Estonia celebrates Keres' 100th birthday

by Johannes Fischer
1/7/2016 – Paul Keres was born 7th January 1916 in Narva, Estonia, and was one of the best players in the history of chess. He played in eight candidates tournaments and four times he finished second. He won games against nine World Champions but never played a match for the title. He was also a fantastic chess writer and an impeccable sportsman. In Estonia he is a national hero.

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Celebrating Paul Keres

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Paul Keres  the Bank of Estonia issued a 2-Euro-coin showing the image of the Estonian grandmaster. Estonians still see Keres, who on 5th June 1975 died unexpectedly in Helsinki from a heart attack while returning from a tournament victory in Vancouver, Canada, as a national hero. In 1959 and 1962 he won the title of "Estonian sportsperson of the year" and Estonians later voted him as Estonian sportsperson of the 20th century.

In a press release about the commerorative coin the Bank of Estonia writes:

The two-euro commemorative coin dedicated to Paul Keres, which will enter circulation as an ordinary coin with a special design, features a portrait of the great Estonian chess player with his name and some chess pieces. Riho Luuse, who created it, is a designer who has previously also designed postage stamps. The coin will circulate throughout the whole euro area, and the design will now be passed for approval to all the euro-area states before it is issued at the start of 2016. There will be 500,000 of the coins issued, of which 5000 will have the highest quality BU finish.

Thirty-one designs were submitted in the competition, and second and third places also went to designs by Riho Luuse, while fourth place went to Margus Kadarik and Toomas Niklus and fifth to Ivar Sakk.

The 2-Euro-commemorative coin

When Estonia was not yet part of the euro zone remembered Keres with the 5-Krooni-bill.

The 5-Krooni-bill

In a cooperation with the  Estonian Chess Federation and the Kalev Sports Association the Association of Chess Professionals celebrates the 100 year jubilee of Keres with a strong rapid tournament in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

Players such as Peter Svidler, Boris Gelfand, Igor Kovalenko, Daniel Fridman, Maxim Matlakov, Ferenc Berkes, Pavel Eljanov, Nikita Vitiugov, Valentina Gunina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and many more have registered to pay tribute to Paul Keres and his chess heritage.

More about the Keres Memorial in Tallinn at the website of the ACP...

From the archives: Remembering Paul Keres



Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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sranj sranj 1/9/2016 12:19
"He won games against nine World Champions but never played for the title." There may be nothing wrong with this statement. He could have won individual games against these players, yet never played a match for the title.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 1/8/2016 02:20
Actually, following the sudden death of the world champion Alexander Alekhine in 1946, FIDE took over the world chess championship and organized the first world chess championship tournament, where the survivors of the AVRO tournament (Alekhine and Capablanca have already died) were invited. These players were: Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Salo Flohr, Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky. The Soviet Union replaced Flohr with Vasily Smyslov, Reuben Fine decided not to play.

So, the final player list was:
- Max Euwe
- Mikhail Botvinnik
- Vasily Smyslov
- Paul Keres
- Samuel Reshevsky

The tournament was one by Mikhail Botvinnik, while Keres was tied third with Samuel Reshevsky.

In light of the facts, I would like to kindly ask Chessbase to change this sentence:
"He won games against nine World Champions but never played for the title."
Mavo Mavo 1/8/2016 11:27
I'd love to buy one of those coins! Keres was one of my earliest chess heroes.
Emil Cabagay Emil Cabagay 1/8/2016 01:56
"Hail" to the gentleman & greatest Estonian chess player" Paul Keres".
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