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match 1948-tournament for the world chess championship.

  1. 1. The Hague-Moscow 1948 Match/Tournament for the World Chess Championship by Max Euwe Foreword by Hans Ree 2013 Russell Enterprises, Inc. Milford, CT USA
  2. 2. The Hague-Moscow 1948 Match/Tournament for the World Chess Championship by Max Euwe © English edition copyright 2013 Russell Enterprises, Inc. & Hanon W. Russell All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any manner or form whatsoever or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. ISBN: 978-1-936490-69-1 Published by: Russell Enterprises, Inc. PO Box 3131 Milford, CT 06460 USA Cover design by Janel Lowrance Translated from the Dutch by Piet Verhagen Editing and proofreading by Taylor Kingston and Peter Kurzdorfer
  3. 3. Table of Contents Forword by Hans Ree The Lead-up to the Great Tournment by Dr. J. Hannak The Preparations for the Netherlands Leg by G.W.J. Zittersteyn The Official Opening An Excursion into the Past by Dr. Max Euwe The Games from the Past Botvinnik-Smyslov Botvinnik-Keres Botvinnik-Reshevsky Botvinnik-Euwe Smyslov-Keres Smyslov-Reshevsky Smyslov-Euwe Keres-Reshevsky Keres-Euwe Reshevsky-Euwe Crosstables The Hague Leg Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7
  4. 4. Round 8 Round 9 Round 10 The Moscow Leg Round 11 Round 12 Round 13 Round 14 Round 15 Round 16 Round 17 Round 18 Round 19 Round 20 Round 21 Round 22 Round 23 Round 24 Round 25 The Official Closing Ceremony by G.W.J. Zittersteyn The Former and the Present World Champion by Dr. J. Hannak Indexes Computer-assisted Supplement (free PDF download): Introductory remarks for rounds 1-10 by L.G. Eggink. Introductory remarks for rounds 11-25 by G.W.J. Zittersteyn.
  5. 5. Foreword The match-tournament of 1948 in The Hague and Moscow was one of the most important events in the history of chess. It produced a new world champion, Mikhail Botvinnik, and it was also the start of a new era in which the championship would be regulated by FIDE by means of an intricate system of qualification tournaments that would function with only small changes for decades. When Alexander Alekhine died on March 24, 1946, negotiations for a championship match between him and Botvinnik were well underway. The possibility of this match had already been discussed by the two players in Amsterdam right after the AVRO tournament of 1938. It had been the intention of the Dutch broadcasting company, AVRO, that their tournament would produce a challenger for Alekhine, and at the time it was indeed considered by many to be a candidates tournament. But not by Alekhine himself, who had never agreed to this. The winner of AVRO was Paul Keres, who shared first place with Reuben Fine, but with a better tie-break score. Botvinnik finished third. Being passed over by Alekhine in favor of Botvinnik must have been a disappointment for Keres, the first of many in his struggle for the world championship. Anyway, the war that broke out in Europe in 1939 put a temporary end to all speculation about a match for the crown. In 1946, after Alekhine’s death, FIDE took matters in hand, strongly encouraged by the only surviving world champion, Max Euwe. At a FIDE congress in Winterthur, Switzerland, it was decided who would be the participants in the championship tournament, which at that time was scheduled to take place in 1947. Apart from the five players who would actually play in 1948, there was Reuben Fine, along with one place reserved for one of the winners of the Staunton tournament in Groningen, and the Treybal Memorial in Prague, both to be played later in 1946. The Prague tournament would be won by Miguel Najdorf, and as Groningen was won by Botvinnik, who already had a ticket to the championship tournament, Najdorf thereby secured a place for himself, or so he must have thought at the time. Practical difficulties delayed the championship tournament. In 1947, another FIDE congress convened in The Hague. Later, Euwe liked to say that he had been world champion for one day, as during the congress the idea came up to reinstate him as world champion, on the condition that he would play a match against Sammy Reshevsky, and the winner of that match would play Botvinnik for the title. Apparently even during Euwe’s one day of glory, Botvinnik was seen as the man.
  6. 6. But nothing came of that idea. When, the next day, the Soviet delegation arrived, it was to be a match- tournament again. Najdorf was dropped from the list of participants, probably because the Prague tournament was not considered strong enough. Indeed, it wasn’t, but on the other hand, consulting Jeff Sonas’ chessmetrics site, I find that there Najdorf is considered to have been the world’s number two based on retrospective ratings for 33 consecutive months, between July 1946 and June 1949. Najdorf had a point, when, in 1947, in an interview, he declared himself ready to take on all championship contenders. Early in 1948, Fine withdrew from the tournament for professional reasons. He would later give several different reasons, even writing that the safety of the foreign masters would be questionable in Moscow. That would have been a good opportunity to give Najdorf back his place, but this didn’t happen. When the tournament started in March 1948 in The Hague, one could say that the Soviet Union, a recent member of FIDE, had negotiated well. Had there been a match between Alekhine and Botvinnik, the outcome would have been in no doubt. Botvinnik would have crushed Alekhine. But taking the point of view of the Soviet Chess Federation, not much was lost. At the start of the match-tournament, it may have been an exaggeration to say that they had it all in the bag, but they certainly held the trumps. Three of the five contenders were Soviet citizens, though the Estonian Keres was a reluctant one. Although originally the whole tournament was supposed to have been held in the Netherlands, it had been decided that only the first two legs would be played in The Hague, and the last three in Moscow. And, finally, there was Botvinnik, who, since the so-called Absolute Championship of the Soviet- Union in 1941, had been first in every tournament in which he had played, and was generally recognized as the strongest player in the world. Nevertheless, at the start of the tournament, the Dutch had great hopes for Euwe. Only two years earlier, he had finished second at the great tournament in Groningen, only a half-point behind Botvinnik. Against Botvinnik, he had a plus score, +2 -0 =4. Euwe was almost 47-years old, but at that time this was not considered such a big handicap as it would be now. But Euwe started miserably, with four losses, and he never recovered. After more than two months of battle, Botvinnik became world champion, as expected, with the fine score of 14 points out of 20 games. Vassily Smyslov was second with 11 points, Keres and Reshevsky shared third place with
  7. 7. 10½, and Euwe was a sad tail-ender with only 4 points. A curious incident, not mentioned in this book but later described by Euwe, happened at the Polish- Russian border, when the players and their entourage were on their way to Moscow for the second part of the tournament. Soviet custom officials were intrigued by the strange hieroglyphic-looking notes in Euwe’s luggage that in fact constituted his opening repertoire. What should they do? Making a phone call to Moscow, obviously, where it was decided that Euwe’s notes should be confiscated, checked at leisure in Moscow, and eventually given back. It was a scenario for one of Reuben Fine’s nightmares. Perhaps the safety of the foreign players would be assured, but not that of their notes. But Botvinnik intervened and phoned Moscow himself. After many hours of waiting it was decided that Euwe could keep his notes, provided that he signed a declaration that nothing in it would be detrimental to the Soviet state. To Botvinnik, Euwe joked that in any event, his analyses were either aimed at Reshevsky, or bad and useless. All is well that ends well. The Cold War has left no trace in this tournament book. You might say that it had already started right after the end of World War II, but certainly 1948 was a milestone. In February, the month before the tournament started, a coup in Czechoslovakia had brought practically all power to the Communist Party. On March 10, the day when Euwe resigned his adjourned, spectacular fourth-round game against Smyslov, in Prague the dead body of the non-communist Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk was found; he had probably been murdered. These events must have made a big impression on many people who were involved with the tournament, but the Dutch chess notables who wrote the nontechnical parts of this book, decided – perhaps wisely – not to let the uncomfortable subject of politics interfere with the beautiful story of international friendship and Russian hospitality and love of chess. There was one participant to whom politics must certainly have been a subject better to avoid: Paul Keres. The Dutchman Karel van het Reve, who would become one of the country’s most prominent writers, had joined the trip to Moscow as interpreter. His personal aim was to prepare a dissertation in the Lenin Library. Later, he related that on May 1, the chess group got prominent places to watch the military parade in
  8. 8. Red Square, which meant that Keres had an excellent view of the mighty forces that had occupied his native Estonia. When the spectacle was finished Keres just said, “So, let’s go play bridge.” Near the end of the book, the Austrian Jacques Hannak touches on politics when he writes about Botvinnik’s world-view, meaning that Botvinnik was a staunch Communist. Though he makes it clear that he doesn’t share this conviction – Hannak was politically active as a social democrat – he respects Botvinnik for the firm moral principles that Alekhine lacked and concludes, “After Alekhine, we again have as champion a human being with moral principles. We hail the new world champion Mikhail Botvinnik!!” An issue about which a lot would be written later, but not in this book, is the question whether Keres felt himself forced to do less than his best in his games against Botvinnik. Perhaps it was not yet an issue at that time. In my opinion, there were signs that something was amiss, especially as may be seen in game 30. There, Keres, normally a fine endgame player, after adjournment, reaches a rook endgame that could be drawn by basically doing nothing, but instead with 50.a4, and the subsequent 53.Rd5 and 54.Ra3, he maneuvers his rook to the most passive position on the board. In fairness, I must point out that highly qualified observers have considered this atrocity to be just one of those things that can happen to even the greatest players, but I don’t agree. Overlooking a mate in one, yes, but not this. Though The Hague-Moscow was the low point of Euwe’s chess career, this did not prevent him from producing a fine tournament book. I think an English translation has been long overdue and I am glad that it can now be enjoyed and studied not only by the Dutch, but by a much greater part of the chess public. Hans Ree Amsterdam July 2013
  9. 9. Habemus Papam (We have a Pope) The Lead-up to the Great Tournament by Dr. J. Hannak After a two-year interval, the entire worldwide chess community once again has its world champion. After so many months of uncertainty and tension, of disappointment and hope, the highest position in the chess empire has once again been filled. It was not easy to satisfy both our organizational and esthetic needs. I speak of esthetic needs advisedly, since the absence of a world champion does little to detract from chess from an organizational point of view. But it does strike people of this sports-and statistics-filled century as unpleasant when the inner glory of chess achievement should not be captured in comparably impressive outward form. Nothing is more significant than the difference between the ideas of today and those of 40 or 50 years ago. In those days, it was precisely the most zealous chess promoters and chess idealists who referred to the world championship with disapproval and contempt. Now, the establishment of the world championship has become such a necessity that, at long last, a serious attempt has been made to subject the championship to firm rules. The organizational regulation and control, not only of the title of world champion, but also of the form and manner in which this title may be achieved and held, seem to us almost more important than the fact that an end has finally been put to a period in which one could speak of a “vacant position.” What we consider the real progress and the fundamental novelty of this development is not the mere fact that we have a world champion again, but that his position will from now on be defined in part by standards. In the coming years, it will be up to FIDE to demonstrate whether these standards can actually be upheld, or whether the anarchic situation of the past will once more reassert itself. We regard this as an extremely important issue. If the world championship is once more compromised by disregard for the regulations that have been laid down, those people who are still, like the generation of 50 years ago, ill-disposed toward the entire institution and reject it as damaging to chess, will have proven themselves right. With regard to this, the title, more than ever, will entail obligations. Now we still owe the reader some insight into how the present state of affairs has arisen. The experience with earlier matches for the world championship has not been overly positive. Not only were those matches preceded and followed by disputes of a technical nature, but in addition there were also problems of a financial and personal nature, contradictions, evasions – in short, restraining influences of every kind. Up to the present day, all Steinitz’s successors – with the honorable exception of Dr. Euwe – have been reproached for their reluctance to give the truly strongest players of their time opportunities to pit their strength against them in a match. In Lasker’s case, this reproach
  10. 10. is least justified, as this master, after all, did match himself against virtually all the great players of his time: Marshall, Tarrasch, Janowski and Schlechter. The censure is already more pertinent in Capablanca’s case, and it is fully justified in the case of Alekhine, who refused to grant his predecessor Capablanca a rematch and was not inclined to play matches against Nimzovitch, Réti and Dr. Vidmar. Twice he opted for the aging Bogoljubow, and then, on the third occasion, he chose the young Euwe who, however, threw an enormous spanner in the works. The arbitrariness surrounding the world championship culminated under the aegis of Alekhine. All of these considerations notwithstanding, it would be unfair to concentrate only on this side of the issue. In a baseball or football championship, despite the enormous financial stakes and risks that so frequently attend them, the existence of the players themselves is much less directly at stake. The massive interest generated by these branches of sport provides a solid material base, not only for the winners but also for the vanquished who, after all, will always be able to make a new bid for victory next time. The chess master’s case is different: he is alone, he does not have the backing of a powerful financial concern, and the admiration of the chess community, spread out over the entire world, cannot provide him with a living. Football players play their sport for some ten years, after which they choose another occupation. But a chess master is a chessplayer for life, and it is a bitter livelihood as long as the profession of chess master remains completely unprotected socially and economically. As long as there is no massive and dependable audience with spending power to promise the chess master a modest existence, as long as there is such a surge towards this uncertain profession that the personal competition between players is only intensified, and as long as the chess master is virtually left to fend for himself within the free economy, he has no other choice than to fight tooth-and-nail to defend his position, achieved by a match victory and the winning of his title. In fact, the shame and indignity of having to depend on all kinds of patrons and operators of gaming houses, casinos, etc., has already partly broken the only men who guarantee the continued existence of mankind’s noblest mental recreation, and one would have to be a personality of the spiritual stature of a Lasker to preserve one’s greatness of character in these circumstances. Which brings us to the thorny problem of “Alekhine.” There can be very little doubt that, as far as the pure art of chess is concerned, Alekhine must have been the greatest genius in the history of chess until today. If anything of chess is destined to remain
  11. 11. immortal, it will be his games and analyses. In another one hundred or one thousand years, people will hardly be interested in how the man Alekhine behaved in other areas. Meanwhile, we his con- temporaries who have, sometimes with an oppressive heaviness of heart, been forced to witness the dark side of his nature, endeavor not to justify but certainly to explain his shortcomings. A ruler from the aristocratic class, accustomed to commanding and despising his slaves from an early age, a Czarist officer full of indomitable passion and self-indulgence, reduced to a “nobody” by a great revolution, sent to prison, exiled. And in this desperate uncertainty, he sublimated all these imperious characteristics in a game. Everything which he was incapable of realizing in his public life – lording over the lives and deaths of his subjects – he now becomes on the sixty-four squares of the chessboard. All the spiritual desire and sensual creative urges of his nature, his will, the indomitable will to power, are now restricted to the wood of the black and white pieces. In them, his genius manifests itself; through them, his vices force themselves upon the world. His tortured nerves lead him into narcotics and make him surrender himself to wine and liquor. He longs for the life of a gentleman and as a consequence pursues pecuniary interests. He marries a few times without his soul being involved, seeking only riches and power. Whoever resists him is his enemy, and whoever covets his world title and wants to take it away from him becomes the object of his hatred. Outside of chess he, with all his demonic characteristics, is congenial and fascinating by his total surrender to everything that interests his mind. Conversations with him belong to one’s most cherished memories, yet one cannot divest oneself of the feeling: opposite is a noble predator that may at any time strike with his mighty claw. His absolute self-obsession, which a normal human being is simply unable to comprehend, at the same time renders the egocentric Alekhine unable to care about the needs, happiness, joy or sorrow of others. His attitude toward the world around him is so naive that he is incapable of understanding whether he has done evil or good. He merely acts in response to the instincts of his predatory nature, and in certain respects one cannot possibly hold him responsible for the outrageous things that he has done. For these reasons he is also extremely naive in political issues, and completely subject to the dictates of the moment. Uncertain, he gropes between the fear of a regime that has driven him into foreign exile and his yearning to be finally invited to a tournament in Moscow. Today he says this, tomorrow that, but always with the same fervor. The last time I saw him, in Lisbon in March 1941, the first thing he called out to me was: “Well, what do you say about your good friend Euwe? He cooperates with the Germans, but I just fled France to escape from the Germans, although I still have a castle and
