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Paul Keres: Part 2: The Controversy.

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For many years a great controversy has surrounded Paul Keres’s life: was he asked to step aside and not interfere with Botvinnik in his  path to the World Championship? There has been many pages written about this matter. The only apparently clear thing is three-fold: 1) Apparently Keres never spoke about it openly.-  2) Botvinnik never  spoke about it either.-  3) There has been a lot of speculation  but few or no documents at all. (Nevertheless, it would have been very interesting to have access to all the documents related to Chess/ chessplayers produced by the NKVD and the KGB for about 60-70 years…)

 It must point out that Botvinnik always denied any sort of involvement  and there is no reason why we should not believe it. Unless documents appear we cannot but speculate. And I would like to add that Botvinnik himself was object of  not very friendly treatment, on occasion ,on the part of both the authorities and his Soviet Chess colleagues.

What follows is a personal opinion after having access to some Estonian literature:

Historical Introduction.

In 1940 Estonia Lithuania and Latvia became parts of the Soviet Union (Germany-USSR  von Ribbentrop-Molotov Non Aggression Pact).Immediately ,Stalin began to take measures against their citizens. Latvian Chess Master Vladimir Petrov some years older than Keres, was in the Soviet Union when the Nazi troops invaded the country and was unable to go back home in Latvia. He dared criticize the Latvian living conditions under  Soviet rule and he was arrested and sent to a prisoners’ camp in Smolenks. After many hardships he died there in 1942. Apparently his body was never given back to his family.  He was made vanish as many others in Stalin’s era. Keres knew  Petrov , knew his fate and was also critical against the Soviet authorities…And Keres, trapped in Nazi Germany, played Chess tournaments there, like Alekhine and others. When the Red Army was about to take Tallinn, Estonian members of the resistance tried to escape into Sweden taken with them leading representants of the Estonian culture. But the attempt failed and Keres and his country became “Soviets”. Keres was a relevant public personality, so immediately the Secret Police  began to show “interest” on him, his former statements and his political views. After all, they knew he was now a “Soviet”, but he was not a “communist” or a “Russian”. (By the way, Keres has always been deeply concerned by the fate of his family too)

But here the whole story begins to be too speculative, so I will only present it in a sort of “rhetorical-question format:

– Was Keres taken for interrogations to the Secret Police -NKDV- headquarters? (This question has an answer: yes.)

– Did Keres write letters to the Chairman of the USSR Sports Committee ,comrade V.V. Snegov and to Comrade V.M. Molotov, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union? The answer is : Yes. There is a copy of the letter to Molotov.

– Was Keres helped by the Estonian Party leader Comrade N. Karotamm?.- (Yes, he was.)

So far three questions, three answers. Now the questions without answer:

-Was Keres asked not to interfere with Botvinnik in the latter’s attempt to get the World Chess Championship for the Soviet Union?

-Or simply  was he able to read between lines , understand the hints and quietly remain on a second plane?

-Did Botvinnik ever realize what was happening? (In the Stalin era people learnt to surmise, read between lines,not posing embarrassing questions and try to survive…) – He always denied it and no reliable documents have been showed. There is no reason for us to entertain any doubt.

-Was Keres suggested to “facilitate” Botvinnik’s success in 1948?

In any case, it seemed that Keres went through difficult times: he was a family man an his family was his first concern. We can only imagine what Stalin’s era was, the terror many people could feel…In cases like this, it is not necessary to be told anything. You yourself simply try to do what can be done to survive. As somebody said, “there are wars where only those who were engaged know how to fight”. And I add:   … how to fight, why to fight and  what to fight for.

(About all this, many people -experts, GMs, etc- have written and discussed -even using strong words…        and despising ,as ever, “the amateurs”  (please remember that in a previous post I told you many people self-dubbed as “experts” have taken control of the “absolute truth” and that they decide who is worth writing about Chess and who is not. If you dare contradict their God-sent truths you will be thrashed, despised and insulted. I have suffered the “treatment” myself…)

But now you can do your own research and reach your own conclusions. I have showed the facts as I knew them and they are my personal view as I understand them.  As ever, trust facts and don’t trust anybody else’s opinions unless contrasted and verified. This is why sometimes I prefer thinking that as a “blogger” I am writing, primarily, for myself, to record my views, ideas ,and memories. To share all this with the possible readers is a different -very pleasant- matter, you know.

W.: Suetin (0)

B.: Keres  (1)

33rd USSR Chess Championship 1965

1. e4 e5  2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bb5 a6  4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7  6. Re1 b5  7. Bb3 0-0  8. c3 d6  9. a3 Be6  10. d4 Bb3:       11. Qb3: Qb8  12. Nbd2 Qb6  13. d5 Na5  14. Qd1 c5  15. b4 Nb7  16. Rb1 Rfc8  17. Nf1 a5  18. Qe2 ab4:                    19. ab4: Ra4  20. Ng3 g6  21. Be3 Qa6  22. N3d2 Ra2  23. f4 ef4:  24. Bf4: cb4: 25. cb4: Nd8  26. Rf1 R8c2        27. Rf2 Nd7  28. Qg4 Ne5  29. Be5: de5:  30. Qd7 Kf8  31. Ngf1 Qb6  32. Qh3 Bg5  33. Rd1 Qd4  34. Qh7: Bd2:  35. d6 Ke8  36. Qh4 Qd6: 37. Kh1 Qd4  38. Qf6 Ra1 39. Ra1: Qa1: 40. Qd6 Bg5  /  0-1 



Written by QChess

March 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Posted in CHESS

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6 Responses

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  1. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page win at chess .


    February 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

    • Dear Santosshwebseo,
      Many thanks again for your most kind comment.I have visited your page and I think it is very interesting. We both are working for the Chess community. Keep on writing!


      February 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

  2. It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people about this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!



    July 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

    • Dear Random,
      Many thanks for your comment on the Keres post.
      For the time being I am studying and thinking a lot about Chess, so I hope I will be ableto retake the blog activity soon. So far, I need to keep on “thinking”.


      July 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

  3. If you are going for finest contents like me, simply visit this web site daily as it presents feature contents, thanks


    July 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm

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