< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 4 OF 5 ·
|Aug-18-09|| ||WhiteRook48: the Soviets forced Keres to lose this tournament|
|Aug-18-09|| ||parisattack: <WhiteRook48: the Soviets forced Keres to lose this tournament>|
Has this been definately proven? I was under the impression the evidence was still somewhat speculative and nothing conclusive had been brought to the table.
|Aug-19-09|| ||WhiteRook48: why? was Alekhine afraid Capa would win AVRO?|
|Oct-04-09|| ||theagenbiteofinwit: <the Soviets forced Keres to lose this tournament>|
Absurd. It would be in the U.S.S.R's best interest for Keres to finish ahead of Reshevsky. "Punishing" him by making him lose to Botvinnik would only hurt the Soviet image overall.
If the Soviets were so interested in manipulating matches for political purposes, Tal would never have beaten Botvinnik in the first place, since he was probably the most apolitical Soviet that ever breathed, and every match Botvinnik played was symbolic.
|Oct-04-09|| ||AnalyzeThis: Folks like Reshevsky, who played in the tournament, imply that the Russian goal was not that Keres lose, but that a Russian win. The idea is that once Botivinnik got to the front, the other Russian helped him stay there. |
People only remember the winner.
|Oct-04-09|| ||theagenbiteofinwit: <The idea is that once Botivinnik got to the front, the other Russian helped him stay there. >|
If that were the case, Smyslov and Botvinnik wouldn't have drawn so much. Smyslov would have taken more losses to ensure Botvinnik stayed on top. Botvinnik was at his peak in the 40's. Any Keres conspiracy theory necessarily discounts Botvinnik's ability.
<People only remember the winner.>
Not in this tournament, people still even remember the guy who declined to play :)
|Jan-21-10|| ||Petrosianic: I've posted quite a few bits from Chess Life and Chess Review in the Reshevsky forum lately, trying to pin down the history of this tournament, and still missing a few things.|
The biggest question is when exactly was the 1947 World Championship Tournament cancelled, and under what conditions? Correspondence between Paul Giers of USCF and Rueb at FIDE seem to talk as though the tournament is on for some time after Winterthur.
Giers argues strongly that Reshevsky and Fine should not be seeded, but the US should pick its reps "democratically" by taking the top two from the 1946 US Championship. There seems to have been a misunderstanding where Rueb thought he meant Reshevsky, Fine AND the two finishers. Winterthur had talked about seeding the winners of Groningen and Prague. Giers objected that this was unfair because US players had no advance notice that Prague might be a qualifier, and so none were playing there. Rueb said that the ratio of 2 Americans, three Soviets was fixed at Winterthur, based on the number of strong masters in each country. But they both talk as though the 1947 tournament is still on.
Somehow it falls through, Botvinnik storms out of the Soviet Championship in protest against his Federation's knuckle-headed maneuvers, everyone meets at the Hague in Summer 1947, and puts together pretty much the same sextangular tournament for 1948. Six players, but this time no seeds from Groningen or Prague, and a rule saying No Substitions. Fine drops out a month before the tournament, Euwe talks about hoping they can put Najdorf or Stahlberg in his place, but the No Substitions rule apparently stood, and they made it a pentangular tournament instead. The big question though is when the 1947 tournament fell through, and why.
Another question is what happened to Flohr, FIDE's pre-war "Official Challenger". Giers assumed that Flohr was one of the Candidates in the first piece of correspondence I found, but Rueb corrected him, that it was Smyslov. I haven't seen any explanation for this in US magazines, but am assuming it has to do with Smyslov's finish in the 1941 Soviet Absolute Championship. When the Soviets were granted three spots, they picked the top three players in this tournament. But that still doesn't explain how FIDE's "official challenger" was disposed of so easily. He did play in the Interzonal that year, so he wasn't out of the picture.
