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Welcome to MY web page on the 10th greatest game of chess ever played. Many hours of work went into bringing you this page. I hope you enjoy it. (page-banner, bot-smy1.gif; 04KB)


March 26, 2002:  Since the Nezhmetdinov game (vs. Polugaevsky) is grossly and blatantly unsound, 
(IMO); I believe I shall offer this game as one of the "Ten Most Beautiful Games of Chess Ever Played." 


 You definitely will need a chess set to play over this game. 
( There are NO diagrams. )  

  Click  HERE  to go to a page with this game on a js re-play board.  

(See the bottom of this page for escape links, or click the "Back" button on your web browser.) 

  Click  HERE  to see my explanation of the symbols that I use.  

     Click  HERE  to go to my channel on YouTube.  Click  HERE  to see my video on this game.     


 The 10th Greatest Chess Game Ever? 


  GM Mikhail Botvinnik (2700) - GM Vassily Smyslov (2675)  
 [E68] 
 (FIDE) World Championship Match, (Game # 14) 
  Moscow, U.S.S.R. (Russia)  1954.  

[A.J. Goldsby I]

This is game # 14, (played on Mar. 16th?); of the (1954) FIDE World Championship Match, played between Smyslov and Botvinnik. (These two played a monumental FOUR {4} WCS matches.) 
(Actually, I am counting their clash in 1948 as well ... some people don't see this a true match, even though they played "mini-matches" against each of the other contestants in the "Match Tournament" played at <The Hague> and also Moscow in 1948. In the end, however ... Smyslov and Botvinnik did play in {at least} four World Championship events. They also played three of  the "old-style" {FIDE} 24 game matches ... Of course, all three of these matches were for the world title as well.) 

Just simply one of the best games of chess ever played. I first saw this game as a very young person. (I also was very low-rated then. It had a profound impact on me ... I looked at this game probably every day for over 3 months.) It makes a deep impression upon me as a Master as well. 

This game is ranked by GM A. Soltis as being the # 11 game ... out of the whole of the twentieth (20th) Century!! (See his book, "The 100 Best.")  
 {Many regard this encounter ... "AS THE FINEST GAME (!!!) ... ever played in a World Championship Match." - GM Andrew Soltis. (My emphasis.)}   

A poll of Soviet Masters in a magazine during the 1950's was asked to pick the three best chess games ever played in a modern, World Championship Match. (This was one of the games that was chosen by nearly every person who responded!) 

I was unable to confirm this, but a player who was also a student of Jack Collins, told me, (that Collins told him); that this game was also a favorite of a young Bobby Fischer. 

Smyslov, in one interview, picked this as one of his all-time best games. (He told the famous Russian {chess} historian, Issak Linder, that this one game  ...  more than any other ... gave him the most aesthetic pleasure to play.) 

 *** 

(The ratings are simple estimates, and have been translated into 2001 terms. 
  --->  I first started on this game late in the year. {2001}  After working on this game   - analysis and research -  for quite some time, {at least 6-8 weeks};  I then laid it aside. I made no serious efforts on this game until almost a whole year later.) 

   *******   

Editors note:  Jeff Sonas  gives the following ratings for these two players in  March of 1954:  
Mikhail Botvinnik - 2779; (# 3 in the world.)  ||  Vassily Smyslov - 2790.  (The World's #1 player!) 

FIDE  ... had no rating system in 1954.  A friend ... who is both a trained mathematician, and an amateur chess historian ... calculated the FIDE ratings of both of these players ... and this is what he came up with. (I have no idea of the accuracy of these ratings.) 
GM Mikhail Botvinnik - 2680;  and  GM Vassily Smyslov - 2695. (Strangely, both of these ratings are pretty close ... and approximate the work of  Professor  Arpad Elo.  (See his book, "The Ratings of Chessplayers, Past & Present." Published 1978. Especially, see the graph on pages # 88-89.)  Friday; May 20th, 2005. (July, 2013: These ratings would not look impressive today, however, in 1972, these two ratings would have put them near the top of the rating list ... so try to bear that in mind.)  


1.d4 Nf62.c4 g63.g3,  
This leads to the fianchetto variation of the King's Indian Defense. 
This was a favorite of many strong GM's of the 40's and 50's. 
(Like Botvinnik, Smyslov, Geller, Reshevsky, etc.)  

A note about move order: IMPORTANT!! This move order, with the early 
concentration on the d5-square, virtually prevents the Gruenfeld Defense. 
(A favorite of many masters and GM's like Fischer & Kasparov.) 
Smyslov is was and is a great expert in this line. 
---> My books are full of references to his beautiful victories. 

(To see another game of this line that is carefully analyzed, click here.) 

