Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Year of Botvinnik

FIDE have announced that 2011 will be the Year of Mikhail Botvinnik, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. I'm not sure in what form this commemoration will take, as the announcement was pretty brief, but I assume there will be a few special events organised, although whether they will be organised directly by FIDE is not clear.
In talk of the greatest players of all time Botvinnik tends to fall behind the Big 4 (Alekhine, Capablanca, Fischer, Kasparov), but he is often considered number 5 (in competition with Karpov and possibly Lasker). Of course his other great legacy was in the development of a new generation of champions, with his coaching school justifiably famous.
He also provided a link between the pre and post World War II generations, having played all the world champions from Lasker through to Fischer in tournament or match play. He chose to retire in 1970, while still a formidable player, missing the chance to challenge the 'Fischer' generation.
Against Fischer he only played the one game, at the 1962 Olympiad, and the game famously ended in a draw, after Fischer went to the adjournment with a clear plus. Fischer had won a pawn in the opening after Botvinnik missed a simple tactic, but in the eventual rook and pawn ending Botvinnik found a drawing idea, which halved the point.

Botvinnik,Mikhail Moisevich - Fischer,Robert James [D98]
Varna ol (Men) Varna (10), 1962

1.c4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.Be2 Nc6 10.Rd1 Nb6 11.Qc5 Qd6 12.h3 Bxf3 13.gxf3 Rfd8 14.d5 Ne5 15.Nb5 Qf6 16.f4 Ned7 (D)
17.e5 Qxf4 18.Bxf4 Nxc5 19.Nxc7 Rac8 20.d6 exd6 21.exd6 Bxb2 22.0-0 Nbd7 23.Rd5 b6 24.Bf3 Ne6 25.Nxe6 fxe6 26.Rd3 Nc5 27.Re3 e5 28.Bxe5 Bxe5 29.Rxe5 Rxd6 30.Re7 Rd7 31.Rxd7 Nxd7 32.Bg4 Rc7 33.Re1 Kf7 34.Kg2 Nc5 35.Re3 Re7 36.Rf3+ Kg7 37.Rc3 Re4 38.Bd1 Rd4 39.Bc2 Kf6 40.Kf3 Kg5 41.Kg3 Ne4+ 42.Bxe4 Rxe4 43.Ra3 Re7 44.Rf3 Rc7 45.a4 Rc5 46.Rf7 Ra5 47.Rxh7 Rxa4 48.h4+ Kf5 49.Rf7+ Ke5 50.Rg7 Ra1 51.Kf3 b5 52.h5 Ra3+ 53.Kg2 gxh5 54.Rg5+ Kd6 55.Rxb5 h4 56.f4 Kc6 57.Rb8 h3+ 58.Kh2 a5 59.f5 Kc7 60.Rb5 Kd6 61.f6 Ke6 62.Rb6+ Kf7 63.Ra6 Kg6 64.Rc6 a4 65.Ra6 Kf7 66.Rc6 Rd3 67.Ra6 a3 68.Kg1 ½-½

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