Playing for a draw

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[Event "Chigorin Memorial-04"]
[Site "Sochi"]
[Date "1964.??.??"]
[Round "12"]
[White "Krogius, NV."]
[Black "Gheorghiu, Florin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B84"]
[Annotator "psychology: playing for the draw?"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "1964.08.26"]
[EventRounds "15"]
[EventCountry "URS"]

{[%evp 0,79,19,31,72,53,86,72,62,37,36,38,82,19,58,65,98,81,64,62,55,54,70,56,
569,569,587,569,673,673,708,708,797,908,879,1190,1190,964] I would be happy
with a draw, but my opponent would be relying on passivity, and would moreover
play all the more strongly for having a moral advantage over me. I therefore
resolved to face my opponent not with timidity but with boldness, and to
struggle for the initiative from the very first moves. "Do not think about a
draw" I kept on saying to myself throughout the battle.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3.
d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Qc7 8. f4 Be7 {I played quickly:
} 9. Qe1 {Gheorghiu frowned.} Nc6 (9... Qb6) 10. Be3 Bd7 11. Qg3 g6 {[#]
Instead of ...O-O, this signals Black's intention to launch an attack, which
is however dubious. White can and should prevail by a central counter, but
this requires not faith but precision.} 12. Kh1 h5 13. Qe1 h4 14. Bf3 Nh5 15.
Nde2 Na5 16. Bd4 {"This manoeuvre was based on precise calculation, for at
first sight it helps Black double the Rooks." (See move 22!)} Rh7 17. b3 Nc6
18. Bf2 Ng3+ {"Gheorghiu hurries to force the game."} 19. Nxg3 hxg3 20. Bxg3 g5
{[#]} 21. e5 gxf4 22. exd6 Bxd6 (22... fxg3 23. Qxg3 {"and because of the
threat of check Black loses."}) 23. Nd5 O-O-O 24. Nxc7 fxg3 25. h3 Bxc7 26. Rd1
Rdh8 27. Rxd7 Kxd7 28. Bxc6+ Kxc6 29. Qe4+ Kb6 30. Qd4+ Kc6 31. Rf3 b5 32. Qa7
Rxh3+ 33. gxh3 Rxh3+ 34. Kg2 Rh2+ 35. Kf1 Rh1+ 36. Ke2 Rh2+ 37. Kd3 g2 38. Rxf7
Bb6 39. Qb7+ Kc5 40. b4+ {"I did not think one could play like that when going
for first place", remarked Gheorghiu. "Not only 'can', but 'must'," - I
mentally answered the Roumanian.} 1-0

[Event "Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match"]
[Site "Moscow URS"]
[Date "1951.05.11"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "24"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "David Bronstein"]
[Black "Mikhail Botvinnik"]
[ECO "D44"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "43"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.a4 Bb4 7.e4 c5
8.Bxc4 cxd4 9.Nxd4 h6 10.Be3 Nxe4 11.O-O Nf6 12.Qf3 O-O
13.Rad1 Qe7 14.Rfe1 Nc6 15.Qg3 Kh8 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Bd4 Rd8
18.Rd3 Bb7 19.Ree3 Rxd4 20.Rxd4 Bc5 21.Rd1 Bxe3 22.Qxe3

[Event "Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match"]
[Site "Moscow URS"]
[Date "1954.05.13"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "24"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Mikhail Botvinnik"]
[Black "Vasily Smyslov"]
[ECO "E69"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "44"]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.d4 d6 5.g3 O-O 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.O-O
c6 8.e4 e5 9.h3 a5 10.Be3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Re8 12.Qc2 Nc5 13.Rad1
Nfd7 14.Nb3 Qe7 15.Nxc5 dxc5 16.f4 Nb6 17.b3 a4 18.Qf2 Bf8
19.e5 f5 20.Rd3 axb3 21.axb3 Be6 22.Rfd1 Ra6 1/2-1/2

P.S. Krogius also comments on final 1951 BB game


Instructive examples of correct psychological preconditioning are furnished by Botvinnik's games. During his matches against Bronstein (1951) and Smyslov (1954) the score before the last round was 11 ½:11½ . A draw would secure the World Championship title for Botvinnik.

The decisive game [1951-DR] began. Bronstein with a smile of cunning on his face advanced his QP: 1 P-Q4. The hall was silent. People made guesses as to what opening Botvinnik would play? Somebody's voice predicted "It will be the Orthodox Defence. True. Black has to defend for a long time, but the position is stable. Botvinnik needs a stable position today."

But no! The first moves already refute the prognosis. We see the sharp and tense variation known to theory as the "Botvinnik Variation". The champion bravely challenges his opponent. as if saying: "Although I would like a draw I am not going to beg for it myself!"

I would like to make clear to the reader that I do not wish to deprecate the Orthodox Defence, which was used by Lasker and Capablanca. The point is that Botvinnik hardly ever used to play this system of development. The champion chose the safest, most thoroughly analyzed and, perhaps, the most aggressive continuation in his repertoire. One can only guess what the feelings of his opponent were, but the movements of the white pieces suggest that he was assailed by doubt. One can see a sort of resignation in the action of the White army. Perhaps he was recalling the successful course of the battle in the preceding twenty-third game of the match, or perhaps his balance was upset by Black's coolly executed, precise and relentless attack. The denouement was not long in coming: after gaining a won position The Champion offered a draw "just in case". It was accepted.

The game against Smyslov developed on similar lines. This time the Champion had White so it was easier for him to make his opponent go in for a defensive game.

P.S. There are alternative accounts of who offered the draw which do not detract from the main point.