Talk:Mikhail Botvinnik

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"Born in St. Petersburg, the son of a dental technician, he first came to the notice of the chess world at the age of 14, when he defeated the world champion, Jose Raul Capablanca, in a simultaneous display."

What, exactly, is "simultaneous" supposed to mean in this sentence? Simultaneous with what? Livajo 07:31, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

See  Simultaneous chess  in Chess terminology. — Monedula 11:32, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

In chess, a simultaneous display means that a player will play against two or more opponents at the same time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:50, 4 September 2007 (UTC)


About the phrase: "although Reuben Fine, one of the strongest players in history not to have won the world title, wrote that Botvinnik's collection of best games was one of "the three most beautiful"."

I have The World's Great Chess Games by Fine, and there he ranks the collections of Lasker, Fischer and Alekhine as the three most beautiful.

I hope someone with privileges can correct this. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:07, 1 February 2007 (UTC).

I don't know which edition of Fine's "The World's Great Chess Games" has. I have the 1952 edition, which says "the collection of his(Alekhine's) best games is among the three most beautiful (I would rank Botvinnik and Rubinstein as the other two)." Philcha (talk) 13:39, 23 January 2008 (UTC)


I have removed the following paragraph, which is embedded in a long discussion of allegations by Bronstein, in a referenced 1995 book:

Reference to the site in 2007 tends to support Bronstein's points. Chessmetrics is a site which endeavours to place chess ratings of strong players in historical context, while correcting for different methods of calculation. Formal chess ratings for top players were not formally introduced internationally by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) until 1970; they had been used in the United States and Canada since the 1950s for national play. The lack of ratings made it difficult to compare the relative strengths of players at that time, especially since there had been almost no international chess involving the top players from the different parts of the world during World War II. Chessmetrics puts the Argentinian Najdorf's February 1948 rating at 2797, #2 in the world behind Botvinnik, and Botvinnik had lost badly to Najdorf at Groningen 1946. Boleslavsky hit 2738 at the same time, for #5. Bronstein himself sat at 2721 for #8, and this would rise later in the year after he won the Interzonal. Another very strong player at that time was the Swede Gideon Stahlberg, who was #3 in the world at 2762. None of those four players were included in the 1948 World Championship tournament.

The above seems to be largely speculation by the editor of the paragraph, based on his personal observations. It draws on primary sources to reach a conclusion. I have removed it for now on suspicion that it may be Original research, which is not permitted in Wikipedia articles. If a Reliable source for these speculations can be found, it can be replaced. --Tony Sidaway 16:56, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Jewish: can we get some reliable sources?[edit]

I've reverted an edit in what appears to be an emerging edit war over the insertion of the following (bolded characters are insertions):

Born in Kuokkala, near Vyborg, the Jewish [1][2] son of a dental technician

This is mainly because the provenance of the sources--two articles on websites--is dubious. The question of whether Botvinnik's ethnic Jewish origin (if verified) should be given so much weight is another matter, but can we first get some reliable sources? Botvinnik was a FIDE champion for over a decade so I'd expect there to be a few decent biographies. --Tony Sidaway 22:53, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

The person (Ioannes Pragensis) who would delete the references, and their citations, based his reason for deletions on his wrong-headed assumption that because B was communist and Soviet, he could not possibly be Jewish. Just check the history page. ("Botvinnik was not Jew but communist and Soviet.") That is patently ridiculous.

His next argument was based on unsupported personal feelings ("he was from a Jewish family, but I doubt whether he personally was a Jew as a member of the communist party"). I'm sorry, but his personal feelings are less valuable as a source than the sources cited.

Finally, I then -- despite the baselessness of his protest -- added citations. They are fine citations, not at all dubious. is a fine source. Perhaps you wish to contact Edward Winter at -- he authored the first article. Here is his Wiki bio -- There, it is indicated that he is viewed by the FIDE's USA Zone President (your reference to him as a FIDE champion is well taken, but that is why Winter wrote of him) as the world's foremost chess historian. Are you serious when you say that this source is "dubious," and you therefore give greater weight to Pragensis's "personal doubt," after Pragnesis has indicated that it is based on his inablity to comprehend that a person may be both Jewish and Soviet or Communist?

I'm flabbergasted.

The same holds for the other sources.

Really, this is a waste of everyone's time. --Epeefleche 23:07, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm sorry but these are not acceptable sources for Wikipedia. Please revert your edit while we discuss how to source this. --Tony Sidaway 23:12, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Tony, you have it backwards, as indicated above. I have multiple sources, including th efellow that the head of the FIDE USA Zone indicates is the world's foremost chess champion. You have the feelings, unsupported in any way whatsoever, of a fellow.

