Monokroussos on all-time favourite Paul Keres

6/6/2005 – The Estonian GM, who died exactly 30 years ago, never became world champion. But he was very close for the longest period – a top-five player for almost thirty years. In our Monday night Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos examines a 1959 Keres victory over Mikhail Tal.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

The late Estonian GM Paul Keres, who died 30 years ago today, was my first idols, and to this day he remains one of my favorites. At one time the greatest player never to become world champion, and with Korchnoi the person who came the closest to becoming champion for the longest period without ever quite making it, Keres was arguably a top five player for a period of nearly 30 years and a world-class GM for about 40.

Among his many accomplishments are two first places in Candidates' events (Semmering 1937 and AVRO 1938), four seconds (1953, 1956, 1959 and 1962), third place in the 1948 World Championship, strong performances in two other Candidates' events, first place in three Soviet Championships (and second in two others), not to mention countless other match and tournament victories of lesser significance.

He was in addition an outstanding chess writer, an important theorist, a national hero and an all-around well-liked person. In short, a great player, and one worth emulating.

To commemorate this legend of the game, we'll take a look at his late-round victory over Mikhail Tal from the 1959 Candidates' Tournament. Tal won with an outstanding 20/28 (can you imagine some of today's GMs playing in such a monster event? It might take them years to recover!), but Keres' 18.5/28 score - which would have been good enough by percentage to win any other Candidates' tournament in the FIDE history of the game – kept things exciting. Further, in their mini-match, Keres beat Tal 3-1 (and only lost the one game on a blunder).

The game we'll look at in our show this week was a magnificent battle: Keres desperately needed to win, and despite having the Black pieces managed to outplay Tal in the opening and early middlegame. Tal defended extremely resourcefully, though, and it was only Keres' dogged and highly accurate technique that brought home the point.

It's a very well-played game and interesting from start to finish, and quite instructive, too: there are points of genuine interest in the opening, middlegame, endgame, and from the psychological side of things as well. So I hope you'll join me this week, and I think those of you who do will be glad you did!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Tuesday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.


Dennis Monokroussos is 38, lives in South Bend, IN (the site of the University of Notre Dame), and is writing a Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy (in the philosophy of mind) while adjuncting at the University.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

Here are the exact times for different locations in the world

Abu Dhabi Tue 05:00   Halifax * Mon 22:00   New Orleans * Mon 20:00
Addis Ababa Tue 04:00 Hanoi Tue 08:00 New York * Mon 21:00
Adelaide Tue 10:30 Harare Tue 03:00 Odesa * Tue 04:00
Aden Tue 04:00 Havana * Mon 21:00 Oslo * Tue 03:00
Aklavik * Mon 19:00 Helsinki * Tue 04:00 Ottawa * Mon 21:00
Algiers Tue 02:00 Hong Kong Tue 09:00 Paris * Tue 03:00
Amman * Tue 04:00 Honolulu Mon 15:00 Perth Tue 09:00
Amsterdam * Tue 03:00 Houston * Mon 20:00 Philadelphia * Mon 21:00
Anadyr * Tue 14:00 Indianapolis Mon 20:00 Phoenix Mon 18:00
Anchorage * Mon 17:00 Islamabad Tue 06:00 Prague * Tue 03:00
Ankara * Tue 04:00 Istanbul * Tue 04:00 Reykjavik Tue 01:00
Antananarivo Tue 04:00 Jakarta Tue 08:00 Rio de Janeiro Mon 22:00
Asuncion Mon 21:00 Jerusalem * Tue 04:00 Riyadh Tue 04:00
Athens * Tue 04:00 Johannesburg Tue 03:00 Rome * Tue 03:00
Atlanta * Mon 21:00 Kabul Tue 05:30 San Francisco * Mon 18:00
Baghdad * Tue 05:00 Kamchatka * Tue 14:00 San Juan Mon 21:00
Bangkok Tue 08:00 Karachi Tue 06:00 San Salvador Mon 19:00
Barcelona * Tue 03:00 Kathmandu Tue 06:45 Santiago Mon 21:00
Beijing Tue 09:00 Khartoum Tue 04:00 Santo Domingo Mon 21:00
Beirut * Tue 04:00 Kingston Mon 20:00 Sao Paulo Mon 22:00
Belgrade * Tue 03:00 Kiritimati Tue 15:00 Seattle * Mon 18:00
Berlin * Tue 03:00 Kolkata Tue 06:30 Seoul Tue 10:00
Bogota Mon 20:00 Kuala Lumpur Tue 09:00 Shanghai Tue 09:00
Boston * Mon 21:00 Kuwait City Tue 04:00 Singapore Tue 09:00
Brasilia Mon 22:00 Kyiv * Tue 04:00 Sofia * Tue 04:00
Brisbane Tue 11:00 La Paz Mon 21:00 St. John's * Mon 22:30
Brussels * Tue 03:00 Lagos Tue 02:00 St. Paul * Mon 20:00
Bucharest * Tue 04:00 Lahore Tue 06:00 Stockholm * Tue 03:00
Budapest * Tue 03:00 Lima Mon 20:00 Suva Tue 13:00
Buenos Aires Mon 22:00 Lisbon * Tue 02:00 Sydney Tue 11:00
Cairo Tue 03:00 London * Tue 02:00 Taipei Tue 09:00
Canberra Tue 11:00 Los Angeles * Mon 18:00 Tallinn * Tue 04:00
Cape Town Tue 03:00 Madrid * Tue 03:00 Tashkent Tue 06:00
Caracas Mon 21:00 Managua Mon 19:00 Tegucigalpa Mon 19:00
Casablanca Tue 01:00 Manila Tue 09:00 Tehran * Tue 05:30
Chatham Island Tue 13:45 Melbourne Tue 11:00 Tokyo Tue 10:00
Chicago * Mon 20:00 Mexico City * Mon 20:00 Toronto * Mon 21:00
Copenhagen * Tue 03:00 Minneapolis * Mon 20:00 Vancouver * Mon 18:00
Darwin Tue 10:30 Minsk * Tue 04:00 Vienna * Tue 03:00
Denver * Mon 19:00 Montevideo Mon 22:00 Vladivostok * Tue 12:00
Detroit * Mon 21:00 Montgomery * Mon 20:00 Warsaw * Tue 03:00
Dhaka Tue 07:00 Montreal * Mon 21:00 Washington DC * Mon 21:00
Dublin * Tue 02:00 Moscow * Tue 05:00 Wellington Tue 13:00
Edmonton * Mon 19:00 Mumbai Tue 06:30 Winnipeg * Mon 20:00
Frankfurt * Tue 03:00 Nairobi Tue 04:00 Yangon Tue 07:30
Geneva * Tue 03:00 Nassau * Mon 21:00 Zagreb * Tue 03:00
Guatemala Mon 19:00 New Delhi Tue 06:30 Zürich * Tue 03:00

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