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Botvinnik System: Opening Innovations & Objective Analysis

Though Euwe understood openings very well and planned his middle & end games as per them, it was Botvinnik who started the era of opening innovations and thus the Russian School of chess which dominated the chess world so long after him. Botvinnik did not believe in short term opening traps but his lines were developed to take the game in new directions where Botvinnik's knowledge was far ahead of his contemporaries. It was unfortunate that a World Championship match between Alekhine and Botvinnik never happened due to early death of Alekhine. Even World Championship match did not happened between Euwe and Botvinnik also because Euwe got involved in other assignments. But chess world could enjoy Tal-Botvinnik matches twice and also Botvinnik-Smyslov and Petrosian-Botvinnik matches. The key points behind Botvinnik's long rein were logical objectivity & continuous innovations in opening lines.

Reflections of the Botvinnik approach of taking the game towards your own analyzed territory can not only be seen in present day GM games but in computer software games as well. Many new engines analyze some not well established opening lines very well and then are able to beat well established engines in a game or two.

Major opening line innovations  by Botvinnik:

A. Botvinnik System in English Opening: 
For White: 1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e4
Botvinnik System reversed for Black: 1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e3 e5
or 1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nf3 e5

B. Botvinnik variation in the Semi-Slav defence in the Queens Gambit Declined:
Botvinnik Variation - 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 c6 5. Bg5 dxc4 6. e4
Botvinnik System - 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 c6 5. Bg5 dxc4 6. e4 b5
7. e5 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Nxg5

C. Botvinnik/ Kasparov System in the exchange variation of the Queens Gambit Declined

D. Panov-Botvinnik attack for white in the Caro-Kann defence

E. Various approaches for black in the Caro-Kann defence

G. Winawer Variation in the French Defence.

Middle-game innovations by Botvinnik:

Creation and Utilization of Space advantage: Botvinnik in most of his games, created and used space advantage fairly well. His approach was letter used by Kasparov also.

Flank attacks: While centre control was the theme of Nimzowitsch system according to which, flank attacks shall be started only after centre is closed, Botvinnik showed that flank attacks can be started in open centre also and flank attacks can be used to control the centre as well.

Lipnitsky System

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