Chess

We conclude this week of mourning for Mikhail Botvinnik with the best Botvinnik story and his own favourite game. First the story, as fondly recounted on numerous occasions by Boris Spassky.

Shortly after Spassky had won the world championship, he was walking with Botvinnik through a Moscow marketplace when a man carrying a basket of water-melons rushed up to them.

"Mr Spassky," the stranger gushed, "you are a brilliant player and your games have given me great pleasure for many years." The tirade of compliments continued for some time and ended with the man saying he would be honoured if Spassky would accept a water-melon as a token of his esteem.

Spassky smiled broadly and took a step backwards in a pose of delighted astonishment. Botvinnik, the grandmaster of protocol, leaned down and whispered solemnly in his ear: "Take the water-melon and say 'Thank you very much'."

It was the same on the chessboard. Every situation had its appropriate response and Botvinnik could be relied upon to know it. Take, for example, the game of which he was most proud, a win against Jos Raul Capablanca in the Avro tournament of 1938. White's entire strategy is carried through with remorseless logic.

White: M. Botvinnik

Black: J.R. Capablanca

1 d4 Nf6 22 f4 f5

2 c4 e6 23 exf6 Nxf6

3 Nc3 Bb4 24 f5 Rxe1

4 e3 d5 25 Rxe1 Re8

5 a3 Bxc3+ 26 Re6! Rxe6

6 bxc3 c5 27 fxe6 Kg7

7 cxd5 exd5 28 Qf4 Qe8

8 Bd3 0-0 29 Qe5 Qe7

9 Ne2 b6 30 Ba3! Qxa3

10 0-0 Ba6 31 Nh5+ gxh5

11 Bxa6 Nxa6 32 Qg5+ Kf8

12 Bb2 Qd7 33 Qxf6+ Kg8

13 a4 Rfe8 34 e7 Qc1+

14 Qd3 c4 35 Kf2 Qc2+

15 Qc2 Nb8 36 Kg3 Qd3+

16 Rae1 Nc6 37 Kh4 Qe4+

17 Ng3 Na5 38 Kxh5 Qe2+

18 f3 Nb3 39 Kg4 Qe4+

19 e4 Qxa4 40 g4 Qe1+

20 e5 Nd7 41 Kh5 resigns

21 Qf2 g6

12.Bb2 and 13.Qd3 encourage Black to close the position with c4, which lets the white centre pawns roll with f3, e4 and e5. Black's 15...Nb8 set off on the greedy path to b3 which won the a-pawn but left the knight out of the game. 15...Nc7 would have been better. As the game went, 24.f5 came just in time to support 26.Re6, and the white bishop, neglected for so long on b2, won the game with 30.Ba3!

William Hartston

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map