  12. 12. dollars there. I am prepared to play the Russian grandmaster Botvinnik or the Jew Reshevsky for the world title. I already have a visa for Cuba in my pocket, and from there I will go to New York. We will soon meet there.” When he declared this, he was fully convinced of the truth of his words. But a few days later the Nazis attacked Yugoslavia and Greece, and now Asia Minor and Suez were also under threat. This caused Alekhine to go to the other extreme. I had hardly arrived in New York when I was given the sensational news in both the Marshall and the Manhattan clubs that Alekhine had returned to France and had started publishing a series of abusive articles which progressed from attacks on Jewry in chess to bemoaning the Bolshevization of chess. Alekhine was now backing the other horse, betting on victory for the Germans. These essays were Alekhine’s moral downfall. Although everyone who knew him was aware that Alekhine, for all his shortcomings, had never evinced any sign of anti- Semitism and had certainly not expressed his own true opinion, it was generally agreed that such a person could no longer be recognized as world champion. For the chess world, too, there exists something higher than the most beautiful immortal game; for the chess movement, too, there is such a thing as honor. This is where the first seeds for a championship tournament to fill the vacancy of the world title were sown. Reuben Fine was the first person to express this thought, first among his friends and then in a long article in the New Yorker Chess Review. He was full of optimism at the time, and convinced that he would be able to find a few hundred people in America prepared to donate one hundred dollars each to make it possible to organize a tournament. He telegraphed Botvinnik and contacted the Russian authorities. Fine was also the first person, as far as we know, who energetically took the initiative in this matter. It strikes one, therefore, as somewhat tragic that, just when the goal he had been working towards for so many years had been reached, he withdrew from the tournament just a few days before the start. No doubt there are deeper causes behind this withdrawal; it is the conscious or unconscious expression of the disappointment Fine had felt during his many years of trying to bring his plan to fruition. For he was not long in finding out that things were not as simple as he had imagined. The first question to be answered was what attitude to take toward Alekhine, but it turned out to be impossible to come to an agreement on this. Fine, utterly loyal, was happy to leave the decision to his fellow grandmasters. The only unalterable demand would have to be that such a tournament be held, and that Alekhine not be allowed either to decide in this matter or to select his opponents. A year of back-and-forth discussions started. Arguments, debates for and against, sessions,
  13. 13. conferences, committees, reform proposals ... but the only result was that the talks remained deadlocked and that the proposal could not be carried forward. Opinions were divided; the debate was no longer about including or excluding Alekhine, but also about the fundamental question of whether the championship should be decided in a match or a tournament. One issue became irrevocably clear whatever was going to happen: as far as the Russians were concerned, Alekhine was finished. The statements in the Russian press did not leave any room for doubt about this. Faced with the choice between proceeding without the participation of the world’s leading chess nation and declaring in favor of the already so heavily impugned Alekhine, the “West,” of course, decided to divest itself of Alekhine. Alekhine himself, all things considered a deeply unhappy man with all the black spots in his character, had retired to Spain towards the end of the war. Meanwhile it had also become clear that his chess abilities had also reached their nadir; he even failed to score decent results against weak Spanish opponents. This meant that the world championship was now held by hands that were already impotent. When Hastings continued the illustrious tradition of its Christmas tournament at the turn of the year 1945, Alekhine had originally been among the invited participants. In order not to offend the Russians his invitation was revoked, but the Russians declined to participate anyway. The negotiations about organizing the world championship continued, and since the Russians were also favorably disposed toward the idea, there seemed to be good prospects of a satisfactory solution being arrived at as early as 1946. In the meantime, however, fresh political tensions arose in a world that had so recently emerged more dead than alive from the most terrible of all wars. Even a neutral art so aloof from worldly ambitions, which chess after all is, cannot prevent itself becoming a little world of politics. In early 1946, a surprising diplomatic chess move was made: Russia declared itself willing to organize a match between Alekhine and Botvinnik, and Alekhine joyfully clutched at this straw in hopes of returning to chess life. He is unlikely to have harbored any illusions about a favorable outcome for himself if the match were to materialize, since he was, after all, no longer the chess god Alekhine, but a ruined man. In all human estimation, Alekhine would have been easy prey for Botvinnik. This would also have been a solution for the problem with the world championship, one that could even have laid claim to being “legitimate.” No one was likely to have serious objections against a giant like Botvinnik taking up the scepter – in him, no unworthy person would have ascended the throne. But it would still have left a painful feeling that would be hard to bear, for it would mean that the “Botvinnik” era had started without the new champion having earned his elevation with a victory over the strongest contender.
  14. 14. Alekhine’s dramatic death put a quick stop to this putative encounter, but it complicated the situation even further, since it was now the first time that a reigning world champion had died. Not a single provision had been made for the succession. The anarchy surrounding the world championship up to that point could not have been cast in starker perspective. No other option remained but to start all over again negotiations about organizing a title competition. From this moment on, former world champion Dr. Euwe started playing a decisive part in the success of this undertaking. The energy and self-denial with which he, largely behind the scenes and with great modesty, served the revival of the world championship will live on forever in chess history. He is the driving force behind virtually everything that FIDE tries to implement. At the FIDE Congress in Winterthur, the old plan was revived. Masters Botvinnik, Euwe, Fine, Keres, Reshevsky and Smyslov would come together in a tournament, the winner of which would receive the title of world champion. But this was only the basic formula, and even as such it flew in the face of tradition, since it meant that for the first time in history the principle that the world championship should be decided by a match would be abandoned: instead of the customary head-to-head match, the issue will be decided by a tournament this time. The experience of many years has shown that tournament results depend far more on the vagaries of fate than do match results. Even the starting line-up of participants is open to dispute. Why, for example, precisely these six chosen players, and why not add others? With the exception of Smyslov, the reputation of these players is based on a performance average dating back ten years. Have no new talents emerged since that time, whose claims should also be taken into account? At the above-mentioned Congress, this objection was met by deciding that a seventh person might be added, viz., the winner of the upcoming tournaments in Groningen and Prague, if he was not one of the present six. But also, what was supposed to happen when it had been decided who the new champion would be? How would the championship be organized in the future? One school of thought was in favor of sticking with the world champion tournament format and organizing a new world championship tournament every four years, applying the same criteria for selecting the participants as are used in the Soviet Union, America, the Netherlands, Switzerland and other countries. The opposing school of thought wanted to adhere to a match system no matter what, since this, as mentioned above, constitutes a far better measure of a player’s ability than a tournament. The compromise they eventually arrived at was a combination of the two systems. In the future, the world champion himself, in accordance with tradition, will defend his title in a match, while his challenger will be determined by a tournament. This arrangement takes away an important privilege from the new world champion: he
  15. 15. will no longer be allowed to select his opponent himself, but his challenger will be appointed by means of a tournament. This immediately creates a fresh problem: who will be entitled to participate in such a tournament? This, too, should be determined with as little arbitrariness and as little dependence on chance as possible. The solution that FIDE has decided on will not find universal favor. Zonal tournaments will be organized, whose winners are to play an official tournament (Candidates’ tournament) against the players from the world championship tournament who had failed to win the title (five players). The winner of this tournament would then become the official challenger of the world champion. The main drawback of this system is that the zones are geographical ones. But the art of chess does not organize itself along geographical lines. There are regions with very mediocre players and others where the number of strong players is quite large. Insofar as such zonal tournaments have been held, they have in no way convinced us that this approach is the correct selection procedure. It would probably be more effective after all to organize a great international tournament without referring to zones every three or four years, and use this to select the man entitled to challenge the world champion within a certain period of time. As said, however, it is at any rate a historical step that from now on the challenger of the world champion will be selected on the basis of objectively determined criteria. In this respect, this system bears some resemblance to the Davis Cup in tennis.* We must not forget, however, that although a format may work very well in theory, it may still bitterly disappoint in practice. Who is going to finance the future world championships? Up to now, this had been the cardinal point: it was precisely because of this financing problem that most plans for matches had failed to work. We repeat emphatically that the world champion has every conceivable right to extract as much as possible from his hard-won position, frequently achieved at the cost of great privations, to enable him to lead a dignified life commensurate with his position and cultural needs. For those who sneer at material things and who, on behalf of the goddess of chess, with pompous words demand idealism at the expense of others, we have nothing but heartfelt contempt. How poor was even Alekhine when he died, who of all world champions had been most adept at turning his genius to account. No, no, he who sacrifices his life in order to share with people of all continents the treasures of his chess genius is entitled not to slink through this vale of tears like a hungry beggar. The chess world ought to be ashamed of itself that it has kings living in misery. No future Steinitz must be allowed to die in the poorhouse. On the other hand, we know, and this is something we briefly mentioned before, that the chess world itself is poor in a material sense. In the long term, only state and societal support will be able to
  16. 16. stimulate its development. Therefore, let me draw your attention to Botvinnik’s excellent idea that he explained in the British magazine Chess two years ago. When it comes to challenging the world champion on the basis of victory in an earlier tournament, the challenger must first do his utmost to raise the necessary financial means in his own country. If that country abandons him, then the job of providing the money falls to the country of the world champion. Chess demands international solidarity, and the holder of the world title has the same obligations as his challenger, viz., to strive for the realiztion of the match with all his strength. We cannot have the world champion comfortably waiting until his opponent has garnered the necessary funds. The world championship should become a cooperative venture between the two players, and especially between the states who claim the titleholder and the challenger as their citizens. This leads Botvinnik to a radical conclusion: if the titleholder’s country is unable or unwilling to organize the match, the world champion should lose his title and, unconditionally, a new world champion should be appointed by staging an international tournament. In this way, Botvinnik elevates the art of chess to a matter of honor for the nations involved. The world championship should now be removed from the domain of personal caprice and taken into the domain of collectivism. A people that abandons its own world champion is not deserving of a world champion. It is only with the exertion of such moral pressure that the value of chess as well as the master’s material existence can be guaranteed. But there is still a long way to go. Initially, everything seemed to proceed peacefully after the Winterthur Congress. The Groningen tournament produced a winner in Botvinnik, which obviated the necessity of increasing the number from six to seven. Then the first disillusionment followed; the Prague tournament, organized with such marvelous effort, fizzled out to nothing. It was so weakly contested that the victory of the Pole Najdorf was of little consequence. This is why Najdorf (wrongfully, strictly speaking) was not admitted to the tournament. There was also some unfriendliness from America. The U.S. Chess Federation objected to the two American masters admitted to the tournament in Winterthur having been selected without the Congress bothering to consult with the American federation. America did not accept having their choice of contestants being dictated to them. Besides, Fine had not participated in the American championship of 1946. In America, the desire took shape to send Reshevsky to the world championship, but not Fine. In Fine’s place they wanted to send runner-up Kashdan or Reshevsky’s predecessor Denker. This agitation may have angered Fine and may have been one of the reasons why he eventually withdrew from the world championship. But these controversies were not the worst. The fight over where the tournament was to be held had far worse consequences. Fine had initially insisted on New York or Los Angeles, but this proposal elicited only a lukewarm response in America; they were not really interested there. So the American
  17. 17. cities were removed from the list. More heated discussions about this problem flared up in Europe. As so often in the past, the personality of Dr. Euwe fanned the flames of enthusiasm in the Netherlands. This little country was prepared to make the big sacrifices – after the two Euwe- Alekhine matches and the AVRO tournament of 1938 – to also organize this historic world championship. But the Russians, impassioned by the same enthusiasm and ambition, wanted Moscow as the battleground. The negotiations stalled, and suddenly word went out that the tournament, which had been planned for July 1947, had been canceled and that FIDE had washed its hands of the whole affair. This looked very much like a complete disaster, and it cannot be denied that these reports elicited bitter reactions in the chess world. New plans were designed with the aim of at least creating a period of transition. The most attractive plan seemed to be to declare Alekhine’s predecessor in the world championship, Dr. Euwe, interim world champion. This could be justified as follows: the man to whom Dr. Euwe had lost his title in 1937 had died, and now other people could try to do what Alekhine had done, viz., defeat Dr. Euwe in a match. Establishing a temporary world championship would renew the zeal of the other interested parties and greatly accelerate the speed of the stalled negotiations. There was a lot to be said for this idea, but Dr. Euwe did not make the slightest attempt to promote it, being far more preoccupied with trying to pick up the threads of the interrupted negotiations again. He traveled to Moscow, Switzerland, South America and New York, everywhere with the aim of making the tournament a success. But when, with great regret, we were forced to conclude that Euwe’s achievements in the area of chess in 1947 were far below the level one might justifiably have expected from a player of his class, this was undoubtedly due to the fact that his main aim had not been to pursue personal successes in chess, but to concentrate all his efforts on organizing the world championship. His indefatigable work was eventually crowned with success, and we owe it to him that the tournament finally came about. The decision was made in August 1947 during a FIDE meeting in The Hague. For the first time, the Russians were also present at the meeting, and the personal contact helped to clear away misunderstandings. The result was a complete victory. It was decided unanimously to start the tournament on March 1st 1948, with the first leg taking place in Holland and the second in Russia. The number and names of the participants remained unchanged. The players were to face each other four times, which meant that the tournament would consist of 20 rounds. The reaction from The Hague was one of general relief and great satisfaction. We frankly admit that people were not entirely free from worries: they would not truly believe this until the tournament had actually started. At the last moment the organizers received the disappointing news of Fine’s withdrawal. But the players quickly came to an
  18. 18. agreement about the new situation. No replacement, only the five masters. Now the players would face one another five times instead of four. But this tilted the center of gravity even more in the direction of the Russians. They now had an absolute majority of players, and of the 25 rounds of the tournament, 10 would be played in the Netherlands and 15 in Russia. The influence of all these circumstances on the eventual outcome should not be underestimated. But it was certainly better to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion than to have the whole arrangement collapse again. Habemus Papam – we have a new world champion, and he will be the representative of our great spiritual republic. What the new man has achieved is the result of his individual performance, which he owes to his own abilities. What has been achieved in our great spiritual republic is that a democratic arrangement has arisen in her bosom. Victory for the spiritual power of the new world champion, victory, too, for the collective responsibility of the world champion to the whole and the whole to him. No longer is the world championship a lawless chaos; it will become an institution based on democratic principles. The world championship tournament has truly made World History. The Organizing Committee: K.J. Nieukerke, J.C.D.M. de Wit, G.W.J. Zittersteyn, L.G. Eggink, J. Keuzenkamp, G. van Harten.
