2016 – Year of Paul Keres

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  • #16
    Re: 2016 – Year of Paul Keres

    2016 – Year of Paul Keres

    June 2, 2017

    Vlastimil Hort has a memoir in ChessBase News today entitled Remembering Paul Keres.


    Some extracts:

    Paul Keres, born 7th January 1916 – died 5th June 1975. A capricorn!

    The talent of Keres was great and it soon was noticed. Here's a report by International Master Vladas Mikenas: "In 1928 I visited Pärnu where I played a simul. During the simul a dark-haired, 12-year old boy demanded my whole attention. I always had to stop at his board for a long time to think. But in vain, all my attempts to save the game failed. The boy received the deserved applause and asked me modestly whether we could play some blitz games. I left Pärnu with the firm conviction that I had played with a player who would once be a star among the very best."

    "I learnt chess quite early. I was not yet five years old when my brother and I were allowed to watch how my father played chess against the service personnel. We did not know yet that you can write games down. After we had discovered chess in magazines and books I acquired a thick notebook in which I kept my notes to openings and hundreds of master games. At this time I started with correspondence chess, and sometimes played 150 correspondence games simultaneously. In 1929, when I was about 13 years old, I won the Estonian Junior Championship." Paul Keres


    While writing I admiringly read Keres' collection of selected games, "The Road to the Top" and "The Quest for Perfection". Keres had an enormous number of games he could choose from. Statistics tell us that he played 1,328 tournament games (+952, =188, -188) in his career. A fascinatingly low drawing percentage. But he did not only play, he was also a renowned composer of studies. In the Soviet Union his "100 Selected Games" were published in 1966 but it also appeared in Estonian and German, and I gradually start to understand that Keres, the perennial second and six-time candidate, had been a much better chess ace than I had thought. His notes to his 100 selected games are simply World Champion level!

    I feel flattered because Keres included the game Hort-Keres – European Championship, Oberhausen, 1961 (No 91) into his collection of games. I remember that my opponent was dressed like a fashion model. He was shaved to perfection, fragranced and was wearing a classic suit with tie and tie-pin. His German was perfect. He calmly wrote down the moves in elegant handwriting and long notation. When I was in time-trouble he remained a gentleman and did not hammer the clock like mad.

    After returning from Oberhausen my buddies in Prague greeted me with mischievous smiles. Why? Grandmaster Ludek Pachmann had mentioned the game in the Czechoslovakian sports paper, writing that "… after Keres' queen sacrifice the talented Hort fell from his chair". This sentence quickly spread in the chess scene of Prague. Which gives you an idea how successful chess anecdotes come into being.

    But what happened really? Keres sacrificed his queen on move 35. After 40 moves the game was adjourned, as was common at that time. While I was thinking what move to adjourn, no less than 45 minutes, I was swinging back and forth on my chair, oblivious to time and space. Suddenly I lost my balance and crashed to the floor. As it later turned out my 41st move was losing. Keres received the brilliancy prize for this game.

    The game can be played over at:


    According to V. Jansa, who was playing next board against Petrosian, Keres was down to 10 minutes after his 34th move. He used 8 of them on Qc1!!. The result? Hort literally fell off his chair when Keres sacrificed his Q!

    European Championship
    Oberhausen, Germany
    Round 3, June 23, 1961
    Hort, Vlastimil – Keres, Paul
    C71 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defence

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.d4 b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Bd5 Rb8 9.Bc6+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Qxd7 11.Qxd4 Nf6 12.O-O Be7 13.Nc3 O-O 14.a4 Rfe8 15.Qd3 b4 16.Nd5 a5 17.b3 Nxd5 18.exd5 Bf6 19.Rb1 c5 20.Bf4 Be5 21.Be3 Rbc8 22.Qc4 Qf5 23.Qb5 Qxc2 24.Qxa5 f5 25.f3 Bb2 26.Qa6 Qxb3 27.Bf2 c4 28.Qb7 Rb8 29.Qa7 Ra8 30.Qb7 Reb8 31.Qd7 Qc2 32.Qxd6 b3 33.Qe6+ Kh8 34.d6 Bf6 35.Rfc1 Qxc1+ 36.Rxc1 b2 37.Rb1 c3 38.Qe2 Rxa4 39.d7 h6 40.Qe8+ Kh7 41.d8=Q Rxd8 42.Qxa4 Rd2 43.Rxb2 cxb2 44.Qb3 Rd8 45.Qc2 Rb8 46.Qb1 g6 47.g4 Ra8 48.Kg2 Ra1 49.Qc2 b1=Q 50.Qc7+ Bg7 51.Bd4 Qf1+ 52.Kg3 f4+ 53.Kxf4 Qc1+ 0-1


    Recently, Robert Hübner, who appreciates the culinary skills and literary ambitions of my wife, was visiting us. During coffee we talked about Keres' book. Hübner owns a bad German and a good Estonian translation of this book and he also thinks that Keres' comments are among the best in chess literature.


    • #17
      Re: 2016 - Year of Paul Keres

      2016 - Year of Paul Keres

      January 12, 2018

      Installment Eight

      In the final part of his series, Joosep Grents recounts the final decade of Paul Keres' life and reflects on the question of why he never quite became World Champion.




