Botvinnik's Legacy (Part 4)

  • GM Gserper
  • | Apr 10, 2011

The biggest part of Botvinnik's chess legacy is his contribution to opening theory. I don't think there is another chess player who could compete with Botvinnik in this department. The Patriarch managed to completely change whole openings!  The best illustration is the Dutch Defense. For a long time this opening had a dubious reputation. Then Botvinnik entered it in his opening repertoire and low and behold it became one of the most popular openings! Need a proof?  Here are some comments taken from Korchnoi's book of his selected games: "The Dutch and the French were very popular at that time.  Due to the influence of the Soviet Patriarch Mikhail Botvinnik of course"; "One time, being a candidate master and even a master I played only the Dutch against 1.d4. Apparently under the influence of Botvinnik."

So what was so special about Botvinnik's treatment of the Dutch? An answer can be found in its attacking potential and strategical simplicity.  Black follows the following plan: first he places his pawns on the c6, d5, e6 and f5 squares (this formation resembles a wall and that's how the Dutch Stone Wall system got its name).  Then the Black Knight goes to e4, the Queen goes to h5 via the e8 square and then the 'f' and 'g' pawns storm completes this dangerous attacking set-up. Notice how in the following games Botvinnik's strong opponents (masters and grandmasters) could do little against Black's deadly attack.


I recommend you to try this set-up of Botvinnik's in your own games.  Even if it is not going to end up as a part of your opening repertoire against 1.d4, it will let you practice and improve your attacking skill which is extremely important for the development of any chess player.
Good luck!


  • 3 years ago


    David Bronstein said that Botvinnik and his school actually "killed chess." (in the 2003 interview to that is generally unknown to he Western readership - you can read the full interview on blog)

    "Botvinnik introduced the system for preparation in chess in his 1936 article. The Soviet chess school was, after Botvinnik, based on research. What did they research? The opening."

    "In 1945 when we played the radio match with the US. And won it. Do you know how come that we won? We studied the openings. And we didn’t give them the chance to get out of the opening. We beat them on their half of the board. They didn’t get off the ground. The entire opening theory is about not letting Black get off the ground."

    Maybe we should play the Fischer Random? ;)

  • 6 years ago


    elbowgrease wrote: who are the people that botvinnik played? never heard of em

    Try using some elbow grease & look them up in a search engine. Flohr was one of the strongest players in the world in the 1930's and Herman Steiner was a very strong US player. Yudovich was a GM of CC and an OTB IM.  You can look them all up at for starters.

  • 6 years ago


    who are the people that botvinnik played? never heard of em

  • 6 years ago


    An awesome input Wink I almost not use dutch game with d4, i usually use King Indian, or French,Grunfeld or Nimzo, thanks pal....

  • 6 years ago


    I know that has an antipathy to editing - the phrase is 'lo and behold' - it's two ways of saying the same thing.

  • 6 years ago


    @ leoz08 you are right, but white had draw on 45th move, instead of they  have 45. Rc8+ =

    1) Bg8 46. Qf5 Qf2+ 47. Kd1 Qg1+ 48. Kd2 Qe3+ 49. Kd1=

    2) Bxc8 46. Qxc8+ Rg8 47. Qh3+ Kg7 48. Qd7+ Kh8 49. Qh3+ =

    3)Rg8 46. de =

  • 6 years ago


    I might be absolutely wrong, but from my point of view the main deficiency of White's strategies in the games was that they did not avoid activisation of Black's light-coloured Bishop. As in French, it might be a headacke in endgame, so White's should trade as much as possible avoiding its activation. I would like ask You to vioce your's opinions. Alex

  • 6 years ago


    Maybe will try playing this opening at the next available opportunity

  • 6 years ago


    To kelderos:

    I think the reason for this Is:

    QxR - g2, Qc8+ (or Qb7+)-Kg7 and after reaching h6, the white Q has no more check

    and the black pawn is unstoppable.

  • 6 years ago


    udovich, Mikhail Sr vs. Botvinnik, Mikhail

    Leningrad | Leningrad | 1934 | ECO: A95 | 0-1

    I don't understand why he won this one as I see a draw, anyone care to explain why the queen doesn't take the rook?

  • 6 years ago


    I use the Dutch Defense as my #1 defense against 1. d4, and I play the Stonewall with the White pieces too.  I never much do his ...Qe8-Qh5 idea, I have been playing more into ...Qf6 approaches.  But I definitely take advantage of playing to close the center with the Stonewall pawn structure, and the pawn avalanche with the g-pawn!  These ideas don't seem to be very popular today, so many times my games are interesting!  

    Are there any other players who use the Qf3/Qf6 ideas in the Bird/Dutch Stonewalls?

  • 6 years ago


    Hearing about revolutions in openings and theory from the greats makes me wish there was some new layouts for the minor pieces on the board for GMs to play and master.  I would think Chess960 are something like that would be appreciated by the professional community.

  • 6 years ago


    Be careful: Don't let anyone fool you into believing hes not continuously committed.

  • 6 years ago


    I don't understand why black doesn't move Knight to g4, then Queen to h2 for an easy, early checkmate...?

  • 6 years ago


    That rook sacrifice on the first game was baller

  • 6 years ago


    Should try,thank you for showing such  games!

  • 6 years ago


    Crediting Botvinnick with the work of the enormous chess conspiracy under the Soviets is a disservice to players like Furman, Bronstein, Tal,  Keres and many others - all far more creative than Bronstein. Botvinnick was a good Communist first and a chess champion second. Look at Fischer's opening advancememts, all achieved by him almost alone. 

  • 6 years ago


    It's good to know this Pawn structure from both sides, since the Dutch/Stonewall has bred a class of monolithic players who play Dutch with Black and Bird's Opening/Stonewall as White.

  • 6 years ago


        I didn't like the last game's 14 ... Nxe5 blocking in the light squared bishop but since it wasn't needed for the win anyway ... I still don't understand bad vs good bishops and this is probably an example?

       Great games, thanks you!

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