02 August 2009

More Botvinnik Appreciations

Q: What was the source of Botvinnik's great chess strength?

My Great Predecessors II (2003):

Kasparov: 'Botvinnik was undoubtedly one of the greatest champions, a genuine innovator who created an entire era in chess. His style was one of deep strategy, based on serious opening and psychological preparation, fine technique, and accurately regulated positional and combinative decisions. [His] scientific approach enabled him to create an unprecedented system of preparation for competitions, including fundamental opening research, a systematic study of opponents' styles, and a rigorous analysis of his own games, with their obligatory publication, so that he could be criticized by others.' (p.111)

Smyslov: 'Botvinnik undoubtedly adhered to the classical views on chess. He was a worthy successor to his great predecessors -- Lasker, Capablanca, and Alekhine. One could observe a clear strategic idea in his play. By character he was a researcher, and at the basis of his approach to chess lay a quest for truth. In the years when computers did not yet exist, Botvinnik's deep analyses anticipated that direction of modern chess, which makes wide use of the accumulation and generalisation of information with the help of computer technology.' (p.262)

World's Greatest Chess Games (1976):

Fine: 'Botvinnik's style is hard to grasp at first sight. But a closer study reveals a very consistent thread -- he always seeks out the most complicated position. If a move leads to a good fight he is for it. For this reason he sticks to certain openings which he knows to perfection. A curious feature of his style is that he often plays better with Black than with White; this is because he avoids easy drawing lines with Black and accepts involved defensive positions which other masters sidestep.' (p.265)

Development of Chess Style (1968):

Euwe: 'Botvinnik's aim is always to seize the initiative. He is a remarkably deep combination player who can think out and compare long sequences of moves; but he is also an excellent position player, a good defender, and a great master of the endgame. Remembering that Botvinnik is also very much at home in the domain of the openings, it is no exaggeration to say that Botvinnik is the most versatile champion in the history of chess.' (p.140)

Meet the Masters (1945):

Euwe: 'Though Botvinnik is primarily a position player, and though his construction of the game differs vastly from Alekhine's, his play reveals in his discernment of attacking chances, the greatest possible resemblance to the brilliant style of the world champion.' (p.170)

In answer to the question, 'who were the greatest champions', it is rare for lesser players to mention Botvinnik.


Tom Chivers said...

Interesting. Kramnik wasn't a fan apparently, if you read the predecessors interview on his website.

Mark Weeks said...

Re the 'predecessors interview', I hadn't seen it...

Kramnik Interview: From Steinitz to Kasparov

...Great page. Thanks for the tip! - Mark