For goodness sake, what better source than someone who is the world's foremost chess historian. In the eyes of the USA President of FIDE?

Feel free to explore further, but please do not delete such a well-sourced citation while you do it.--Epeefleche 23:18, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

He may be a great historian, but the source is not reliable, it's just a website that attributes statements about Mikhail Botvinnik's ethnicity to Edward G. Winter. If it went off-line tomorrow the source would be gone. Now if he's a published authority it shouldn't be too difficult to run down a proper reference. --Tony Sidaway 23:26, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
I already supplied two others with the citations and the links. And its the website that publishes his articles ... I'm confused. If you wish to link to an internet source, of course it will be a website. Here, you have the website that publishes all the articles that he is famous for. That is about a proper a reference as I can imagine. All urls may go off-line tomorrow. That fact does not make a source NG ... Wikipedia links, citations, and references are all to urls that fall into this category.

Are you really suggesting that the feelings of this fellow who thinks that a Jew cannot also be a Communist or a Soviet, and bases his comments on that, trump a 3-source series of citations, including one to the putative foremost living chess historian? I'm baffled. What are you looking for? A paper form of the article? --Epeefleche 23:42, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Forget what the other chap is saying. Read what I am saying. Your sources are not reliable. Please find better sources. --Tony Sidaway 23:44, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Let's take this from the top. What is "unreliable" about the three (not two -- a third is in the links at the bottom) sources, and makes their provenance "dubious," not "reliable," and "unacceptable" in your opinion?
I am carefull reading what you are saying. You point out that they are "articles on websites." True. So are the vast majority of footnotes, references, and links on Wiki.
And that they attribute statements to Edward G. Winter. Well, actually even better. They are as best we can tell (with any article) the actual Winter article, not an attibution thereto. And it is rare that a Wiki article can cite to the actual article of someone who is reputed to be the foremost historian on the point that the article covers -- so we would appear to be dong better here than the vast majority of footnotes, references, and links on Wiki.
And that if the website were to go "off-line tomorrow the source would be gone." True. So are the vast majority of footnotes, references, and links on Wiki.
Please help me out here. I'm clearly missing something.
It seems to me that we have on this point more citations (3) to sources that include a better source than the vast majority of Wiki citations. Where is the problem?
--Epeefleche 23:58, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Verifiability does say that self-published websites can be OK if they are created by subject matter experts (which Winter is) and the subject is not a living person (which Botvinnik is not). In any case, I've added a footnote to a journal article that refers to Botvinnik as "the great Soviet Jewish chess master" and quotes him as saying "My situation is complex. By blood I am Jewish, by culture—Russian, by upbringing—Soviet." —Celithemis 00:09, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Incidentally, the latter quotation comes from p.247 of part 2 of Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors, ISBN 1-85744-342-X. —Celithemis 00:21, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Just a postscript: this reference has Yuri Averbakh saying Botvinnik was Jewish (page 9).[3] So we've got three people who knew him personally - Averbakh, Gerald Abrahams and arguably Kasparov - plus a respected historian in Winter, saying Botvinnik was Jewish. The debate over whether to call him Jewish really should be over. If those folks call him Jewish, then so should we. To me the only issue is how much space to give it (in my opinion: a little but not much). Peter Ballard 12:33, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Series of Reverts of sourced statement that Mikhail Botvinnik was Jewish[edit]

Pragensis has asserted in the Mikhail Botvinnik article that Jews should not be reflected as such if they are Soviet or Communists. He wrote, as his sole basis for his RV of the sourced reference to the fact that Botvinnik was Jewish: "Botvinnik was not Jew but communist and Soviet."

Keeping the original language, I explained that he was Jewish, as cited, and the fact that he was communist and Soviet has absolutely nothing to do with whether he was Jewish.

He supported his next revert with the following novel POV: "he was from a Jewish family, but I doubt whether he personally was a Jew as a member of the communist party...." This suffers from the above problem, and only presents as support for his revert his unsupported POV.

In the interest of resolving this on the discussion page, rather than join others such as Pragensis in their endless series of reverts on this and other pages over the past two day, I move this discussion for the moment to the talk page.

Since it is part of a series of similar instances, relating to other Jewish chess players such as Wilhelm Steinitz, Samuel Reshevsky, and Aron Nimzowitsch, I suggest that discussion be had on the talk page of Reuben Fine, where I have initiated discussion with a more fullsome analysis of the arguments presented.

This is a problem, I would submit, that goes beyond this article. It continues, as Pragensis continues to strip these mentions out of Wiki bios, despite discussion and multiple citations (his answer to the citations is to delete them).

I would suggest that the RVs that I have pointed out by others are bereft of basis or citations.

Therefore, I would ask that they undo their RVs of the sourced material while this discussion takes place on this page.