Probably a lot of this is explained in the minutes to the Winterthur meeting, but I haven't seen a copy yet. Giers hadn't either. Several of his letters in Chess Life from Fall 1946 mention that he still doesn't have a copy of them.
Had the USCF gotten its way to seed its candidates from the US Championship, the second American would have been Kashdan, rather than the unreliable Fine, and things might have turned out differently. The US had lobbied at The Hague for Kashdan's inclusion, apparently because of the 1946 US Championship result.
|Jan-22-10|| ||Petrosianic: Okay, a partial answer. Chess Review reports in December 1946 that the 1947 was off. The reasons are vague, though. FIDE backed out of the tournament because of "unspecified" Russian opposition, and American opposition that we already know about; their demanding to select their own representatives from a qualifier, rather than just seeding Reshevsky and Fine.|
|Jan-22-10|| ||Petrosianic: I had previously seen this. I guess it means what it sounds like, that FIDE was really dropping the tournament:|
<Sgravenhage, October 12, 1946
Giers, 2304 South Avenue.
Impossible reconcile USCF and USSR claims with Winterthur resolutions W C Tournament FIDE management stopped.
Giers didn't seem to take it that way. He shot right back with a letter saying that no, we're not asking for a third representative, we just want to select our two from the US Championship rather than seeding them straight.
|Aug-25-10|| ||GrahamClayton: Here is a link to some newsreel footage of the tournament, featuring the players drawing lots and the playing hall. Unfortunately the soundtrack is missing:|
|Sep-20-10|| ||GrahamClayton: The Soviets brought a large contingent of about twenty-one including the players Botvinnik, Keres, and Smyslov; their seconds Viacheslav Ragozin, Alexander Tolush, and Vladimir Alatortsev respectively; correspondents Igor Bondarevsky, Salo Flohr, and Andor Lilienthal; member of the adjudication committee Alexander Kotov; leader of the group Postnikov; a private doctor from Moscow; and Botvinnik's wife and young daughter. The U.S. delegation numbered one person—Reshevsky traveled alone and Lodewijk Prins was procured at the last moment to be his second.|
|Nov-18-10|| ||Sokrates: I happen to step by this old tournament and behold: what an interesting discussion. About the Keres-Botvinnik relation a lot has already been written. I recall an excellent article in New in Chess about Keres and his whereabouts during and after the war, when he was forced to stay under the Soviet regime, although it was clearly not in his interest. In my mind there is no doubt that all Botvinnik's Soviet opponents suffered substantially under the fact that B. was the darling of the regime and they were not. B. took all the advantages he could get, especially in the match with Bronstein later on. And there was the story about Keres being close to deported or executed after the war, when he may have been saved by B., who, of course, in every aspect would be in a far better position than Keres.|
Strangely, Kasparov doesn't seem to dig deep into these matters in his Predecessor-series, where he - IMO - doesn't give Keres the credit he deserves. I don't know what reasons K. might have for his degrading of Keres, but it is noticable that a player like Geller, who IMO never had Keres' level is highly praised and presented with several winning games, whereas Keres's many star games are omitted and replaced with his sequal defeats against Botvinnik. Maybe K. still has an unconscious sympathy for his former teacher, maybe he didn't like Keres, whose popularity and personal calibre is a somewhat contradiction to the person K.
But all this adds up to a highly needed research on the matter. As rightfully said here, Keres' results against for instance Smyslov show a totally different player than the one who lost so ridiculously against B. It's simply not the same player. Through the 50s Smyslov was probably the strongest player in the world, but he was never superior than Keres - I'd regard them as equals. Look at the 1959 candidates, for instance, when Keres was only second to Tal whom he beat clearly.
