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Thursday, November 30, 2017

An Early Postal Game by Keres

   Several great masters started playing postal chess and Paul Keres was an outstanding example. He first appeared in international play at the Team Tournament in Prague in 1935. At the age of 19, he was the leader of the Estonian team and complied one of the best scores of the event. Shortly thereafter he began a series of impressive successes at Margate 1937 and 1939, Semmering 1937 and AVRO 1938.
     Keres had also played many, many postal games which already showed some remarkable tactical play. He learned chess early. He wrote that he was not yet five years old he and his older brother watched their father played. Eventually, they discovered chess in magazines and books and Keres got himself a notebook in which he recorded notes to openings and hundreds of master games. It was at that time that he began playing chess by mail, sometime playing 150 games at a time! In all, he played about 500 postal games.
     The following game by the 18-year old Keres is an example of his swashbuckling style. Unfortunately, when the game was annotated by an unknown person in the 1940 Chess Review, it was annotated by result and reputation of the winner. As a result several undeserved exclamation marks were assigned to moves.  This is a frequent occurrence in old books and, especially, magazines because annotators were often rushed to get games ready for publication, so didn't spend a lot of time delving into all their secrets. Also, in those days almost nobody dared question a titled player! Of course, the fact that they didn't have Stockfish to point out tactical mistakes also has to be taken into consideration!. That doesn't detract from the games though because the concepts are still instructive and the games a whole lot of fun to play over.  For anybody wanting to hone their visualization skills this would be a good game to set up on an actual board and play over.

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