Furthermore, for the above reasons, I believe that the original language should remain permanently.

I would be grateful for suggestions as to both how to fix this issue on this page, and in general.

Thanks.--Epeefleche 20:59, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Whatever the final form, the reference to "Jew" must be moved up earlier in the sentence, to clarify that it applies to B -- as it stands, it can be read as applying to his father.

--Epeefleche 22:35, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Here's why I'm deleting the external links:

Rocksong 00:18, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Agreed; they should go. The Prospect Magazine article might be worth linking to, except that it's an unauthorized copy; the external links policy forbids linking to copyright violations. —Celithemis 00:29, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Lets start first with your suggestion that you are under the belief that an article must mention the sujbect more than once. I've seen the opposite suggested in Wiki policy, but never that. Can you point me to a Wiki basis for that view? Much appreciated.

And one comment -- you had indicated that there was no question that B was Jewish. But if you have read the history and talk pages, you would see that that has not been the case.

Also, I would appreciate it if rather than engaging in an edit war by continuing to RV my input, you leave it as is and discuss here on the talk page. Thanks much!

--Epeefleche 00:32, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I think you're responding to Rocksong rather than me, though the indentation would imply otherwise -- I haven't reverted the links. In any case, I suggest taking a look at Wikipedia:external links. External links should be on topic -- more than just tangentially related. I do realize there has been a lot of controversy here about Botvinnik being Jewish, but piling on a bunch of extra external links is not the way to solve that. Whatever sources are necessary to establish the facts should be used as citations, not in an external links section. —Celithemis
Celi--you are correct that I was primarily addressing Rocksong. I apologize for the confusion. His below suggestion, consistent with yours, works for me. Epeefleche Epeefleche 06:23, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps these links arose from a misunderstanding between the references and external links, so perhaps I was a little harsh. I'd have no objections to most of those sites being used as references (i.e. a little number in the text directing the user to the external site as reference for a statement) for the claim that he was Jewish. However Wikipedia:External links exist to provide extra information which cannot fit in the article. Obviously a site which says nothing about Botvinnik except "Botvinnik was Jewish" does not fit this description. See the article Wikipedia:External links on the use of external links. Rocksong 01:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Rock--excellent. That works for me. Thanks for this. If I can get to a pc (I am writing from a bberry), I will follow up on your suggestion, seeking to divine which you might not object to as a reference. If you can do it without trouble (I always think it kinder if people put entries into the form they find acceptable, rather than delete it) that would be great, but if not as I said I will ultimately. Thanks for working through this.

One last point--some of these articles may well stand for broader propositions, and just refer to B as an example, and therefore fit within your description of what qualifies as an external link, but I defer to you on this. Your approach works for me. Thanks again. EpeeflecheEpeefleche 06:23, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Per the above consensus, I am moving the indicated external links to the references page, and moving the references up to the appropriate place. If anyone wishes to discuss any specific reference, lets do it here rather than RV war. While the number of references is greater than I would usually think is necessary (though it would still be acceptable), the discussion above with others suggests the importance in this case of a larger than normal number of references, consistent with the Wiki notion that a greater number of multiple references is appropriate where there is controversy as to the issue that the references support, and/or the strength of any of the references by itself. This has been such a case.

I am also RVing a recent revision that used his first name within the text of the article, rather than "he." That is discouraged by Wiki policy. Let me know if you disagree, and need the reference to convince yourself.

I am also, for reasons I had thought I articulated above, clarifying that the phrase "Jewish" refers to MB and not to his father. The prior structure suffered from this flaw. If anyone differs, please discuss here, with rationale for a different view, rather than RV. At this point I would view an unsubstantiated RV on this as vandalism, given the extensive discussion above.

Similarly, the phrase "secular" would be used here rather than "secularized," if that notion is to remain withing the article at all. I am not weighing in on that point at the moment, other than to state that if it does remain then the appropriate phrase should be used. The alternative approach is akin to calling someone a Russianized Jew, rather than a Russian Jew. If anyone has a different view, please articulate the basis for that view here, rather than just make an unsupported RV.

Also, as to the Cold War Chess article/copyright/fair use issue, please see the discussion at the top of the page of the article.

Lastly, someone might wish to clean up the references to "Kuokkala, Finland" and "Repino, Russia." Assuming they are correct. They result in red links when I try to link them internally.