      The intensity of 1961-62 slowly started to fade as Keres took his well-deserved rest. However, even though he stopped playing as often as he used to, the subsequent years brought good results for the veteran. There was reason to play less, not only due to his age but the fact that his health had begun to deteriorate. As all tournament players know, good physical form is as important as mental form, and that was especially true of the gruelling Candidates Tournaments of the 50s and 60s, when tournaments would drag on over a period of months. Keres had so far been in good physical shape, as he had always been drawn towards sports, even taking part in the Estonian Tennis Championship on several occasions in his early career. Randviir recalls that at a training camp Keres beat them so badly at table tennis that after one demolition Nei put away his bat and said, "There's more hope of beating the grandmaster at chess!" This gave Keres an advantage in the thirties as well as later in life, as his good physical form allowed him to endure tournament conditions some older masters would struggle with, but the years after 1962 would increasingly be riddled with health issues for Keres. He was soon diagnosed with podagra (gout affecting the big toe), which not only stopped him from playing tennis but meant he would often appear at tournaments in his usual smart suit, but instead of shoes would be wearing slippers.


      Chess was his life. He would consciously ignore the recommendations of his doctors to reduce his chess schedule and get both general rest and rest for his feet. It was as if chess was a drug and Keres couldn't get enough of it, despite the fact it led to worsening health issues. A cynic would call it an addiction, but an idealist would label it the true dedication of an authentic chess artist. Call it as you will, it was quintessential Keres. He couldn't imagine a life without chess and, as a consequence, still remained a strong player despite his age and health issues. He would struggle with his ageing body, but his mind remained sharp.


      If you stay at the top of the chess world for as long as Keres did, there are inevitably changes you have to undergo and witness throughout your career. As the 60s ended and Fischer started to draw more attention, Keres started to feel his age. After all, the generation in which he had grown up with was so different from the one which dominated the 1970s.

      In general, what did Keres make of the antics that surrounded the Fischer - Spassky match? He speaks of it in his letters to Book:

      "It is very unlikely I would go to that mad match - already enough grandmasters are packed together there. When reflecting on the 'battles' prior to the match you have to feel sorry that the chess world had to go through something like that. Alekhine was also pretty similar in this regard, but the current generation surpasses Alekhine in such behaviour"

      The match in Iceland is keeping everyone on the edge of their seats not only with its games but also with some other noteworthy statements surfacing before and during the match. No previous World Championship match has seen such disarray. It is hard to understand dear Bobby - it is likely that not everything is 100% in order in his upper compartments. This, however, doesn't stop one from playing great chess. I think people have shown too much patience with him. Next time he should immediately be called to order at the first appearance of 'symptoms of illness'.


      (1975) Keres would still go on to travel, and his next tour took him to Canada for a whole month - a trip intensely packed with chess action. He played at the Vancouver Open and then followed that up with numerous simultaneous exhibitions, a TV appearance, a series of open lectures as well as some closed ones for the young hopefuls of Canadian chess. During the whole time he would meet with old friends and local chess people, spending time with them. He managed to win the open tournament with a round to spare and then played what was to be his last game.

      Vancouver 1975
      Round 10, May 1975
      Browne, Walter - Keres, Paul
      C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence

      1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 d6 5.c3 Be7 6.Nbd2 O-O 7.O-O Bd7 8.Re1 Re8 9.Nf1 Bf8 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 Be7 12.Ne3 Ng4 13.Bxe7 Nxe7 14.Nxg4 Bxb5 15.Nh4 Bd7 16.Re3 Kh7 17.Rg3 Ng8 18.Nf3 Bxg4 19.Rxg4 Nf6 20.Rh4 Kg8 21.Rh3 d5 22.Qe2 Qd7 23.Nh4 dxe4 24.dxe4 Rad8 25.Nf5 Qd2 26.Qf3 Re6 27.Rg3 g6 28.Rf1 Qf4 29.Rd1 Ree8 30.Ne7+ Kg7 31.Nd5 Qxf3 32.Rxf3 c6 33.Ne3 Rxd1+ 34.Nxd1 Rd8 35.Ne3 Nxe4 36.h3 Ng5 37.Rg3 f5 38.Nxf5+ gxf5 39.h4 f4 40.Rg4 Kg6 41.hxg5 hxg5 42.g3 Kf5 43.f3 Rd1+ 44.Kg2 0-1

      Final position:

      (Can anyone supply the exact date of this game? Later: Stephen Wright gave 25 May 1975 with reference to bcchesshistory.com)

      He died of a heart attack at the young age of 59.

      Has there ever been another chess player who captured the public imagination of a whole nation to the degree Keres had? It speaks volumes that his funeral was attended by more than 100,000 people. Think about that for a second. A hundred thousand people ! 10% of the population - turning out for the funeral of a chess player.
      Last edited by Wayne Komer; Saturday, 13th January, 2018, 03:01 PM.


      • #18
        Re: 2016 - Year of Paul Keres

        Browne-Keres: 25 May 1975

        Last edited by Stephen Wright; Friday, 12th January, 2018, 05:44 PM.