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Soviet Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik was born on 17 August 1911 in Repino. At the age of 12, in 1923, he started to be interested in chess. His first trainer was Abram Model, who introduced him to the Winawer variation of the French Defence which he used successfully in his career even in his World Championship matches. He was considered to be one of the best 10 chess players between 1935 and 1960. His peak World ranking: 1st (in 131 different months between September 1936 and May 1958). According to Chessmetrics his highest rating is 2885.

Botvinnik held his World Champion title with two small interruptions from 1948 to 1963. In 1948 there was a five round tournament for the five best chess players at the time to decide the World Champion title after the death of former world champion Alekhine in 1946. This was the first time in chess history that the Men’s World Championship title was awarded on a tournament organised and played by the rules of FIDE (Wikipedia). Botvinnik won his first World Championship title in this tournament. In the 1951 World Championship Botvinnik’s challenger was David Bronstein. This was the first championship match based on the new rules of FIDE. According to these rules the players had to win a series of matches (now Candidate Tournament) to gain the right to challenge the World Champion (Wikipedia). Botvinnik defended his title after he drew with Bronstein to 12-12.  In the 1954 World Championship match Mikhail Botvinnik’s challenger was Vasily Smyslov. He again drew by 12-12 and defended his title. In 1957 Vasily Smyslov challenged Botvinnik again, and after winning the match by 12 ½ -9 ½, Smyslov became the seventh official World Chess Champion. In 1958 Botvinnik challenged Smyslov and won back the title in a 24 game match by 12 ½ to 10 ½. In 1960 Botvinnik’s challenger was Mikhail Tal, who won by 12 ½ - 8 ½ and became the eight official World Champion. In the 1961 return match Botvinnik won by 13-8 and won back his title again. Botvinnik’s last World Championship match was in 1963. His challenger was the Soviet Tigran Petrosian who won by 12 ½ - 9 ½ and gained the World Championship title that Botvinnik could not win back again. With that win Petrosian became the ninth official World Champion in chess.

Mikhail Botvinnik participated in 6 Chess Olympiads playing for the Soviet Union, winning gold in team all six times. He won individual gold in 1954 in Amsterdam, individual silver in 1956 in Moscow, individual bronze in 1958 in Munich, individual gold again in 1960 in Leipzig, placed six in 1962 in Varna, and won individual bronze again in 1964 in Tel-Aviv.   

He died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 83 on 5 May 1995 in Moscow.