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Efim Geller vs Paul Keres
Curacao Candidates (1962), Willemstad CUW, rd 26, Jun-21
English Opening: Agincourt Defense. Keres Defense (A14)  ·  1/2-1/2
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Fischer has made a number of claims over the years that are beyond absurd (ie. the results of the Kasparov-Karpov matches were prearranged). Why does he still have any credibility at all?
Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Fischer has made a number of claims over the years that are beyond absurd (ie. the results of the Kasparov-Karpov matches were prearranged). Why does he still have any credibility at all?>

He doesn't, I don't think. But some things are worth checking out on their own merits. After all, just because Fischer said it doesn't mean it's false. :-)

Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<Why does he (Fischer) still have any credibility at all?>>

As Al Lawrence said in a the most recent issue of Chess Life:

"(Fischer's) accusation (about Curacao) has since been given a lot of corroboration, apparently proving that just because they're out to get you doesn't mean you're not paranoid."

Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: <"(Fischer's) accusation (about Curacao) has since been given a lot of corroboration">

Corroborated what? That there were some short draws played where neither player made an attempt to win? Grandmaster" draws have been part of chess for over a century. I don't see a big distinction between these and "pre-arranged" draws. In both cases there is no attempt to win by either player. They are clearly not good for chess but I don't see a way to prevent them. People have talked about different scoring systems (for instance 1 point for draws, 3 points for wins etc) but there seems to be little support for such a radical solution. Some tournaments (like the current WC tourney) use tie-breaks rewarding the number of wins which seems logical. Corus offers "best game" prizes by round which is another positive idea. Sofia has experimented with rules prohibiting draw offers and had success although, I think, if two players are really set on drawing they can get around the rule by repeating positions. In the US championship a few years ago Shabalov was given a bonus cash prize for fighting hard for a win in the last round when others agreed to short ("grandmaster") draws. That seems innovative. I am open to ideas. To me, cheating is when someone loses a game on purpose. Short draws?! I don't see how that is cheating or how you distingish between one type of short draw and another.

Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: How about when a player who, late in the tournament, is in desperate need of a win against his main rival, has the White pieces, and nevertheless agrees to a draw after just 15 moves? Isn't that almost like losing on purpose? That is what happened (twice) at Curacao, and that is something rather different than your standard GM draw.
Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: From all I read, Geller and Petrosian were close buddies during those years. Averbakh spells out an extreme example of Geller's help to Petrosian. Benko relates that together, Geller and Petrosian came to offer help during the adjournment of Benko's last game with Keres. (Korchnoi, possibly overstating things, chuckles that those two slaved all night to help Benko during the infamous Keres-Benko adjournment.)

Years later, Geller and Petrosian allegedly had a falling out. But to think that Geller in 1962 would put his aspirations aside just to help Keres edge Petrosian is not congruent with what know about the relationships of the three.

Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <(Korchnoi, possibly overstating things, chuckles that those two slaved all night to help Benko during the infamous Keres-Benko adjournment.)>

That's what Korchnoi says in <Chess Is My Life>. But Benko's memoirs say that, although they made the offer, he refused their help.

<But to think that Geller in 1962 would put his aspirations aside just to help Keres edge Petrosian is not congruent with what know about the relationships of the three.>

That is hard to imagine. Those two were a lot closer with each other than either one was with Keres.

To give you an idea of what good friends they were, here's an interesting story. You may know the Geller variation in the Slav. Geller and Petrosian analyzed it during a Soviet championship once, and each decided to spring it in their games.

Geller vs Flohr, 1951

Petrosian vs Smyslov, 1951

After Move 16, there was the bizarre situation of the identical position appearing on two different demonstration boards. At about the same time, they both realized that their home analysis had been faulty and that Black had resources they hadn't seen.

Geller went over to blanket defense to try to stop the mass of queenside pawns.

Petrosian thought for a long time, came up with 17. d5, moving the pawn onto a quadruple-covered square, and won one of his great games.

It was also similar to a game he'd lost to Smyslov a few years back:

Petrosian vs Smyslov, 1951

where Smyslov had also played a pawn to a heavily covered d5 square and won big.

Spooky, huh? Kind of like that Kennedy/Lincoln thing.

Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Petrosianic> Great story!

I think this was the third game you wanted to post.

Petrosian vs Smyslov, 1949

Sep-20-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Yes, you're right, I gave the wrong link for that 3rd game. You've got the right one.
Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<Of course this account does not answer why he did not try harder in his last game against Keres, but it shows keenly he was aware that his chances of winning were already nil with the bye upcoming.>>

I'm sorry <Tamar> but it is simply not true to say that Geller's chances, had he beaten Keres, would nevertheless have been nil. Petrosian in this round drew against Benko, and so by defeating Keres Geller would have been tied for first with Petrosian, a half point ahead of Keres. In the second last (27th) round in which Geller would have gotten a 0-point bye, Petrosian had the Black pieces against the always dangerous Fischer, and in the 28th round Geller would have White against Benko, whom he was indeed able to beat. So his chances would hardly have been "nil". In fact, as it turns out, Geller finished just half a point behind Petrosian, so this draw against Keres made all the difference.

Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Just to show that, if I'm crazy, at least I'm not alone:

"For Geller himself not being allowed to play for a win must have been terribly frustrating, but it clearly illustrates the stringency of the agreement between the three Soviet players."

