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|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.
|Apr-06-11|| ||bronkenstein: <Of course a few weeks after THAT tournament ended, the Germans launched Barbarossa, throwing yet another monkey wrench into world chess.>|
Ah , these naughty Germans :)
|Feb-07-12|| ||Honza Cervenka: These conspiracy theories of fixed games thrown to Botvinnik are pretty ludicrous. Almost every brilliancy of Botvinnik is rumoured to be prearranged like Botvinnik vs Chekhover, 1935 or Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941 to name just two most notorious examples, almost every mistake made by any of his fellow countrymen against him is presented as a proof of malevolent manipulation from behind by Soviet authorities, which simply ordered Botvinnik's opponents to lose, or else etc. Even Salo Flohr, long time before he became a Soviet subject, allegedly had thrown two games to Botvinnik in their drawn match in 1933 as Bronstein and slomarko were suggesting. The problem is that there is absolutely no real evidence of anything wrong outside of rumours and wild speculations and that many of these claims do not hold the water under close scrutiny.|
For example, in case of the ninth game of Botvinnik vs Flohr match slomarko stated:
<and the second one, even more bizzare:
Botvinnik vs Flohr, 1933
Flohr outplayes Botvinik in the opening but instead of 10...Bf5 he plays the weak 10...g6? followed by 12...Qb6?? (12...Be7 was necessary)>
This description of the game and especially the suggestion that Flohr outplayed Botvinnik in the opening is not quite correct. Whole line of Panov-Botvinnik Attack in Caro-Kann was new then and the position after the first ten moves was played many times after that including Flohr's 10...g6 (See Opening Explorer). Btw, Botvinnik used the same line in the lost first game Botvinnik vs Flohr, 1933 of the same match, where he played 10.Bxf6 instead of 10.Nf3 and so this game was a continuation in their "theoretical discussion" with Botvinnik's improvement of the line, which he evaluated - I would say correctly - as better for white. At least results of games in the database clearly favour the white here. Of course, 10...g6 is probably not the best attempt for black here but as Botvinnik's own analyses as well as later practice have shown, more popular 10...e6 does not make life much easier for black here, and 10...Bf5, which is top choice of some engines, can be answered simply by 11.Nh4 with some advantage of white, and also 11.0-0 seems to be playable and it was successful in O'Kelly vs M Bobotsov, 1961. Of course, 12...Qb6 was objectively inferior to 12...Be7 but it is possible to understand that Flohr disliked to go for very passive defense and tied position after 12...Be7. Such a mistake in difficult situation looks as quite natural and logical outcome and it can hardly serve as any hard evidence of deliberate loss of this game from Flohr's part. I can say here that while it doesn't prove positively that Flohr did not lose the game deliberately, it shows quite apparent bias of slomarko's interpretation of the game.
|Feb-07-12|| ||Honza Cervenka: Concerning 1948 FIDE WCh tournament and Keres' poor performance against Botvinnik, it is not so strange. First of all, Botvinnik won all minimatches in this tournament (against Smyslov +1-0=4, against Reshevsky +3-1=1, against Euwe +2-0=3 and against Keres +4-1=0) and as you can see, Sammy Reshevsky, who would be hardly suspected of throwing games to Botvinnik, was beaten almost as badly as Paul was. It is no secret that Botvinnik considered Keres and Reshevsky to be his main rivals in the fight for the WCh title in the tournament and so he focused his preparation on them with quite apparent success. It is also undisputable that he played in great shape throughout the tournament losing only two games, one of them in very last round after securing the title for himself, when his concentration and motivation for fight was already not 100%.|
On the other hand, Keres was apparently out of shape in the tournament. It is not true that he played badly exclusively against Botvinnik there. He lost to Reshevsky too, though not so badly as with Botvinnik (+1-2=3) but his play here was not stellar to put it mildly, with quite a lot of inaccuracies made in the process. If Reshevsky would be able to exploit them in full, the outcome could have been far worse from Paul's perspective. Definitely +0-3=2 or at least +0-2=3 result was in the air as Keres won a game after losing a central Pawn without any real compensation in the 15th move. It is true that he almost annihilated poor Max Euwe with score +4-0=1, but once again things on the chessboard were not so clear as the result may suggest. For example, in the first game he missed several simple and outright wins complicating thus his task before Euwe (in objectively lost position) exceeded time limit. And in the second game he escaped luckily with draw from a clearly lost position. His dominance over Euwe was caused rather by Euwe's very poor play and numerous blunders than anything else. Also Smyslov gave him a gift in their first game blundering in uncomfortable but still playable position. There are not much games in the tournament where Keres have demonstrated his full power without apparent slips (Smyslov vs Keres, 1948 definitely comes into my mind). Having this in mind, it is not so unbelievable and suspicious to me that Keres lost four games in row to Botvinnik. He lost three consecutive games in the 17th, 18th and the 20th round (in the 19th round he was unpaired) and he was quite close to another three losses in row in the third, fifth and sixth round, when Euwe let him slip off the hook with draw. His losses to Botvinnik are not suspicious per se despite of claims that in Keres vs Botvinnik, 1948 he lost a Rook ending, which "<any player at chessgames.com could have drawn>", in glaringly outrageous way demonstrating thus that he was forced to throw games to Botvinnik. In fact, the discussion on the pages of the game shows quite clearly that the position was not so easy to handle for white and that some analyses of those claiming that the fix was definitely in were utterly flawed. In my view the case of conspiracy behind Botvinnik's win in this tournament is pretty weak, if not nonexistent.
