The Botvinnik Formation

Jul 20, 2009, 12:56 PM |

My take on the Botvinnik Formation posted on KnightSkewer back in 06. The Botvinnik Formation

Mikhail Botvinnik was a true Russian champion from 1931 to 1963. He held the world title many times and first beat the Russian champion at age 14. He was cold, calculated and studied endgame tactics relentlessly. This is a good formation if you have the time. Also, if closed middlegames where foresight, combinations and piece traps are your style. Blacks interference is common but since your white and set the pace already, black will often play right into your hand. I've read it can be used for black as a defense but as it costs time I would advise against it. I first found it in The complete Book of Chess Strategy by IM (International Master) Jeremy Silman. Which by the way is a very good book for beginners. I've used it ever since. This opening is uncommon to most players. You will witness frequent looks of surprise and intense thought as it begins to knot up the board into a grueling closed middlegame. If your opponent loves short open games learn this formation and his mind will collapse under the pressure.

1. c4, c5

2. Nc3, Nc6 (Laying claim to c5 which will likely be the weak square for black as c4 is for white.)

3. g3, g6 (Preparing the feyenchetto to guard the e pawn.)

4. Bg2, Bg7 (Following the rule...finish what you start.)

5. e4, Nf6 (Black will often jump the knight to d4 prematurely at this point. I let him have it. Your knights will be engaging him shortly and the position does not require the spaces he threatens.)

6. Nge2, 0-0 (White prepares to drive the f pawn through blacks defense emphatically. Once this begins white is in control and initiates a calculated kingside attack.)

7. 0-0, d6

8. d3, Ne8 (IM Silman gives blacks move (!) for freeing the f pawn and establishing the knight in a more useful position.)

9. Be3, Nd4 (The weak squares become apparent.)

10. Qd2, Nc7

11. f4, f5 (Frequently I use h3 before blacks cowboy on f6 gets too rowdy.)

Eleven moves in and no bloodshed. No useless trades or too early queen moves. White has a solid castle and a strong back rank. The air is thick with tactics and combinations. Which player will break under the pressure.