The Games of Paul Keres
The following notes are based on a lecture by NM Scott Massey delivered at the Kenilworth Chess Club on Thursday, October 26, 2006. Scott presented on the life and games of Keres, with special attention to how he was denied the title shot that most people agree he deserved. Ultimately, though, his games tell the story of what a great player he was.
Reuben Fine - Paul Keres [C86]
AVRO/Amsterdam (7) 1938
"This is probably the most important game of his career. Played at AVRO as a double round robin, the winner of the event would be the official challenger for the World Championship. After six rounds, Reuben Fine had 5.5/6 and was playing tremendously well. Keres was 4/6 and needed a win to stop Fine." The win in this game gave Keres the decisive tie breaker, but the coming War and the Soviet support for Botvinnik would prevent him from capitalizing on his tournament victory to seek the World Championship.
Not the sandard line and likely a special preparation on Fine's part.
In his notes, Keres suggests that Fine may have hoped to see the gambit continuation 7...
To stop Nd4.
White has just won a pawn: who is better now? Black has open files and excellent pieces. He can also ruin White's kingside with 12... Bxf3. Steve Stoyko pointed out that you do not have to take the Knight now -- you can wait in this specific case and thus increase your options. So, for instance, Black can play 12...Rb8 and the Queen cannot return to defend the Knight due to the Bishop hanging at b3.
Not the strongest move.
"This concludes the first part of Black's combination. The two passed pawns on the Queen's wing now give him excellent winning chances" writes Keres.
The next few moves were affected by the need to make time control in extreme time pressure for both players.
Max Euwe - Paul Keres [E19]
Match/Netherlands (9) 1939
The following game might be "Keres's Immortal," it so much resembles the wonderful game Rotlewi-Rubinstein, Lodz 1907.
Euwe avoids the Nimzo-Indian, against which he had lost an earlier game of the match: 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2
The Queen's Indian strategy generally revolves around control of e4.
Keres thought much better were either 9... Be4
or 9... f5
Insisting on playing e4.
now the game revolves around e6.
23... Bd4+!? may also be sufficient, but the Queen sacrifice gives the game great charm.
These Rooks are deadly in combination with the Bishops, simply dominating every open line.
If not one way then the other... The Bishops find open lines!
Paul Keres - Laszlo Szabo [A11]
Hastings (8) 1954
Keres played a very tactical and attacking style of chess. But unlike Tal, whose attacks were often speculative and unsound, he pursued attacks with careful logic. There is a coherent logic to his attacks and they are perfectly sound.
"Knights on the rim are grim."
The logical way that Keres pursues his kingside attack make this a hallmark of his style.
Paul Keres - Efim Geller [D41]
This is the last game that appears in the wonderful little book, Grandmaster of Chess: The Complete Games of Paul Keres, by Paul Keres and translated by Harry Golombek (ARCO 1972). This book had appeared previously as a three-volume set, but somehow the little ARCO book seems much more wonderful--perfectly bound, nicely sized for handling, and just incredibly packed with great games and insight for such a small volume.
Though this does reinforce White's central advantage, the classic IQP positions that follow 7... cxd4 8. exd4 Be7 are not easy for Black either, e.g.: 9.
This activates the dormant Bishop at b2.
Keres writes: "Black's defence is exceedingly difficult. White has already two pawns for the sacrificed piece and in addition practically all of his pieces stand ready to atack the weakened enemy King. Even on general grounds it seems that Black can scarcely hope to emerge from his hopeless position safe and sound."
There is simply no satisfactory defense with Rg3 coming.
Games in PGN