 

     [ The main line (today) probably is the variation:  3.Nc3 Bg74.e4 d65.Nf3 
        5...0-06.Be2 e57.0-0 Nc68.d5 Ne79.b4!?, "~" {Unclear}  {Diag?}   
        This has occurred literally hundreds of times at the master level. 
        (Over 1000 matches on one on-line database.  Some books call this, 
          "The Spike Variation,"  or  MCO-14  calls it,  "The Bayonet Attack." 
          {cf. page # 588} )   

       The latest example of this line that I could find - at the GM level - was the 
       encounter:  GM E. Bacrot (2660) - K. Sasikiran (2650)  
       FIDE (Men's) Olympiad; [f2] Bled, Slovenia; 2002.  
       (Drawn in under 30 moves.)  

          ( A lot of Fischer's opponent's would play the move: 9.Nd2!?;  {Diagram?}  
            with the idea of simply transferring this Knight over to the Queen-side.  
            (With a pawn on d5, this is where White's play will be.)  
            See the game:  GM V. Korchnoi - GM R.J. Fischer;  (Click here.)
            World Blitz Championships. Hercig Novi, YUG; 1970. )  ]  

***

 

3...Bg7;   4.Bg2 0-0;   
The King's Indian. I both played this and studied this as a youngster. 
(Probably primarily because of one person - Bobby Fischer!) 

One of the main ideas of the King's Indian Defence - and one of the reasons 
it is so popular - is that Black gets to attack on the K-side; while White is 
pursuing his thematic Queen-side play/expansion. 
(See Korchnoi - Fischer; see the link in the note above.)  

5.Nc3 d6;   6.Nf3 Nbd7!?;   
An older move, not as popular as ...Nc6; or 6...c5.  
(But still just as playable.)

And it is occasionally played - see the contest: 
GM A. Baburin - GM V. Spassov;  
FIDE Olympiad, (5th Round). Bled, SLO; 2002. 

A funny note: One opening survey book I have shows that Black has 
something like FIFTEEN (15) different and distinct moves that the 
second player can use here!  (LOTS of choices!)  

 

     [ A popular line (was) is:  6...c5!?7.0-0 Nc68.d5 Na59.Nd2 a6; 
       10.Qc2 Rb811.b3 b5; "<=>"  {Diagram?}  and Black has good play. 

       This position has been cropping up in tournament games, (using many 
        different move orders!); since the mid-1950's. 

       There were nearly 1500 examples of this position according to a search 
        of my own database. 

       An interesting game was:  GM K. Georgiev - GM A. Shirov;  
       Villar-Robledo Open, (rapid) Villarrobledo, ESP; 1997. 

***

       Black can also play:  6...Nc67.0-0 a68.h3,  {Diagram?}  
       The main line.  

         ( The line I played as a teen-ager in tournaments was: 8.d5 Na5;     
            9.Nd2 c5; "~" with an interesting position. (The "Panno Variation.") )    

       8...Rb89.Be3, "+/="  {Diagram?}   Practice has tended to favor White ... 
       in this position. (Nearly 500 matches in ChessBase's on-line database.) 

       The first time this position occurred - between strong players - was: 
       GM V. Smyslov - GM T. Petrosian;   (FIDE) Candidates Tourn. 1956. 
       (White won a very long game.) 

       The most current GM example is:  GM J. Nogueiras - GM A. Khalifman
        (FIDE?) World Championship Tournament - Lucerne, Switzerland; 1997. 
        (A long game that was eventually drawn.)  ]  

 

7.0-0 e58.e4,   
The more Classical response, as White fills the center with his pawns.  

 

     [ Today it is often more popular to play the line beginning with: 
        8.Qc2, "+/=" {Diagram?} with a good game for White. 
        (See any good opening book.) 

***

        White also (often) plays the move: 8.h3, "~"  {Diagram?}  trying to 
        do without e4 - to keep his Bishop on the long diagonal unfettered. 

        This position has occurred many times in real, OTB chess. 
         (Over 1000 matches according to the CB on-line database.)

        The earliest example was:  V. Berger - G. Koltanowski;  
         Hastings, ENG; 1928. 

        The most recent all-GM game was the contest:  
        U. Andersson
- V. Tumakov
;  Biel SKA, Switzerland; 1996. (78)  

       That game proceeded:  8...c69.dxe5 dxe510.Be3 Qe711.Qc1 Re8;  
       12.Rd1 Nc513.b4 Nce414.Nxe4 Nxe415.Nh2 f5!?16.Bxe4!? fxe4;  
       17.Bc5 Qf718.Ng4 Be6;  19.Nh6+!? Bxh620.Qxh6 Bxc421.Rd2 b6;  
       22.Be3 Rad823.Rxd8!? Rxd824.Qh4!? Rd5!25.Qg4?! Qf5!26.Qxf5
       26...gxf5;
  27.Kf1 Kf7; "=/+"  {Diagram?}   Black is clearly better here, 
       (Maybe - "/+"); and went on to win a VERY long game. {Annotations by - A.J.G.} 

       This game may have some theoretical importance, this is why I have 
       commented on it here. ]  

 

8...c6!?;   
This move is interesting ... and leads to an older formation. 
(One that is not real common in tournaments today.) 