  19. 19. The Preparations for the Netherlands Leg G.W.J. Zittersteyn Dr. Hannak already pointed out in his article how important it is that the tournament for the world championship will henceforth be held under the auspices of FIDE, and that from now on, the champion will be bound by the regulations created by that body. When, in 1946, the FIDE Congress in Winterthur decided to determine the new world champion by a tournament between the six strongest players of the world and selected Botvinnik, Dr. Euwe, Fine, Keres, Reshevsky and Smyslov to be these players, the entire chess world was overjoyed. People were happy that a satisfactory solution would be arrived at for the problem of the world championship, and they generally agreed with the choices that had been made. The people of our country were particularly delighted, since the organization of the entire tournament had been entrusted to the KNSB (Royal Netherlands Chess Federation), and at a time when the financial market was firm enough, to use an Exchange term, to be prepared to support such an event. More is the pity, then, that for various reasons that we will not go into here, the tournament of 1947 never came about. Last year, the world championship was once more on the agenda at the FIDE Congress. The Russians, who had indicated that they wanted to become members of the World Chess Federation, were not present at the start, and when they failed to appear the next day as well, the Congress provisionally decided to appoint Dr. Euwe as interim world champion, with the obligation to play a number of matches yet to be decided upon within a certain period. The next day, the Russians joined the deliberations, and the world championship came up for discussion once again. It was decided to return to the six-player tournament agreed on in 1946, and Russia and the Netherlands were jointly charged with organizing it. One leg was to be played in each of the two countries, and when lots were drawn, the first leg was assigned to our country. Now there was work to be done, and the executive board of the KNSB immediately applied itself to the job. Initially it seemed that the financial part of the proceedings would not cause any problems. There were a few interested parties, and it merely seemed a matter of deciding who would be the lucky one. But when push came to shove, they all withdrew, scared off by the cost, which was higher than had been expected. What made this even more unpleasant was that we were now getting into time-trouble, since the
  20. 20. tournament was scheduled to start in the Netherlands on March 1st, 1948, and all these preliminaries had cost a great deal of time. Our diligent fellow-member Mr. Van Harten then worked exceedingly hard to get something organized in Amsterdam. He seemed successful at first. But unfortunately here, too, it was merely the semblance of success: he never got a definitive commitment. Things were threatening to go wrong, but failure had to be prevented at all cost. “Well, of course,” said another diligent fellow-member in the person of Mr. Nieukerke. “So in that case we must try to move the tournament to The Hague.” Mr. Nieukerke, who is a member of the town council of The Hague, went to see the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor rather liked the idea, partly because this year happened to be a special one for the royal seat. Not only would it celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of our Queen, but the city itself would also commemorate the 700th anniversary of its own existence – and this tournament could be taken on as part of the festivities. The Lord Mayor proposed to the Municipal Executive that they guarantee financial support up to a certain amount, which proposal was unanimously accepted. The proposal was also approved by the finance committee, and was then passed by the city council without a vote. Together with the commitments we had already received, we now had a more solid base to continue our work from. Now the first thing to do was to talk to the chessplayers. They should show that they were prepared to make a financial sacrifice for such an important event that would make our country the focus of worldwide attention for a long time. An executive committee was appointed whose every member put all his energy at the service of the great goal. Without taking anything away from the labor of the other members, all of whom did an excellent job, I would like to give one of them a special mention, viz., our secretary Keuzenkamp. He has shown himself to be an excellent organizer who did an immense amount of work with the greatest possible energy. Do not think, dear readers, that everything went smoothly all the time. There have been problems and setbacks, but the glorious enthusiasm of all the people involved eventually carried the day. Our Dutch chessplayers showed themselves at their best, and I am pleased to pay them tribute here. We are grateful and delighted; thanks to their cooperation the tournament also became a financial success. It goes without saying that we are equally grateful for the indispensable support we received from other quarters. And so it was that everything was settled in time, and we were able to wait with confidence for March 1st, the day when the tournament would be officially opened with a reception by the city council.
  21. 21. The Official Opening Lord Mayor W.A.J. Visser LLM, together with his spouse, received all the guests, and there were many. Not only chessplayers but also non-players, officials of various ranks, numerous servants of the Netherlands’ Queen Wilhemina – with only a few servants of Queen Caïssa among them – and not forgetting the small army of photographers ready to launch a concentric attack on the central figures of this evening in due course. It was a colorful group, brightened by the many ladies. A convivial atmosphere prevailed throughout, heightened by cheerful music. There were well-spread buffets that were eagerly – in some cases too eagerly – availed of later. In short, it was an extraordinarily pleasant occasion, although there was little that reminded one of the fact that this was the official opening of the tournament for the world chess championship. Just after eight o’clock, the Lord Mayor started his opening speech, which was brief and to the point. He was exceedingly pleased that The Hague enjoyed the honor of staging the first leg of this tremendous contest. In contrast to other battles, this one would not divide but unite. The tournament would be a symbol of good relationships and harmony among peoples. He concluded with the best wishes for the success of the tournament. After him, pleasant words were spoken by the president of FIDE and by the president of the KNSB. Mr. Postnikov, president of the Russian Chess Federation, spoke in similar spirit as the Lord Mayor, emphasizing the importance of such meetings for strengthening the cultural ties between the world’s peoples. In this Babel, interpreters ensured that the speeches were understood by all. Then the lots were drawn in alphabetical order. This meant that Botvinnik drew the first number, which was no. 1! An omen? You would almost say so, because Botvinnik captured the title convincingly. Euwe drew no. 2, but unfortunately did not follow Botvinnik’s example. Smyslov became no. 3, Reshevsky no. 4 and Keres no. 5. For several hours people stayed together in companionable talk, renewing old ties of friendship and forging new ones, until this feast eventually also belonged to the past. There is no doubt that all those present will cherish very pleasant memories of this enjoyable reception and the varieties of food and drink.
  22. 22. An Excursion into the Past Dr. Max Euwe An examination of the earlier meetings between the five participants leads us to places in chess literature that, although differing in place and time, have in common that they belong to the most attractive ones in the international chess garden. Nearly all the games these matadors have essayed with each other are worthwhile. Most of them are distinguished by the extraordinary fighting spirit on both sides, and constitute the liveliest propaganda for our game one could possibly imagine. It is a pity that technical constraints force me to restrict my comments to a few scant observations. By way of minor compensation, diagrams have been added at the most crucial points, which will enable the reader to observe the course of the fight virtually at a single glance.
  23. 23. The Statistics of the Past How often and with what result have the five participants in the world championship tournament faced one another? A statistical overview shows us that they have fought one another a total of 75 times before this tournament. The oldest one of these games dates from 1934: Botvinnik-Euwe (tournament in Leningrad), the youngest from late 1947: Keres-Botvinnik (Chigorin memorial tournament in Moscow). This means that these 75 games were played within a period of less than 15 years. The table below shows the detailed results: Time and place of the individual encounters are made clear by the following overview: Botvinnik vs. Smyslov: Russian championship tournament 1940, draw. Russian championship tournament 1941, two wins and two draws. Sverdlovsk 1943, win and draw. Moscow championship 1943, loss. Russian championship tournament 1944, win. Russian championship tournament 1945, win. Groningen 1946, win. Moscow 1947, draw. Botvinnik vs. Keres: AVRO tournament 1938, two draws. Russian championship tournament 1940, draw. Russian championship tournament 1941, one win and three draws. Moscow 1947, win. Botvinnik vs. Reshevsky: Nottingham 1936, draw. AVRO tournament 1938, win and draw. USSR- USA team match 1946, win and draw.