So it must raise suspicion that Keres was so surprisingly bad against B. Was it gratitude for a service by B. keeping Keres out of jail? Was it a way to tell the regime that he wasn't going for the world championship, thus presenting a danger to the hegemony of the hardcore communist B.? Lots of theories, but it would be good, if a proper and thorough research would cast a light on these matters.
|Nov-18-10|| ||nescio: I have no evidence one way or another, but I think Botvinnik in the 1940's was far stronger than all his opponents, and one of his characteristics was that he could make his most dangerous rivals play poorly against him. It wasn't only Keres. Look what he did to Boleslavsky. Even when he was clearly lost (Boleslavsky vs Botvinnik, 1943) he put up so much resistance that Boleslavsky wasn't able to convert. |
The same happened to the opponents of Fischer in 1970/71 (for example Larsen, Taimanov). They played far worse against him than against others.
|Nov-18-10|| ||SetNoEscapeOn: < I don't know what reasons K. might have for his degrading of Keres, but it is noticable that a player like Geller, who IMO never had Keres' level is highly praised and presented with several winning games, whereas Keres's many star games are omitted and replaced with his sequal defeats against Botvinnik.>|
I didn't get that impression while I was reading volume II, but it's been a while. However just browsing it now I noticed
<The fact that Keres did not play a match for the world championship was undoubtedly a grievous thing for chess, a king of evil mockery of fate. Who else for so many years- effectively a quarter of a century, beginning with the AVRO tournament- was so close to the throne? But all the time he lacked a bit of luck.>
And from an online interview in 1998:
<Naisortep: Who was the strongest player not to become world champ?
Kasparov: Obviously Keres, but Anand also has a chance to join his company.>
|Nov-20-10|| ||Sokrates: <SetNoEscapeOn: > Okay, I stand corrected on the whole basis - thanks for the good quotations! - but still, I think Kasparov could have shown some of the fabulous games by Keres. Also he could have mentioned Keres' "100 Ausgewählte ..." one of the most brilliant chess books ever written, Kasparov's included. In the "Predecessor" he appears as sort of a sad looser, inferior to Botvinnik, unable to handle his nerves, failing to carpe diem etc. Keres' merits are splendid and although I haven't made a proper research, my guess is that the results of his career is superior to most players in his time. Only for the World Championship he never got the chance. He himself was primarily to blame for that, of course, but his last attempt, the Curacao candidates tournament, was so dubious and suspicious due to the "deal" between the Soviet players that one wonders whether Petrosian, who not until and thereafter was a great tournament winner, would have qualified if that silent agreement hadn't existed. Anyway, without regarding Korchnoi as a witness of truth, I recall his remark, when Paul Keres diseased: "Now they can't push around with Keres anymore!"|
|Nov-20-10|| ||khursh: <Sokrates:Curacao candidates tournament, was so dubious and suspicious due to the "deal" between the Soviet players>
hmmm, and Keres was not Soviet? This Fischer's unbased accusation will forever act as a ghost over curacao.|
|Nov-20-10|| ||Petrosianic: Not really. Fischer's primary charge was that Korchnoi had thrown games to the others in order to make it possible for the leaders to draw with each other. It only appeared plausible at all because Fischer concealed from his readers how poorly he'd done at the tournament. He talked a lot about his performance at Bled, said nothing about his performance at Curacao, and led the SI reader to believe that he'd been in the thick of the fight for first. It was a masterpiece of duplicity.|
Pretty much nobody believes Korchnoi threw games today. Even Fischer himself more or less abandoned the charge a couple of years later. He was on good terms with Korchnoi for years, until he became persona non grata again for daring to play for the world title.
Without the charges against Korchnoi, all we have left is a tournament where the leaders drew with each other and beat up on the weakies, same as happens in most GM tournaments, (same as happened in the previous candidates between Petrosian and Tal without a peep of protest from Fischer, in fact) and a strong desire to believe that it was pre-arranged, so as to be able to feel that Fischer lost because of collusion, rather than because he was unable to climb above a +1 score at any time in 28 rounds.