     [  Black can also play: 8...Re8!?;  9.Be3, "+/=" {Diagram?} 
        with a slight advantage for White, in this position. 
        (GM Andy Soltis.)

        And Black can also play: 8...exd4!?; "~" {Diagram?} 
        with a fair game as well.  ]  

 

9.Be3!?,   
This is certainly playable, but today it is customary to play h3 first, to prevent 
Black from playing ...Ng4.  

"This move is fine against 8...Re8; but it can create huge complications here." 
   - GM Andy Soltis

" 9.d5, or 9.h3, is usually played."  - GM Vassily Smyslov

 

     [  The 'book' line is: 9.h3,  {Diagram?}  This prevents any pins by a Bishop 
        to ... or any nonsense by a Knight sally on ... the important g4-square. 

        Now Black has close to 10 different (reasonable) moves, just about all of which 
        have been tried in tournament chess.  

        9...Qb6;  {Diagram?}  The main line according to one of my best books, it is also 
        the move that is played the most often in this position; - according to "Power-Book." 

*****

         ( Many strong chess programs pick the move: 9...exd4{D?}  which is also the 
           main line given in "Modern Chess Openings." [MCO]  (I am not a big fan of this 
           move, as White's center often now becomes very mobile. If Black is not careful, 
           White will play f2-f4-e5, and run the second player right off the board.) 

           Now play can proceed with: 10.Nxd4 Re811.Rb1 a512.Re1 Nc513.b3 Nh5!?;  
           14.Be3 Qe715.Qd2 Qf816.Rbd1 Nf6;  {Diagram?}  The end of the column. 
           17.Qc2 Nfd718.f4, "+/=" {Diagram?}   White has a slight edge here. 
           "As often happens in this variation, White has a space advantage."  
            - GM N. de Firmian

           GM A. Wojtkiewicz - Bjarnason;  New York Open, (USA); 1994. 
           [ See MCO-14; page # 608, column # 61, & note # (b.). ] 

***

           Black could try: 9...a6!?; {Diagram?}  with a flexible position. )  

*****

        (Returning to the main line of our analysis; 9...Qb6.)  
        10.c5!? dxc511.dxe5 Ne8[]12.Be3! Nc7!13.Qc2 Ne614.Na4!?,  
        14...Qb5!?; {Diagram?}   This seems like Black's 3rd best move here. 

          ( A more logical try would seem to be the move: 14...Qa5; "=" {Diagram?}     
             which would have been better. )     

        15.Rfd1 c4!?;  {Diagram?}   I don't know about this move. 

          ( It would seem that a small improvement would be: >= 15...Re8!;     
            16.Rd2 Qa6!?; 17.Nxc5 Nexc5; 18.Bxc5 Nxe5!?; 19.Nxe5 Bxe5;     
             20.a3, "+/="  {Diagram?}  when White is a little better. )    

        16.Nd2 Qa6;  {Diagram?}  The end of the column.  17.f4 b518.Nc3 Bh6;  
        19.Nf3 Ndc520.b3 Qa321.Rab1 Nd322.Bf1!, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        "White had the better of a very complicated struggle."  - GM Nick de Firmian

        Mikhalchishin - Kotronias;   Yugoslavia, 1997.  
        [ See MCO-14;  page # 608,  column # 64,  and note # (i.). ]  ]  

 

9...Ng4!{Diagram?} 
Black plays the most active move in this position. 
(GM A. Soltis does NOT give this move an exclam ... but I think it certainly 
 deserves one. If for no other reason that Smyslov had to fear a possible 
 prepared variation - something that Botvinnik was justly famous for!) 

     [ Black could also have played: 9...exd4; "=" {Diagram?}  with a fair game. ]  

 

10.Bg5, {Box?}   
This is positionally forced. 
(If White gives up his dark-squared Bishop in this position, 
 he will have no advantage at all.) 

     [ 10.Qe2!? f5!?; "~" ]  

 

10...Qb6!{Diagram?}  
The most active and vigorous move in this position, but not one 
without some dangers associated with it.  

Black had not only depend on a great deal of calculation, but also be winning to trust 
in his judgment and positional intuition - to be able to play this move with confidence. 

