Polugaevsky vs Keres – instructive, entertaining, quirky!

by ChessBase
4/28/2009 – This Wednesday night lecture by Dennis Monokroussos on Playchess presents a 1973 encounter in Talinn between two immortals: Lev Polughaevsky and Paul Keres. It shows the three-time Soviet champion Polugaevsky at his best, executing devious little plans to wrong-foot his opponent. Come watch the lecture and add the stutter step approach to your repertoire of tricks. 9 p.m. ET.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

The late Lev Polugaevsky (1934-1995) was one of the greatest players of his era, three times winning the Soviet championship and making it to the Candidates matches no less than four times. Additionally, he was an adept in the art of opening preparation (most famously in the eponymous Polugaevsky Variation of the Najdorf Sicilian), and to add to this he was the author of one of the greatest chess books of all time, Grandmaster Achievement.

While I heartily recommend that work, our focus for the show is his chess, and the game I've found this week is not only instructive, entertaining, and meriting the usual pile of adjectives; it's also quirky! Polugaevsky presents his win over Estonian great Paul Keres (from Talinn 1973) in Grandmaster Performance in the chapter "The Touchstone of Mastery." Here he culls games in which he managed to successfully carry out "a complete strategic plan", writing of past greats that "[t]heir games are notable for the steadfast carrying out of a plan, and their play never gives the impression of being jerky."

You would imagine from this that the win over Keres exhibits very direct, very straightforward play. This is the aim, and to achieve it this piece goes here, that one goes there, a third one finds its place and the opponent collapses. There is some of that, yes. But it's remarkable how many times something slightly different takes place. Polugaevsky repeatedly wants to move a piece to square x, but first moves it to square y, chasing or luring Keres to move a piece to an inferior location, and only then does he move to square x. The effect of these little half- and false-steps is to keep wrong-footing the opponent, and it works to perfection. Poor Keres never manages to untangle his forces, and Polugaevsky wins convincingly.

There is much to appreciate in the game – you'll see – but it's worth tuning in to add the stutter step approach to your repertoire of tricks. Just tune in at 9 p.m. ET tonight (Wednesday night; it's 3 a.m. CET Thursday morning for the European viewers) on the Playchess server to watch. (Once you log on, go to the Broadcast room and find Polugaevsky-Keres under the "Games" tab.) Hope to see you then.

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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