It may seem that the cloud will be over Curacao forever, but in reality it will only be for as long as people who remember the days that Fischer was active are around. They're the ones who (largely) just can't be objective about him. To give you an example, Riverbeast once spent 6 months trying to prove this case to me. In 6 months he failed to present a single piece of evidence, he only offered vague assertions that everyone knew it. After 6 months, he finally cited one source: Brad Darrach, who had gotten the story FROM Fischer (!). He saw nothing unreasonable about this no matter how clearly people tried to take him by the hand and explain it. The only problem is that he didn't actually <find> the source, he only named it. Someone else had to look it up for him (Tessie Tura, I think), and it turned out it <didn't> say what he claimed after all. Darrach hadn't said a word about a drawing pact, what he supported was Fischer's claim that Korchnoi had thrown games. Despite the fact that the source didn't say what he thought it did, and that Darrach had apparently got it from Fischer himself, Riverbeast felt that this had proved his point, and went off on another tirade about how unreasonable I was for not agreeing with him (he ended up in my killfile shortly after). Bottom line is that nobody is that stupid naturally, they only get that way when they're desperate to believe something, come hell or high water. People only seem to get that way about Fischer when they personally remember the angst of fearing he'd never make it to the top, and the disappointment when he walked out on the title.
|Nov-20-10|| ||khursh: <Petrosianic> Not only that, but the Petrosian bashing is also becoming a habit. Here it is:
<Petrosian, who not until and thereafter was a great tournament winner>|
I hope <Sokrates:> understand what does it mean to win USSR chamiponship in 1959 and 1961 before Curacaio and in 1969 and 1975 after Curacao. And I am not talking about WC Petrosian's other achievements.
Keres btw was 7th in 1959 USSR championship, but <was superior then Petrosian because of Curacao collusion?>
|Nov-20-10|| ||Petrosianic: <Not only that, but the Petrosian bashing is also becoming a habit.>|
Yeah, but that would happen even without Curacao. I like him, but honestly, he had a very oblique, hard-to-understand style, that just isn't very accessible to the lower rungs. Part of the genius of someone like a Fischer or Capablanca is that someone of any skill level from beginner to master can look at their games and learn things from them. Petrosian, like Tal, is hard to understand and harder to emulate. But Tal at least is exciting even when you don't understand him. Petrosian was effective, like a boa constrictor, but not exciting, therefore not all that popular outside of Armenia.
He was unpopular inside the Soviet Union too. A magazine that did a writeup on the 1956 Candidates did detailed analyses of all the players except him. Panov and Romanovsky wrote about him as antithetical to the Soviet School of Chess, which was supposed to be more like Fischer; the bold Soviet Man going in for sharp infighting. But that's one of the things that makes him interesting. In an odd way he was a rebel. Not like Korchnoi, not someone who openly defied his superiors and got in trouble for it. Politically, he was pretty dependable. But over the board, he pretty much thumbed his nose at everyone who told him how he should be playing, came up with his own way of playing, and managed to become champion with it. It was an infuriating way of playing sometimes. He was often far too willing to split the point, especially with Black, and like Fischer, didn't achieve as much as he could have. But he made it to the top.
Fischer is similar in that way, of coming up with his own way of playing. It's not a way I'd recommend to anyone, it required total immersion in chess, day and night, for 15 years. Few people would do it that way, most would want to have lives. But Fischer did it and made it work, at least long enough to climb to the top.
|Nov-21-10|| ||Sokrates: <I hope <Sokrates:> understand ... > I do understand, and my intention is by no means to belittle, less bash, the achievements by the great Petrosian. To win the Soviet championship was close to winning the world championship in those days. And winnning against the monolith Botvinnik in his own playing style was a fantastic success. But if you regard the six years reign of the world champion P., it is hard to detect a superiority in tournaments. In fact I regard Curacao to be his greatest tournament achievement. I don't think it'd be unfair to consider Petrosian as primarily a match fighter, not a tournament winner.|
Anyway, clarifying light has never been cast upon the tournament in Curacao, and as said neither Korchnoi nor Fischer are reliable sources. The sad reality is the fact that Keres never made the last mile to the match of the World C., albeit he had a strength equal to those who succeeded (Bronstein, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian).