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric.  

 

          ***************************************************************
            As GM A. Soltis has already noted, we are headed ... 
            for a pit of complications - that is nearly bottomless! 
          ***************************************************************

     [ One writer suggested the line:  10...f6!?11.Bd2 h5!?12.h3 Nh6!?; "~" {Diag?}    
        as a playable alternative here. ( I much prefer White here.) ] 

 

11.h3,   
Once again, White cannot sit idly by, otherwise Black will play moves like ...h6, 
and then ...f5; with a good game. 

"Nothing new so far!"   - GM V. Smyslov.  
(He goes on to note this had all been played before. 
 A. Lillienthal - Konstantinpolsky;  Sochi, 1952.)

I also wish to note that the pawn advance of 11.c5, does not work in this position. 
(The e5-square is too well defended. See the MCO lines above, for an example 
 of what I am talking about.)

     [ An inferior continuation was:  11.Be7?! Re812.Bxd6 exd413.Na4,   
        13...Qa6; "=/+"  {Diagram?}   
        ... "and Black has threats of ...b5."  - GM A. Soltis. 

        Even worse was:  11.a3? exd4!12.Na4 Qa6; "=/+" {Diagram?} 
        with a clear edge for Black. (Maybe - "/+")  ]  

 

11...exd4!(TN)  {Diagram?} 
"The ever-suspicious Botvinnik was annoyed by this improvement over the 
  previously played move, 11...Ngf6."  - GM Andy Soltis

Botvinnik thought that for Smyslov to be this well-prepared, someone in his camp 
must have leaked secrets. (But he was not giving Smyslov enough credit for his 
extensive pre-match preparations.) 

"A highly unpleasant surprise ..."  - GM Vassily Smyslov

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!' - GM Vassily Smyslov.   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric. 

 

     [ The continuation of:  11...Ngf612.Rb1,  {Diagram?}  
       Supposedly the best move here. 

         ( The book, "The World Chess Championship(s),"  by  R. Wade  and    
           GM Svetozar Gligoric  provides the following line:  12.Qd2!? exd4;  
           13.Nxd4 Nc5!?; 14.Rad1 Re8; 15.Rfe1 Nfd7; 16.Be3, "+/=" {Diagram?}   
           and White is a little better here.  (So many people contributed to this book,   
           it is difficult to determine who is mainly responsible for this piece of analysis.    
           I think it was either Gligoric, Wade, or even Les Blackstock. I also think that    
           13...Nxe4;  is OK for Black, but I am not certain.)  )   

       12...exd4Black releases the tension.  13.Qxd4 Qxd414.Nxd4 Ne5; 
       15.b3, "~"  had been thoroughly analyzed in a Soviet magazine, and was thought   
        to be slightly better for the first player here. ]  

 

White's next move seems forced. 
12.Na4 Qa6
13.hxg4 b5!;   
The most energetic move here for the second player to try. (But it is possibly - 
 inherently - risky, due to the opening of the long diagonal which now occurs.) 

Soltis does not give this move an exclam here, but I feel - quite confidently - that 
this move is worthy of this award. (The move is NOT obvious or forced. It even 
appears somewhat dangerous.)

"This energetic manoeuvre regains Black his lost material, since the attacked 
  Knight has no good retreat square"   -  GM Vassily Smyslov
 [The book:  "125 Selected Games,"  by V. Smyslov.  Pergamon Press. 
  Translated by K.P. Neat. (c) 1983.]

   '!' - GM Vassily Smyslov.  

 

     [  Definitely not:  13...Qxc4?14.Rc1, "+/" {Diagram?} 
        with a clear edge for White. 

        If Black plays:  13...Re8!?;  {Diagram?}   
        then White plays: 14.b3, "+/=" {Diag?}  White is a touch better. ]  

 

14.Nxd4{Diagram?}  
This could be best - I am not at all certain, though. But it is certainly NOT the 
 only move at White's disposal here!  

 

     [  According to GM Andy Soltis, after the continuation: 14.Be7!? Re8; 15.Bxd6 
         15...bxa416.e5, ('!?')  {Diagram?}  Is this best?  

***

           ( 16.Nxd4!? Ne5; "~" {Diagram?}    
              The book, "The World Chess Championship(s)," by  R. Wade  and   
              GM S. Gligoric  rates this as hugely better for Black, ("/+")  but that     
              is questionable.    
              (Some programs think White is a tad better in this position.)      

        16...Qxc4!?; {Diagram?}  
         "Black has fine compensation." - GM Andrew Soltis
          (But I am not so sure.) 