--Epeefleche 00:02, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, that is still over the top. 6 references to prove he is Jewish?! Plus, the one you left in the external links is, frankly, a third rate biography and is of no use. Peter Ballard 00:18, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
p.s. I am the same person as User:Rocksong. I've just switched to using my real name. Peter Ballard 00:27, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
I suggest limiting to 2 references. The two highest quality ones, by my reading, are and the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia. Peter Ballard 00:39, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Epeefleche, I agree with you that my English is far from perfect (secular etc.) and thank you for correction. On the other side saying "X was the Jewish son of Y" implies - at least for my understanding - that there was also Z, the non-Jewish son of Y. Can somebody whose first language is English confirm or deny this? Or had Botvinnik's father also non-Jewish sons? Can you prove it? --Ioannes Pragensis 12:39, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
I am happy with 2 references, as suggested by Peter, and deletion of the link he dislikes, if that will suffice for IP, and not result in him RVing refernce to the fact that MB was Jewsish (yet again).

As far as how we say it, why not say "MB was Jewish ...."?Epeefleche 17:44, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Revisions needed[edit]

This article has a lot of excellent content, but I think there's room for more, and I think a restructure would help:

  • Chess career (with sub-sections), concentrating on chess results.
  • Assessment of Botvinnik's play and contributions to the game.
    • Playing style. Strong on strategy, weak on tactical calculation (by his own admission); but often used "strategic" reasoning to get through complications (saw a Tal quote once about this, can anyone help?). Long-term positional sacs. One of the 3 most beautiful best games collections (says Fine).
    • Playing strength.
    • Ideas on physical, mental and technical preparation. Limited competitive play to avoid risk of staleness. Ruthless objectivity in assessing competitors, rising stars and and himself.
    • B's part in the "Soviet School of chess" (including as Kasparov's mentor).
    • Contributions to opening theory.
    • Relationships with other players (with brief refs to later sections). E.g. apparently on good terms w Smyslov, especially as they got older.
  • Political issues. Poisonous nature of Soviet chess politics.
    • B's fawning letter to Stalin after Nottingham 1936 (B later said, "You had to do that to survive in those days.").
    • Pressure on B as the only Soviet rising star of the 1930s.
    • Alleged pressure on Bs opponents to underperform, and Bs responses.
    • The Soviet championship "match-tournament" after B came last in normal Sov Championship tournament.
    • Olympic controversy and the revolt against B by other Soviet players in the 1950s.
    • B on Jews, Israel and Korchnoi.
  • Achievements outside chess (quick refs to this in the chess career also, as engineering work seems to have interfered with his chess at times). I remember seeing somewhere that B was a keen and good amateur ballrom dancer, can anyone help? Philcha (talk) 13:42, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Image at top of article[edit]

That image is just not how Botvinnik is remembered. Any picture from the early 1930s (in his early 20s) to the late 1960s (in his mid-50s) would do, as the only noticeable change was that his hair receded. But I'd still like to see the pic of Botvinnik at age 16, possibly opposite the earliest part of his career, just to remind us that he hadn't always looked the same ever since the Big Bang. It's amazing to see how much he changed in 6 years, then how little he changed in the next 35. Philcha (talk) 03:11, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

I've re-shuffled the images to match Botvinnink's age at teh time, and put the 1933 pic in the infobox as it's the best one that shows the way he looked for most of his career. Philcha (talk) 10:42, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Political controversies surrounding Botvinnik[edit]

I propose to wrap all this up in one section, using the same sources as in my recent edits of World Chess Championship 1948 and Paul Keres, plus a few others. Topics: fawning letter to Stalin after Nottingham 1936; alleged pressure on Bs opponents to underperform, and Bs responses; the Soviet "Absolute championship" "match-tournament" after B came last in normal Sov Championship tournament; Olympic controversy and the revolt against B by other Soviet players in the 1950s; B on Jews, Israel and Korchnoi. I propose to start by pointing out the poisonous nature of Soviet chess politics and the fact that, as he was the Soviet Union's first home-grown champion, anything B did or said (or did not do or did not say) had political repercussions. Philcha (talk) 05:55, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Regarding Botvinnik, Keres and the 1948 tournament, I would rather have it all in one place - either at World Chess Championship 1948, or an entirely new article. (Probably the former, unless it gets very long). The problem with duplicating it in 3 articles is that they quickly get out of sync when a different editor edits one article but not the others. p.s. Good on you finding "The Keres-Botvinnik case revisited" - I hadn't seen that one before. Peter Ballard (talk) 06:58, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Most of the material I'm planning for Mikhail Botvinnik doesn't relate to Keres or the 1948 tournament. The only para that would be duplicated would be the one about the 1948 tournament, and that's only about 6 lines; and I'd restructure the way refs are used in that para, because in the Botvinnik article they have to support several topics. As a software developer I'm naturally against duplication, but a Wikipedia guideline whose name I forget says articles should be reasonably free-standing, and I'm willing tolerate duplication of 6 lines for that. The only way to avoid duplication more or less completely (100% is impossible) would be to start a new article on the institutional corruption of Soviet chess, which might start WWW3 (Wikipedia World War 3) - and I don't fancy getting 2008 started with that kind of bang! Philcha (talk) 13:19, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
I've summarized all the info I can find about political controveries relating to Botvinnik. At present there are also 2 blocks of commented-out material, which I hope will stay there until everyone's happy with the section , as it can be re-used. Then we can remove it in a few weeks. Philcha (talk) 10:44, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Notable games[edit]

