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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Moscow 1947

     The Chigorin Memorial in honor of Mikhail Chigorin (1850–1908), founder of the Soviet Chess School and one of the leading players of his day was first held in Saint Petersburg in 1909. 

    Later an international invitational memorial series was established; they were mainly played in the Black Sea resort Sochi (from 1963 to 1990). Prior to that irregular tournaments had been held in 1947, 1951, 1961, and 1972, played in diverse venues. When, in 1993, the venue returned to Saint Petersburg it had degenerated into an open tournament.
     In 1947 it was a given fact that the next World Champion was going to be Botvinnik. He had won the first major tournament to be held after World War II, Groningen in 1946, and he had turned in an excellent performance in the Soviet championship. So, for him, along with Paul Keres and Vasily Smyslov, the Chigorin Memorial held from November 25 to December 23 was to be their final appearance before the upcoming world championship tournament. Officially the tournament was limited to Slavic players, but by international standards it was still a very strong event. 

     Botvinnik, thanks to a series of wins from rounds 6-10, established a one point lead. Then after round 11 his lead was a comfortable 1.5 points, but a draw in round 12 cut it back to one point ahead of Keres and Kotov. 
     Then came the fateful 13th round. Botvinnik had white against the newcomer Pachman while Keres had black against Gligoric and Kotov had black against Bondarevsky. Naturally, that put Botvinnik in a good position to increase his lead. But disaster struck when Botvinnik committed a rare gross blunder that cost a piece. He played on but the issue was never in doubt. 
     Both Keres and Kotov faded while Botvinnik recovered in round 14 when he defeated Keres in a marathon 80-move game. In the final round with first place assured he took a 13-move GM draw against Trifunovic. Of the foreign masters, only Pachman (Czechoslovakia) and Trifunovic (Yugoslavia) managed to score more than 50 percent. 

1) Botvinnik 11.0 
2) Ragozin 10.5 
3-4) Boleslavsky and Smyslov 10.0 
5) Kotov 9.5 
6-7) Keres and Novotelnov 9.0 
8) Pachman 8.5 
9) Trifunovic 8.0 
10) Gligoric 7.5 
11) Bondarevsky 6.5 
12) Kholmov 5.5 
13) Kottnauer 5.0 
14-15) Plater and Sokolsky 4.0 
16) Tsvetkov 2.0 

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