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John Saunders


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Tournament: Botvinnik Clock Simul • 4+1 games/part-games • uploaded Monday, 24 June, 2024 1:38 PM
Venue: Imperial College, London • Date: 8 April 1981 • Download PGN

1981 Mikhail Botvinnik Clock Simul (8 boards), Imperial College, London, 8 April

Board White Result Black Age Elo BCF Opening
1 M Botvinnik 1-0 Julian M Hodgson 17 2360f 215 QGD Tarrasch, 69
2 M Botvinnik ½-½ Daniel J King 17 2320 209 Grünfeld, 51
3 M Botvinnik 0-1 Byron A Jacobs 17 2245 194 Ruy Lopez, 33
4 M Botvinnik 0-1 Stuart C Conquest 14   189 Grünfeld, 33
5 M Botvinnik 1-0 John C Hawksworth 17     English, 61
6 M Botvinnik ½-½ Neil F Dickenson 16 2240 187 Benoni, 34
7 M Botvinnik 1-0 Alan M Byron 18     Ruy Lopez, 35
8 M Botvinnik ½-½ Gary W Lane 16   191 Réti v Dutch, 22

Time control: 40/120m, 10/30m, maximum 5 hours followed by adjudication (by Michael Stean)

1981 Botvinnik simul
Mikhail Botvinnik simul, Imperial College, London, 8 April 1981. Sitting, left to right: Julian Hodgson, Byron Jacobs, Mikhail Botvinnik, Leonard Barden, Bernard Cafferty.
Standing, left to right: Stuart Conquest, Neil Dickenson, Gary Lane, Alan Byron, Daniel King, John Hawksworth, Martin Richardson (Pergamon Press)
Photo Brian Harris, colourised by John Saunders.

CHESS, April-May 1981, Vol.46/853-4, p37


Mikhail Botvinnik, for 14 years World Champion, has hardly played serious chess in the last ten years.

Leonard Barden, at 48 hours' notice, organised a simultaneous display with clocks for him against 8 of England's strongest juniors. He lost to Jacobs (17) and Conquest (14), drew with King (17), Dickenson (16) and Lane (16) beating Hodgson and Hawksworth (17) and Byron (18).

The boys' score, 3½-4½, was the best ever made against him in a simul in his entire career. The strength of British youth is becoming notorious. Clocks make the single player’s task much harder. The champion took it well, saying he hoped his opponents had learnt something; he certainly had. Though his hair has turned snow-white, he has the healthy look and springy step of a man half of his 70 years.

Quizzed keenly by Michael Stean about his computer program, he claimed that, though based on chess, it was designed to assist in the solution of many basic problems and decisionmaking in business and even in everyday life.

N.B. Botvinnik was in London to attend (and give a talk at) the 3rd congress entitled 'Advances in Computer Chess' from 9-10 April 1981. An article on the conference appeared in the same issue of CHESS (ppn 35-37).

BCM, May 1981, ppn 163-165 & June 1981, ppn234-235

Botvinnik versus English Juniors by Bernard Cafferty

On a short visit to England to present a paper on 'Advances in Computer Chess' at Imperial College, South Kensington, Mikhail Botvinnik found the time to give a clock simultaneous against eight English juniors.

The display was arranged at short notice with the sponsorship of Pergamon Press (who are publishing a book on the chess computer conference at which the former world champion is giving his paper). Shortly after 2pm on April 8th in the Huxley Building of the College the display got under way after a few words of welcome from Leonard Barden who stressed the friendly relations British players have had with Botvinnik over the decades and the significance of his books and training school in blazing a trail for our own junior training programme.

At 7pm the display ended with the adjudication of the game on board two by Botvinnik and Michael Stean. I should stress the great fitness of our distinguished visitor by pointing out that during this five hour period he neither ate nor drank anything and did not leave the playing area to attend to the call of nature. Certainly he was conscious of the task he was up against (and this in his 70th year!) since his youthful opponents included three who had beaten Spassky in his thirty board exhibition in 1979 (see March, 1979 BCM, page 119). In some ways a clock simultaneous is more exacting since the master cannot control the amount of time he takes at each board without running the risk that all the other clocks will be ticking away against him (the time limit was 40 moves in two hours, then ten moves per half hour until the end of the five hour session). In fact in his short introductory remarks in Russian which I translated for the benefit of the small audience Botvinnik said he realised that there would be no mercy shown him!

Half way through the exhibition I feared that Botvinnik was going to make a poor score as I saw how often he had to use a chair to sit at a board, and how most openings had resulted in no more than equal positions. Gary Lane showed the benefit of reading the BCM since he caught the ex-world champion in a line mentioned in the March BCM (page 95) — 1 Nf3, f5; 2 e4?! fxe4; 3 Ng5, d5; 4 d3, Qd6! However the Paignton boy fell into his usual time trouble and was glad to force a draw by repetition in 22 moves at 5.35 pm. This was the third game to finish since some ten minutes before Botvinnik’s colours had been lowered by Byron Jacobs of Slough Grammar School. (Neil Dickenson had drawn steadily.)

[score of Botvinnik - B.Jacobs]

Michael Stean in the middle of the session was rather more optimistic for the exhibitor and felt he might make a 6-2 victory, but this forecast was shown to be as wrong as mine when Botvinnik made a tactical oversight against Stuart Conquest (perhaps rather distracted by a mutual time scramble against Alan Byron).

[scores of MB v Conquest & MB v A.Byron]

Despite showing signs of fatigue Botvinnik came into his own in the last hour when he got his opponents into the endgame. Both Julian Hodgson and John Hawksworth had seemingly easily drawn positions, but both were outplayed and had to resign just before adjudication time. Only Daniel King withstood the pressure to hang on to draw after a tactical oversight by Botvinnik gave him the chance to win material... which he missed.

In his short post-match comments Botvinnik said that his score of 4½-3½ was worse than his usual record in such exhibitions in the USSR, though he gave them only rarely nowadays. His opponents could have done better if they had had a better mastery of the endgame, but this only comes with experience. He too in his turn could have done better but for middlegame oversights, so he had something to learn too! He urged that attempts be made again to have an under-18 match Britain v the USSR to see the present balance of strength. Kasparov at the age of eighteen was clearly stronger than any of his opponents here, but not any other Soviet junior. In particular he was impressed by Hodgson on top board.

Finally in answer to a question by a Guardian reporter about when he expected a computer to play at master strength he said that the questioner would have to attend the conference to discover the present state of development, but he remained optimistic. Work was in progress in Moscow on a machine 'Vremya' and results could be expected perhaps in as little time as a year.

Pergamon will be issuing in the autumn a book containing the papers given at the conference on computer chess.

File Updated

Date Notes
24 June 2024 First upload. Games from BCM, reports from BCM and CHESS.