Someone really should add some of these. All the other chess players entries in Wiki have some. I would do it myself but I am no expert on Botvinnik.  SmokeyTheCat  •TALK• 22:13, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

"Citation needed" tag in intro[edit]

Someone's put a "Citation needed" tag at the end of the para which refers to political controversies. The section "Political controversies" contains 15 citations, to at least 6 separate sources. To cover the ground properly the final para of the intro would probably need 6 citations. IIRC there's a guideline somewhere that intros need not have (or even should not contain) citations. Can anyone clear this up?

BTW I'm removing the "Inappropriate tone" tag from the start of "Political controversies". Philcha (talk) 13:59, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

1914 tournament? Chess set from dad?[edit]

Steveshelokhonov has retitled "Early years" to ""Early and formative years" and added:

His early childhood was marked by several important influences. One was the 1914 international chess tournament in St. Petersburg, in which the title "Grandmaster" was first formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II to five players: Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall, and which the Tsar had partially funded. Another was the set of chess, a gift young Botvinnik received from his father.

I don't think the re-title is an improvement. It's hard to see how the 1914 tournament could have been much of an influence on a 3-year-old - especially as several sources say Botvinnik did not learn the moves until age 12 (1923), e.g. Fine The World's Great Chess Games. I don't know what caused Botvinnik to learn the moves then but I've never seen any mention of a chess set received from his father. And there are no references to support the additions. Philcha (talk) 20:43, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Since no-one has come forward with refs to support the influence of either St. Petersburg 1914 tournament or the chess set, I'm removing the para and re-titling the section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Philcha (talkcontribs) 13:06, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Please help with sources[edit]

There are some items I remember and would like to include but for which I can't find sources:

  • Botvinnik 's admission that he was weak in tactical calculation. I have a vague feeling it was in Keene & Divinsky's Warriors of the Mind, possibly in connection with the Botvinnik-Tal matches.
  • A story about Tal and Botvinnik analysing a complex position - Tal poured out a torrent of variations and then was astonished when Botvinnik simply said something like "put piece A on square X, piece B on square Y and piece C on square Z; then the defense will hold."
  • Petrosian saying there was an "unpleasant feeling of inevitability" when playing Botvinnik and compared him to a bulldozer, to which Keres replied "Imagine what it was like when he was young!" (this one's really annoying me, I found on it the Web about 2 weeks ago but Google can't find it now).
Found it: [4] - Google didn't look far enough down the page! Philcha (talk) 12:15, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Botvinnik avoided playing too much competitive chess because he thought it would make him get stale. Philcha (talk) 09:25, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Botvinnik pupils who did not become world champs[edit]

I think Peter Ballard was wrong to remove

and other top-class players such as Vassily Ivanchuk, Zsuzsa Polgar, and Alexander Beliavsky.[1]

from the article as this passage makes 2 points: Botvinnik's school was not just for male players; non-Soviets attended. Philcha (talk) 12:02, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I've trawled for other alumni and found only Jaan Ehlvest [5] Philcha (talk) 15:13, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The Chessbase article [6] says that (a) Adrian Mikhalchishin attended the Botvinnik school, and (b) Mikhalchishin trained Karpov, Ivanchuk, Zsuzsa Polgar, and Alexander Beliavsky. It does not state that Mikhalchishin trained them at the Botvinnik school, and I'm a bit doubtful that he would have (especially since he at some time left the USSR for Solvenia), though I'm willing to be proven wrong. p.s. where does the Chessbase article say that non-Soviet people attended the Botvinnik school? Peter Ballard (talk) 22:57, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Oops, you're right - I misread a couple of sentences. OTOH [7] supports inclusion of Shirov and Akopian, [8] supports Ehlvest. I'll edit accordingly. Philcha (talk) 09:26, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
It seems just about everybody went - Yusupov, Psakhis, Dolmatov, Zaitsev - (see
CHESS magazine (August 1978) also reported that Jon Arnason accepted an invitation, so presumably they had some non-Soviets - a lot of the teaching was done by post, like an Open University course in the UK, so geographic considerations weren't necessarily a barrier. Of course, it may only have been during the latter stages of this last (post-1969) incarnation of the school, that they were willing to share their training 'secrets' with the west. Brittle heaven (talk) 21:42, 30 January 2008 (UTC)


