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Paul Keres :The Pride and Melancholy of Chess.Part 1

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(Why write about Keres?.- Around 1990 I realized my progress had somewhat stopped. I had spent too many years studying the same type of players: Botvinnik, Petrosian, Karpov, playing closed positions, and so on.  I also realized that I felt very unsecure in tactics and feared losing the grip on my games. Back to the books… I began to devote the next years to widen my approach to Chess. It was time to rescue the collection of games played by Fischer, Tal and Keres.  I had already met many CC players living in the USSR, Hungary, East Germany,etc. And they had sent me teens of books in exchange for other books,  stamps or postcards -of which most of them were avid collectors- From Estonia I had received one of my most beloved books:  V. HEUER’s  “MEIE KERES”. I already had a collection of Keres’s games deeply annotated by himself…)

Paul Keres, Narva (Estonia) 1916, Helsinki (1975). GM : 1950. There are players who have been among the best of the world but never reached the summit : Tarrasch, Nimzowitsch, Bronstein, Korchnoi or  Keres though you may add several other names to this list.

Keres took part in five Candidates’ Tournaments, played the Candidates’ cycle in 1965 -losing to Spassky- and won three Soviet Championships. He took part in seven Chess Olympiads with an overall result of +53 -3 =32.  In 1948 a Match Tournament was held to find the name of the new Champion of the World. Alekhine had died in 1946 while holding the crown and six players were selected to play, already under the rule of FIDE : from the USSR : Botvinnik, Smyslov and Keres. From The Netherlands : M. Euwe (ex-World Champion), and from the USA: Reshevsky and R. Fine. In the end, Fine declined to take part.

Nevertheless, the real tragedy for Keres  had happened years before. He was born in an independent Estonia. But in 1940 his country became a part of the Soviet Union. So he became a Soviet citizen. Then WW2 broke out and Germany invaded the small Baltic state .The Estonians fell under Nazi German rule. Let´s take another step back:

Prior to that, in 1937 Keres, who had started playing postal chess in his native Estonia, won the Semmering-Baden Tournament, ahead of Capablanca, Reshevsky and Flohr. And in 1938, he tied first (R.Fine -USA-) in the so far strongest ever chess tournament: AVRO -The Netherlands-. All this made him be considered a worthy World Championship challenger. Even the then Champion of the World was affectionated towards him. But WW2 and the events related to it shattered his dreams.

Keres began as a brilliant attacking player and tactician. He soon realized that would not be enough to survive against the players with whom he had to compete in the Soviet Union. So he decided to play safely and in the end he turned to a much more classical approach. In my humble opinion I would define his style as “aggressively positional”, avoiding speculative risks but keeping a tactical flavour. As for the openings , you may find his name associated to several systems in the Spanish (Ruy Lopez) Opening, the King’s Gambit, the English -as Black-   (1. c4 e5  2. Nc3 Nf6                          3. g3 c6/  )  and the Keres Defence : 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Bb4. Keres influenced players like Fischer, Kasparov or Spassky. Boris learnt from him that difficult art of starting a wave of attacks one after another in a implacable way.

Now I am going to include some illustrative games because in the next post I will try expose one of the most enigmatic cases in Chess…

W.: Keres  (1)

B.: Stahlberg (0)

Warsaw (Ol) 1935

1.e4 e6  2. d4 d5  3. e5 c5  4. Nf3 Qb6  5. Bd3 cd4.  6. 0-0 Nbd7   7. Nbd2 Ne7  8. Nb3 Nc6  9. Re1 g6                     10. Bf4 Bg7  11. Qd2 0-0   12. h4 Qc7  13. Qe2 f6  14. ef6: Qf4:  15. Qe6: Rf7  16. fg7: Ne5   17. Qe8 Kg7:                 18. Re5: Bh3   19. Qa8: Ne5:  20. Qe8 Nc6  21. Qf7: Kf7:     22. Ng5 Kf6  23. Nh3: Qh4:  24. Rae1  g5                       25. Nd2 Qh6  26. Nf3 g4    27.  Nfg5 Qh5  28. Nh7: Kg7  29. Nhf4  Qh6  30. N7g5 Qd6   31. N4h5 Kf8                     32. Re6 Qb4  33. Bg6 Ne7  34.Rf6 Kg8  35. Bf7  1-0

W..  Keres  (1)

B.:  Smyslov (0)

The Hague /Moscow (W.Ch.) 1948

1. c4 Nf6  2. Nf3 c6  3. Nc3 d5  4. e3 g6  5. d4 Bg7  6. cd5: Nd5:    7. Bc4 0-0  8. 0-0 b6  9. Qb3 Nc3:                 10.bc3: Ba6  11. Ba3 Bc4:   12.Qc4: Re8  13. e4 b5  14. Qb3  Nd7  15. c4 Rab8  16. Rad1 Qa5   17. c5 b4                     18. Bb2 e5  19. Ng5  Re7  20. f4 ed4:  21. f5  Nc5:   22. Qh3 h5  23. f6 Bh6  24. fe7: Bg5:  25. Qf3 f6                       26. Bd4: Nd7    27. h4       1-0


Written by QChess

March 25, 2012 at 6:25 am

Posted in CHESS

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