          ( Black could also try: >=16...c5!?; "~"  {Diagram?}  with a strange position.   
            {Several programs rate this as better for Black.} )     

        But after:  17.Nxd4 Nxe518.Rc1 Qxa219.Bxe5 Bxe5;  
        20.Bxc6, "+/="  {Diagram?}  White seems to be at least a little better here. 

***

        White could also try:  14.cxb5 cxb515.e5, {Diagram?}  The best try? 

          ( Another author gives the line: 15.Nxd4!? bxa416.e5?!,  {Diagram?} 
            Both Be3 and Qd2 are maybe better than this, and probably offer White 
            a small edge.   (16.Be3!?)    16...Bb7; "~" {Diagram?}  
            ... "and Black's game is preferable."  -  V. Smyslov
              (Playable is: 16...Rb8!?; "~")   )   

        15...bxa416.Be7,  {Diagram?}  This is probably the best try in this position. 
           (16.Nxd4 Rb8; "~")    16...Re817.Bxd6 Bb718.Rc1, "~"  {Diagram?}    
        A very UN-balanced position ... that probably offers equal chances for both sides. 

***

        According to  GM A. Soltis,  after the moves:   14.c5 bxa415.Be7 dxc5; "~"  {D?}    
        Black is OK. The 2nd player has good compensation for the material invested. 
        (I am not so sure, however. If the c4-square gets blockaded, Black could have some 
        problems. Many annotators evaluate this position as much better for Black. 
        {See Gligoric's books on the match and The World Championship Series. 
         There is also an English book on this match that I used to own, but have 
          mis-laid it over the years.} 

        I have conducted many comp.-vs.-comp. tests of this position, and I would say, 
        at this point in the analysis, that the evaluation of "unclear" is MUCH more 
        closer to being correct.) ] 

 

14...bxa415.Nxc6!,   
The most accurate move here, according to our esteemed writer. 

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.  

(This move was also praised in book on the match, and in many Soviet chess magazines.)

 

     [  White could also try: 15.Be7!? Re816.Bxd6 Ne5; "~"  {Diagram?}    
         but the results are not clear.  

***

        The continuation of: 15.b3 Ne5; 16.f3,  {Diagram?}  This looks forced. 
          (A little worse is: 16.Be7?! Bxg4; 17.f3 Rfe8; 18.Bxd6,   
            18...Rad8; "Comp." ("=/+") {Diag?} with excellent play for Black.)   
        16...d5!; "<=>" {Diagram?}  gives Black the initiative, according to  GM A. Soltis
        (This line is also quoted by Botvinnik, and also Wade, Gligoric, and L. Blackstock.)  ]  

 

15...Qxc6!;   
This looks terrible, but turns out to be the correct move here. 

"Far superior to 15...Bb7; 16.Ne7+." - GM Andy Soltis

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis. 

Botvinnik - albeit somewhat grudgingly - praised this move as well. 
(The magazine, "64.") 

This move is actually an EXTREMELY deep exchange sacrifice. 
What the second player gets out of this sack is not clear. Black's play 
is very subtle and deeply hidden.  

     [ Completely inferior was the line: 15...Bb716.Ne7+ Kh817.Rc1 Bxb2;  
        18.Rc2 Bg719.Nd5, "+/="  (Maybe - "+/")  {Diagram?}   
         which is much better for White in this position. ]  

 

The next few moves seem forced for both opponents. 
16.e5 Qxc4
17.Bxa8 Nxe5; "Comp."  {Diagram?}  
"Black has excellent play for the sacrificed exchange."  
  - GM Vassily Smyslov.  

18.Rc1!,   
A very good move, and much better than many of the possible 
alternatives at this point. 

  "What is often forgotten is how well Botvinnik handled the arduous defense     
    in this game."  -  GM Andy Soltis     

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.  

 

     [  Botvinnik saw - and rejected - many continuations at this point of the game. 
        One possible line was the variation: 18.Bg2 Be6!?;   (18...Nd3!?)   19.Qxd6,  
        19...Qxg420.Bf4 Nf3+21.Bxf3 Qxf322.Qd1 Qb7; "=/+"  {Diagram?} 
        ... "with an edge for Black."  -  GM Andy Soltis.  (Maybe even - "/+") 

        This line is also quoted by Wade and Gligoric on their book that covers all 
         of the Chess World Championship Series.  (1948 - 1972.)   

***

        Perhaps playable was: 18.Bd5!? Qb5; "~" ("=/+")  {Diagram?}    
        which might be o.k. for Black. 

***

        Another possibility was:  18.Qxd6!? Bxg419.Bf4!? Nd3; "~"  {Diagram?}    
        with unclear results.   

