Botvinnik – Smyslov: Three World Chess Championship Matches: 1954, 1957, 1958

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A unique look behind the scenes of World Championship Chess.

The writings of Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik (1911 – 1995) are legendary. ‘The Patriarch’ took professionalism in chess to a new level and set new standards for preparation.


In this book, Botvinnik writes the story of the three clashes with his compatriot Vasily Smyslov, matches full of tension between two virtually equal opponents.

Botvinnik successfully defended his title by drawing the first match in 1954, but the younger Smyslov won in 1957. Botvinnik bounced back with incredible resilience to win the third match, and regained ‘his’ world title.

Mikhail Botvinnik, one of the greatest chess players of all time, analyses almost all the games in this book, which also features annotations by Smyslov and other top grandmasters. The comments of the great Champion reveal his match strategy and his view on the strategic choices of his opponent. He spares neither himself nor Smyslov.


This book, edited and compiled by Mikhail Moisevich’s nephew Igor Botvinnik, also features Botvinnik’s legendary secret Notebooks, containing, in great detail, his opening preparation for the matches.


Botvinnik – Smyslov is a fascinating account and an important historical document on the pinnacle of chess of the mid-20th century. With a preface by Vasily Smyslov.

Arne Moll, ChessVibes:
"Botvinnik's comments to the games are still just great. His famously clear, logical approach of the game is highly instructive (..) What I found even more interesting are the psychological comments Botvinnik makes. But the real treat of the book are the two notebooks (1957 and 1958) in which Botvinnik wrote down his opening ideas for these matches."

Lubos Kavalek, The Washington Post:
"It is not only a great historical document, presenting 69 deeply annotated games between two giants, but it also reveals the secret notes Botvinnik made in preparation for the matches played in 1957 and 1958."

Marshtower Chess Reviews:
"Given Botvinnik's scientific approach to chess and life, it comes as a surprise when his very human side is displayed (..) he is amazingly honest about his faults and failings."

John Donaldson, ChessToday:
"A complete record of one of the greatest rivalries in chess history (..) The Patriarch's explanations of strategical ideas are crystal clear and his psychological observations are to the point. His notes (..) can be brutal as he spares neither Smyslov nor himself from criticism when they make mistakes."

Raymond Keene, The Times (London):
"A book which I can recommend highly (..) gives remarkabe insights into Botvinnik's own thoughts concerning these three matches."

Gert Ligterink, De Volkskrant:

"A splendid book."

Gary Lane, Australasian Chess:
"This is a must for those who cherish the past and want to learn from the great masters."

Pete Tamburro, Chess Life:
"It's not just a book of three matches. It's three books in one about how to play all three aspects of the game."

Paul Kane, Manchester Chess Federation:
"It is difficult to see how this book could be improved. As far as chess literatu
re is concerned, it must be called a classic."

John Watson, The Week In Chess:
"The comments, being private, can be amusing in view of his reputation as the cool and confident champion; in fact, [Botvinnik] resembles the rest of us (..) It's a good book to read casually, gleaning insights which you're not likely to find elsewhere. I recommended it highly."

Bernard Cafferty, British Chess Magazine:
"What a wave of nostalgia swept over the reviewer as he looked through this excellent work (..) providing a fascinating insight into the Patriarch's thinking."

More Information
Choose your edition : Paperback
Publication date : January 20, 2009
Number of pages : 288
Publisher : New in Chess
Weight : 608 gram
ISBN : 9789056912710