|Feb-07-12|| ||talisman: according to Bronstein Zurich was the big Collusion.|
|Feb-08-12|| ||Honza Cervenka: <He lost to Reshevsky too, though not so badly as with Botvinnik (+1-2=3)> Of course, it is a typo from my part as they played only five games each other. The face to face score of Keres with Reshevsky in the tournament was +1-2=2 from Paul's perspective.|
|Feb-08-12|| ||Agent Bouncy: Thank you, Honza C, for injecting some sanity into this issue. I don't know what it is about Botvinnik that arouses so much antipathy in so many people, and also brings the conspiracy nutcases out of the woodwork. It's clear that from about 1939 to 1950 Botvinnik was the best player in the world, and from the Bronstein match (1951) to the Petrosyan match (1963) he was, as they say, "first among equals."|
|Feb-08-12|| ||ewan14: Keres was an unwilling Soviet
At C. in 1962 there would have still been a '' combine '' between Geller and Petrosian ( DON'T DISAGREE )
and this would have favoured these two - Geller & Petrosian
( over an older Keres )
|Feb-08-12|| ||ewan14: A World Championship tournament where the competitors do not have an equal number of games with white / black is a joke|
|Feb-08-12|| ||Honza Cervenka: <A World Championship tournament where the competitors do not have an equal number of games with white / black is a joke> Every participant of this tournament played twenty games, ten with white, ten with black.|
|Feb-08-12|| ||King Death: <Petrosianic: ...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...>
As far as I understand it the Absolute was a response to Botvinnik's relative failure in the 1940 Soviet Championship where he shared 5th place: Game Collection: USSR Absolute Championship 1941.
<...Of course a few weeks after THAT tournament ended, the Germans launched Barbarossa, throwing yet another monkey wrench into world chess...>
The Nazis got what they deserved for their thoughtlessness, it took one hell of a nerve to make a mess of playing chess the way they did.
|Feb-08-12|| ||King Death: <Honza Cervenka: <A World Championship tournament where the competitors do not have an equal number of games with white / black is a joke> Every participant of this tournament played twenty games, ten with white, ten with black.>|
Maybe <ewan14> meant that the players had unequal colors against each opponent, and that's true because everybody played 5 games against each opponent.
|Feb-08-12|| ||Honza Cervenka: <Maybe <ewan14> meant that the players had unequal colors against each opponent, and that's true because everybody played 5 games against each opponent.> I see. But outcome of individual minimatches didn't play any role in tournament final standings and so it was not important factor here. Of course, there could have been an even number of rounds to achieve this effect and with Fine participating there would have been six rounds instead of five. With only five participants six round robin looks a bit overdone. Even four rounds could have been sufficient to sort five players according their strenght reliably but FIDE's decision was five rounds and as far as I know nobody protested then on this matter. In the real tournament Botvinnik would be the winner after four rounds and with his luxury three-point lead ahead of Smyslov after the 5th round he would have been the winner after the six rounds as well with probability next to mathematical certainty.|
|Jan-30-13|| ||Tiggler: <Petrosianic>:<Of course a few weeks after THAT tournament ended, the Germans launched Barbarossa, throwing yet another monkey wrench into world chess.>|
This is a novel theory in the history of WWII. Who would have thought the Germans would stake so much to disrupt world chess?
|Aug-31-13|| ||wordfunph: The Hague-Moscow 1948: Match/Tournament for the World Chess Championship published by Russell Enterprises..|
|Jan-21-14|| ||Calli: Video! http://www.openbeelden.nl/media/104...|
|Feb-25-14|| ||perfidious: <Tiggler: Who would have thought the Germans would stake so much to disrupt world chess?>|
The sheer, unbridled nerve. Invading Yugoslavia that spring masked their true intentions, therefore.
|Feb-25-14|| ||Tabanus: No crosstable?
And the link "Birth of the FIDE World Championship" at About.com does not work any more.
|Feb-26-14|| ||SpiritedReposte: So just reading this "oh alekhine just dies and now FIDE runs @#$%." Kinda sent up some red flags. Then looking into alekhine death it says he choked on food...wearing his coat in front of a perfectly set up chessboard.|
I'm sure this has been debated lots but damn it seems pretty obvious he was murdered. But no proof? I think the proof is right there. Who benefited? FIDE.
|Feb-26-14|| ||Check It Out: Cui bono is certainly a good question, but the answer is not proof. Unfortunately, the murky mysteries of the past may only be subject to speculation until time travel is invented.|
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