Whether he would have been able to stand against his old "Angstgegner" Botvinnik like they did, is another matter. I have my sincere doubts. I think Botvinnik would have a substantial psychological advantage in advance. Unfortunately the Berlin wall didn't fall until Keres was long gone - in a free world, i.e. with Keres free of the Soviet oppression, things might have been different.
|Nov-22-10|| ||Sokrates: A further note. I found this on the Keres profile at the Wikipedia: |
"Since Keres lost his first four games against Botvinnik in the 1948 tournament, suspicions are sometimes raised that Keres was forced to "throw" games to allow Botvinnik to win the championship. Chess historian Taylor Kingston investigated all the available evidence and arguments, and concluded that: Soviet chess officials gave Keres strong hints that he should not hinder Botvinnik's attempt to win the World Championship; Botvinnik only discovered this about half-way though the tournament and protested so strongly that he angered Soviet officials; Keres probably did not deliberately lose games to Botvinnik or anyone else in the tournament."
The key notion is "probably not", where it is hard to tell, whether the oppression by the regime frightened Keres or not. Considering the fact that Keres at some point was in real trouble with the regime, and in real danger of being deported or the liking, I find it hard to believe that such a "guideline" from the regime wouldn't have any effect on Keres's play.
Incidentally, the regime notion: "We have already a world champ" was repeated to Kasparov when he began his challenging Karpov. It is hard to grasp today, I guess, how deep the regime influenced and intimidated the Soviet players after WW2 until 1990. One fact is quite certain: whether intended or not Botvinnik had great benefits from his position in that regime - more than any other of his contestants.
|Nov-22-10|| ||Petrosianic: <Whether he would have been able to stand against his old "Angstgegner" Botvinnik like they did, is another matter. I have my sincere doubts.>|
I do too, but win or lose, it's a darn shame that he never got the chance.
Or maybe it isn't. If he'd played and lost, say, in 1954, his kitsch would be far less than it is today. He was one of the world's top players for 30 years, but chessmetrics never shows him as #1. Most of his lustre comes from one single shared super-tournament victory in 1938. It was great, but doesn't signify "this guy will definitely be champion some day".
If Keres could have won, when would his time have been? He may have been under duress in 1948, but he was (presumably) not under duress in 1941, when Botvinnik handled him fairly... handily in the Absolute Championship. I'm thinking that the 1938-1940 time would have been his best shot, but he himself said that he wasn't good enough at that time. His narrow, loss-riddled victory in the Keres-Euwe match doesn't inspire much confidence. On the other hand, Alekhine wasn't going too well around that time either, so who knows.
|Nov-23-10|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Kasparov is probably right. The unlucky Paul Keres was the strongest Almost World Champion never to have acquired the Title. |
I think he was stronger than World Champion Euwe. His narrow victory over Euwe in their 1940 match is still a victory. Euwe at that time was probably still in his prime.
I do not think he would have won against Alekhine, who even in his decline totally dominated Keres. The young Keres seemed to have had a similar aggressive style as AAA, except that AAA (when not drunk or troubled) was simply better than him at it.
Alekhine vs Keres, 1935
Keres vs Alekhine, 1936
Keres vs Alekhine, 1937
Keres vs Alekhine, 1942
Alekhine vs Keres, 1942
Alekhine vs Keres, 1942
These often overlooked decisive games between the two chess giants are all fascinating slugfests. AAA clearly was outplaying Keres most of the time.
I am one of the few who believe that a healthy Alekhine, even on his declining years but abstaining from the bottle, would have come in fanatically prepped and motivated as usual to any World Championship match in the years 1939 to 1942, and would have beaten all Challengers including Botvinnik.
