Mastery: Master Games

Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik

Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik

Can you play like World Champion Botvinnik?

Mikhail Botvinnik won the world championship multiple times and was one of the best players in the world for much of the 20th century. Botvinnik understood the game more deeply than his contemporaries and eventually even taught the young Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. Try to figure out the moves to five of his greatest games. Start winning like Botvinnik today!

Here is what you will learn:

  • Figure out how to defeat world champions Smyslov and Tal!
  • Find the moves in a model isolated pawn game against Vidmar.
  • Navigate one of the most complicated variations in all of chess—the Botvinnik variation of the Semi-Slav! 
  • Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik: Botvinnik vs Vidmar

    Botvinnik developed much of the modern day theory on playing with an isolated pawn. This game against Grandmaster Milan Vidmar demonstrated White's attacking chances nicely.

    • 1 challenge
  • Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik: Botvinnik vs Keres

    In 1948, World Champion Alekhine had died and the new champion was determined in five player tournament. Botvinnik won handily with 14/20, including this brilliant win against Paul Keres.

    • 1 challenge
  • Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik: Denker vs Botvinnik

    In 1945 the USSR played a 20 game match by radio against a team from the USA. The USSR dominated the match 15.5 - 4.5 with games like this one, by Botvinnik against the two time US Champion, Arnold Denker.

    • 1 challenge
  • Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik: Botvinnik vs Tal

    Botvinnik lost a World Title match to Tal in 1960, but won a rematch the following year to regain the championship. In this game from the 1961 match Botvinnik beat Tal in crushing style, more like the type of game that Tal was known for winning.

    • 1 challenge
  • Play Like Mikhail Botvinnik: Botvinnik vs Smyslov

    Like Tal, Smyslov defeated Botvinnik, but Botvinnik won the rematch to reclaim his title. In this game from their 1954 match Botvinnik advanced his kingside pawns in a style far ahead of his time. Smyslov was unprepared for these brilliant ideas and...

    • 1 challenge
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