defence
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 Bb4?!

-

-

A book move at the time and rather shady.
Question: Why criticize this move? Black simply

plays the position in Nimzo-Indian style.

Answer: The trouble is this is a Semi-Slav, not a Nimzo. Black placed his pawns in a light square triangle on c6, d5 and e6. This means his dark-squared bishop is of great value and should not be swapped off on c3. In a sense you are right: this is a Nimzo-Indian, but a bad one for Black, since he exchanges the useful move . . . 0-0 (a position which John E mms covers in The Nimzo-Indian Move by Move) with the rather redundant . . . c7-c6. Question: But Euwe didn't swap it off on c3, did he? Answer: True, but he did lose time, giving White the useful a2-a3 move for free.

7 a3 BaS
Instead:

a) 7 . . . Bxc3+? ! 8 bxc3 scores a dismal 17% for Black according to my database . b) 7 . . . Bd6 allows 8 e4 dxe4 9 Nxe4 Nxe4 10 Bxe4, as in G. Kasparov-R.Htibner, Brussels 1986. Now Black lacks . . . Bb4+, a move he would normally have access to if he hadn't already inserted this earlier on.

8 Qc2 Qe7
Black seeks a freeing . . . d5xc4 and . . . e6-e5 central break. 8 . . . 0-0 may just transpose.
9 B d2 dxc4 10 Bxc4 eS 11 0-0 0-0 12 Rael!

Question: Isn't this the wrong rook?

Answer: It looks like the correct rook, based on the principle: Mass forces on your strong wing. White may at some point trade on eS and then surge his kingside pawn majority forward with f2-f4, e3-e4-eS.

12 0 0 0 Bc7

12 . . . e4?? runs into the tactic 13 Nxe4 ! - yet another flaw in Black's . . . Bb4 development scheme .

Question: If this is the case, why can't Black

chop on c3 and then play . . . e5-e4 afterwards?

Answer: Black's position still looks rather sour to me after 12 . . . Bxc3 13 Bxc3 e4 14 NeS, followed by f2f3, with a strong initiative for White. Note that 14 . . . Nb6?? loses on the spot to 15 Bb4.

13 Ne4
Perhaps stronger than 13 dxe5 which may be mistimed: 13 . . . Nxe5 14 Nxe5 Qxe5 15 f4 Qh5, O. Karpeshov-M.5her, Volgodonsk 1983, when White can't continue thematically with 16 e4?? since it hangs a piece to 16 . . . Qc5+ .
13 0 0 0 Nxe4 14 Qxe4 as!

Denying White any future Bb4 cheapos. 14 . . . Kh8?!, intending . . . f7-f5, can be met with 15 Bb4 ! cS 16 Bxc5! Nxc5 17 dxc5 f5 (17 . . . Qxc5?? loses to 18 Ng5) 18 Qd5. Now if Black tries to regain the pawn immediately with 18 . . . Rd8?, White responds 19

Qf7 and if 19 . . . Qxc5?? 20 Ng5! Black is helpless, since White threatens a smothered mate with 21 Qg8+ ! etc, as well as 21 Qh5 h6 22 Qg6! hxg5 23 Qh5 mate.

15 Ba2
Perhaps thinking about sliding back to bl at some future date.
15 0 0 0 Nf6

15 . . . Kh8! may be Black's best, since it forces White to resolve the central tension.

16 Qh4
The queen hopes to augment her mcome with some freelance work on the kingside.
16 0 0 0 e4

Black must pick his discomfort. 16 . . . exd4 17 exd4 Qd6 18 Bbl looks like a bad isolani position for Black, whose king may soon be under fire with so many white pieces gazing in the direction of the kingside.
17 Ne5!

An

excellent pawn sac.

17 0 0 0 Bxe5!?

. . . which probably should be declined.

Question: Why do you think Euwe accepted it?

Answer: He may have feared White's kingside build-up after 17 . . . Be6 18 Bb1 Bd5 19 Bc3 Rae8 20 f3 exf3 21 gxf3, though this looks better for Black than what he got in the game. Another possibility is 21 e4! ? fxg2 22 Rxf6 Qxf6 23 Qxf6 gxf6 24 Nd7 with some advantage to White.

18 dxe5 Qxe5 19 Bc3 Qe7
19 . . . Qh5?? would be a regretful decision after 20 Bxf6.
20 f3!

Dual principles followed: Open the game when leading in development, and also when you own the bishop pair. For the pawn, Botvinnik gets two bishops versus two knights in an open position and the potential for a kingside attack - more than enough

compensation.
20 0 0 0 Nd5?!

