Mijail Botvinnik
Was it interesting? Share it to help!
  • 12
  • 6
  • 3
  • 1
  •  
  •  
    22
    Shares
Click to rate this post!
[Total: 2 Average: 5]

The Soviet chess team and Mijail Botvinick

Mijail Botvinnik had many problems these years. In the summer of 1952, there was much nervousness in the Soviet chess team.

The Kremlin had announced that they were seriously considering their participation for the first time, in the Olympics. (Not only in chess, as the same year, also took place the Olympic Games in Helsinki).

Hence, many undiscovered intrigues, mini-assemblies, rumors and secrets were on the aisles.

Finally, the highest spheres had confirmed the decision – the USSR chess team will be in Helsinki.

Once the western world became aware that the Soviets had decided โ€œto acknowledgeโ€ the existence of the capitalist countries, the political analysts were asking themselves this was just an overlapped initiative in search of peace, that part in theory that was always threatened by any possible outbreak in tension.

And it had been like that. The objective of the Soviets was much more humble. To show the world that their athletes and in particular their chess players were the best. They were looking for prestige and respect. The respect was the fear on the part of their enemies.

Based on that decision, began the selection phase and preparations.

However, the final decision of the Kremlin gave rise to an unpleasant internal discussion in the selection phase.

Let us reminisce on the sports facts.

In the 19th USSR Championship (Moscow, 10.11-14.12.1951), Keres brought triumph (with 12 points), followed by Geller and Petrosian with 11.5, and Smyslov with 11. Botvinnik only ended in fifth place with 10 points.

Mijail Botvinnik and the World Championship

After the match for the World Championship with Bronstein, this has been the only tournament disputed by Mijail Botvinnik, who participated again in the international tournament in Budapest in 1952. His performance in the Hungarian city was very anodyne and uninspired.

As he could only draw in 3th place with Stahlberg and Smyslov, losing two games (before Geller and Oโ€™Kelly). Two brief matches of training with Smyslov (in which he lost, 1,5-2,5). And with Kan (winning, 1-5-0,5) did not clear up the doubts.

As he was already 40, many started to wonder if the champion had started its age.

When the Soviet participation in Helsinki was officially confirmed, Mijail Botvinnik was reluctant about his participation in the Olympics due to the tight playing program.

He was also very annoyed as the other members of the chess team did not support his position on the participation, but on the contrary, they โ€œseemedโ€ to wish his absence.

The sports leaders were also curious if that first and special debut of the national soviet chess team in the official competition was the right occasion to trust their first board to a champion that shakyโ€ฆ

The USSR participates in the Olympics

When the team members of the Soviet team were gathered in Voronovo, near Moscow. They all had the feeling that Mijail Botvinnik was not in form. And the Chess Section convoked them all and a delegate interviewed (interrogated?) each one of them individually.

Mijail Botvinnik shared later that they asked him if he could secure the individual gold medal in the first board (he did not say what he answered). He suspected that Keres had answered affirmatively to that question.

On the next day, he asked Smyslov if he was part of the conspiracy to isolate him from the team. And Smyslov had denied (as, of course, anyone would have done, because and besides, it was not any conspiracy).

However, Mijail Botvinnik, accustomed to the intrigues of the Soviet chess, and informer in his privileged position, pulled the strings. As in the case of Bronstein, whom he has asked, โ€œDonโ€™t you think that I have a place in this team?โ€ Bronstein answered, โ€œYes, but not in the first board.โ€

Mijail Botvinnik and the first board

Mijail Botvinnik was not willing to assume the humiliation of defending a board that was not the first one. And hence Geller replaced him. Paul Keres (who had also won the tournament of Budapest) would be the leader of the Soviet team. And Smyslov, Bronstein, Boleslavsky and Kotov would be the other members.

The 10th Olympic was played between 10th and 30th August 1952.ย  The organizers divided into three groups (one of 9 and two of 8) the 25 national teams. The first three teams classified each team to dispute for the Final A.

In the previous phase, the Soviet team (Keres, Smyslov, Bronstein, Geller, Boleslavsky and Kotov) gained 23.5 points (of 28 games), easily winning the first qualifying position.

As expected, the USSR imposed its team in the Final A, but not clearly, as they ceded three draws in the other encounters, overcoming in only one and a half points to Argentina (silver) and in two to Yugoslavia (bronze).

Curiously, and although Smyslov and Bronstein both garnered several gold medals in their boards. The performance of Keres resulted in an authentic fiasco, as he has only gained 6.5 points in 12 games (+3=7-2), in contrast with the first Argentinean board, Miguel Najdorf, who gained 12.5 of 16.


If you liked the post, help the chess community sharing this article in your social networks. And write your opinion also! It’s free and cost nothing ๐Ÿ™‚

GET YOUR FREE MASTERCLASS!

Do you want to know more about โ€œThe Rebel Allianceโ€?

Discover how to put your chess to other level!

This is what I’ve got for you:

The best chess classes to progress as soon as possible to the next level, easily and without complications.

A clear way and methodology. You will know where you are and where we are going to reach.

A chess platform though to teach chess and a big group of rebels to progress together!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

IM Alberto Chueca

Follow me on Instagram!

Become a better player

Are you a new visitor?

Pranav Sathish, US

pranav

Alberto has helped me improve a lot in chess. He shares interesting and creative ideas. Alberto makes chess fun and keeps challenging me with more advanced concepts every week.ย  He analyzes my games and helps me make fewer mistakes with each tournament.5 stars

Kingshuk Das Chowdhury

kingshuk

Albertoยดs coaching of Kingshuk has been excellent. Kingshuk has improved immensely in his chess games. We cannot thank Alberto enough for his dedication to teaching Kingshuk, and his commitment to the game of chess for young people.

5 stars