A lifelong Communist, Mikhail Botvinnik held the World Championship on and off for 15 years, from 1948 to 1963 when he was eventually defeated. Not only a great player, he made significant contributions to developing the World Chess Championship after WW2. He also coached some of the greats, including Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik. He learned chess at the age of 12 and within a year had won his school championships. In 1925, he defeated the great Capablanca in an exhibition game, though the Cuban was playing simultaneous matches. In 1931, at only 20, he became the Soviet Champion, scoring 13.5/20, no mean feat considering the enormous chess talent to come out of the nation. He then went on to tie a match with Flohr, considered the number one challenger for Alekhine’s World Championship crown. By the mid 1930’s, Botvinnik was holding his own against the greatest players in the world, finishing strongly in many tournaments. The outbreak of WW2 prevented him challenging Alekhine for World Champion in 1939. In the early 1940’s, he won the right to challenge Alekhine by defeating a strong Soviet field for the title of “Absolute Champion of USSR,” however it never eventuated with Alekhine’s death in 1946. He won the newly formatted title in 1948, with a score of 14/20 against 4 of the world’s best players. Botvinnik defended it in 1951 with a draw against David Bronstein, then again in 1954 with another draw against Smyslov, until his defeat in 1957 against the same opponent. He won a rematch in 1958, before losing the title again to Mikhail Tal in 1960, then winning the rematch in 1961. Finally he lost it for the final time in 1963 to Tigran Petrosian. He retired from competitive play in 1970, where he devoted himself to the development of computer chess programs and training young Soviet players.
"Chess is the art of analysis"