If an ally refuses to help out, then at least make certain he doesn't hinder. Overreaction is the great appeaser of long-carried fear. Black pays off White's importunate queen, just to get her out of his life. After this move Black's entire world spins out of the plane of the sun's ecliptic cycle. In other words, a strategic misjudgment on Euwe's part. He eliminates White's attacking chances for the heavy price of landing in a very difficult ending.

Question: What should he play?

Answer: His best may be 20 . . . Be6 21 fxe4! (probably the move Euwe feared in this line) 21 . . . Bxa2 22 Rxf6 b5 23 Qg3! (Kasparov's suggestion) 23 . . . b4 24 Be5 g6 25 axb4 axb4 26 Rxc6 f6 27 Bd4 Qxe4 28 Rb6 Bd5 29 Rxb4 with better chances to hold than in the game.

21 Qxe7 Nxe7 22 fxe4 b6?!

Black frees his as-rook from babysitting duties on the as-pawn at the cost of weakening his queenside. Botvinnik, Euwe and Kasparov all labelled this move an error. Alternatives: a) 22 . . . Ng6 (Euwe's suggestion) 23 Rd1 Be6 24 Bxe6 fxe6 25 Rd7 Rxfl + 26 Kxfl RfS+ 27 Ke2 Rf7 2S Rd6 a4 29 Rd4 b5 30 RdS+ RfS 31 Rd6 doesn't look saveable for Black. b) 22 . . . Be6! (Botvinnik's suggestion, and the best try in my opinion) 23 Bxe6 fxe6 24 Rd1 RfdS (Black must cover against the threatened invasion of the seventh rank) 25 RxdS+ RxdS 26 Bxa5 with an extra pawn. This line may be Black's best hope since White's kingside majority is somewhat hobbled by the doubled e-pawns.

23 Rdl Ng6
Black remains under heavy pressure after 23 . . . Bg4 24 Rd6 Bh5 25 Rd7 RfeS.
24 Rd6 Ba6 25 Rf2 Bb5 26 e5!

The e-pawns, evil influences, soon manage to destroy all virtue in Black's position. Botvinnik continually enlarges upon his previous strategic gains by adding the e5-e6 ramming threat to his ledger; e. g. 26 . . . RaeS 27 e6 fxe6 2S Bxe6+ KhS 29 RxfS+ NxfS 30 Ba2 and Black can barely move.

26 0 0 0 Ne7

There is no need for a homeless wanderer to make haste. What is the rush when your destination is nowhere and anywhere?

27 e4
Botvinnik seeks to cut out all . . . Nd5 ideas. However, Black's position is completely hopeless if White simply seizes and impounds the seventh rank with 27 Rd7! Nd5 28 e6! Nxc3 29 exf7+ Kh8 30 bxc3.
27 0 0 0 cS

War's upheaval created dislocations among Black's citizens, and several pieces and pawns feel out of sync. Black's frantic motions convey a sense of dire urgency. 27 . . . Rae8 is no improvement due to 28 e6 f6 29 Rd7 and Black is paralysed.

28 e6
The lead e-pawn creates a deep wedge in Black's position.
28 0 0 0 £6

Not 28 . . . fxe6? 29 Rxe6 Rxf2 30 Kxf2 Kf8 31 Rxb6 and Black can resign.

29 Rxb6
In the heat of battle, the loss of comrades feels like an almost commonplace event.
29 0 0 0 Bc6?

Truth, which appears before us, is always the destroyer of delusion. The air feels saturated with the essence of imminent violence. Black just blundered in a hopeless position. Now the archer awaits, thinking: "Come closer, just a little closer and I have you within arrow-shot range." You only get one shot. The position is cranked to maximum tension. Now is the time to take aim and fire.

Exercise (combination alert): How did Botvinnik forcefully end the game?

Answer: Deflection. The ramshackle construct collapses, as we all knew it would.

30 Rxc6!

The rook emerges, crashing down sideways, like a blue marlin breaking water.
30 0 0 0 Nxc6

The incapacitated knight is not up to the task of halting White's intent.
31 e7+ Rf7

The wayward rook in despair, reflecting upon Black's many sins, asks himself: "What have I become?"
32 B d5! 1-0
This was a breakthrough first win over Euwe, previously Botvinnik's boogie man. If you are going to break a losing streak, then the optimum time to do so is in a world championship tournament!