I've reinstated the comments in the intro about Botvinnik's engineering career and the nickname "Iron Mike":

  • The fact that B was an active electrical engineer while competing for and holding the world title makes his chess achievements all the more impressive. He was in fact a fairly notable electrical engineer who wrote several papers on power-suppply systems as well as on computer chess (so arguably at least as notable in electrical engineering as Emanuel Lasker was in maths or philosophy). His electrical engineering work got him suppport in the Electricity Ministry (Yuri Averbakh: An Interview with History, Part 2). Although published sources don't say this, I suspect having allies outside the Soviet chess bureacracy and Sports Ministry enabled B to take a more independent line on some political issues (see: the 1948 Keres affair; B's comments on the founding of Israel; B's successful campaign for the sacking of a chess bureacrat who was also a KGB colonel, in the Averbakh interview).
  • The "Iron Mike" item is amusing and also illustrates his character and approach to the game. Philcha (talk) 11:08, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
His career as an EE is notable and belongs in. However I'm unconvinced on "Iron Mike". The source[9] doesn't say that he was called "Iron Mike" in the 1960s, in fact there is no indication of when or how widespread the nickname was. I still don't think it's notable enough, and certainly not for the introduction. Peter Ballard (talk) 11:38, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
The nickname "Iron Mike" was applied to B fairly often - I saw it a few times in the UK mag Chess in the 1960s, but I threw away my copies long ago. USchess was the only online source I could find. Does anyone know of other usable refs? Philcha (talk) 12:43, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
While we're discussing B as a person rather than chess-player, I have a vague memory of reading somewhere that B was an excellent ballroom dancer, almost competition grade. Can anyone comment? Philcha (talk) 12:56, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

World championship succession[edit]

I've used the template package used for English monarchs, in order to handle the Interregnum of World Chess Champions - as suggested by Quale at Talk:Alexander Alekhine in March 2008. The same package seems to work well for Alexander Alekhine. Philcha (talk) 12:48, 26 May 2008 (UTC)


I think this article has too many pictures of Botvinnik - and the monotony increases because Botvinnik's appearance changed little between the ages of about 25 and 55. I suggest replacing a few with pics if his rivals - especially Smyslov, Tal and Petrosian. Or perhaps positions from some of his games, as puzzles with the solutions in footnotes. Or any other source of variety that anyone can come up with. Philcha (talk) 22:42, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I agree, the existing crop of images are somewhat bland and monotonous. I'm sure I've seen others in my book/mag collection. If my memory isn't playing tricks, I'll insert what I find into the article ( - probably next weekend, to allow time to locate and replicate them). Feel free to move them around, reject them, or whatever. It'll just be useful to have a few alternatives to choose from. Brittle heaven (talk) 23:19, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Might be good to make a gallery page, as User:ArthurWeasley has done for his work. I suggest a subpage off Wikipedia:WikiProject Chess, wiht a link on Wikipedia:WikiProject Chess - that would make them always avaible,and avoid deletion of orphaned images. Philcha (talk) 08:29, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good. A kind of central depository - let's open it up to all the world champions, as you seem to be working on these articles and it certainly looks like Petrosian and Euwe could benefit from some extra pics. Fischer as well? - what's the latest consensus on Fischer? We have a free image so we can't substitute a fair use one? I'll stick in what I can find for now and add to it as we go along. Hopefully other editors will do the same. Brittle heaven (talk) 22:15, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
As there is already World Chess Championship/Gallery, I'll use that to avoid duplication - note though that the gallery requires some work, possibly a re-format, and there is current discussion under Talk:World Chess Championship/Gallery that it should be moved elsewhere. Brittle heaven (talk) 08:11, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
Sounds like a good compromise. I've suggested at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Chess#Centralised_image_gallery that we should have a centralised gallery as 1 or more sub-pages of Wikipedia:WikiProject Chess, with link(s) on Wikipedia:WikiProject Chess.
What kind of reformat did you have in mind for World Chess Championship/Gallery? Philcha (talk) 12:44, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I think it has to be remote from any mainstream article, so a sub-page to the Wikiproject page would be ideal. If it remained an adjunct to a certain article, then you couldn't use it as an editor's toolbox, with surplus pics, cropped versions, new categories from time to time etc. Format-wise, I would keep the sub-titled sections for navigational purposes, but beyond that, I was less impressed with the 'wikilinked caption defining the reign' approach, as it seems a bit unnecessary (we've established it shouldn't be an adjunct to an article) and inflexible on a number of levels - e.g. photos are mis-matched to the particular period captioned, the same photos are monotonously repeated to show different reigns by the same person, there are gaps that can't easily be filled, surplus photos that won't have a caption, etc. etc. I think I would just pack them in 'wiki-commons style' - identities should be fairly apparent to chess editors and the filename will confirm at a glance anyway. I'm open to suggestions though, or even the retention of the existing format, if it's the popular choice. Brittle heaven (talk) 17:37, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
I'd be happy if each pic appeared once and the player pice were sorted by surname. As Brittle heaven said, it should be an editor's toolbox. Philcha (talk) 19:07, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
Nice images, Brittle heaven!
First we need to make sure the replaced images are not deleted as orphans. I've copied a few to World Chess Championship/Gallery. But I have not copied ""Image:Botvinnik2.jpg"" or ""Image:Botvinnik3.jpg"" as these are non-free, but poor quality and not very interesting, so I'm not motivated to produce fair use rationales. They are not used by other articles, so may be deleted as orphans. What do you think?.
Then we need to consider which ones are the most important. Apart from the chess diagrams (it's a chess article!), I think the most important are: the lead pic; B as a youth (great improvement on the id card pic!); Botvinnik-Tal 1960; Petrosian (ended B's reign); Keres (the 1948 controversy); B's chess school (with him as an old man). What do you think? Philcha (talk) 18:11, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
Bubba73 may have uploaded the 2 you refer to, so he'll probably get the orphan messages, but I think he and I were just generally filling gaps at the time, without too much regard to quality or longevity. Photos have to be seen as transient things anyway; no doubt the present batch will be replaced in time. I actually had a few more, but I don't especially want to be criticised for over-playing the non-free card. I should point out that the images replaced were not of solid 'public domain' status, but were actually of status 'unknown'. Certainly, I've got no problems with the ones you pick out - as I said earlier, feel free to change things as you wish, those images were just put in there quite randomly. If I was looking at it myself, I'd probably switch things around and/or reduce image sizes to avoid gaps in the text and overlapping sections quite so much, but that's just my personal preference. Good idea to test the water with those secondary rationales btw, that could be a useful step forward. I'll see if I can sort out a few bonus pics of some of the other champs when I get a chance. Brittle heaven (talk) 20:30, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I got messages about them being orphans today. I think they should be saved somewhere. Bubba73 (talk), 14:32, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Another thing - if a photo was published in the USSR before 1946 (or something like that), it is in the public domain, so a "fair use" may not be required. But I don't know the exact year on these. Some must before 1946. Bubba73 (talk), 15:08, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Chess diagrams with moves[edit]

