Botvinnik, Mikhail Moiseyevich : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Botvinnik, Mikhail Moiseyevich

Botvinnik was introduced to the game of chess at the age of 12. By age 14, he had already achieved first rank. Mikhail entered a tournament held by the legendary chess master Capablanka in Leningrad, then beat the World Champion.

"What is your name?" surprised spectators asked.

"Misha," the boy replied.

"And what else?"


This name came to symbolize an epoch in the game of chess.

Botvinnik's successes in national and international tournaments before WWII earned him the recognition of the world's greatest chess players.

After several victories over Capablanka and Alekhin, Botvinnik proved himself a worthy contestant for world championship. Alekhin accepted the challenge and began preparing for a serious battle: "Besides great talent, he [Botvinnik] possesses all traits of a sportsman... fearlessness, self-control, and keen intuition." The match never took place, interrupted by the war and death of Alekhin. The chess throne was left without a king. A tournament was organized among five of the strongest players to pick the new World Champion. Botvinnik emerged victorious, thus becoming the first USSR World Champion. In the following years he successfully defended his title, and participated in many tournaments.

Birth and Death Dates:
Aug. 17, 1911 - May 5, 1995

Career Highlights:

Botvinnik was the Sixth World Champion: 1948 - 1957, 1958 - 1960, 1961 - 1963.
In 1924, he defeated Capablanka.
Mikhail was the winner of the 1931 Soviet title, losing it only once in 20 years.

Botvinnik won numerous chess Olympiads as a member of the USSR team:
1954: scored 8.5 points out of 11
1956: scored 9.5 points out of 13
1958: scored 9 points out of 12
1960: scored 10.5 points out of 13
1962: scored 8 points out of 12
1964: scored 9 out of 12

Botvinnik was named National Master 1945 and International Grand Master in 1950.

Russia, USSR (b. Repino/d. Moscow)

World Champion (International Grand Master: 1950)

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