Mikhail Botvinnik (17 August 1911 – 5 May 1995) was a Soviet Russian grandmaster and three-time World Chess Champion. He was an electrical engineer, one of the few chess masters who achieved distinction in another career while playing top-class competitive chess.

Botvinnik was the first world-class player to develop within the Soviet Union. This put him under some political pressure, but also gave him considerable influence within Soviet chess. He played a major role in the design of the World Chess Championship system after World War II. After his retirement as a player he coached a few select pupils. They included three future World Champions Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik.

On the basis of his strong results during and just after World War II, Botvinnik was one of five players to contest the World Chess Championship 1948, which was held at The Hague and Moscow. He won the tournament convincingly, with a score of 14/20, three points clear, becoming the sixth World Champion. Botvinnik then held the title, with two brief interruptions, for the next fifteen years, during which he played seven world championship matches.

From 1948 onwards, the World Chess Federation FIDE held the championships. Botvinnik won his first championship in 1948, won it back again in 1958 and again in 1961 making him the first player to win the championship on three occasions.

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