a b c d e f g h
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
b7 black pawn
d7 black knight
e7 black queen
g7 black bishop
b6 black knight
c6 black pawn
e6 black pawn
g6 black king
h6 black pawn
a5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
e4 white knight
b3 white pawn
e3 white bishop
c2 white queen
e2 white bishop
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
c1 white rook
d1 white rook
g1 white king
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

I'd like chessplayer articles to show more samples of their play because that's why we have articles about them and it makes a change from endless mugshots. The difficulty is where to put the continuations: if we put them in the main text, it disrupts the flow; if we put them in the captions, the diagrams get longer and and spill into the next section; if we put them in footnotes the reader has to jump backwards and forwards, or show the footnoote in a separate window / tab and flip between these.

I've found a way to present the continuation in a "show"/"hide" box in the diagram's caption. Here's the code for the sample diagram's caption (goes in the last section of Template:Chess diagram):

| header = <p style="margin-right:8em; height=auto">Botvinnik-Yudovich, 
USSR Championship 1933</p> 
| content = After [[sacrifice (chess) | sacrificing]] a piece to 
expose Black's King, Botvinnik played 1. Bh5+ and Yudovich 
resigned as mate is inevitable, e.g. 1. ... Kxh5; 
2. Ng3+ followed by 3. Qe4+ Rf4; 4. Qxf4#.


  • Template:Hidden provides better formatting capability than Template:Show hide box, from which I could not get a decent result.
  • Must use the "header" keyword. If the header and content are plain text, Template:Hidden assumes that the first plaint-text param is the header and the 2nd is the content. But here the header is not plain text, so "header" is required and I've also used "content" just to be safe.
  • <p style="margin-right:8em; height=auto"> (HTML paragraph tag) creates an inner box for the header text, enabling it to do 2 things:
    • "margin-right:8em;" makes the header text stop 8 chars short of the right-hand edge, leaving space for "show"/"hide".
    • "height=auto" makes the header text's box expand to allow multiple lines if needed.
  • </p> closes the inner box containing the header text, and is required.
  • "headercss=height:auto;" makes the outer header box expand to allow multiple lines if needed - otherwise there's a risk that a multiline HTML paragraph tag (inner box containing header text) will overspill the outer header box and break the layout.
  • fw1=normal shows the header text in normal font. The default is fw1=bold.

