NIC: Sadler on books and Botvinnik

by New In Chess
3/8/2019 – Courtesy our friends at New in Chess: GM MATTHEW SADLER gives his assessment of ChessBase's tenth volume in the Master Class series on the sixth World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik. Sadler annotates Botvinnik's win in an English Opening over Bent Larsen and concludes this Master Class makes for "a very interesting and entertaining DVD!"

Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik

Our experts show, using the games of Botvinnik, how to employ specific openings successfully, which model strategies are present in specific structures, how to find tactical solutions and rules for how to bring endings to a successful conclusion


Not a bad time to be reading chess books

As I was watching Magnus ­Carlsen’s adventures during the first two days of the World Rapid in St. Petersburg, I realized once again how nice and safe normal life is! While the best player in the world was losing his first two games and venturing 1.e4 e5 2.♕h5, work was finished for me for the year, and my most challenging puzzle was working out how many kilometres I needed to run in order to work off the calories from my mum’s Christmas cooking (52, in case you’re wondering!). However, since the exercise regime would have to wait until I could physically move again, it was not a bad time to be reading chess books, with a glass of port and a mince pie or two of course.

Master Class 10I’d like to start with the ChessBase DVD Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik by Dr. Karsten Müller, Mihail Marin, Oliver Reeh and Yannick Pelletier. I’ve reviewed DVDs from this series very positively over the past couple of years and this DVD keeps up the high standard. Four authors examine different facets of Botvinnik’s play: the opening is covered by Yannick Pelletier, Mihail Marin analyses the distinguishing features of Botvinnik’s middlegame play, while — as always in this series — Dr. Karsten Müller takes care of the endgames and Oliver Reeh presents the best tactics. I can’t think of an easier way to get a feel for the play of a great player than these DVDs: ideal training material for both young and old alike.

From my perspective, the most interesting part of the DVD is the middlegame part, which, as always, is excellently presented by Mihail Marin. Marin typifies Botvinnik’s style as ‘positional-aggressive’: a player who conducted the game primarily according to strategical considerations but who was able to act with great power once he felt that all the necessary conditions for realising his advantage were present. ‘All the necessary conditions’ is the key part of that last sentence. Marin demonstrates some examples in which Botvinnik preferred to maintain or increase his advantage by strategic means rather than exploit a tactical opportunity that seemed uncertain to him (even if the tactical solution was objectively better and even if he saw quite a few elements of the tactical solution).

Take a look at this example:


I found this interesting and spent some time thinking about it. Botvinnik aimed for positions in which he stood well strategically: he controlled the centre, his pieces were more active, the opponent’s pieces were misplaced. From this basis, there are many good types of moves in the realisation of the advantage: not only tactical ones, but also positional ones. It’s tempting just to focus on the missed tactical wins, but each successive strong positional move that Botvinnik played (20.♘e4, 21.♖d7, 22.♘d6 and 23.♖xd6) forced an additional weakness and made Black’s position look increasingly cheerless.

Although it may not be enough to defeat a defensive monster like an engine, from a human point of view Botvinnik’s re-strained play was just as difficult to defend against as a direct attack, and the impression we have of the game is that a strong player as Larsen was squeezed off the board by very simple means. Bear in mind also that Botvinnik’s continued strong positional play gave him multiple chances of finishing off the game tactically due to the difficulties Larsen experienced in defending the position.

A very interesting and entertaining DVD!

Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik

Our experts show, using the games of Botvinnik, how to employ specific openings successfully, which model strategies are present in specific structures, how to find tactical solutions and rules for how to bring endings to a successful conclusion

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In issue 2019#1

NIC cover

The first issue of 2019 covers the Rapid World Championship, the Grand Chess Tour, AlphaZero's magic and of course masterclasses by elite players from all over the world:

Valley of the Kings
Visit Egypt and play a game of chess against a backdrop of age-old pyramids.

NIC’S Café
Aquaman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II loves the silence of chess in Union Square Park.  Norwegian rapper Mr. Pimp Lotion discovered that the real MC he was looking for was Magnus Carlsen.

Your Move
The World Champion’s draw offer in Game 12, lambasted by Kasparov and Kramnik, is praised by more than one reader.

Double Fun in St. Petersburg
Daniil Dubov delighted the Russian fans with a brilliant victory in the World Rapid, finishing ahead of Magnus Carlsen. The Norwegian showed his grit as he hit back in the Blitz.

Fair & Square
What happened when Alexander Grischuk got his first smartphone and downloaded the PlayMagnus app?

Game Changer
An uplifting excerpt from the ground-breaking new book on AlphaZero.

Profile of a Prodigy?
Bruce Monson takes a fresh look at the most famous chess ‘Boy Wonder’ of all time and provides compelling evidence that Sammy Reshevsky was at least two years older than his ‘official’ birth date... 

Judit Polgar
Advanced enemy pawns can be menacing, but they may also serve as an umbrella, offering your king unexpected safety.

Nakamura claims GCT
With the new format, classical chess took a back seat at the London Classic, as all games were drawn. A win against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the fourth blitz game of the final brought Hikaru Nakamura first place and overall victory in the Grand Chess Tour.

And much more...

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New In Chess (NIC) was founded in 1984 and appears eight times a year. It is read by club players in 116 countries. A yearly subscription for eight issues costs €79.99.


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