World Champion 1948-1957, 1958-1960, 1961-1963
Born: 1911, St. Petersburg
Botvinnik was a profound technician in chess, a scientist, one might say. He did not play against people's fears. He sought to play the objectively best move. His positional play was extremely solid. He worked very hard in his chess studies and thus was proficient in all areas of the game. Botvinnik was also an electrical engineer. Perhaps the discipline that he gained from his background in engineering contributed to his excellent technical foundation. Botvinnik won the World Championship title in 1948 in a tournament of the top 5 players of the time (since the previous title holder, Alekhine, had died as World Champion). The tournament included Max Euwe, Paul Keres, Samuel Reshevsky and Vassily Smyslov. While Botvinnik lost the title twice during his reign (to Smyslov in 1957, and Mikhail Tal in 1960), he studied his opponents intensely and in the year after following each overthrow, he regained his kingdom. After the loss of his realm in 1963 to Petrosian, however, Botvinnik was unable to get back to his throne. He spent the remainder of his days creating new World Champions in the famous Botvinnik School of Chess in Russia. His most famous student is Garry Kasparov, the current World Champion.