M. Botvinnik - L. Portisch 









Mikhail Botvinnik (2745) - Lajos Portisch (2690)  
[A29]
 
International Chess Tournament 
Monaco, 1968

[A.J. Goldsby I]

***

(The ratings in this game are extremely conservative estimates ... compared to the much-inflated ratings of today.) 


   One of Botvinnik's best games, and one of the prettiest games of chess ever played. 
   It is also one of the finest chess combinations on record. 

See this game, on another website. 


1. c4 , {Center, d5-square} 
The English Opening. (Howard Staunton was an advocate of this line.)

(Played BEFORE the KP opening was all the rage.) 

                            [ 1.e4!? ]   

 

Black now defends with an  "asymmetrical"  variation. 
1...e5!? ; {Diagram.} 
This line is a favorite of (former) World Champion, GM Anatoly Karpov

The pawn structure is now a Reversed Sicilian. 

                         [ More common was/is the  "Symmetrical Variation," with: 1...c5; ]   

 

2. Nc3 Nf63. g3 d5!?;  (Hmmmm.) 
This move can now lead to positions where White is basically playing the open variations of the Sicilian Dragon, but with colors reversed. 

This extra tempo could become a significant factor. 

                         [ 3...Nc6!? ]   

 

Both sides now develop in a (more-or-less) normal fashion. 
4. cxd5 Nxd55. Bg2 Be6!?6. Nf3 Nc67. 0-0 Nb68. d3 Be79. a3! a5!?10. Be3 0-0;  (Approximately equal.) 
The position is pretty close to being level. 

11. Na4!?,   ('!' - Irving Chernev.) 
White plays very actively and seeks to weaken Black's hold on the Q-side squares. 

                         [ 11.Rc1!? ]   

 

11...Nxa4; (Hmmm.) 
Black exchanges - - - rather than allow the White Knight to reach the c5-square. 

                         [ 11...Nd5!?, - Irving Chernev. (& GM's Soltis and Nunn.) ]     

 

12. Qxa4 Bd5;   
Black tries to defend and perhaps prepare ...Nc6 to d4. 

                         [ Maybe better is:  12...f6!, "=" ]   

 

White now logically mobilizes his forces down the half-open c-file.

13. Rfc1! Re8
14. Rc2 Bf815. Rac1!?, (Maybe - '!') 
Continuing with his plan.  

                         [ 15.Rd1!?, "+/=" ]    

 

15...Nb8!?; (Probably too risky.) 
Black thinks if White now plays RxP/c7, he will trap the Rook with ...Bc6

(In actuality, this is probably the losing move. Maybe - '?!') 

                         [ 15...f6!? ]     

 

  16. Rxc7!!(Probably - '!!!') 
A brilliant move, and the beginning of one of the snazziest chess combo's ever played on a chess board.   

White does not seem to notice that Black will try to trap a Rook on the c7-square. 

                         [ 16.b4!? ]   

 

16...Bc6; {Box?}  
Now this is pretty much forced.   

17. R1xc6!!, (Wow!)  
Yet another brilliant shot that appears - at first glance - to strand a whole Rook on c7. 

(Dozens of annotators have given this move at least one exclam.) 

                         [ 17.R7xc6!? bxc6; 18.Qe4, "~" ]   

 

17...bxc618. Rxf7!!;  
Yet another incredible (& unexpected) shot. 

White has now shifted his focus to Black's King.   

                         [ 18.Rb7 ]    

 

18...h6; {Box.} 
This is pretty much forced.  
(Black gains space, gets some 'air' for his King ... and prevents any unwelcome intrusions to the g5-square by the White Knight. 

                         [ If Black captures the Rook, he loses by force. The MAIN LINE is:   
                            18...Kxf7?!; ('?')  19.Qc4+! Kg6; 20.Qg4+! Kf7; 21.Ng5+ Kg8
                                    (21...Ke7??
; 22.Qe6#) 
                            22.Qc4+
Kh8; 23.Nf7+ Kg8; 24.Nh6+ Kh8; 25.Qg8# ]    

 

19. Rb7!, (Nice.) 
White disdains the win of more material to maintain his active Rook on the 7th rank.   

                         [ Most computers still pick the move, (in this position):    
                            19.Rf5!?, "+/" (Maybe "+/-")   
                            White has a winning attack, and pressure on Black's e-pawn. ]   

 

19...Qc820. Qc4+ Kh821. Nh4!!,  {Too much!}   
Having already sacrificed a lot of material, White gleefully asks Black if he would like to capture a Rook. 

 With Nh4!! the mating attack shifts into high gear.  

                         [ Most MASTERS choose: 21.Rf7!, "+/" (Maybe "+/-") in this position. ]   

 

21...Qxb722. Ng6+ Kh723. Be4!?, (Maybe - '!') 
White sets up the threat of a devastating discovered check. 

                         [ 23.Nxf8+? Rxf8; 24.Qh4, "~" ]     

 

23...Bd6; {Box.} 
This is forced, Black has to cover the g8-square. 

                         [ 23...Ra6??; 24.Ne7+,  and then  Qg8#  next move. ]    

 

24. Nxe5+!, (Maybe - '!!')  {Diagram?} 
White disdains the obvious perpetual check and begins the final assault on Black's King. 

                         [ 24.Nf8+ Kh8; 25.Ng6+ Kh7; 26.Nf8+ Kh8; 27.Ng6+,  Draw. ]   

 

24...g6; {Box.} This is completely forced. 

                          [ 24...Kh8?; 25.Nf7+ Kg8; 26.Nxd6+,  followed by NxQ/b7, with an easy win. ]   

 

25. Bxg6+ Kg726. Bxh6+!(Maybe - '!!')  Black Resigns. (1-0)

                         [ Black quit because he saw:  26.Bxh6+! Kxh6; 27.Qh4+ Kg7; 28.Qh7+ Kf8; 29.Qxb7, "+/-" ]    

 

   The game of a lifetime!  And a real work of chess art!!!  

    1 - 0    


 Game first posted on my web site, March 13th, 2002.  
  Game last edited on: Sunday, March 02, 2014 02:26 PM .  


This game is a  much  shortened version of the game as it exists in my database.

(I have shortened it for publication. Even this shortened version took 4 to 6 hours of work to prepare and ready it for publication on my web page. The long version would have required days - or even weeks - to finish!!)If you would like a copy of the full, deeply annotated version of this game to study, please contact me.


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