***

        Not so good was:  18.Be7?! Bxg419.Bd5!?,  {Diagram?}  
        Is this the best ... or forced? 
           ( Instead Soltis gives the line: 19.Qd5?! Re8; "/+"  {Diagram?}     
            and Black is clearly better. (Maybe "-/+")     
            (This may be winning for the second player here.) )    
       
19...Qc720.Bxf8,  {Diagram?}  This could be forced here.    
           (20.f3?! Bxf3; 21.Bxf3 Qxe7; "/+" {Diagram?}    
            Black has tremendous 'comp' for the exchange.)  
         20...Bxd1; "/+"  {Diagram?}  This is clearly better for Black. 
          (Indeed! Black could be winning in this position.)  ]  

 

18...Qb4!;  (Maybe - '!!')   
Soltis gives no comment here, but simply awards this move an exclam here. 

I like this move ... very ... VERY MUCH!! If for no other reason than Black had 
so many promising moves here. (I would have probably chosen 18...Bxg4!?) 
How did Vassily Smyslov choose this move here? It could NOT have been pure 
calculation. Maybe intuition ... plus? 

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric. 

 

     [  Black could also play: 18...Qxa2!?; "=/+" {Diagram?}  with some compensation. 

        Also good for Black was: 18...Bxg4!19.f3,  {Diag?}  This could be forced.  
         (19.Rxc4? Bxd1; "-/+")    19...Qb520.fxg4 Rxa8; "=/+" {Diagram?} 
        with a pretty fair game for the second player from here. 

        Probably not as good for Black is the line:  18...Qb5!?; 19.Be7 Bxg4!; {Diag?}   
        Probably the best move.  (19...Re8!?; 20.Qxd6 Bxg4; "~")    20.Qd5!, "~"  {Diag?}  
        White might be a tiny bit better in this position. 
        ( - Wade and Gligoric. From their book: "The World Chess Championship(s).")  ] 

 

19.a3!{Diagram?}  
Once again, Botvinnik finds the best - maybe the ONLY! - practical chance 
for White in this particular position. 

"The best. After 19.Bg2, Ba6; 20.Re1, Nd3; White is clearly worse."  
  - GM Andy Soltis.  

   '!' - GM Mikhail Botvinnik.   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric.  

     [ A little worse is:  =/<  19.Bg2 Ba620.Re1 Nd3; "=/+" {Diagram?} 
        And Black has a small, but solid edge here. (I think this line originates 
        with some analysis published in a Soviet magazine. 
        It is also quoted by Gligoric and Wade.)  ]  

19...Qxb2!;   
I am sure this is the best move for Black. 
(Soltis does NOT give this move an exclam.) 

I have tested this game rather extensively on many boxes, programs, etc. 
Just after the program, Fritz 6.0 first was released, I tested this position on 
 the  'gorp.'   It thought for over 12 minutes, and clearly picked the move, 
 19...Bxg4; as best.  

     [  Boxes usually pick: 19...Bxg4!?; {Diagram?}  in this position.  

        And if Black had played: 19...Qb6!?;  then  20.Be3, "+/=" {Diagram?}   
        and White is a little better. 

        Much less accurate - than the move played in the game - was: 
        19...Qb820.Be4, "+/="  {Diagram?}  & White looks to be better. ]  

 

20.Qxa4!?(Maybe - '?!')   
Soltis provides no commentary to guide us here. 

Botvinnik, very understandably, is in a hurry to pick off the (possibly) 
dangerous BQRP. {Black's Pawn on the a4-square.}  

But was this forced? Even necessary? (I am not sure.)  

 

      [  White seems better after:  20.Qxd6!? Bxg421.Rb1, "+/=" {Diagram?}   
         with an interesting position.  

         Or White could try: 20.Bg2!? Bxg421.Qxa4, "+/=" {Diagram?} 
         also with a viable game. 
         (Both of these lines appear, -  at least superficially  - to be better than 
          what actually took place in the game.)  ]   

 

20...Bb7!!; (Q-sack)   
In my opinion, this is one of the most brilliant, daring and brave combinations 
ever played at this level. [WCS] 

(GM A. Soltis gives this just one exclam ... I feel very strongly that it deserves two.)

    '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!' - GM Vassily Smyslov.   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric.   

To a lesser extent, some psychology is involved here. 
Is Smyslov daring Botvinnik to play Rb1 here? 

A very strong play ... notes the great Smyslov. 

     [ Was the move: 20...Bxg4!"Comp."  {Diagram?}  also good for Black? ]  

 

21.Rb1?!,   
White ... perhaps seeing that all the alternatives were bad for him, (he thought a while 
before playing this); decides to ... 'mix it up' ... a little. 

But the move is inferior, and also allows Black a stunning refutation. 
('?' - GM Andy Soltis.) 