  24. 24. The Games from the Past Botvinnik 8½, Smyslov 3½ (+6 -1 =5) The tremendous superiority of Russia’s first player is confirmed in the course of most games. One more or less gets the impression that Smyslov is playing against his “big brother” – courageous, inventive and enterprising but not yet strong enough. Smyslov’s special abilities, his knowledge of the openings, his sharply calculated combinational play, his deep strategic insight, his subtle endgame play – they never really come into full play, because Botvinnik is just slightly better than him in all areas. One thing should be kept in mind, however: all these games were played between a young and rising Smyslov who had not yet reached the height of his powers, and a Botvinnik in his prime, so it is possible that later encounters will paint a different picture. (1) Smyslov – Botvinnik USSR Championship Moscow 1940 Ruy Lopez [C99] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.h3 0-0 9.c3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 c×d4 13.c×d4 Nc6 14.a3 More aggressive is 14.Nb3. 14...Bd7 15.d5 Na5 16.Nf1 Nh5 17.Bd3 g6 18.Bh6 Rfc8 19.Ne3 Qd8 20.b4 Nc4 (D) Typical Botvinnik: the text move amounts to a pawn sacrifice. But by making it, Black not only solves the problems associated with his cramped position, but also creates counterplay on the queenside by virtue of the open c-file and his bishop pair. Compare the position after the 28th move. 21.B×c4 b×c4 22.Rc1 c3 23.Qb3 Qc7 24.Rc2 Nf4 25.Nd1 Qc4 26.Q×c4 R×c4 27.R×c3 Rac8 28.R×c4 R×c4 The situation is clear: White has virtually run out of options, which means that Black is in practically no
  25. 25. danger of losing. 29.B×f4 e×f4 30.e5 Kf8 31.Nb2 Rc3 32.e6 Be8 33.Re4 g5 34.Nd4 Bf6 35.Kh2 Stronger is 35.e7, followed by 36.Nf5. 35...Be5 36.Nf3 R×f3 (D) An interesting combination that does not change either player’s chances, but does breathe new life into the game. 37.e7+ Kg7 38.R×e5 White need not fear the endgame after 38.g×f3 B×b2 39.a4 Ba3 40.Rc4. 38...R×f2 39.R×g5+ Kf6 40.Nd3 Ra2 With 40...Rd2 41.Rg8 R×d3 42.R×e8 R×a3, Black retains some of his advantage. 41.Rg8 K×e7 42.N×f4 R×a3 43.Rg4 Bd7 44.Rh4 Bf5 45.Ne2 Bg6 46.Rf4 h5 47.Nd4 Kd7 48.b5 ½-½ (2) Smyslov – Botvinnik USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 French Defense [C19] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 B×c3+ 6.b×c3 Ne7 7.Nf3 Sharper and better is 7.Qg4. 7...Nbc6 8.Bd3 Qa5 9.Qd2 c4 10.Be2 Qa4! Blocking the white a-pawn and with it, indirectly, the bishop on c1. 11.h4 Bd7 12.h5 h6 13.Nh4 Nf5 14.N×f5 e×f5 15.Rg1 Ne7 16.g4 f×g4 With 16...g5 17.h×g6 f×g6 18.g×f5 B×f5, Black could have retained some advantage. 17.B×g4 B×g4 18.R×g4 Nf5 19.Qe2 Qd7 20.Rf4 Qe6 21.Qf3 g6 22.a4 0-0-0 23.Ba3 (D)
  26. 26. The chances are roughly equal: White is better on the queenside, Black on the kingside. Neither player can undertake anything decisive. 23...b6 24.Kd2 Rhg8 25.Rb1 Kb7 26.a5 Rc8 27.a×b6 a×b6 28.Qg4 Kc6 29.Rh1 Kd7 30.Rh3 Rce8 31.Rhf3 Kc7 32.Qh3 Better is 32.h×g6, followed by the exchange sacrifice on f5. By neglecting to push forward on the kingside, White allows Black to take control of the other wing. 32...Rg7 33.Qh1 Ra8 34.Qc1 Rgg8 35.Qb2 Ra4! 36.Bd6+ Kc6 37.Qb1 Rga8 38.Qh1 Ra1 39.Qh3 Rg1 40.h×g6 Raa1! (D) Decisive. 41.Re3 Rad1+ 42.Ke2 N×d4+! And White resigned (43.c×d4 Rge1+) 0-1 (3) Botvinnik – Smyslov USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 King’s Indian Defense [E70] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nge2 e5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Nh5 9.d×e5 d×e5 Given the changed situation (...h7-h6 and ...g6-g5), the Exchange Variation is far more favorable for White than is usually the case in the King’s Indian. 10.Q×d8+ K×d8 11.0-0-0+ Nd7 12.Nd5 c6 13.Ne3 Kc7 14.Nf5 Bf8 15.R×d7+! (D)
  27. 27. Interesting and strong. 15...K×d7 16.B×e5 f6 17.Bc3 Ke6 18.g4? With 18.h4! g4 19.Ned4+ White retains his advantage. 18...Nf4 19.N×f4+ g×f4 20.Bd3 a5 21.a3 Bc5 22.e5 Kf7! Not 22...f×e5 in view of 23.Re1 etc. 23.e×f6 B×f5 24.B×f5 B×f2 25.Rf1 Bh4 26.Bd3 Rhf8 27.c5 B×f6 28.R×f4 Kg7 29.B×f6+ R×f6 Now Black is better, but he does not have enough of an advantage to win. 30.Bf5 Rff8 31.Kc2 Rfe8 32.h4 Re5 33.b4 a×b4 34.a×b4 Re3 35.Kb2 Rd8 36.Kc2 Ra8 37.Kb2 Re2+ (D) 37...Rae8 would have yielded Black more winning chances. 38.Kb3 Rae8 39.Rd4 R8e7 40.Rd6 Rf2 41.Bd3 Rf6 42.Rd4 Ref7 43.Bf5 h5 44.b5 h×g4 45.B×g4 c×b5 46.Bd7 Rf1 47.B×b5 Rb1+ 48.Kc4 Rc1+ 49.Kb4 Re7 50.Bd3 Re3 51.h5 Kh6 52.Rd5 Rh3 53.Kb5 Rd1 54.Be4 ½-½ (4) Smyslov – Botvinnik USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Ruy Lopez [C84] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.c3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 b5 9.Bc2 d5 As soon as Black makes the central advance d5, his position will be fine. 10.Nbd2 d×e4 11.d×e4 Be6 12.h3 h6 13.Nh2 Nh7 14.Ng4 Bg5 15.Qe2 Qd6 16.Ne3 Rfd8 17.Nf3 B×e3 18.Q×e3 Qe7 19.Nh2 Nf8
  28. 28. 20.Qf3 Rd7 Maneuvering and more maneuvering by both sides: Black is trying to take control of the d-file, while White wants to transfer a knight to f5. 21.Nf1 Nh7 22.Ng3 Rad8 23.Nf5 Qf6 24.g4 Ne7 25.Qg3 Bc4 26.f3 Bd3 27.Bb3 c5 28.Be3 c4 29.Bd1 Ng5 30.h4 Ne6 31.a4 b4! (D) A pawn sacrifice to (1) prevent possible counterplay by White along the a-file; and (2) create another weakness in the white center. 32.c×b4 Nf4 33.Kh1 g5 34.b5 a5 35.Bc5? A mistake that should have led to defeat in short order. Better is 35.Rc1. 35... N×f5 36.g×f5 Kh7 37.Qg4 g×h4 38.Rg1 h5 38...Bf1!, threatening 39...Bh3, is stronger (39.Rf1 Rg8!). 39.Qg5 Q×g5 40.R×g5 f6 41.Rg1 Nh3 42.Re1 Rg8 43.Ra2! Bb1 44.Ra1 Bd3 45.Ra2 Nf4 46.b4 Rc8 47.b6 Rb7 48.Be3 a×b4 49.a5 b3 50.Ra3? With 50. Rb2, White retains drawing chances (50...Ra8 51.Bd2 or 50...c3 51.R×b3 c2 52.B×c2 B×c2 53.Ra3). 50...b2 51.Ba4 c3 52.Rb3 Ne2 53.Bb5 B×b5 54.R×b5 Nd4 55.B×d4 e×d4 56.a6 (D) A curious position. White launches a last-ditch attack, which is beaten off decisively. 56...R×b6! 57.R×b6 d3 58.Rg1 d2 59.R×f6 Rc7 60.Rfg6 With the intention of forcing a draw with 61.R6g5 after 60...c2. 60...d1Q 0-1 This was a very interesting game.
  29. 29. (5) Botvinnik – Smyslov USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Petroff Defense [C42] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.N×e5 d6 4.Nf3 N×e4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.d3 Nf6 7.Bg5 Q×e2+ 8.B×e2 Be7 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.Nd4 B×e2 11.Nc×e2 Nd5 12.B×e7 N×e7 13.0-0-0 Nbc6 14.N×c6 N×c6 15.Rhe1 Kd7 ½-½ Draw. A striking contrast with the previous game. (6) Smyslov – Botvinnik Sverdlovsk 1943 French Defense [C19] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 B×c3+ 6.b×c3 Ne7 7.a4 Smyslov does not repeat the mistake he made in Game 2, and deploys his dark-square bishop as quickly as possible. Nbc6 8.Nf3 Bd7 Stronger is 8...Qa5. Botvinnik is handling the opening somewhat passively, which lands him in trouble. 9.Be2 Qc7 10.0-0 h6 11.Ba3 b6 12.d×c5 b×c5 13.B×c5 N×e5 14.N×e5 Q×c5 15.N×d7 K×d7 Black loses his castling rights without compensation. 16.Bb5+ Kc7 17.Qh5 g6 18.Qe5+ Qd6 19.Qf6 e5 20.Qf3 e4! (D) Keeping his loss to a minimum. 21.Q×f7 Raf8 22.Qg7 Qf6 23.Q×f6 R×f6 At the cost of a pawn, Black has entered an endgame in which he will have to work very hard to draw. Yet he succeeds without any demonstrable oversight on Smyslov’s part. 24.Rad1 Rd8 25.Rfe1 Nf5 26.Bf1 Re6 27.g3 h5 28.f3 Re7 29.Bg2 Rd6 30.f×e4 d×e4 31.R×d6 N×d6 32.Kf2 Re5 33.Ke3 Ra5 34.B×e4 N×e4 35.K×e4 R×a4+ 36.Kd5 Ra5+ 37.Kd4 Kd6 38.c4 Rf5 39.Re8 Rf2 40.h4 Rg2 41.c5+ Kd7 42.Re3 a5 43.Ra3 Kc6 44.c4 a4 45.Ke4 K×c5 46.Kf3 Rd2 47.R×a4 (D)
  30. 30. A clean pawn up, but it is not enough. 47...Rd3+ 48.Kf4 Rd4+ 49.Ke3 Rd6 50.Ra1 K×c4 51.Kf4 Rd4+ 52.Ke5 Rd3 53.Rc1+ Kb5 54.Rg1 Rf3 55.Ke6 Kc4 56.g4 Rf4 57.g5 Kd3 58.Ra1 Ke3 59.Ra7 Ke2 60.Rh7 Ke3 61.Rh6 R×h4 62.Kf6 Ra4 63.K×g6 h4 64.Kh5 Kf3 65.g6 h3 66.Kg5 ½-½ (7) Botvinnik – Smyslov Sverdlovsk 1943 Three Knights’ Game [C46] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nd5 Be7 5.d4 d6 6.Bb5 Bg4 7.d×e5 d×e5 8.h3 Bd7 9.Qe2 Nf6 10.Bg5 0-0 Liquidating with 10...N×d5 11.e×d5 B×g5 12.d×c6 b×c6 13.Q×e5+ Qe7, leading to virtual equality, is better. 11.B×f6 B×f6 12.0-0-0 Be6 13.B×c6 b×c6 14.N×f6+ Q×f6 15.Qe3! (D) This strong move constitutes the only justification for White’s previous play. White has opened the b- file to weaken the black pawn structure. If Black succeeds in coordinating his pieces, the attack on White’s castled position might become very dangerous. The text move prevents 15...Ba2 (16.b3 a5 17.Qg5!) and prepares the exchange of queens (16.Qg5). 15...Rab8 16.a3 Rb5 17.Qg5! Rfb8 18.b3 h6 19.Q×f6 g×f6 20.Rd3 f5 21.e×f5 B×f5 22.Rc3! Bd7 23.Rd1 Be8 24.a4 Ra5 25.Nd2! Rd5 26.Ne4 R×d1+ 27.K×d1 Rd8+ 28.Ke2 Kg7 29.Rg3+ Kf8 30.Nf6 (D)
  31. 31. Threatening wholesale liquidation with Rg8+, after which a winning pawn ending will arise. Black can no longer prevent the loss of material. 30...Ke7 31.Ng8+ Ke6 32.N×h6 f5 33.Rg7 Bd7 34.Rg6+ Kd5 35.g4 f4 36.Rg8 R×g8 37.N×g8 Kd4 38.Nf6 Bc8 39.f3 Kc3 40.h4 1-0 (8) Smyslov – Botvinnik Moscow 1943 Ruy Lopez [C82] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 N×e4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.d×e5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Bc2 N×f2 (D) Dilworth’s continuation, which yields promising play. But with good counterplay by Black it appears to be insufficient. 12.R×f2 f6 13.e×f6 Q×f6 14.Qf1 Bg4 15.Kh1 B×f2 16.Q×f2 Rae8 17.Qg3 Ne5 18.Bd1 Nd3 19.h3! Bh5 (D)
  32. 32. Stronger is 19...Qb6, with at least a draw for Black. 20.Bc2 Nf4 21.Ng1 c5 22.Ndf3 Ne2 23.N×e2 R×e2 24.Bd1 Re6 25.Bd2 After Black’s oversight on move 19, White has defended excellently and is now definitely better. 25...h6 26.Kh2 Re4? Making White’s job easier. 27.Ng5! h×g5 28.B×h5 Re5 29.Bf3 Qe7 30.a4 Kh7 31.a×b5 a×b5 32.Ra7 Qd6 33.Bg4 Rd8 34.Kh1 d4 35.c×d4 c×d4 36.Bf4! Black must not capture this bishop in view of 37.Bf5+ etc. 36...Re1+ 37.Q×e1 Q×f4 38.Rd7 R×d7 39.B×d7 d3 40.Bg4 d2 41.Qe2! (D) The rest is no longer difficult. 41...b4 42.Qd3+ g6 43.Kg1 Kh6 44.b3 Kg7 45.Bf3 Qf7 46.Kf2 Qe6 47.Qe3 Qd6 48.Bd1 Qd5 49.g4 Kh7 50.Ke2 1-0 Smyslov’s first and only win against Botvinnik! (9) Smyslov – Botvinnik USSR Championship Moscow 1944 French Defense [C19] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 B×c3+ 6.b×c3 Ne7 7.a4 See Games 2 and 6. 7...Nbc6 8.Nf3 Qa5! 9.Bd2 c4! 10.Ng5 h6 11.Nh3 Ng6 12.Qf3 Bd7 13.Nf4 N×f4 14.Q×f4 Ne7! 15.h4 B×a4! (D)
  33. 33. This requires courage: snatching a pawn in an undeveloped position with the capturing piece pinning itself. But Botvinnik has assessed his chances correctly. 16.h5 Better is 16.Be2, followed by 17.Bd1. 16...Qb5! 17.Kd1 Rc8! 18.Bc1 Rc6 19.Be2 Ra6 Black has unpinned his bishop without weakening his position. 20.Kd2 0-0! 21.g4 Now White launches a dangerous attack, which Botvinnik just manages to parry. 21...f6! 22.e×f6 R×f6 23.Qc7 Rf7 24.Qd8+ Kh7 25.f4 Qa5 26.Qb8 Nc6 27.Qe8 Re7 28.Qg6+ Kg8 29.Ba3 e5!! (D) The magnificent refutation of the white attack. 30.f×e5 30.Be7 Ne7 will cost White his queen. 30...N×d4!! 31.Bb4 Qd8! 32.Q×a6 b×a6 33.c×d4 Rb7! 34.R×a4 It looks as if White is still getting some chances, but Black’s next moves dash his last hope. 34...Qg5+ 35.Kd1 a5 35...c3! is even stronger. 36.Bf3 R×b4 37.B×d5+ Kf8! 38.Rf1+ Ke8 39.Bc6+ Ke7 40.R×b4 Q×g4+ 0-1 (10) Botvinnik – Smyslov USSR Championship Moscow 1945 Slav Defense [D13] 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.c×d5 c×d5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 e6 7.e3 Be7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.h3 Bd7 10.0-0
  34. 34. a6 White has more elbow room, which is usually the case in this line. 11.Rc1 Be8 12.Bb1 Nh5 13.Bh2 f5 14.Na4 Bd6 15.Nc5 B×h2+ 16.N×h2 Qe7 17.Qb3 Rf7 18.g4! (D) Beautiful play. Without worrying about the weakening of his own king position, White uses the text move to launch an attack on both wings. 18...f×g4 19.h×g4 Nf6 20.f4 With the threat of 21.g5, followed by 22.Ng4 and 23.Qd3. 20...b6? A peace offering that fails to have any effect. Better is 20...Na5. 21.Q×b6 Rb8 22.Q×a6 e5 Desperation. 22...Rb2 will run into 23.Qd3, with a winning attack. 23.d×e5 N×e5 24.f×e5 Q×e5 25.Qe6 Qg3+ 26.Kh1 R×b2 27.Rc2 Rb8 28.Rg2 Qh4 29.g5 Nh5 30.g6 (D) Black is given short shrift. 30...h×g6 31.B×g6 1-0 (11) Botvinnik – Smyslov Groningen 1946 Grünfeld Defense [D09] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 d×c4 6.Q×c4 0-0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nc6? Better is 8...Nfd7. Now White takes control of the center. 9.d5 B×f3 10.g×f3 Ne5 11.Qe2 c6 12.f4 Ned7 13.Bg2 Nb6 If 13...c×d5, then 14.e5. 14.Rd1 Qc7 15.0-0 Rfd8 16.Rc1 Qd7 17.Rfd1 Qg4 18.Q×g4
  35. 35. N×g4 19.B×b6 a×b6 20.d×c6? Stronger is 20.e5!, with continuing pressure on Black’s position. 20...b×c6 21.e5 Nh6? (D) The decisive error, which will soon cost Black two pawns. Correct is 21...Rac8 22.Bh3 h5 23.f3 Ne3!. 22.B×c6 R×d1+ 23.R×d1 Rc8 24.Nd5! Botvinnik liquidates in his usual exemplary fashion. 24...Bf8 25.Rc1 Nf5 26.Rc4 e6 27.N×b6 Rb8 28.Na4 Rd8 29.Be4 Nh4 30.Kf1 Bh6 31.Bb7 Nf5 32.Ke2 Nd4+ 33.Ke3 Nf5+ 34.Kf3 Nd4+ 35.Ke4 Ne2 36.Rc8 R×c8 37.B×c8 N×f4 38.b4 Nh3 39.b5 N×f2+ 40.Kd4 (D) The rest is no longer difficult. 40...Bf4 41.h3 f6 42.B×e6+ Kg7 43.e×f6+ K×f6 44.Nc5 Ke7 45.Kd5 g5 46.a4 Nd1 47.a5 Nc3+ 48.Kc6 N×b5 49.K×b5 Bb8 50.Kb6 1-0 (12) Smyslov – Botvinnik Moscow 1947 Ruy Lopez [C90] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d6 9.d3 The usual
  36. 36. continuation here is 9.h3. The text move leads into quiet drawing territory, from which, despite energetic play by Botvinnik, there is no escape. 9...Be6 10.Nbd2 B×b3 11.Q×b3 Nd7 12.Qc2 Nb6 13.Nf1 d5 14.Ng3 Qd7 15.Be3 d×e4 16.d×e4 Nc4 17.Nf5 Rfd8 18.Rad1 Qe6 19.Bc1 R×d1 20.R×d1 Rd8 21.b3 R×d1+ 22.Q×d1 Nd6 (D) The players might as well have agreed a draw here. 23.Ng3 f6 24.Ne1 Nb7 25.Nf5 Nd6 26.N×e7+ N×e7 27.Ba3 f5 28.e×f5 Ne×f5 29.Nc2 e4 30.Qd2 h6 31.Bc5 Qe5 32.Ba7 Kh7 33.h3 a5 34.Ne3 N×e3 35.B×e3 a4 36.Bf4 Qc5 37.b×a4 b×a4 38.Qe2 Qc6 39.Be5 Qd5 40.B×d6 c×d6 41.a3 ½-½ The sealed move. After their home analysis, the players decided to call it a draw.
