Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marking the centenary of a cerebral champ



SANDS: Marking the centenary of a cerebral champ

By David R. Sands

The Washington Times

Tuesday, August 23, 2011



He boasted a record and a resume as impressive as anyone who ever played the game, but it always seemed that three-time world champion Mikhail Botvinnik was more admired than loved by chess players around the world.

Botvinnik, born 100 years ago on Aug. 17, 1911, brought an unprecedented level of precision, drive and technical sophistication to the game, helping to formulate and then mastering the insights of the great Soviet school of chess and ranking among the very best players in the world from the mid-1930s into the 1960s.

But his powerful, logical style generated relatively few brilliancies over his lengthy career, and many of the players he held off as world champion, including such greats as Paul Keres, David Bronstein and Mikhail Tal, today claim far more fervent fans than the cool, cerebral Botvinnik. Still, his was a style that generated impressive results, including 15 years as world champ, six Soviet national titles (a record he shares with Tal) and a string of victories in legendary tournaments.

He influenced a new generation of Soviet greats, including junior stars (and future champs) Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, and top players to this day routinely cite Botvinnik’s “One Hundred Selected Games” collection as a seminal influence on their own early development.

We honor Botvinnik, who died in 1995, with a game taken from the twilight of his career in 1968, two years before he essentially gave up competitive play at age 59.

More here.