Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik became world chess champion after winning the chess world championship tournament 1948 which took place in Den Haag and Moskow. This five-player tournament was organized for the first time by the International Chess Federation FIDE to determine the new world champion as the previous champion Alekhine died in Portugal two years before.

mikhail botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik was a Russian grandmaster and a computer scientist. He was the first world champion who lost the title twice and regained it again in a rematch.

His parents were dentists in St. Petersburg/Russia. He learned chess fairly late, when he was 12 years old, but he improved fast.

World Chess Championship 1948

The selected five players were Euwe, Smyslov, Keres, Botvinnik, and Reshevsky.

Mikhail Botvinnik14
Vasily Smyslov11
Paul Keres10.5
Samuel Reshevsky10.5
Max Euwe4

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World Chess Championship 1951
Botvinnik versus Bronstein - 12:12

Mikhail Botvinnik defended his title in 1951 against the Soviet chess grandmaster David Bronstein who was a chess writer and tactical genius. He qualified by winning the Candidates Tournament of 1950 in Budapest.

The match lasted 24 games and ended 12:12 and Botvinnik retained his title. Both players won five games each and 14 games were drawn.

Bronstein lost his games because of insufficient endgame technique.

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World Chess Championship 1954
Botvinnik versus Smyslov - 12:12

The Russian grandmaster Vasily Smyslov (1921-2010) qualified to become the challenger for the world title by winning the Candidates Tournament in Zürich 1953. Botvinnik and Smyslov played 24 games 1954 in Moscow. The match ended in a draw (7 wins each, 10 draws) and Botvinnik kept the title.

Smyslov was a fine positional player who had great intuition. He was very strong in the endgame where he found surprizing moves. He regarded chess as an art form, where creativity prevails over other factors.

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World Chess Championship 1957
Botvinnik versus Smyslov - 9.5 : 12.5

Smyslov again won the Candidates Tournament at Amsterdam in 1956 which qualified him to challenge Botvinnik again for the world title.

After 22 games Smyslov won the match and became the seventh world champion in the history of chess.

The match was played in Moscow again and ended 9.5 - 12.5. Botvinnik lost the first game already in time trouble so Smyslov was leading right from the start.

But Botvinnik had the right for a rematch and won the title back one year later in the rematch 1958

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World Chess Championship 1958
Botvinnik versus Smyslov - Rematch - 12.5 : 10.5

Mikhail Botvinnik won the first three games and was leading right from the start of the match. Smyslov could not catch up and lost the match.

Botvinnik won the rematch 12.5–10.5 and regained the title.

Replay all Chess Games Smyslov - Botvinnik

Two years later in 1960 Botvinnik lost his title against Mikhail Tal, the chess magician.

World Chess Championship 1961
Botvinnik versus Tal - Rematch - 13:8

After having lost the title to Tal in 1960 Botvinnik regained the title just one year later in 1961 in the rematch, where they played 21 games in Moscow.

Botvinnik prepared well for this match and avoided complicated tactical rich positions in which Tal would play well and created positions where he could direct the game to positional maneuvers and endgames. The match ended 13–8 (ten wins, five losses, six draws)

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Two years later in 1963 Botvinnik was defeated by the defensive player Tigran Petrosian.

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