  37. 37. Botvinnik 5, Keres 3 (+2 -0 =6) In his encounters with Keres, we also note a definite superiority on the part of Botvinnik, albeit of a different nature than against Smyslov. Whereas the games between Smyslov and Botvinnik that we have commented on above are invariably life-and-death struggles, the games between Botvinnik and Keres are usually rather on the boring side. One gets the impression that Botvinnik wants to keep a tight rein on his dangerous opponent by forcing a type of play on him that does not suit him. Twice we see livelier games, in both of which Botvinnik comes out on top, the first time when Keres takes the risk of castling queenside, and the second time when he settles for an inferior endgame. (13) Keres – Botvinnik AVRO 1938 Queen’s Indian Defense [E17] 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 b6 3.c4 Bb7 4.g3 e6 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 d5 8.Nc3 Nbd7 9.Ne5 Ne4 10.c×d5 N×c3 11.b×c3 N×e5 12.d6 B×g2 13.d×e7 Q×e7 14.K×g2 Nc6 15.Qa4 Qd7 16.e4 Rfd8 17.Rb1 Rac8 18.Be3 Na5 19.Q×d7 R×d7 (D) The battle has already been fought. 20.Rb4 f6 21.Ra4 Rcd8 22.Rc1 Kf7 23.Rd1 Nc6 24.Rb1 Na5 25.Rd1 Nc6 26.Rb1 Na5 ½-½ (14) Botvinnik – Keres AVRO 1938 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E29] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 B×c3+ 5.b×c3 c5 6.e3 0-0 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Ne2 d6 9.Ng3 b6 10.Bb2 Ba6 A very good alternative is 10...Ne8, followed by f7-f5. 11.e4 Rc8 12.Rc1 c×d4 13.c×d4 e5 14.Qa4 Na5 15.0-0 Qe8! (D)
  38. 38. The equalizer! Now 16.Q×e8 Rf×e8 17.Nf5 runs into 17...Rcd8 (not 17...B×c4 18.Rfd1.) 16.Qb4 Nc6! 17.Qa4 Na5 18.Qb4 Nc6 19.Qd2 White spurns the draw, but the further course of the game proves him wrong. His bishop pair is offset by his weak pawn structure. 19...Qd8 20.d5 Na5 21.Qb4 Nd7! 22.Be2! Very subtle: now 22.Q×b6? will fail to 22...Rc5 23.Nf5 Re8, with the threat of 24...Nb7. 22...Nc5 23.Rc3 Rc7 24.Bc1 Bc8 25.f4 f6 26.f5 Qd7 27.Be3 Ba6 28.Rfc1 Rfc8 29.Bd1 Qe8 30.Be2 Rb8 31.h3 Bc8 (D) The position is deadlocked. Neither player can undertake anything. 32.B×c5 R×c5 33.Nf1 Ba6 34.a4 Bc8 35.Nd2 Bd7 36.Ra1 Qd8 37.Nb3 N×b3 38.R×b3 Rbc8 39.Rc3 Qc7 40.Kf2 Ra5 41.Rb3 ½-½ (15) Botvinnik – Keres USSR Championship Moscow 1940 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E13] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 B×c3+ 8.b×c3 d6 9.Nd2 The slower occupation of the center with e4 and f3 almost never leads to an advantage in this opening. The same happens here: very soon closed positions will arise in which neither player can afford to
  39. 39. take the risk of launching a winning attempt. 9...e5 10.f3 Qe7 11.e4 Nbd7 12.Bd3 g5 13.Bf2 Nh5 14.g3 Ng7 15.Qe2 h5 16.h4 g×h4 17.R×h4 Nf8 18.Rh2 Ng6 19.d5 0-0-0 20.Nf1 h4 21.g4 Qf6 22.Qe3 Kb8 23.Nd2 Ne8 24.0-0-0 c6 25.Kb2 Nc7 26.Nb3 Na6 27.Rdh1 Rh7 28.Bf1 Rdh8 29.Be1 ½-½ (D) The position is equal. Both players have strong and weak points, but it seems to be impossible for either White or Black to launch a promising attack. (16) Keres – Botvinnik USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E35] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.c×d5 e×d5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Better is 7.B×f6. 7...c5 8.0-0-0 (D) A risky continuation, but one that at the time this game was played enjoyed a good reputation. 8...B×c3 The first in a series of moves that leads to a winning position for Black almost by force. 9.Q×c3 g5 10.Bg3 c×d4 11.Q×d4 Nc6 12.Qa4 Bf5 The final nail in White’s coffin. 13.e3 Rc8
  40. 40. 14.Bd3 Qd7! Threatening to win the queen. 15.Kb1 B×d3+ 16.R×d3 Qf5 (D) This is already decisive. 17.e4 N×e4 18.Ka1 0-0 19.Rd1 b5! The last hammer blow. 20.Q×b5 Nd4 21.Qd3 Nc2+ 22.Kb1 Nb4 0-1 (17) Botvinnik – Keres USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Queen’s Gambit Accepted [D27] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 d×c4 3.Nf3 a6 4.e3 Nf6 5.B×c4 e6 6.a4 c5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 Qc7 10.h3 0-0 11.Nc3 Rd8 Both sides are preparing for d4-d5. 12.b3 Bd7 13.Bb2 Be8 14.d5 Finally. 14...e×d5 15.B×d5 Nd4 This liquidation almost gives Black equality. 16.N×d4 N×d5 17.Nf5 N×c3 18.B×c3 f6 19.Qg4 Bg6 20.Ba5 (D) Although this does not look bad, it fails to yield anything in the end. 20...R×d1+ After 20...Q×a5 21.N×e7+ Kf7 22.N×g6 h×g6 23.Rd7+, White would get good chances. 21.R×d1 Qe5 22.N×e7+ Q×e7 23.Rd7 Qe4 24.Qg3 Qc6 25.Qc7 Q×c7 26.R×c7 Rb8 27.Bb6 Bc2 28.a5 B×b3 29.B×c5 Bd5 30.f3 Bc6 31.Bb6 Rf8 (D)
  41. 41. A draw is already a foregone conclusion. 32.Bc5 Rd8 33.e4 Rd7 34.Rc8+ Kf7 35.Kh2 Rd2 36.Kg3 Bb5 37.f4 g6 38.f5 g×f5 39.e×f5 Bc6 40.Kf4 Rd5 41.Rc7+ Rd7 ½-½ (18) Keres – Botvinnik USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Two Knights’ Defense [C50] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 h6 7.B×f6 Q×f6 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.c3 0-0 A slight inaccuracy. Better was 9...a6 or 9...Ne7. 10.a4 White fails to take the opportunity to weaken the black position with 10.b4 Bb6 11.a4. 10...a6 11.0-0 Ba7 12.Ne3 Ne7 13.d4 Ng6 14.Re1 c6 15.d×e5 This leads to simplification and a draw, but White no longer had an advantage anyway. 15...N×e5 16.N×e5 d×e5 17.Qf3 Qe7 18.Rad1 Be6 19.B×e6 Q×e6 20.Nf5 Rad8 21.h4 Kh7 22.h5 g6 23.Ne3 Kg7 24.g3 Bb6 25.Kg2 (D) The draw is inevitable, since both players will be able to ward off any danger by wholesale exchanges along the d-file. 25...R×d1 26.R×d1 Rd8 27.R×d8 B×d8 28.Qg4 Q×g4 29.N×g4 Bc7 30.Ne3 b5 31.a×b5 a×b5 32.Nc2 Bd6 33.h×g6 f×g6 34.Ne1 Kf6 35.Nd3 Ke6 36.Kf3 h5 37.Ke3 g5
  42. 42. 38.Kf3 Bf8 ½-½ (19) Botvinnik – Keres USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Queen’s Gambit Declined [D36] 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.d4 Nbd7 5.c×d5 e×d5 6.Bg5 Be7 7.e3 c6 8.Qc2 Nf8 An interesting maneuver before castling. 9.Bd3 Ne6 10.Bh4 g6 11.0-0 Ng7 12.b4 a6 Not 12...B×b4 in view of 13.B×f6 Q×f6 14.N×d5 c×d5 15.Qa4+. 13.B×f6 B×f6 14.a4 Bf5 (D) The point of Black’s set-up: the text move forces exchange of the bishop on d3. 15.b5 0-0 16.b×c6 b×c6 17.Rab1 Qd6 18.e4 This leads to a quick liquidation. 18...d×e4 19.N×e4 B×e4 20.B×e4 ½-½ Drawn in view of the continuation 20...B×d4 21.Q×c6 Rad8. (20) Keres – Botvinnik Moscow 1947 Dutch Defense [A95] 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d5 7.Nc3 c6 8.Rb1 In combination with the next move, not overly effective. 8...Kh8 9.c×d5 c×d5 10.Bf4 Nc6 11.Ne5 Bd7 12.Rc1 Rc8 13.Qd3 Nh5 14.Bd2 Bd6 15.N×c6 B×c6 16.Qf3 Qe8 17.Qd3 Nf6 18.a3 Rc7 19.Bg5 Ng4 20.Qd2 Nf6 With the threat of 21...Qh5. 21.Bf4 Qd7 22.B×d6 Q×d6 23.Qf4 (D)
  43. 43. Completely unnecessary. White allows himself to end up in an unfavorable endgame. Better is 23.Rc2, followed by doubling the rooks. 23...Q×f4? 24.g×f4 Rfc8 25.e3 With 25.Na2, White still almost equalizes. 25...Bb5 26.Rfe1 Kg8 27.f3 Bc4 28.Bf1 Ne8 29.B×c4 R×c4 30.Kf2 Nd6 31.Ke2 b5 32.Kd3 b4! (D) This leads to a positive advantage. 33.Na2 After 33.a×b4 R×b4 34.Rb1 Rcb8 35.Kc2 Nc4 Black also wins a pawn, and the same happens after 33.Ne2 b×a3 34.b×a3 R×c1 35.R×c1 R×c1 36.N×c1 Nc4. 33...b×a3 34.b×a3 Ra4 35.R×c8+ N×c8 36.Nc3 R×a3 Black is a solid pawn up and will also have chances to attack the pawns on White’s kingside. As a result, the win is now only a matter of time. 37.Kc2 Nd6 38.Rb1 Kf7 39.Rb4 Ra1 40.Kd3 Ra3 41.Kc2 Ra1 42.Kd3 Re1 43.Ra4 Nc4 44.R×a7+ Kg6 45.e4 Re3+ 46.Kc2 R×f3 47.e×f5+ K×f5 48.R×g7 Rf2+ 49.Kb3 Rb2+ 50.Ka4 R×h2 (D) The previous and next diagrams clearly show the gradual progress Black is making.