I've posted this at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject_Chess#Chess_diagrams_with_moves to see whether others like the idea and whether it's worth refining the technique. Philcha (talk) 10:25, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

I think thats sort of cool.--Epeefleche (talk) 04:12, 11 November 2009 (UTC)


Botvinnik's family[edit]

Very hard to find anything. --Philcha (talk) 22:06, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Re his wife:

  • Any ideas when & where married?
  • A Nod For A Title: "Botvinnik's wife, the ballerina Gayane"
  • Bronstein's fateful 23rd game refers to her as Gannochka
  • "Achieving the aim" p 192 Gayane Davidnova
  • "Achieving the aim" pp 81-82 vaguely imply she worked for the Kirov in Aug 1941, but as what?

Re daughter:

  • "Achieving the aim" p 84 Olya born mid-1942


  • "Achieving the aim" 82 "My wifewas given a separate room for our family of five people" - who? (before Olya born)

Botvinnik and his contributions[edit]

I counted Botvinnik among the greatest players of all time, and one of the central people in the chess history, because it's obviously. He was the most importunate World Champion, and his later work, especially as coach to three World Chapmions (Karpov, Kasparov, and Kramnik) tells enough about this person.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 19:44, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

I greatly admire Botvinnik: I his influence the methods top players use in preparing for events, his contribution to the FIDE system and his place as the advance guard of the Soviet Union's dominance in the game make him the most influential player since Steinitz; and achieved distinction in enginerring at the same time; and still found time to be a near-pro dancer! However Kiril Simeonovski's recent edits to the lead are not helpful, and I have undone them. See WP:LEAD. Avoid WP:PEACOCK language. --Philcha (talk) 10:01, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
The lead section of the article is not defined as well as it should be, when you erite this. You also admire Botvinnik. For me, in the articel something is missed. Something that makes the distinction between Botvinnik and the others. His work as an electridal engineer, and his akgorithm are not enough to class him as leading chess coach and theoretician. His mastery in chess is not just by playing and analyzing. There aren't reliable sources that unify the chess and other branches, so it's imposiible to add sections with the texts, not just in this article. All right, then. I'm not going to change the lead section again, but please have it in mind that changes are needed. It's not still perfect.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 15:38, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that we can replace the need for RS articles with our own feelings (whether they are correct or not). Just the rules of the game.--Epeefleche (talk) 04:07, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

No tournaments after 1948![edit]

The table of Botvinnik's tournament results has no tournaments after the 1948 world championship match-tournament, even though Botvinnik played for another 22 years or so! How on earth is this article B-rated with such an omission? Krakatoa (talk) 21:41, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm downgrading the article to C Class. The criteria for B Class require, inter alia, that "The article reasonably covers the topic, and does not contain obvious omissions or inaccuracies." Omitting over 20 years of tournament results is an "obvious omission." Krakatoa (talk) 21:46, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I have a feeling he didn't play many tournaments after this time. Lots of candidates matches, world championship matches, team events and of course, the famous 'secret' training matches, but not I suspect many tournaments. I'll check, and if there aren't many, it should be easy enough for me to update. Brittle heaven (talk) 23:15, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Okay, now updated, errors and omissions excepted. Brittle heaven (talk) 10:59, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Peak rating[edit]

The information about Botvinnik's peak rating offered by [10] contradicts this article's infobox. Does WP:CHESS have any policy on unofficial FIDE ratings? Toccata quarta (talk) 09:30, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

They have been published in magazines, so I wouldn't have an issue with using them in the right context. Here however, when we look at the lifetime of the player, I'm not sure it achieves any purpose as Botvinnik was at his peak long before the Elo rating system came into being. Brittle heaven (talk) 21:41, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
Elo calculated ratings before FIDE started using them in 1970 (when Botvinnik was past his peak). On page 176 of his book, he gives Botvinnik's best five-year average as 2720. His actual peak must be at least 2720. On page 89 he shows that peak in about 1946. Since this is the same system later used by FIDE, I'd put in a note about this - the Elo calculated an unofficial five-year average of 2720, before there were official FIDE ratings. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 23:26, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Bubba73. The ratings Elo published in his book are imperfect, as he selected only a small number of players to rate (easy for me to say, since he did his calculations by hand) and he gave only five-year averages. All the same, they are the best we have for those players before 1971. Quale (talk) 03:41, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
There are others in a similar position, like Petrosian. His rating in Elo's book is higher than than his peak after FIDE started official ratings. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 04:05, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like a reasonable plan for those that have them. Would you therefore put this in the infobox, tagged to a footnote explaining it's source/rationale? Brittle heaven (talk) 08:51, 22 May 2013 (UTC)