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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Paul Keres Studies

     It's hard to believe that Keres has been gone 40 years! Keres (born January 7, 1916) was among the world's top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s and narrowly missed a chance at a world championship match on five occasions. He won the 1938 AVRO tournament, which led to negotiations for a title match against champion Alexander Alekhine, but the match never took place due to World War II. After the war Keres was runner-up in the Candidates' Tournament on four consecutive occasions. 
     His health started declining in 1973 and he didn't play in any major events in 1974. He died of a heart attack in Helsinki, Finland, at the age of 59, while returning to Estonia from a tournament in Vancouver, which he had won. Over 100,000 attended his state funeral in Tallinn, Estonia. 
     Reshevsky described why Keres never became world champion: "Well, I believe that Keres failed in this respect because he lacked the killer instinct. He was too mild a person to give his all in order to defeat his opponents. He took everything, including his chess, philosophically. Keres is one of the nicest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. With his friendly and sincere smile, he makes friends easily. He is good natured and kind. Yes, he loves chess, but being a human being is his first consideration. In addition to chess, Keres was interested in tennis, Ping-Pong, swimming, and bridge." 
     In addition to authoring several books, few people are aware that Keres, who was a great attacking genius and, also, a superb endgame player, published 180 problems and 30 studies. 
    In the following position, published in Magyar Sakkvilág in 1936, white is a queen up but his K looks doomed on account of the threat of 1...b2+ followed by 2...b8=Q.


     The following study won First Prize in the USSR Composers' Contest in 1947. White's task seems impossible, but the win is there. In fact, when I let Komodo 8 analyze the ending, it did not suggest any improvements. It's a fine example of a R and P ending that is worth studying. I would recommend going to the 6-piece Shredder Endgame Database after move 5 and trying out different moves to see how to play the ending.

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