  44. 44. 51.Rf7+ Kg6 52.Rf8 Nd6 53.Nb5 Nf5 54.Nc7 Re2 55.Ne8 N×d4 56.Rf6+ Kh5 57.Rf7 Nf5 58.R×h7+ Kg4 59.Rd7 K×f4 60.Nc7 Ke5 61.Kb4 Rc2 62.Kb3 Nd4+ 63.Kb4 Rc4+ 64.Ka5 Nf5 65.Kb6 d4 (D) 66.Na6 Nd6 67.Nc5 Kd5 68.Nd3 e5 69.Rh7 Rc6+ 70.Ka5 Nc4+ 71.Kb5 Rb6+ 72.Ka4 Nb2+ 73.Ka5 Nc4+ 74.Ka4 Rb8 75.Nb4+ Ke6 76.Nc6 Nb2+ 77.Ka3 Nc4+ 78.Ka4 Rb1 79.Rh6+ Kf5 80.Nb4 0-1
  45. 45. Botvinnik 3½, Reshevsky 1½ (+2 -0 =3) The games between Botvinnik and Reshevsky take the form of battles between two tacticians in which Botvinnik, to be sure, shows himself the more capable of the two, but in which Reshevsky certainly has chances. Botvinnik’s knowledge of the openings is superior, which is why he usually plays with the wind at his back. It also largely explains why he usually emerges from the openings with an advantage. Equally striking is the way in which these great combination players tactically outplay one another completely in some games. One time Reshevsky is the victim, the next time Botvinnik. But regardless from which point of view one looks at these encounters, they are, without exception, of the very highest level and more than worth replaying. (21) Reshevsky – Botvinnik Nottingham 1936 Dutch Defense [A95] 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d5 7.Nc3 c6 8.Rb1 Qe8 9.c5 Fixing the pawn structure, while at the same time determining future strategy: queenside versus kingside. 9...Qh5 10.b4 Ne4 11.Qc2 Nd7 12.b5 Bf6 13.Bf4 Qe8 13...Nd×c5 will not yield anything in view of 14.N×e4 f×e4 (14...N×e4 15.b×c6) 15.Q×e5. 14.Bc7 Rf7 15.Ba5 e5 16.e3 N×c3 17.B×c3 e4 18.Nd2 Nf8 (D) A position typical of this variation. 19.f3 c×b5 20.f×e4 d×e4 21.d5 B×c3 22.Q×c3 Bd7 23.Nb3 Rc8 24.g4 g6 25.Qd4 Qe7 26.Rbc1 Be8 27.Rf4 Rd8 28.Rcf1 Qd7! The saving move: Black is slowly extricating himself from White’s grip. 29.g×f5 g×f5 30.Bh3 Q×d5 31.R×f5 Q×d4 32.N×d4 Rg7+ 33.Kh1 Bd7 34.Rh5 B×h3 35.R×h3 Rg5 (D)
  46. 46. White’s positional advantage compen-sates for the lost pawn. 36.Nf5 Rd7 37.Rh4 Rc7 38.Nh6+ Kg7 39.Nf5+ Kg8 39...Kh8 would be met very strongly by 40.Nd4!. 40.Nh6+ Kg7 41.Nf5+ ½-½ A draw by repetition. (22) Botvinnik – Reshevsky AVRO 1938 English Opening [A25] 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e3 d6 6.Nge2 Nge7 7.d4 A kind of reversed Sicilian, in which White builds up a slight advantage. 7...e×d4 8.e×d4 0-0 9.0-0 Nf5 10.d5 Ne5 11.b3 a5 12.Bb2 Nd7 13.a3 Nc5? Wasting a tempo. Now White’s position is clearly better. 14.b4 Nd7 15.Qb3 Nd4 16.N×d4 B×d4 17.Rad1 Bg7 18.Rfe1 a×b4 19.a×b4 Nf6 20.h3 h5 (D) In order to be able to play Bc8-f5, but the black position cannot really afford such time-wasting. 21.c5! With this and his next move White launches a powerful attack. 21...Bf5 22.Nb5! Bd7 23.c6 b×c6 24.d×c6 Bc8? Better is 24...Be6. 25.N×d6! Be6 Of course, 25...c×d6 runs into 26.c7, 26.R×e6!
  47. 47. (D) Decisive. The point of this sacrifice is that White will capture on c7 and in doing so create two connected passed pawns. 26...f×e6 27.Nf5 Qe8 28.N×g7 K×g7 29.Rd7+ Rf7 30.Be5 Kg8 31.R×c7 R×c7 32.B×c7 Ra1+ 33.Kh2 Ra7 34.Be5 Rf7 35.c7 Nd7 36.Qc2! Rf8 37.c8Q 1-0 A convincing finale. If 37...Q×c8, 38.Q×g6#. (23) Reshevsky – Botvinnik AVRO 1938 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E46] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Nge2 d5 6.a3 Be7 7.c×d5 N×d5 8.N×d5 e×d5 9.g3 Nd7 10.Bg2 Nf6 The opening has failed to yield White anything. The position is dead even. 11.0-0 Bd6 12.Nc3 c6 13.b4 a6 14.Re1 Re8 15.Bb2 Bf8 16.Qd3 Be6 17.f3 Nd7 18.Na4 b6 Preparing the “exchange” of the square c5 for c4, that soon follows. 19.Rac1 b5 20.Nc5 Nb6 21.Bc3 Ra7 22.e4 Not a very felicitous moment for this advance, as Black’s powerful counterplay shows. 22...Nc4 23.Ra1 B×c5 24.d×c5 Rd7 (D) Black is already better. 25.Qd4 f6 26.f4 d×e4 27.Q×e4 Rd3! 28.Rac1 R×c3! Botvinnik finds the
  48. 48. winning combination. 29.R×c3 Bf7 30.Rd3 Qb8? (D) After 30...Qc8, White could have resigned (31.Red1 R×e4 32.B×e4 Qe6 etc.). 31.Red1! R×e4 32.B×e4 Qf8 Black will be unable to retain his material advantage. 33.Rd8 Be8 34.Re1 Kf7 35.B×h7 Ne5 Otherwise White would continue 36.Rd×e8 Q×e8 37.Bg6+, etc. In addition, White would meet 35...Qh8 very strongly with 36.Bf5!. 36.f×e5 Qh8 37.Bc2? 37.e×f6 would have led to a quick win: 37...Q×h7 38.f×g7, etc. 37...Ke7 38.Rc8? (D) After 38.Ra8 White’s position would still be winning. 38...f5! 39.B×f5 Qh5 40.g4 Qg5 Now the activity of the black queen guarantees the draw. 41.Rc7+ Kd8 42.Rc8+ Ke7 43.e6 g6 44.Rc7+ Kd8 45.Rd7+ Kc8! 46.e7 g×f5 47.Rd8+ Kc7 48.R×e8 Q×g4+ 49.Kh1 Qf3+ 50.Kg1 Qg4+ ½-½ (24) Botvinnik – Reshevsky USSR-USA Match Moscow 1946 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E49] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 c5 6.a3 B×c3+ 7.b×c3 d5 8.Ne2 Far better is 8.c×d5. 8...d×c4! 9.B×c4 Nc6 10.a4 Stronger is 10.0-0. 10...Qc7 11.Ba3 b6 12.Qc2 White is procrastinating
  49. 49. too long and will soon be in trouble on the queenside. 12...Rd8 13.Rc1 Na5 14.Ba2 c×d4 15.c×d4 Q×c2 16.R×c2 Bd7 The weakness of the a-pawn and the c4-square already guarantee Black a considerable advantage. 17.Nc3 Rdc8 18.Kd2 Nc4+ 19.B×c4 R×c4 20.Rhc1 Rac8 21.Kd3? 21.a5 b5 22.Nd1 was called for. 21...e5! (D) This yields Black at least a pawn, since 22.d×e5 fails to 22...Bf5+. 22.f3 Bf5+ 23.e4 R×d4+ 24.Ke3 Be6? 24...Bd7 would have won easily, as it prevents White’s next move. 25.Nb5! Now White gets beautiful counterplay. 25...R×c2 26.R×c2 R×a4 27.Bd6 Ra5 28.Nc7 h6 29.N×e6 f×e6 30.Rc8+ Kh7 31.g4! Rb5 32.h4 a5 33.Ra8 Rb3+ 34.Ke2 Rb2+ 35.Ke3 Ra2 36.B×e5 With 36.Ra7! White can even play for a win. 36...Nd7 37.B×g7! (D) Forcing a draw. 37...K×g7 38.Ra7 Ra3+ 39.Ke2 Ra2+ 40.Ke3 Ra3+ 41.Ke2 a4 42.R×d7+ Kf8 43.Rd3 Ra1 44.Rd1 ½-½ (25) Reshevsky – Botvinnik USSR-USA Match Moscow 1946 French Defense [C18]
  50. 50. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 This is not as good as the normal 5.B×c3+, since White now has the very strong continuation 6.b4!. 6.Qg4? Ne7 7.d×c5 B×c3+ 8.b×c3 Nd7 9.Q×g7 Rg8 10.Q×h7 N×e5 11.Be2 Qa5 12.Bd2 Q×c5 13.Nf3 N×f3+ 14.B×f3 e5 Black is already clearly better: he controls the center and the white queen has gone astray. 15.Bh5 Bf5! (D) Beautiful and fearless. 16.B×f7+ Kd7 17.Qh6 R×g2 With 17...Rh8 Black could have won a piece, but after 17...Rh8 18.Qf6! Qc6! 19.Q×e5 Raf8 20.B×d5 Q×d5 21.Q×d5+ N×d5, the endgame would still have been difficult. 18.Rf1 Qb6? 18...Qc4 would have been far stronger. 19.Q×b6 a×b6 20.0-0- 0 Now the chances are equal again. 20...R×a3 21.Kb2 Ra4 22.Be3 Be6 23.B×e6+ K×e6 24.B×b6 R×h2 25.Rg1 Rh6 26.Rg7 Rg6 27.Rh7 Nf5 28.R×b7 Nd6 29.Kb3 Ra8 30.Rc7 Rb8 31.Rc6 Kd7 32.Rc7+ Ke6 33.Rc6 Rb7 Black makes a last-ditch attempt that actually meets with success, although he is skirting the abyss. 34.c4 d×c4+ 35.Kb4 Ke7 36.Ka5? Better is 36.Rd5. Both players were in terrible time-trouble here. 36...Kd7 37.R×c4 Re6? Correct is 37...Rg8!. 38.Ka6 Rb8 39.Rc7+ Ke8 40.Ka7 With 40.Rh1 White retains a considerable advantage. 40...Rd8 41.Rh1? (D) The decisive error: 41.Rb1 is called for. Reshevsky, who had not written down his moves, thought he was still in time-trouble. 41...Nb5+ 42.Kb7 N×c7 43.B×c7 Rd4! Now Black liquidates impeccably.
