Learning from the greatest – Paul Keres

1/7/2009 – The Estonian chess genius was born on January 7, 1916 – 93 years ago today. Though he never became world champion, very few players came as close to the throne as he did. In our Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos shows us a remarkable game Paul Keres played against Efim Geller at the 1962 Candidates – a game that is worthy of appreciation and emulation.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Estonian legend Paul Keres was born 93 years ago today, and although he passed away in 1975, his games are likely to be remembered as long as there are chess fans. Though he never became world champion, very few players came as close to the throne as he did, and fewer still managed to maintain such a high level for so long. From 1938 to 1965, he was probably a top five player, and he remained an elite grandmaster until he passed away ten years later. Four times he came in second in Candidates' tournaments, and in the 1965 Candidates' matches he gave the toughest fight to eventual winner Boris Spassky. In 1938 he won the AVRO tournament, which was supposed to be a Candidates' event for the winner to play a world championship match against Alexander Alekhine, but that match never occurred, and in 1948 he finished third in the world championship match-tournament won by Botvinnik. He won three Soviet championships, had a tremendous score in the many Olympiads he played in, and won the gold medal for his board in four consecutive Olympics. He won countless other competitions, was a great theoretician (especially in the Ruy Lopez), and was liked and respected by all.

After all that, one might think I was going to sell some Keres memorabilia, but not quite. I would instead like to invite you to join me later tonight (Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET) as we take a look at one of his many beautiful games. The one I have in mind was the final game of his 1962 match with Efim Geller, and an important game it was at that. They had tied for second in the 1962 Candidates (a mere half-point behind Petrosian, who went on to win the title), and needed a playoff match to see who would be automatically seeded into the 1965 Candidates event. After seven of the eight games, the score was knotted at 3.5-3.5, with Keres slated for White in the finale. How did he do?

No points for guessing the right answer, but what counts is how he did it. Keres' win was a beautiful display of attacking chess, worthy not only of appreciation but emulation as well. I'm confident that you'll enjoy our birthday tribute to Keres, and accordingly hope to see you tonight.

A reminder for those who might be confused by the last two weeks' shows: with the holidays behind us, we're back to our normal Wednesday (or Thursday morning, for those across the pond) schedule for the foreseeable future.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). 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.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).



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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten 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.



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