Game 33 W. Uhlmann-M.Botvinnik
Munich Olympiad 1958

Nimzo-Indian De fence
1 d4 e6 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 b6 5 Bd3

Botvinnik, perhaps the greatest Nimzo-Indianer of all time, was fluent with Black's side as well. In my opinion White's best chance at an edge lies in 5 Ne2, which Botvinnik played against Smyslov in Chapter Three (see Game 30) .
5 0 0 0 Bb7

6 Nf3
I don't trust 6 Ne2 Bxg2! 7 Rg1 Be4 for White; e. g. 8 Bxe4 (the rook gets cornered after 8 Rxg7? Bg6) 8 . . . Nxe4, and now if White insists on regaining his material with 9 Rxg7?, he walks into 9 . . . Nxf2!, H.Restifa-D. Adla, Buenos Aires 1992.

Question: Why doesn't White go for 6 f3 to build up for a big centre with e3-e4 - ?

Answer: Black won't give him the time. For example, after 6 . . . cS 7 Ne2 cxd4 8 exd4 0-0 9 0-0 dS, White gets a passive version of the isolani since his knight sits on e2 rather than on f3. He can't opt for hanging pawns either, since 10 b3?! is met by 10 . . . dxc4 and White is forced to recapture with his bishop, R.Liguori­ S. Fedorchuk, Porto San Giorgio 2008.

6 7

000

Ne4 7 0-0!? fS!

Uhlmann offers a pawn.
000

Botvinnik - unlike Lasker, Korchnoi and Fischer - was never much of a pawn grabber. He held a deep aversion to ceding initiative, even temporarily, for material of any kind.

Question: Does White get enough compensation

if Black goes ahead and accepts the sac?

Answer: According to my database White scores above average after both 7 . . . Bxc3 and 7 . . . Nxc3.

8 Qc2 Bxc3
Finally, Botvinnik gives up a bishop for a knight to inflict damage upon White's structure.

9 bxc3 0-0

lO Rbl A rare line.

Question: Why does White post his rook on a file without targets?

Answer: He intends to undouble his pawns with c4-c5 - which Botvinnik doesn't allow. So, essentially, the move accomplishes nothing. Instead:

a) 10 Ne1 cS 11 f3 Nd6 12 Ba3 Na6 13 Qe2 Qe7 14 e4 fxe4 15 fxe4 Rxfl + 16 Kxfl e5! and I prefer Black's chances in this rigid structure, A.Graf-G.Kasparov, Geneva (rapid) 1996. b) 10 Nd2 Qh4 11 f3 Nxd2 12 Bxd2 Nc6 and Black achieved harmonious development, V.5myslov-D.Bronstein, Moscow 1956.
10 . . . cS

Blocking White's intention.

11 a4
Planning a4-a5 and axb6, creating a target on b6.
11 . . . Qc7 12 as d6 13 Nd2 Nxd2 14 Bxd2 Nd7 1S Rb2?

White should exchange on b6. The text has a way of adulterating an already ineffective plan and the hoped-for augmentation of his queenside build-up fails to pass. With a single careless move Uhlmann doubles his difficulties and quadruples the brain power requirements to extricate himself. Botvinnik ruthlessly exploits what seems at first just a tiny inaccuracy.

15 0 0 0 bxa5!

Black's strategic threat is . . . Nb6 followed by . . . a5-a4, so White must hurry to regain his pawn.
16 Ral?!

Uhlmann was afraid to enter a rather sour-looking ending after 16 e4 Bxe4 17 Bxe4 fxe4 18 Qxe4 (menacing e6, as well as Rb7) 18 . . . Nb6! 19 dxc5 dxc5 20 Qxe6+ Qf7 21 Qxf7+ Rxf7 22 Ra2 a4, but this may have been White's best bet to save the game.
16 0 0 0 Nb6! 17 Rxa5

.

.

The discovered attack 17 . . . Nxc4?? fails for Black, since it hangs two pieces for a rook. Nevertheless, Black's position throbs with potential and sweet dreams of plunder.

Exercise (critical decision): How did Botvinnik get around the

problem and manage to inflict

the discovery in another way?

Answer: The meddling bishop decides to intervene in the matter. Botvinnik eliminates White's best defender to undermine c4.

17 0 0 0 Be4!!

The pseudo-sac has the effect of inflicting upon White a state of confused disequilibrium and arrives as a jarring end to Uhlmann's previous flow of

tranquillity.