  51. 51. 44.c3 Rc4 45.Ba5 Kd7 46.Rh8 Rf6 47.Rd8+ Ke7 48.Rd2 Rd6 49.Ra2 Kd7 50.Rb2 Rc5 51.Bb6 R×c3 52.Rb4 Ke6 53.Rb2 Rdd3 54.Ra2 Rd7+ 55.Ka6 Rb3 56.Be3 Rd6+ 57.Ka5 Rd8 58.Ka6 R×e3! 0-1
  52. 52. Botvinnik 2, Euwe 4 (+0 -2 =4) When contemplating this result, which must be called extraordinarily bad for Botvinnik, one must keep in mind what was already said in the comments to Botvinnik-Smyslov, but then with “reversed colors”: at the time of our first encounters, Botvinnik was still an up-and-coming player, whereas I was in the prime of my life. In addition, it seems as if Botvinnik played somewhat timidly on a couple of occasions, something that, generally speaking, is not in his nature at all. For the rest, I have the impression that Botvinnik’s all-round style suits me better than the hyper-sharp style of an attacking player like Keres. (26) Botvinnik – Euwe Leningrad 1934 Ruy Lopez [C83] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 N×e4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.d×e5 Be6 9.c3 Be7 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Qe2 Nc5 12.Nd4 N×b3 13.N2xb3 Qd7 14.N×c6 Q×c6 15.Be3 In this variation, the fight is all about the c5-square. 15...Bf5 16.Rfd1 Rfd8 17.f3 Bf8 18.Qf2 a5 (D) Black is trying to drive the knight from b3 to c5, after which he can force a game with opposite-color bishops. 19.Rd2? Better is 19.Rac1. Now Black seizes the initiative. 19...b4 20.Rc1 Qa4 21.Nd4 Bg6 22.b3 Qe8 23.c×b4 B×b4 24.Rdd1 c5 25.Nc2 B×c2 A good alternative is 25...Qx5 or 25...c4. 26.R×c2 d4 27.Bg5 Rd5? Now White gets back into the game again; the correct move for Black is 27...Rd7. 28.f4 a4 29.Qf3 Gaining an important tempo. 29...a×b3 30.a×b3 Rd7 31.f5 Rda7 32.Qg3 Ra1 33.Rcc1 R×c1 34.R×c1 Kh8 35.Rf1 Ra6 36.h3 Qa8 37.Kh2 Qe8 38.Rf3 (D)
  53. 53. Stronger is 38.e6! (38...f×e6? 39.f6). 38...Ba5 Now Black deploys the bishop for defense, which saves the game for him. 39.Bf4 Bc7 40.Rf1 Ra8 41.Re1 Qc6 42.e6 B×f4 43.Q×f4 f×e6 44.f×e6 Re8 45.e7 h6 46.Qf5 Qd6+ 47.Kh1 Kg8 48.Re6 Qd7 49.Qe5 ½-½ (27) Botvinnik – Euwe Hastings 1934/35 Caro-Kann Defense [D27] 1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.e×d5 c×d5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Nf3 d×c4 8.B×c4 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 A position from the Queen’s Gambit Accepted has arisen, which offers Black excellent prospects because of his control of the d5-square in front of White’s isolated d-pawn. 10.Rc1 a6 11.Bd3 h6 12.Be3 Nb4 13.Bb1 b5 14.Ne5 Bb7 15.Qd2 Re8 Intending to be able to defend with ...Be7-f8 after 16.B×h6 g×h6 17.Q×h6. 16.f4? Too impetuous; better is 16.f3. 16...Nbd5 17.N×d5 Better is 17.Bf2. 17...Q×d5 18.f5 Bd6 19.f×e6 R×e6 (D) Black is considerably better. 20.Bf5 20.Nf3 would be met very strongly by 20...Ne4. The text move costs White a pawn. 20...Re7 21.Bh3 B×e5 22.d×e5 Q×e5 23.Bf4 Qd5 24.Q×d5 N×d5 White’s bishop pair makes the win more difficult for Black. 25.Bd2 Rae8 26.b3 Re2 27.Rf2 Nf6 28.Ba5
  54. 54. R×f2 29.K×f2 Ne4+ 30.Kf1 Ng5 31.Bd7 Better is 31.Bg4. 31...Re7 32.Bf5 Re5 33.Bb1 Be4 34.B×e4 N×e4 35.Rc6 This leads to a quick defeat. 35...Rf5+ 36.Ke1 (D) 36.Kg1 is met by 36...Rf2 37.a4 Rb2!; the rest is no longer difficult for Black. 36...Rf2 37.a4 R×g2 38.R×a6 b×a4 39.b×a4 R×h2 40.Ra8+ Kh7 41.Bb6 Ra2 42.a5 h5 43.a6 h4 44.a7 h3 45.Bg1 Nf6! 46.Kd1 Ng4 47.Re8 h2 48.B×h2 R×a7 49.Bb8 Ra8 50.Rd8 Ne5 51.Bc7 R×d8+ 52.B×d8 Kg6 53.Ke2 Kf5 54.Ke3 Kg4 55.Bc7 Nf3 56.Kf2 f5 0-1 (28) Euwe – Botvinnik Nottingham 1936 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E34] 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.c×d5 Q×d5 6.e3 c5 7.a3 B×c3+ 8.b×c3 Nbd7 9.Nf3 b6 10.c4 Qd6 11.Bb2 Bb7 12.Be2 Rc8 13.0-0 Be4 13...Ng4 meets with 14.d5!. 14.Qc3 0-0 Correct is 14...c×d4. 15.Rad1 Rfd8 16.d5! (D) This advance yields White an advantage (16... e×d5 17.c×d5 B×d5? 18.e4!). 16...Qf8 17.d×e6 f×e6 18.Ne5 Qe7 19.N×d7 N×d7 20.Rd2 Bc6! 21.Bg4 Nf6 White was threatening 22.Be6+. 22.R×d8+ R×d8 23.Rd1 R×d1+ 24.B×d1 Qd6 25.Be2 Kf7 26.f3? With 26.g4! White increases his advantage
  55. 55. considerably. 26...Ba4 27.Bd3 h6 28.g3 Bc6 29.Kf2 e5! 30.Be2 Nd7 31.Qd3 Q×d3 32.B×d3 e4 Forcing the draw. 33.B×e4 B×e4 34.f×e4 Nb8 35.Kf3 Nc6 36.Bc3 g6 37.Kf4 a6 38.a4 Ke6 39.h4 Nb4 40.Kf3 Nd3 41.Bg7 Ne5+! Breathing new life into the endgame. 42.Ke2 N×c4 43.B×h6 Nb2 44.Bg7 N×a4 45.g4 b5 46.h5 g×h5 47.g×h5 Kf7 48.Ba1 Nb6 (D) 48...b4 would have run into 49.e5, threatening 50.e6+. 49.Kf3 b4? Correct is 49...a5. Now Black finds himself in danger of losing. 50.e5 Nd7 51.Ke4 Ke6 52.h6 Nf8 53.Kd3 Kd5 54.e4+ Kc6 55.Kc4 a5 56.e6 With 56.Kb3 White would have retained excellent winning chances. 56...Kd6 ½-½ Drawn in view of 57.Bg7 Nh7 58.e7 K×e7 59.K×c5 Kf7 60.Kb5 Kg6 61.K×a5 b3 62.Ka4 b2, etc. (29) Botvinnik – Euwe AVRO 1938 Réti Opening [A13] 1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.b3 Nf6 4.Bb2 Be7 5.e3 c5 6.c×d5 e×d5 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.d4 b6 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.Rc1 Ne4 12.d×c5 N×c3 13.B×c3 b×c5 Black has the hanging center that as a rule not only entails risks but may also offer him attacking chances. 14.Qd2 Qd6 15.Rfd1 Rad8 16.Bf1 Qh6 17.g3 Bc8 18.Ne5 N×e5 19.B×e5 Bg4 20.Be2 Qh5 Forcing opposite-color bishops and therefore a draw. 21.B×g4 Q×e5 (D)
  56. 56. Botvinnik arrives in Holland and is met by Euwe. There’s little left to play for now. 22.Qe2 Qd6 23.Bf5 Qb6 24.Qf3 g6 25.Bb1 d4 26.e4 a5 27.Rc4 Qd6 28.Bd3 Rb8 29.Rc2 Rb4 30.Bc4 a4 31.Re2 Qf6 32.Q×f6 B×f6 33.Rd3 Kg7 34.Kg2 Be7 35.e5 Rfb8 36.Rf3 Rf8 37.Rd3 Rfb8 38.Rf3 Rf8 39.h3 Rb7 40.Rd3 a×b3 41.a×b3 Ra7 ½-½ (30) Euwe – Botvinnik AVRO 1938 Grünfeld Defense [D96] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 c6 6.Bf4 d×c4 7.Q×c4 Be6 8.Qd3 Nd5 9.Bd2 Better is 9.N×d5. 9...Nb4 10.Qb1 c5 11.d×c5 N8a6 12.e4 N×c5 13.Bb5+ Bd7 14.0-0 0-0 15.Be3 B×b5 16.N×b5 Qd3? (D)
  57. 57. A serious mistake in a position that favors Black rather than White. 17.Nc7 Winning the exchange. The rest is easy. 17...N×e4 18.N×a8 R×a8 19.Rd1 Q×b1 20.Ra×b1 e6 21.Rd7 b6 22.Rc1 Bf8 23.Ne5 Nd5 24.N×f7 Be7 25.Ne5 Bf6 26.Nd3 N×e3 27.f×e3 Bg5 28.Rcc7 B×e3+ 29.Kf1 Nf6 30.R×a7 Rc8 31.Rg7+ Kh8 32.Rgc7 Rd8 33.Ne5 Re8 34.Re7 1-0 (31) Botvinnik – Euwe Groningen 1946 Queen’s Gambit Accepted [D27] 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 d×c4 4.e3 e6 5.B×c4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.a4 Nc6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 Qc7 10.Nc3 0-0 11.b3 See also Game 17. 11...Bd7 Better is 11...Na5. 12.Bb2 Rac8 13.d5 This advance leads to a clear advantage for White. 13...e×d5 14.N×d5 N×d5 15.B×d5 Bg4 16.Qc4 Bh5 17.B×c6 Q×c6 18.Ne5 Qe8 19.Rd5 Rd8 20.Nd7? (D) A serious mistake that hands over the initiative to Black. With 20.g4 Bg6 21.f4!, White could have created excellent winning chances. 20...R×d7 21.R×h5 Qd8 22.Rf1 g6 Repulsing the white attack. Now Black gets chances along the d-file. 23.Rh3 Rd1 24.g4 R×f1+ 25.K×f1 b5 26.a×b5 a×b5 27.Qf4 f6 28.e4 Qd1+ 29.Kg2 Bd6 29...Qc2 would have been slightly stronger. 30.Qf3 Q×f3+
  58. 58. 31.R×f3 Be5 32.B×e5 f×e5 (D) A rook ending that favors Black, but not enough to win. 33.Rc3 Rc8 34.Kf3 Kf7 35.Ke3 Ke6 36.f4 e×f4+ 37.K×f4 c4 38.b×c4 b×c4 39.h4! h6 39...Rc5 would have been met by 40.e5 Rc8 (40...Kd5 41.Re3) 41.h5 Kd5 42.h×g6 h×g6 43.Kg5 Rc6 44.Re3 Re6 45.Kf4, and White will just manage to force a draw, as deep analysis shows. 40.g5 h5 41.Ke3 Ke5 42.Rc2! c3 43.Kd3 Rd8+ After 43...Rc6 44.R×c3 R×c3+ 45.K×c3 K×e4 the endgame is drawn, since the white king reaches f6 just in time. 44.Ke3 Rd4 45.R×c3 R×e4+ 46.Kf3 R×h4 47.Rc6 Rf4+ 48.Ke3 Re4+ 49.Kf3 Kf5 50.Rf6+ K×g5 51.R×g6+ ½-½
  59. 59. Smyslov 3, Keres 6 (+1 -4 =4) Keres and Smyslov are to some extent exact opposites. Whereas Keres often tries to reach his goal by brute force, Smyslov definitely prefers quieter means, and some of their encounters are duly characterized by this antithesis. But certainly not all of them, because we also see Keres secure victory in a couple of difficult positional games, which seems to suggest a certain superiority on Keres’ part. Meanwhile, we should not lose sight of the difference in age, because Smyslov’s resistance is gradually growing stronger, and the two last games they played are battles between opponents of totally equal merit. (32) Keres – Smyslov Leningrad 1939 Queen’s Gambit Declined [D55] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Nf3 b6 7.c×d5 e×d5 7...N×d5 would have been more in the spirit of this variation. 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.Qc2 Nbd7 10.0-0 h6 11.Bf4 a6 12.Rfd1 Ne8 13.Rac1 Bd6 14.Ne2 Qe7 15.B×d6 Q×d6 16.Ng3 With his quiet set-up White has built up a slight advantage on both the queenside and the kingside. 16...g6 17.h4 h5 18.Ng5 c5 19.Bf5! (D) A surprising turn that launches a blistering attack. Black must not take on f5 in view of 20.N×f5 followed by 21...Ne7+. With the text move, White is threatening, among other things, 20.B×d7 Q×d7 21.N×h5. 19...c×d4 20.Be6! A second surprise. 20...d3 21.Q×d3 Ne5 White’s assault seems to have been repulsed. 22.Qb1 f×e6 23.f4 Recapturing the piece, since knight on e5 cannot move in view of 24.Q×g6+. 23...Kg7 24.f×e5 Q×e5 25.Rf1 The real point of White’s play. He is keeping the possibility of N×h5+ in store for the moment. 25...R×f1+ 26.R×f1 Nd6 27.N×h5+! (D) Now this is decisive. 27...Kh6 28.Nf6 Q×e3+ 29.Kh1 Qd4 30.N×e6 Q×h4+ 31.Kg1 d4 32.Qc1+ g5 33.Qc7 1-0
  60. 60. (33) Smyslov – Keres USSR Championship Moscow 1940 Ruy Lopez [C68] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.B×c6 d×c6 5.d4 e×d4 6.Q×d4 Q×d4 7.N×d4 Bd7 8.Be3 0-0-0 The characteristic set-up in the Exchange Variation: a sound pawn structure against the bishop pair. In this game, both players try to make their advantage tell, but without success. As a result, the game does not offer any new insights. 9.Nc3 Re8 10.0-0-0 Bb4 11.Nde2 f5 12.e×f5 B×f5 13.a3 Bd6 14.Bf4 Bc5 15.Ng3 Bg6 16.f3 Nf6 17.Rhe1 Bf2 18.Rf1 Bc5 19.Rfe1 R×e1 20.R×e1 Rf8 21.Be5 Re8 22.Re2 Bg1 23.Nf1 Bc5 24.Bg3 R×e2 25.N×e2 Bd6 26.Kd2 Kd7 (D) 27.Nf4 Be8 28.Nd3 c5 29.c4 b6 30.b3 Nh5 31.Be5 Ke6 32.Bc3 Nf4 33.N×f4+ B×f4+ 34.Kd1 g5 35.g3 Bd6 36.Nd2 Be5 37.Ne4 B×c3 38.N×c3 Ke5 39.Kd2 Bh5 40.Ke3 ½-½ (34) Smyslov – Keres USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Ruy Lopez [C87]
