CHESS

The Star Early Edition - - TONIGHT -

The ac­claimed chess au­thor and grand­mas­ter, Genna Sosonko, in his re­searches gained ac­cess to KGB files that shed new light on for­mer world cham­pion, Mikhail Botvin­nik. The fol­low­ing piece has some lo­cal in­ter­est. At the 1964 Olympiad in Tel Aviv the Soviet team was due to play South Africa in the semi-fi­nal. The USSR did not have diplo­matic re­la­tions with that coun­try at the time, and South Africa and Rhode­sia were at the top of the list of coun­tries that were the tar­gets of the fiercest at­tacks in the Soviet press. Alexan­der Ko­tov, the team cap­tain, was even con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a boy­cott of this match by the Soviet grand­mas­ters, es­pe­cially as there were al­ready prece­dents of this kind and the place in the fi­nal was al­ready guar­an­teed. ‘If you make this de­ci­sion,’ stated Botvin­nik bluntly at a team meet­ing, with­out look­ing at Ko­tov, ‘I will go out to the play­ing hall alone.’ Thus the South African team faced the might of Rus­sia with each Spring­bok cross­ing swords with a le­gend: Dreyer 0-1 Pet­rosian, Kirby 0-1 Botvin­nik, Isaac­son 0-1 Spassky, Fried­good 0-1 Stein Botvin­nik’s op­po­nent was Kenneth Kirby, who resided in Um­tata and achieved a life’s am­bi­tion when at the age of 49 he faced across the board the great Botvin­nik who was then 53. Nat­u­rally the South African was steadily ground down, but it is in­struc­tive to see how a for­mer World Cham­pion dis­patches a strong am­a­teur. Kirby,K - Botvin­nik,M [B08] Tel Aviv ol (Men) prel (3), 1964 (While the Pirc at that time was not re­garded as quite cor­rect, it is ideal as a ve­hi­cle to reach less charted wa­ters where the gulf in class will be the key fac­tor) Ne2 fol­lowed by Ng3 looks more nat­u­ral)…Nbd7 (Ex­tract­ing the ten­sion from the po­si­tion with 17 dxc5 Qxc5 18 Be3 Qc7 19 c3 seems more pru­dent)…Bb7

(Now Botvin­nik is able to slowly dic­tate events)

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