18 Bxe4
The old priest on d3 crosses himself and mutters a protective prayer, wary of the unnatural creature passing by on e4. Not 18 Ra6 Nxc4! and White's bishop flubs the mission of defending c4 big time.
18 0 0 0 fxe4 19 Qb3

Botvinnik's clever point is that, after 19 Qxe4? Nxc4 20 Qxe6+ Qf7!, Black's queen deals with her sister with the casual ease of a woman swatting a mosquito that dares to make a nuisance of itself. Black wins the exchange with an easy conversion.
19 0 0 0 Nxc4!

Discovered attack. Black's knight emerges with terrible purpose. Botvinnik is dismissive of Uhlmann's attempts to hang on to c4, so as to seem almost offhand and derisive .

20 Qxc4
Finally removing that hated knight, who sat so smugly on c4, but for the high price of the exchange. So White's queen acquiesces to the concession, vowing: "This is the last time !" Unfortunately, her prediction turns out to be incorrect.
20 0 0 0 Qxa5

The as-rook is remanded to disciplinary action for earlier indiscretions.
21 Qxe6+ Kh8 22 Ra2 Qc7 23 Qxe4??

The white queen's eyes soon well up with remorse at her mistake . Uhlmann, by now completely demoralized, blundered in a hopeless position.

Exercise (combination alert): How did Botvinnik end the game in a single move?

Answer: Double attack.

23

000

Qf7! 0-1

After 24 Bel White's king weeps with gratitude that his life is spared. But the celebration turns out to be premature since 24 . . . Qxa2 picks off a rook.

Game 34
V.Smyslov-M.Botvinnik World Championship (1st matchgame), Moscow 1958

Caro-Kann De fence
Botvinnik had a deep, lifelong respect for his opponent. In 1983, Smyslov, in his sixties and well past his prime, miraculously qualified for the World Championship Candidates matches, normally the preserve of the young, upsetting GM Zoltan Ribli in his first match. He drew his next (and then advanced on a lucky coin toss) against the heavily favoured German GM, Robert Huhner. Then he faced by far his most fearsome threat, Garry Kasparov. I remember top players predicting that the ageing Smyslov would be unable to score a single half point against the young superstar. Someone asked Botvinnik if he thought Smyslov would get crushed in the match. Botvinnik's stern response: "One does not crush Smyslov." In the event, Smyslov gave a good account of himself but lost 81/2-41/2 against the unstoppable force of Kasparov.

1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3

The infamous Two Knights variation of the Caro-Kann reached a level of notoriety, mainly due to Fischer's repeated, disastrous losses with it in the 1959 Candidates Tournament.
3
000

Bg4 4 h3 Bxf3

The first imbalance appears. Black gives up bishop for knight.

Question: Why hand over the bishop pair without a fight?

Answer: Black plans to set up a light square pawn triangle on c6, d5 and e6, so he logically hands over his technically bad light-squared bishop, to remain with a single good dark-squared bishop. The loss of the bishop pair at this point doesn't constitute a real problem for Black since the position for now remains closed, and his knights deem themselves on equal footing with White's bishop pair.

4 . . . Bh5!? is the psychotic cousin. Play may run 5 exd5 cxd5 6 Bb5+ Nc6 7 g4 Bg6 8 Ne5 Rc8 9 d4 e6 10 Qe2 Bb4 11 h4 Nge7 12 h5 Be4 13 f3 0-0 all theory so far, to
-

reach this irrational position. I suspect White is slightly favoured in the coming complications.

5 Qxf3 Nf6 6 d3 e6

7 Be2 Alternatively: a) 7 Bd2 (the move favoured by most FIDE 2600+ players, though it gives Black few difficulties) 7 . . . d4 8 Nd1 cS 9 g3 Nc6 10 Bg2 h5 11 h4 g6 12 Qe2 Bg7 13 f4 Qb6 14 b3 Ng4, when . . . Ne3 is in the air and Black achieved dynamic equality, F.Vallejo Pons-A.Motylev, German League 2012. b) 7 g3 (Bobby Fischer's unfortunate favourite here) 7 . . . Bb4 8 Bd2 d4 9 Nb1 9 . . . Bxd2+ (or 9 . . . Qb6 1 0 b3 as 1 1 a3 Be7 12 Bg2 a4 13 b4 Nbd7 14 0-0 cS with excellent queenside counterplay for Black, RJ.Fischer-P.Keres, BledjZagrebj Belgrade 1959) 10 Nxd2 e5 11 Bg2 cS 12 0-0 Nc6 13 Qe2 g5! 14 Nf3? ! (14 f4 was necessary to free White's position) 14 . . . h6 15 h4 Rg8 16 a3 Qe7 and Black may already be slightly better in a reversed King's Indian-style position, R.J.Fischer-T.V.Petrosian, Bledj Zagrebj Belgrade 1959.
7
000

Nbd7

Halting e4-e5.