I think to give this move a whole question mark, is not to realize some 
of the factors that may have led Botvinnik to play this move: 
   # 1.)   He could - quite possibly - see ALL the other continuations were just plain 
              bad for him; 
   # 2.)   He had been three points ahead at one point in this match, perhaps he was
              a tad over-confident ... or trying to make a statement with this game;  
   # 3.)   Up until this point in his career, Smyslov had never played a combination that 
              was particularly outstanding - perhaps Botvinnik felt Smyslov was incapable 
              of pulling off such a tremendous idea against him;  
   # 4.)   Botvinnik always confessed he was poor at long variations, perhaps he simply 
              made a mistake in his calculations of this line?  (To me - only looking a few 
              moves deep - it does not appear that Black will get enough for his Queen. His 
              pieces appear a little scattered.) 

"The move played in the game meets with a convincing refutation." 
   - GM Vassily Smyslov

 

     [  It would seem that the following line was pretty much forced for Botvinnik - that 
        he had to play:  21.Bxb7,  {Diagram?}   Soltis called this move:  
        "White's last hope."    21...Qxb722.Rb1!?,  {Diagram?}  I thought this was forced, 
        yet White may have an improvement in this position.    

         ( GM A. Soltis gives the line: >= 22.Rc3! Nf3+!?;  {Diagram?}  
            I prefer ...h6 here.   (A little better seems to be: >=  22...h6!;  23.Bf4 Nf3+;    
              24.Rxf3 Qxf3;  25.Bxd6!? Rd8!; "=/+" {Diagram?}  which seems to be slightly      
              better for Black here.)   23.Rxf3 Qxf3; 24.Be7 Ra8; 25.Bxd6, "~"  {Diagram?}    
            I do not think that White should lose this particular position.  {Although several   
            computers rate Black as dramatically better.}    
            Gligoric and Wade quote this line as well, but stop with: 24.Be7 "=" )    

        22...Nf3+!23.Kh1,  {Diagram?}  This is forced.  

         (23.Kg2? Ne1+!; 24.Kh3 Qg2+; 25.Kh4 Nf3#)   

        23...Qa8; "/+" {Diagram?}  and Black is clearly better.  ]  

 

21...Nf3+22.Kh1{Diagram?} 
This looks like the safest move.  

     [ 22.Kg2!? ]

22...Bxa8!;   
An idea of unusual brilliance. Not only does Black offer to give up his Queen, 
but this combo has a "slow-motion" quality that is hard to describe. 
(It will take many more moves before it becomes clear whether or not this 
 idea was really sound.)  Maybe - '!!'   

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!' - GM Vassily Smyslov.  

NOTE: About a year ago, I analyzed this game (briefly) on my friend's computer. 
(It is very powerful, it has multi-processor support.)  A strong chess program, 
(Fritz 7.0);  had just come out. I zipped to this position and let the computer think 
for over 45 minutes. (We went to get something to eat.) 
It also chose ...Bxa8! - virtually proving this is absolutely the best move here. 

 

     [ The continuation of:  22...Nd2+!?23.Bxb7 Nxb124.Bc6!?, 
        24...Nxa3; "=/+" (Maybe - "/+") {Diagram?}  is quite a bit better for Black. 
        This is relatively simple. I am sure that a player of Smyslov's caliber - especially 
        if he had plenty of time - could easily calculate a line like this. This is one of the 
        reasons this game is so brilliant. If Black were a coward, he could have played 
        a line like this one, and had a slight advantage. 
        (Smyslov does NOT analyze at all here. {in his book}  He simply gives the 
         move 22...Bxa8; an exclamation point - and then just moves on.) 

        Wade and Gligoric also quote this line, but stop with 24.Bc6 "=" 
        (This is obviously incorrect. I played CM 8000 (W) vs. Fritz 6.0. (B) 
         Out of six games, Black won FIVE, and the other game was drawn!!)

***

       It looks promising, (at least at first); but a complete failure for Black was: 
       22...Qxb1?!; ('?')  23.Rxb1 Bxa824.Be7 Nd2+25.Kh2 Nxb126.Bxf8
       26...Bxf8
; 27.Qb4!, {Diagram?}  Wade  and  Gligoric  stop here, and conclude 
       that White is winning. (easily)   (27.Qxa7 Be4; "~")     27...Nxa3[]28.Qxa3, 
       28...Bd5
29.Qxa7, "+/" {Diagram?}   White is clearly better here. 
       (Maybe winning? A lot of research here did NOT yield any conclusive results. 
        My endgame books do NOT contain this position, or anything remotely like it! 
        Also several test games ... computer-vs.-computer ... were also very inconclusive. 
        My guess is with perfect play, White could win. BUT!!!!!  ... ... ... ... ... ...    
        with all the material on the same side of the board, I would say Black has a fair 
        amount of drawing chances.)  ]   

