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Russian Roulette - Mikhail Botvinnik

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Hidden : 3/6/2010
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Mikhail Botvinnik

6th World Champion
1948 - 1957, 1958 - 1960, 1961 - 1963

Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik was born in St Petersburg, Russia in 1911. He learned to play chess at the age of 12. He was a Soviet and Russian International Grandmaster and three-time World Chess Champion. He is often considered as one of the greatest chess players of all time. Working as an electrical engineer at the same time, he was one of the very few famous chess players who achieved distinction in another career while playing top-class competitive chess. He also developed a chess-playing algorithm that tried to "think" like a top human player, but this approach has been superseded by a brute-force search strategy that exploits the rapid increase in the calculation speed of modern computers.

Botvinnik was the first world-class player to develop within the Soviet Union, putting him under political pressure but also giving him considerable influence within Soviet chess. From time to time he was accused of using that influence to his own advantage, but the evidence is unclear and some suggest he resisted attempts by Soviet officials to intimidate some of his rivals.

Botvinnik also played a major role in the organization of chess, making a significant contribution to the design of the World Chess Championship system after World War II and becoming a leading member of the coaching system that enabled the Soviet Union to dominate top-class chess during that time. His famous pupils include World Champions Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik.

The puzzle:
Answer the following questions (use algebraic chess notation for the first 4):

  1. How is queen side castling notated?
  2. What symbol is used to notate a move that captures a piece?
  3. What symbol is used to notate check?
  4. What notation indicates that white won the game?
  5. How many dark squares are on a standard chessboard?
  6. What shorthand notation indicates an excellent move?
  7. In what country did the precursor to chess most likely originate?

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Pbafvqrevat gur fbhepr, lbh fubhyq fgevat gurz nybat, ohg qba'g tvir gurz nal fcnpr.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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