Question: Isn't Black supposed to play 7 . . . Bb4 at this point?

Answer: Both moves are possible. One of my students experienced difficulties from 7 . . . Bb4 8 e5!? Nfd7 (8 . . . d4!? 9 a3 slightly favours White) 9 Qg3, which is annoying for Black but may be okay after 9 . . . d4! ? 10 Qxg7 Rf8 11 Qg4 Nxe5 12 Qe4 Qd6 13 a3 Ba5 14 b4 Bc7.

8 Qg3
White's idea is to exert pressure on g7.

Question: How does Black complete his development?

Answer: See his next move!

8 0 0 0 g6!

Question: But doesn't this create terrible punctures along the dark squares?

Answer: There is no basis for nervousness in this position. Black keeps control over his dark squares here, mainly since he remains with a dark-squared bishop.

9 0-0
Question: How about 9 Bf4, intending to meet . . . Bg7 with Bd6 - ?

Answer: Your plan looks dangerous, but Black need not play his bishop to g7. He can counterattack with 9 . . . Qb6 10 0-0-0 Bb4 11 e5 Bxc3 12 bxc3 NgS, when he is indeed weakened along the dark squares, but still generates sufficient counterplay against White's king and weakened queenside pawns. For now Black's knights hold their own against the bishop pair, since the position remains clogged.

9 0 0 0 Bg7 10 Bf4

10 Qd6 Bf8 11 Qg3 Bg7 wouldn't bother Botvinnik a bit, since every drawn game with Black in a World Championship match represents a minor victory.
10 0 0 0 Qb6 11 Rabl 0-0 12 Bc7?!

As it later turns out, this move does more harm to himself than good.
12 0 0 0 Qd4!?

I have the feeling Botvinnik eggs his opponent on, taunting him by centralizing his queen. Curiously, White has no obvious method of exploiting the queen's position.
13 Bf3?!

The bishop should return from its misadventure with 13 Bf4.
13 0 0 0 e5!

Seizing his fair share of the centre.

Question: But doesn't the move also loosen his central pawns a tad?

Answer: The minute loosening of Black's centre is overshadowed by the fact that he also cuts the d6bishop off from the kingside, forcing it to a3, where it looks a bit irrelevant and somewhat vulnerable.

14 Bd6
Smyslov isn't going to fall for 14 Ne2? ! Qc5 15 c3?? dxe4 16 dxe4 Rfc8 17 b4 Qe7 18 Ba5 b6, when White's bishop gets ignominiously trapped.
14 000 Rfe8 15 Ba3 dxe4

Botvinnik decides the timing is right for release of central pawn tension.

16 dxe4
Question: Shouldn't White recapture with a

piece to open the position for his bishop pair?

Answer: By doing so, he would hand over a greater share of the centre; i.e. 16 Nxe4 Nxe4 17 Bxe4, when Black looks fine after 17 . . . NfS, intending . . . Ne6.

16 0 0 0 b5

Grabbing space and playing upon the bishop's strange position on a3 by threatening the cheapo . . . b5-b4.
17 Rfdl Qb6 18 b3 Nc5!

·

.

Dual purpose. Botvinnik gradually improves the positioning of his pieces and: 1 . He renews the . . . bS-b4 threat by covering a4. 2. He plans to sink the knight into d4, via e6. Of course 18 . . . b4 fails to win a piece after 19 Na4.

19 Bel
I already prefer Black's game, due to his growmg gnp over the central dark squares.

Question: Even though White owns the bishop pair?

Answer: Correct. White's bishops fail to impress in this clogged position.

Question: What is so wrong with White's position?

Answer: Not much right now, but you feel the degeneration about to happen with little things. For instance, White's out-of-play queen cannot be easily roused from her Snow White-ish coma where she lies. That, together with the eroding nature of White's dark square control, leads me to favour Black. White's corresponding control over the light squares just isn't there to compensate.

19 0 0 0 Qc7

Sidestepping the coming Be3 pin.