 

The next few moves all appear pretty much forced - and Soltis gives 
no commentary - to guide us in this position. 
23.Rxb2 Nxg5+
24.Kh2!? Nf3+25.Kh3 Bxb2;   
"The exchanging operation has brought Black considerable gains: 
  his three minor pieces are more than sufficient compensation for the Queen. 
  In Addition, The White King continues to come under attack."  
  - GM Vassily Smyslov

[ The book: "125 Selected Games,"  by  V. Smyslov.  Pergamon Press. 
   Translated by K.P. Neat. () 1983. ]

 

26.Qxa7 Be4; "=/+"  (Maybe - "/+")  {Diagram?} 
 Black is clearly better, maybe even winning here.  

   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric

(Just a guess, but ... Is this the move Botvinnik may have missed?) 

     [ Maybe also good was: 26...Ng5+!?;  "=/+" ("/+") {Diagram?}
       with a good game for Black. ] 

 

27.a4,   
Soltis says that White's a-pawn is his ONLY source of counterplay. 

Black has THREE minor pieces for his Queen, and White's King is still 
not safe. Once Black gets some piece co-ordination, the game will be over. 

     [ 27.Qa6!? Ra8!; "-/+" ]  

 

27...Kg7!?;   
Black gets his King to safety, he may also be entertaining some ideas like ...h5. 
(To get at the White King on the exposed h3-square.) 

     [ Also playable was: 27...Bd4!?; "/+" {Diagram?} & Black is clearly better. ]  

 

28.Rd1 Be5; 29.Qe7 Rc8!{Diagram?} 
The great player and e.g. artist himself provides the following comment here:
"Black's minor pieces have taken up ideal positions in the center, and now his 
Rook comes into play (and) quickly decides the outcome of this tense battle." 
 - GM Vassily Smyslov 

   '!' - GM Vassily Smyslov. 
(Soltis does not give this move an exclam, but Smyslov does.) 
   '!' - GM Svetozar Gligoric.    

The book on this match describes the wonder and admiration just about all the 
GM's who were watching this game felt for the great Smyslov's play - at this point. 

 

30.a5,    
White continues to shove his Queen Rook's Pawn. 

"Black can ignore the threat of Rxd6, because of ...Rc1; and mates."  
  - GM A. Soltis.  

 

     [  If 30.g5!? d5; "-/+" (Black is winning.) 

        Much worse was: 30.Rxd6? ('??')  30...Rc1!31.g5, {Diagram?} 
        White must give his King an escape square. 
          (31.a5? Rh1+; 32.Kg2 Ne1#)    31...Nxg5+!32.Qxg5 Rh1+33.Kg4,  
        33...h5+34.Qxh5[] gxh5+35.Kg5 Bxd6; ("-/+")  {Diagram?}  
        and White is strangely helpless against the coming threat of (Black) 
        Pawn to the f6-square, (MATE!!); on the next move. ]  

 

Black now wraps things up.  
30...Rc231.Kg2!? Nd4+!?32.Kf1 Bf333.Rb1 Nc6!?; ("-/+")  {Diagram?} 
White Resigns.   

It is hopeless for White after Black plays ...Bd4.  

***

I used like 10 different books to annotate this game, but my main guide for this effort was the book:  "The 100 Best,"  by  GM A. Soltis
[Copyright (c) 2000, McFarland Books; and Publishing Company.] 
 (To a lesser extent, I also used the book: "125 Selected Games,"  by  GM Vassily Smyslov.)   

Copyright () A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2002.  
(I started on this game several times. I did some serious work on it in 2001, but laid it aside ...  
  and did not begin actively working on it again until the latter part of the year, '02)  

  0 - 1 

  Simply one of the best chess games ever played in a WCS event! Outstanding!! 

 

   (All HTML code initially)  Generated with  ChessBase 8.0   


This game was  (first)  posted on my web-site on: October, 2002.
    (Last up-dated on: Wednesday;  December 31st, 2003.  Last edit/save on: 11/08/2015 .)  

  *******  

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 1975-2015.  
  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2016.  All rights reserved.  


I first saw this game as a very young lad. (Someone had a collection of the World Championship
games that was played during the 1950's.) I have gone over it many times. I was VERY pleased
to see that GM Andy Soltis had included in his book on "The 100 Best."

 This game, in  ChessBase  format; is probably one of the best annotation jobs anyone has ever done
 on this particular game. It also contains a fairly decent survey of the opening. If you would like a copy 
of this game to study on your computer, I hope that you would  contact me. 


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