Keres may have had his best chance at around 1945. AAA was probably quite sick with what I suspect is liver cirrhosis from too much drinking; and at that time, Botvinnik still did not have his jinx over him.
Keres vs Botvinnik, 1938
Botvinnik vs Keres, 1938
Botvinnik vs Keres, 1940
Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941
Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941
Botvinnik vs Keres, 1941
Botvinnik vs Keres, 1941
Of the 7 games they played before 1947, Keres lost just one game to Botvinnik, and drew 6; an indication that they were battling it out in about even terms for the most part. If there had been a Keres vs. Botvinnik 'Candidates' match in 1945 right after the end of the war in Europe, and assuming that the Soviet authorities would not have pressured Keres, he could have reasonable chances to beat Botvinnik, and then proceed to beat an ill Alekhine in a Title match.
The main reason why Keres (without his Botvinniik jinx and without Soviet pressure) in 1945 would have fair chances to beat Botvinnik in a match is that Botvinnik, for some strange reason, was not a particularly good match player. We all know that he just about drew even with his Challengers for his Title in their World Championship Matches; and without the re-match clause, there are reasons to believe that he would not have made it back to to the Title. What is less known is that in previous one-on-one matches with Flohr in 1933 and Levenfish in 1937, Botvinnik could only tie. Keres dominated both Flohr and Levenfish. (For that matter so did Alekhine; which is one more reason I believe that a serious non-drinking healthy AAA would have beaten Botvinnik in a World Championship Match in 1939.) Botvinnik was a much better tournament player than he was a match player.
(And this is true even for non-Title mini-matches he played during his reign. Botvinnik lost a mini-match to Reshevsky in 1955 and could only tie Korchnoi in a mini-match in 1960.)
It is a shame that Keres never managed it to a Title shot. The circumstances just precluded it. Or as he once said, "I am unlucky, just like my country (Estonia)".
|Nov-23-10|| ||ReneDescartes: I think part of Keres' aura is the sheer brilliance of some of his games. For example, the way he defends against Fischer in the game from My 60 Memorable Games in which he allows Fischer to promote a pawn, yet calculates that there is no win, is just jaw-dropping. Who else could have done that? Perhaps only Fischer himself and Lasker come to mind. In that sense one could compare Keres to Ivanchuk. Obviously world-championship caliber games, and some moves seem to blast into another dimension. One never really feels that about Botvinnik's brilliancies.|
Pressure? The deaths of millions at the hands of Stalin still hung in the air. We can't imagine. That doesn't meen Keres would have won, but it means he had no chance as someone not entirely free of association with the Nazis in the eyes of the paranoid Soviet establishment. We'll never know.
|Nov-23-10|| ||Petrosianic: <The main reason why Keres (without his Botvinniik jinx and without Soviet pressure) in 1945 would have fair chances to beat Botvinnik in a match is that Botvinnik, for some strange reason, was not a particularly good match player. We all know that he just about drew even with his Challengers for his Title in their World Championship Matches;>|
And don't forget the drawn matches against Flohr and Levenfish in the 30's. The one against Flohr was an achievement, Flohr was very good in those days. But the Levenfish match was embarrassing. It had been meant to transfer the Soviet title to Botvinnik before AVRO, but it didn't work out that way. As a result, Bottvinnik was at AVRO, but the Soviet Champion wasn't, which led to talk of inviting Levenfish to AVRO too, which never came to anything, but still was a conversation they'd probably have rather avoided.
That, as much as any single thing probably led to the 1941 Soviet Absolute Championship, which was supposed to decide once and for all, which Soviet player had the right to challenge Alekhine, regardless of who happened to have the regular Soviet title in whatever year Alekhine happened to be available.
Of course a few weeks after THAT tournament ended, the Germans launched Barbarossa, throwing yet another monkey wrench into world chess.
< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 4 OF 5 ·