20 Be3 Ne6 21 a4 a6
Botvinnik prefers retaining the tension over the line 21 . . . b4 22 Na2 cS 23 c3.
22 b4!?

This pawn turns out to be a future weakness. Somehow White's position continues to degenerate and it's difficult to see just why.
22 0 0 0 Rad8 23 Be2 Qe7 24 axb5 axb5 25 Rxd8 Rxd8

26 Bb6
Of course the naIve 26 QxeS?? hangs a piece to 26 . . . NhS.
26 0 0 0 Ra8 27 f3?!

Smys10v, anxious to reintroduce his queen to the game, further weakens the kingside dark squares. Houdini suggest the rather awkward 27 BaS as White's best move.
27 0 0 0 Ra3 28 Qe1

28 Ndl?? drops material to 28 . . . Nxe4 ! .
28 0 0 0 Bh6 29 Bf1?!

Wasting time. The bad bishop, of choleric temperament and disposition, doesn't take kindly to the label "bad" when referred to himself. 29 Ndl was more accurate.
29 0 0 0 Nd4 30 Bc5 Qe6 31 B d3

White's gangly bad d3-bishop appears to be the big, dumb kid who fails two grades and now looks ridiculous packing his fifth grade behind his third grade desk. Meanwhile, we sense more dissonance from White's side, the way a high school band incompetently attempts to piece together a difficult Bart6k orchestral piece.

Exercise (planning): Find a plan which

dramatically increases Black's growing advantage .

Answer: A convenient expedient presents itself to generate a new and favourable imbalance: force opposite-coloured bishops.

31

000

Nd7!

Ensuring the swap.
32 Bxd4 exd4 33 N e2 Be3+

The tiresome, know-it-all bishop elucidates the obvious: he rules the dark squares.

34 Khl Ne5
The knight establishes residency on e5, similar to the onset of a migraine.

Question: Why does the presence of opposite-coloured bishops help Black?

Answer: Black dominates the dark squares, whereas White's moping pieces do anything but dominate the light squares.

35 Qfl Qd6
Now d3 really is under attack. The growing dark square plague brings on fever, boils, delirium and eventually death to the infected. Botvinnik avoids the shallow trap 35 . . . Nxd3 36 cxd3 Rxd3? 37 Nf4.

36 f4
Complete desperation. 36 Nc1 Rc3 37 f4 Nxd3 38 Nxd3 (38 cxd3 Qxf4 is no solace) 38 . . . Qe6 39 Qf3 Qa2 40 Rd1 Qxc2 41 Qf1 Bd2 is even more hopeless.
36
000

Nxd3 37 cxd3 Rxd3

Botvinnik snags a key pawn, creating a passed d-pawn, and all the while retaining all his activity advantages.
38 Qf3 Rd2 39 Rf1!

Praying he can stir something up on the f-file. Up to here White's pieces floated aimlessly, chunks of vegetables simmering in a broth. But now he prepares a last ditch effort to reach Botvinnik's king.
39 0 0 0 Qxb4 40 e5

Hoping to have time for Ng3 and Ne4, when he may be able to generate kingside threats. Hope of a happy ending, a bright future - no matter how unlikely - has a way of transforming an unbearable present into a slightly more bearable one . 40 f5 Qc4 covers everything.
40 0 0 0 Qc4 41 Ng3

If a six-year-old is given a choice between a chocolate chip cookie and a slice of sashimi, I'm guessing she will go for the cookie. In the same way, Smyslov refuses to submit to passive defence and plans a final lunge in a position where his pieces fumble about in disarrayed squalor. If given time for Ne4, f4-f5 and e5-e6, something may happen.

Exercise (planning): How did Botvinnik greatly diminish his opponent's

lofty attacking ambition

and quell the insurgency even before it began?

Answer: Force a swap of rooks via cl .

41 0 0 0 Rc2! 42 f5 Rcl

The rook clears his throat with " Ahem" , attempting to get the master's attention on fl .
43 e6!?

The hoped-for crushing shot just isn't there .
43 0 0 0 fxe6 44 fxg6

44 f6 is effectively quashed by 44 . . . Kf7.
44 0 0 0 Rxfl + 45 Nxfl hxg6 46 Qf6

46 Nxe3 dxe3 47 Qxe3 b4 is hopeless.
46 0 0 0 b4 47 Kh2 g5

·

.

Forcing more simplification. Now Smyslov's only prayer is an unlikely perpetual check.
48 Nxe3 dxe3 49 Qxg5+

White's unenviable state of destitution leaves him with little choice but stealing to feed his hungry family.
49 0 0 0 Kf7 50 Qxe3 b3 51 Qe5 cS

Here they come. White's dream of perpetual check fails to materialize.
52 Qc7+ Kg6 53 Qb8

Or 53 Qg3+ 1…...

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