Former World Champion and legendary chess teacher Mikhail Botvinnik was the originator of the “Every Russian schoolboy knows” chess aphorism, which alluded to the fact that thousands of unknown schoolboys back in Russia - due to the intense training methods they received from a young age - likely knew more about the game than most professionals did in the West.
One player who came through that legendary Soviet training camp is former U.S. Champion GM Alexander Yermolinsky. And each Sunday in his hit show, “Every Russian Schoolboy Knows”, Alex will explain and expand on all the top tips and tricks gleaned from those famed training methods.
Today's show is: Botvinnik Semi-Slav Revisited - Part 2
The storied history of the Botvinnik Variation of the Semi-Slav is well-documented in chess literature. From the early experimental works of Klaus Junge to Botvinnik's post-WWII famous victories that earned him the right to have his name attached to this opening line, and then off to the glory days of the 1980-90's, when Kasparov seemingly refuted it from the White side, only to play it himself much later on against his young rival, Kramnik - all those are the golden pages forever engraved in the annals of our game. The question is, where does the Botvinnik stand now, in the age of the merciless computer dissection of the entire opening theory? The fact is, the Botvinnik isn't played very often nowadays, having been largely replaced by the Moscow Variation, where 5.Bg5 is answered with 5...h6. There's only one man standing tall to fearlessly defend the black colors in the Botvinnik, and his name is Alexei Shirov. As a young disciple of the great Tal, Alexei learned to play this crazy line by heart through his own experiences, and that to this day enables him to go on and meet the challenge against a new generation of players, armed to the teeth with computer preparation. I witnessed Shirov's latest effort in the Botvinnik with my own eyes just a few weeks ago at the Chihuahua Open, and what a game it was - watch Video #1.
Impressed with that game as I was, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and recall my own experiences in the Botvinnik that came from the White side of the board. The same line Shirov is faced in Chihuahua I remember well, because it was I who came up with this whole concept for White and tried it 32 years ago against then very young Vassily Ivanchuk. It only earned me a draw, which back then didn't seem to as anything special ( Ivanchuk was a 17-year-old talent, not a superstar yet), this game remains very dear to my heart and I hope you will enjoy watching my presentation in Video #2. Is this the final word on the 16.Rb1? Still hard to tell...