Malcolm Pein on…The Botvinnik System


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Malcolm Pein starts the week by catching up with the Tata Steel Masters in today’s Daily Telegraph column.

The main game features an interesting battle in the Botvinnik System and there is also an opportunity to test your strength in a major-piece ending.

Malcolm Pein on…The Botvinnik System

Hats off to the organisers of the Tata Steel Masters who managed to maintain the tradition of staging an elite 14-player all-play-all in the Dutch seaside village of Wijk aan Zee.

The Botvinnik System, with a kingside fianchetto and pawns on c4 and e4 or for Black, c5 and e5, is a reliable setup for White or for Black against the English Opening.

A recent book The Iron English by Richard Palliser and Simon Williams expounds the strategies for both sides and they have also produced courses on the line for Chessable.

White’s response was not sufficiently combative here:

J. K. Duda – N. Grandelius
83rd Tata Steel MastersWijk aan Zee
English Opening

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.b3 e5 4.Bb2 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.g3 Bg7 7.Bg2 Nge7 8.0–0 0–0 9.d3 Rb8 10.Ne1 Be6 11.Nd5 (11.Nc2 d5 is good for Black, who gains space in the centre) 11…Qd7 12.Nc2 (The knight on c2 and bishop on b2 are left rather passive, as Black gets on with his kingside play. 12.e4 f5 13.f4 Nd4 was soon drawn in Taimanov-Hartston, Hastings 1976) 12…Bh3 13.Qd2 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 f5 15.b4 (15.Nce3 f4 16.Nxe7+ Nxe7 17.Nd5 Qc6 pins and wins a pawn) 15…f4 16.bxc5 dxc5 17.e4 f3+ 18.Kh1 Nd4 19.Nxe7+ Qxe7 20.Ne3 Qd7 (Black’s plan is pretty simple. Qh3 g5 Rf6–h6 and mate. White soon has to give up material) 21.Bxd4 exd4 22.Nd5 Rbe8 23.Rg1 Qg4 24.Qd1 Re5

The Botvinnik System

25.Nf4 g5 26.h3 (26.Nd5 Re6 27.Qf1 Rh6 28.Ne7+ Kh8 29.Nf5 Rxf5 30.exf5 Qh5) 26…Qd7 27.Qxf3 Re7 28.Rg2 Qc7 29.Qh5 gxf4 30.gxf4 Qxf4 31.Qxc5 Qh4 32.Rg3 Kh8 33.Rag1 b6 34.Qd5 Qf4 35.c5 bxc5 36.Qxc5 Qe5 37.Qc6 Ref7 38.Rg5 Qf4 39.e5 Qxf2 40.Qe4 Re7 0–1

Test Your Strength

Aronian – Nepomniachtchi

Aronian – Nepomniachtchi
Skilling Open on Chess24

Black to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

1…Qd5! 2.e6 ( If 2.Rf6 Ra1 3.Rg6+ Kh7 or 2.Kg2 g4) 2…Qxf3 3.Qe5+ Qf6 0–1

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