Problema solucionado: ¡Smyslov podría haber ganado!

por Karsten Müller
22/12/2020 – En la partida número 14 del Campeonato del Mundo 1958 entre Mikhail Botvinnik y Vasily Smyslov, Botvinnik jugó lo que él mismo titulaba como "el final de torres más sútil de su carrera". Nuestro especialista en finales de partidas, GM Dr. Karsten Müller, ha consultado a nuestros lectores para procurar encontrar posibles errores que se pudieran haber cometido en dicha partida. El resultado sorprendente: ¡Smyslov podría haber empatado!

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The drawish nature of rook endings

Mikhail Botvinnik became world champion for the first time in 1948. The Patriarch of Soviet chess defended the title twice, first against David Bronstein (1951) and then against Smyslov (1954). In 1957, he was defeated by a 33-year-old Smyslov, who obtained a clear 12½:9½ victory in Moscow. Then came the 1958 rematch. Botvinnik faced Smyslov once again in a 24-game match, and kicked off with three straight victories — he would go on to win the match 12½:10½.

We presented a riddle from the rematch, thanks to a suggestion made by JNorri, who wrote: “For the future: I would suggest the 14th game of the 1958 Smyslov-Botvinnik match. Botvinnik called it maybe his most subtle rook ending.”

Even Botvinnik’s “most subtle” rook ending was drawn almost until the end, as the ChessBase readers found out! 

Zoran PetronijevicOnce again, Zoran Petronijevic sent the best solution, explaining in detail why Black cannot defend. These were his conclusions:

  1. The position after 22...Re6 is even.
  2. The game was adjourned after 41.Rh8. Botvinnik in his comments (his latest comments on this game are from 1986) points out that he had found a deep plan for him. However, the position is still even.
  3. Botvinnik criticizes 43...Kg6, which is in fact a good move and leads to even play.
  4. According to Botvinnik, 46...Rd6 loses. In fact, it leads to a very interesting pawn endgame, which is a draw. Botvinnik thought that 46...Ke6 loses due to 47.Rd4 — Charles Sullivan pointed out that this position is still even.
  5. Very interesting is 52...f4. According to Botvinnik, the position is already lost and Smyslov tried to confuse him by making the position more complex. Mikhalchishin has a different opinion: the position is still holdable, although f4 is a dubious move. In my opinion, this was a normal move.
  6. The first real mistake in this game is 54...Kf3. This move leads to a losing position. Neither Botvinnik nor Mikhalchishin evaluate it as a mistake. After 54...Re1 Black can hold.
  7. Botvnnik was right when he wrote that 57.axb5 is a mistake. Better was 57.Rxa6. In his analyses there are some mistakes.
  8. The decisive mistake is 59...Re2. Botvinnik thought that only 59...Re1 leads to draw, and 59...Kxh3 loses. The truth is that both moves lead to draw (see analyses). 

A very complex game with a lot of small imprecisions, which are unavoidable in this kind of positions.


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El GM hamburgués y doctor Karsten Müller, nacido en 1970, juega desde 1988 en el Hamburger Schachklub en la primera división de la Bundesliga y en 1996 y 1997 fue tercero en el campeonato de Alemania. Es un experto en finales de fama internacional y se encarga regularmente de las columnas de finales de ChessBase Magazine y del "Endgame Corner" de