  61. 61. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 d6 6.Re1 Bd7 7.c3 Be7 8.d4 0-0 9.Nbd2 e×d4 10.c×d4 Nb4 11.B×d7 Q×d7 12.Qb3 A good alternative is 12.d5. 12...a5 13.a3 Na6 14.Nf1 d5 15.e5 Ne4 16.N1d2 a4 17.Qd3 N×d2 18.B×d2 c6 Stronger is 18...c5. 19.Ng5 B×g5 20.B×g5 Nc7 21.Re3 Ne6 (D) Black has the knight against the bad bishop, but to offset this, White has considerable attacking chances on the kingside. 22.Qf5? Far stronger is 22.Bf6!, after which 22...g×f6 23.Qf5! leads to a winning position for White. For this reason, Black is forced to continue with 22...Nf4 and 23...Ng6. 22...Nc5 23.g4? With this move White lands himself in a very unfavorable endgame. 23.Qf4 would have been preferable. 23...Q×f5 24.g×f5 f6! A subtle intermediate move, with which Black beautifully exploits the doubled pawns. Now 25.B×f6 will run into 25...Ne4!. 25.e×f6 Ne4 26.f×g7 R×f5 27.Be7 K×g7 28.f3 Nd2 29.Kf2 Better is 29.Kg2, as we will soon see. Now Black has a large advantage. 29...Re8 30.Rae1 Ne4+ 31.Kg2 R×e7 32.f×e4 R×e4 33.R×e4 d×e4 34.R×e4 Rb5 (D) The rook ending is winning for Black. The d-pawn cannot be defended in the long run. 35.Re2 Rb3 36.Kf2 Kf6 37.Ke1 h6 38.Rg2 Ke6 39.Kd1 Kd5 40.Kc2 Rh3 Not 40...K×d4 at once in view of 41.Rg4+ and 42.Rh4. 41.Rd2 Kc4 42.Kb1 h5 43.Ka2 Rh4 44.Rf2 K×d4 The rest is simply a matter
  62. 62. of technique. 45.Rf7 b5 46.Rf2 Rh3 47.Rd2+ Rd3 48.Rf2 Kc4 49.Rc2+ Kd5 50.Rg2 Rh3 51.Rd2+ Kc5 52.Rc2+ Kb6 53.Rf2 c5 54.Rf6+ Ka5 55.Rf2 c4 56.Rg2 c3 57.b4+ a×b3+ 58.K×b3 c2+ 59.K×c2 R×a3 60.Kb2 Rf3 61.Re2 h4 62.Rd2 h3 63.Re2 Ka4 64.Kb1 Rf1+ 65.Kc2 b4 66.Kd3 Rd1+ 67.Kc2 Rg1 0-1 (35) Keres – Smyslov USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E32] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d6 5.e3 0-0 6.Nge2 e5 7.Bd2 Re8 8.a3 B×c3 9.B×c3 e×d4 Better is 9...e4. After the text move White gets good and free play. 10.N×d4 Ne4 11.Bd3 N×c3 12.Q×c3 Not 12.B×h7+ Kh8 13.Bd3 in view of 13...Qh4+. 12...Nd7 13.0-0 Ne5 14.Bc2 Bd7 15.Rad1 Qe7 16.Rfe1 a6 17.f3 Nc6 18.Be4 Very subtle! White puts pressure on the black position with all kinds of delicate maneuvers: 18...N×d4? now fails to 19.e×d4, with two threats. 18...Rab8 19.Ne2 f5 20.Bd5+ Kh8 21.Ng3 Ne5 22.f4 Ng4 23.h3 Nf6 24.Bf3 Ne4? (D) A strategic error that not only allows White to shield his weakness on e3, but also gives him the advantage of knight against bad bishop. 25.B×e4 f×e4 26.Rd4 Qh4 27.Rd5 h6 Not 27...Q×g3 in view of 28.Rg5. 28.Kh2 Kg8 29.c5 Be6 30.Rdd1 d5 31.Rf1 Qf6 32.Q×f6 g×f6 The endgame is winning for White, but the winning process is still far from easy. However, Keres once again carries out this difficult job to perfection. 33.f5 Bf7 34.Rc1 c6 35.Ne2 h5 36.Nd4 Kf8 37.b4 Ke7 38.a4 Rg8 39.Rb1 Be8 40.g3 Bd7 41.Rg1 Ra8 42.Rg2 a5 (D)
  63. 63. Smyslov, who is convinced that he will lose the game in the end, does not want to remain passive. This tactical decision is understandable, but as so often it only hastens the end. 43.b5 c×b5 44.a×b5 a4 45.c6 b×c6 46.b×c6 Bc8 47.Ra2 Kd6 48.Rb4 Ke5 49.Rb×a4 R×a4 50.R×a4 B×f5 51.Ra7 Bc8 52.Rh7 Kd6 53.R×h5 Kc5 54.g4 f5 55.N×f5 B×f5 56.R×f5 K×c6 57.Kg3 Kc5 58.h4 Kc4 59.h5 Re8 60.h6 d4 61.e×d4 e3 62.Rf1 e2 63.Re1 Kd3 64.g5 Re3+ 65.Kg4 1-0 A fine victory for the white player, or for the white knight, really, which, like a general, led maneuvers from a fixed position for 30 moves. (36) Smyslov – Keres USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Ruy Lopez [C99] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 c×d4 13.c×d4 Nc6 14.Nb3 Rd8 Not a very good idea. 15.Bd2 Qb8 White was threatening 16.d5, followed by 17.Ba5. Black’s best bet is 15...e×d4. Now his position gets very cramped. 16.d5 Na7 17.Na5 Bd7 18.Bd3 Rc8 19.b4 Bd8 20.Nb3 Bb6 21.Nh4 g6 (D)
  64. 64. White is better, although he is not yet winning. 22.Qf3 Bd8 23.Bg5 Ne8 24.B×d8 R×d8 25.Qe3 Nc8 26.Nf5 Qb6 27.Qg5 f6 28.Qg3 Kh8 29.Nh6 Kg7 30.Qh4 Ne7 31.Re3 Ng8 32.N×g8 K×g8 33.Rg3 Kg7? And Black finally collapses under the relentless pressure. Correct is 33...Ng7 (if 34.Q×f6 Rf8). 34.Kh2 Rdc8 Not 34...Q×f2, of course, in view of 35.R×g6+. 35.f4 e×f4 36.Q×f4 Qd8 37.Nd4 Qe7 38.Nf5+ B×f5 39.e×f5 Qe5 40.Qf1 h5 (D) Another nice stratagem from Black. 41.Re1 41.h4, followed by 42.Re1, wins easily. 41...h4! 42.R×e5 h×g3+ 43.K×g3 d×e5 44.Qe2 White will still has to work hard with his queen against two rooks, but his attack, which soon gathers momentum again, eventually decides the issue. 44...g5 45.Kh2 Rc3 46.h4 g×h4 47.Qg4+ Kf8 48.Be4 Rd8 49.Q×h4 Kg8 50.Qg4+ Kf8 51.Qh5 Ke7 52.Qh7+ Kf8 53.Bf3 R×f3 Forced, in view of the threat of 54.Bh5, among other reasons. 54.g×f3 R×d5 55.Kg3 Ng7 (D) Now there follows an instructive battle between the queen and the rook and knight. 56.Qh8+ Kf7 57.Qc8 Rd2 58.f4 e×f4+ 59.Kg4 Rd4 60.Qb7+ Kg8 61.Q×a6 R×b4 62.Q×f6 f3+ 63.K×f3 Rb1 64.Qd8+ Kf7 65.Qd5+ Kf8 66.Qd6+ Kg8 67.f6 Nf5 68.Qd3 Re1 69.Q×f5 Rf1+ 70.Kg4 R×f5 71.K×f5 Kf7 72.a3 1-0
  65. 65. (37) Keres – Smyslov USSR Absolute Championship Moscow 1941 Grünfeld Defense [D96] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 c6 6.c×d5 N×d5 7.e4 Nc7 Better is 7...Nb6, to be followed by Bc8-e6. Black soon finds himself in a very cramped position. 8.Be3 0-0 9.Be2 Nd7 10.Rd1 b6 11.0-0 Bb7 12.a4 Qc8 13.h3 Ba6 14.Rc1 Qb7 15.Rfd1 Rac8 16.Nd2 B×e2 17.N×e2 Ne6 18.Nc4 Qa6 19.f4 Nf6 20.Ng3 c5 (D) To transfer the knight to d4, which will lead to the loss of a pawn in the long run, but affords Black at least some relief. 21.d5 Nd4 22.B×d4 c×d4 23.Ne5 R×c1 24.R×c1 Bh6 25.Nd3 Nd7 26.Rc6 Qa5 27.Qc2 b5 28.a×b5 Q×b5 29.Ne2 Bg7 30.Rc7 a5 31.Qc4 Q×c4 32.R×c4 Rb8 33.e5 f6 34.e6 Nb6 35.R×d4 (D) This pawn is finally ripe, but things are not yet easy for White. 35...f5 36.Ne5 Nc8 37.Rd2 Correct is 37.Rc4 Nd6 38.Rc6 R×b2 39.Nc3 Rc2 40.R×d6!. 37...Rb5 38.Nc3 Rc5 39.Na4 Rc1+ 40.Kh2 Bf6 41.g4 With this move, White throws away his advantage by exposing his king. 41...f×g4 42.h×g4 g5
  66. 66. 43.Nd7 Kg7 44.Nac5 g×f4 45.Ne4 Bh4 46.Kh3 Be1 47.Rd3 Rc4 48.Ng5 Bb4 49.b3 Rc1 50.Kg2 Nd6 51.Nh3 Ne4 52.N×f4 Rc2+ 53.Kg1 Bd6 Black is already assured of perpetual check. 54.Re3 Nc3 55.Nh5+ Kg6? The decisive mistake. Correct is 55...Kh6. 56.Ne5+ Kg5 57.Nf7+ K×g4 58.N×d6 N×d5 59.Re5 Nf4 60.N×f4 K×f4 61.Nf7 (D) The start of a new phase. 61...Rb2 62.Rb5 Re2 63.Nd8 Rb2 64.Nb7 Re2 65.Nc5 With 65.N×a5 White wins. Now Black will see to it that the queenside pawns are exchanged, after which a draw is inevitable. 65...Ra2 66.Na6 a4 67.Rb4+ Kg3 68.R×a4 Rb2 69.Kf1 R×b3 70.Nc5 Re3 71.Ra7 Re5 72.Ra3+ Kg4 73.Rc3 h5 74.Kf2 h4 75.Rc4+ Kg5 76.Kf3 Rf5+ 77.Kg2 Re5 78.Kf2 Rf5+ 79.Kg1 Re5 80.Kg2 Re3 81.Rc1 Kg4 82.Rc4+ Kg5 83.Kf2 Re5 84.Kf3 Rf5+ 85.Ke3 Kf6 86.Rc2 h3 87.Kd4 Rh5 88.Rf2+ Rf5 89.Rh2 Rh5 90.Ne4+ K×e6 91.R×h3 ½-½ (38) Keres – Smyslov USSR Championship Leningrad 1947 English Opening [A34] 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.Nf3 e6 4.g3 d5 5.c×d5 N×d5 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0-0 Nc7 In combination with Black’s ninth move, this is a serious mistake that soon makes Black’s position untenable. 8.b3 Be7 9.Bb2 e5 10.Rc1 f6 11.Na4 b6 Although the black bastion looks solid enough, it will be overrun in another few moves. 12.Nh4 Bd7 13.e3! (D)
  67. 67. Threatening 14.Qh5+, so that Black does not have time to prevent White from playing the break d2- d4. 13...0-0 14.d4! Winning at least a pawn. 14...e×d4 15.e×d4 Rc8 16.d×c5 b5 17.Nc3 f5 18.Rc2! B×h4 Another few finesses for a quick finish to the game. 19.Rd2 Rf7 20.g×h4 Ne6 21.N×b5 N×c5 22.Nd6 Re7 23.N×c8 Q×c8 24.Ba3 Ne4 25.B×e4 f×e4 26.B×e7 N×e7 27.R×d7 1-0 Short but to the point. (39) Keres – Smyslov Parnu 1947 Nimzo-Indian Defense [E13] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Ne4 9.Qc2 d6 10.Nd2 Stronger is 10.Qa4+ or 10.Bd3. 10...B×c3 11.b×c3 N×g3 12.h×g3 Nd7 13.f3 Qe7 14.Bd3 0-0-0 15.a4 a5 16.Rb1 (D) White has opted for a somewhat lukewarm approach and now finds himself in a very bad position. 16...g4 17.f4 h5 With 17...e5, Black increases his advantage considerably. 18.Be4 d5 19.Bd3 h4 20.c5 h×g3 21.Rg1 f6 22.Nb3 e5 23.Qe2 e×f4 24.e×f4 Qg7 25.Kd2 Rde8 26.Qf1 Qe7 27.Qe2 Q×e2+ 28.B×e2 Re4 29.Rbf1? White has more or less held his own and restricted his disadvantage
  68. 68. to a one-pawn deficit with doubled pawns, but the text move, which is not very strong, lands him into trouble all over again. Correct is 29.c×b6, followed by 30.B×g4. 29...R×e2+! (D) 30.K×e2 Ba6+ 31.Kd2 B×f1 32.R×f1 Rh2 33.Rg1 f5 34.c×b6 c×b6 35.Kd3 Nf6 36.Nd2 Kd7 37.Nf1 Nh5! Very strong. It goes without saying that White must not capture on h2. 38.Ke3 Kc6 39.Nd2 Nf6 40.Nf1 Ne4? After 40...Nh5, followed by 41...b5, Black wins. 41.Kd3 Nf2+ 42.Ke3 Ne4 43.Kd3 Rh8 44.Ne3 Nd6 45.Re1 Re8 46.Rh1 Re4 47.Rh6 R×f4 48.c4! The counterblow, just in time. 48...d×c4+ 49.N×c4 Rf3+ (D) A highly interesting turn. 50.Ne3! After 50.g×f3 g2 Black wins, whereas 50.Ke2 Rf2+ 51.Kd3 R×g2 transposes back to the game. 50...Rf2 51.Nc4 R×g2 52.R×d6+ Kc7 53.d5 Rg1 White will have to play very carefully to secure the draw. 54.Rc6+ Kd8 55.Rd6+ Kc7 56.Rc6+ Kd8 57.Rd6+ ½-½ Neither player can afford to sidestep the repetition without running the risk of losing. (40) Keres – Smyslov Moscow 1947 Slav Defense [D13] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.c×d5 c×d5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bf4 e6 7.e3 Be7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.Rc1 b6 10.0-0
  69. 69. Bb7 11.Ne5 Nb4 Black has gone for a rather unfortunate set-up (...Bc8-d7 is better than ...b7-b6 and ...Bc8-b7), with the result that White will soon get a strong attack. Instead of the text move, Black should play 11...N×e5 followed by 12...Nd7. 12.Bb1 Nd7 13.Qh5 g6 14.Qh6 N×e5 15.B×e5 Bf6 16.f4 B×e5 17.f×e5 f5 18.Nb5! (D) This is far stronger than 18.e×f6 R×f6, after which Black gets back into the game. With the text move, White is threatening to settle the issue immediately with 19.Rc7. 18...Rc8 19.Nd6 R×c1 20.R×c1 Qe7 21.h4 Ba6 22.h5? Giving away the win that White could force with 22.a3!, for example, 22...Nd3 23.B×d3 B×d3 24.h5 g5 25.Nc8!, or 24...Qh4 25.Nf7! Q×h5 26.Q×h5 g×h5 27.Ng5. 22...Qh4 23.a3 Nc6 The difference is plain to see. 24.R×c6 Forced, in view of the threat of 24...N×d4. 24...Qe1+ 25.Kh2 Qh4+ ½-½