Monday, 3 November 2008


Paul Keres (January 7, 1916 – June 5, 1975), was an Estonian chess grandmaster.
Known as the "The Crown Prince of chess". The five kroons Estonian banknote bears his image.
Keres won the USSR Chess Championship three times, but more importantly finished runner-up in the the first 4 Candidates tournaments.

He won the 1938 AVRO tournament, which led to negotiations for a World Championship match against Alexander Alekhine, but the match never took place due to World War.
Many people believe him to be the strongest modern player to never have made it to a World Championship match.

One school of thought as to why this was, is pressuse may have been applied against him in the old soviet days, because during world war 2 he took part in German run tournaments. Perhaps the Russians could tolerate him as a very strong grandmaster, helping to keep western players from the world championship.
But never allow him that chance.

He was a three-time Estonian schoolboy champion, in 1930, 1932, and 1933. Also he won the adult title many times.His playing matured after playing correspondence chess extensively while in high school.
He represent Estonia with success in pre-war Olympiads.
Warsaw 1935, Estonia board 1, 12.5/19 (+11 =3 -5);
Munich 1936, Estonia board 1, 15.5/20 (+12 =7 -1), board gold medal;
Stockholm 1937, Estonia board 1, 11/15 (+9 =4 -2), board silver medal;
Buenos Aires 1939, Estonia board 1, 14.5/19 (+12 =5 -2), team bronze medal.
He also represented the ussr after the war in olympiads
Helsinki 1952, USSR board 1, 6.5/12, team gold;
Amsterdam 1954, USSR board 4, 13.5/14 (+13 =1 -0), team gold, board gold, best overall score;
Moscow 1956, USSR board 3, 9.5/12 (+7 =5 -0), team gold, board gold;
Munich 1958, USSR board 3, 9.5/12 (+7 =5 -0), team gold, board gold;
Leipzig 1960, USSR board 3, 10.5/13 (+8 =5 -0), team gold, board gold;
Varna 1962, USSR board 4, 9.5/13 (+6 =7 -0), team gold, board bronze;
Tel Aviv 1964, USSR board 4, 10/12 (+9 =2 -1), team gold, board gold.

I give 3 of his games in one of them he has the great Alekhine laying down his king in 23 moves!

Keres was an endgame expert and wrote the famous book Practical Chess Endings.


Rolling Pawns said...

Everything looks so easy and simple - it's a sign of a great master. His name was well known in the former USSR. I read his endgame book some time ago, it was good but I wasn't ready to do the work. Should try it again now.

chesstiger said...

Paul Keres was indeed a great player. If he had lived in Western Europe he would have had a shot to play the world championship match but since he was Estonian the Russians did blokade this.

Rolling Pawns said...

chesstiger - being him Estonian wasn't the reason, the reason is in the post. For the government it was serious sin. Believe me, I was born in Estonia and was there many times (though I am not Estonian and lived in middle Russia all the time). All the world champions from USSR, except Smyslov and Karpov were not Russian by nationality. Of course there was some discrimination, for example when Kasparov first played with Karpov authorities supported Karpov, even at my work everybody but me supported him.

CHESSX said...

Well said rolling pawns.
The old ussr may of had a great chess system, but it came at a price for some.
In effect they where just pawns in the game.