-Jan Timman, from his book "Curacao, 1962: The Battle of Minds That Shook the Chess World"

Sep-21-07  ughaibu: "The source of the claim that Petrosian offered a draw after 13. Qb4, that Keres initially refused until he saw Black's move, and that after some thought, Petrosian played his last move and Keres then accepted, is Tigran Petrosian: His Life and Games, by Vik Vasiliev. Apparently in the time it took to find a5 both players realized that Black now had the advantage, and that 13. Qb4 was a lemon, but Petrosian legally couldn't withdraw the offer, and Keres was by now glad to take it." Keres vs Petrosian, 1962 Timman seems to be talking through his arse.
Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu: "The source of the claim that Petrosian offered a draw after 13. Qb4, that Keres initially refused until he saw Black's move, and that after some thought, Petrosian played his last move and Keres then accepted, is Tigran Petrosian: His Life and Games, by Vik Vasiliev. Apparently in the time it took to find a5 both players realized that Black now had the advantage, and that 13. Qb4 was a lemon, but Petrosian legally couldn't withdraw the offer, and Keres was by now glad to take it." Keres vs Petrosian, 1962 Timman seems to be talking through his arse.>

I think Timman's claims re the Keres-Petrosian game have been thoroughly refuted. But what about this game?

Sep-21-07  ughaibu: Keypusher: I dont think this game requires any particular explanation, Geller had no reason to imagine Benko would beat Keres. What about this game: Keres vs Tal, 1962 or this one Geller vs Korchnoi, 1962 What about all the short draws with Filip? What about Fischer's short draws with Petrosian? What about the three short draws Petrosian and Keres played in the 1959 candidates?
Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Eggman> You may be right. I don't know.

When I said Geller was aware his chances were nil, I was paraphrasing his comment that the bitterness of defeat had "practically knocked on the head my chances of finishing first."

Of course if he could not break a draw agreement, this statement makes more sense.

But with Geller, there is also a possibility that he gave in to self critical feelings that he had blown his chances by his loss to Fischer, and was not confident of taking on his old nemesis Keres in a full-blown struggle.

Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: This would hardly be the first time a chess player for some reason or other shows too little fighting spirit in a critical tournament or match situation, would it? Maybe it makes Fischer's claims slightly more plausible, but it certainly doesn't prove anything.

As for Geller vs Petrosian, 1962 that <Eggman> also brings up, seems to me that Petrosian is better in the final position, so why should Geller not agree to a draw?

Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <acirce> <ughaibu>

Of course a game can never prove anything. This one is suggestive, that's all.

Re the Geller-Petrosian game in round 24, I agree that Black is better in the final position. The surprising thing to me about that game comes at the beginning, not the end: Geller plays 3. e5 and 4. Bd3 against the Caro-Kann, a plan long known to be useless. But this was the round after his terrible loss to Fischer, so it may have been all he could do to play at all.

<ughaibu> re the three Petrosian-Tal short draws in 1959, they definitely had an informal "drawing pact," as Tal wrote in his autobiography. I paraphrase what he said on the Fischer page.

Sep-21-07  ughaibu: Keypusher: The three Petrosian-Keres draws in 1959.
Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: By the way, as long as I have your attention, does anyone know of a book of the 1959 candidates' tournament? In any language? It's one of my favorite tournaments ever, and a hell of a lot more fun than this one. I wish Timman had picked that for his subject.
Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <I think Timman's claims re the Keres-Petrosian game have been thoroughly refuted. But what about this game?>

Well, Timman's claim that Geller "wasn't allowed" to play for a win doesn't quite fly, except in the face of the facts.

If he's implying that there was some kind of official order that these two should draw all their games, one has to ask what would be the purpose of such an order? To keep Fischer as close to the lead as possible? Fischer was mathematically eliminated when this game was played.

To give the players a rest day? The idea that the authorities might order a game to be thrown is plausible enough, but the idea that they'd micro-manage the player's tournament strategies to the point of deciding when they needed to rest is almost comical.

If Timman is merely saying that there was a private arrangement to draw this game, then "not allowed" is a misleading phrase on his part, if Geller's conscience was the only thing that wasn't "allowing" him.

But it seems kind of bizarre to say that Geller's extreme bout of conscience prevented him from playing for a win in this game, when we know that one round later, he and Petrosian offered to help Benko analyze the adjourned Benko-Keres game? That doesn't sound like anybody with any extreme loyalty to Keres. Something still doesn't quite add up.

Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu Keypusher: The three Petrosian-Keres draws in 1959.>

Oops, sorry. Tal wrote that Petrosian decided early on to fight for "an honorable third," which explains his lack of ambition with White. In any tournament I've seen of his, Petrosian regularly takes draws in promising positions. Bronstein criticizes him for giving Reshevsky a draw here:

Petrosian vs Reshevsky, 1953

And Fischer can consider himself lucky that Petrosian was satisfied with just one win against him in 1962.

As for Keres' draw with White in round 18, I think short draws are inevitable in such a long and grueling tournament (exactly twice as long as the Mexico tournament now in progress). Also, Petrosian playing Black in 1959 got the same kind of respect that Kramnik does now: he was almost impossible to beat, so taking the early draw was always tempting.

Sep-21-07  ughaibu: Keypusher: Yes, that all makes sense. My point about 1959 is that Keres and Petrosian played draws in 18(x2) and 25 moves, but they also played one long decisive game. It seems that if neither felt they had anything significant, by moves 15-25, they'd call it a draw. At Curacao they just didn't get that one game, maybe only on account of Petrosian offering a draw before playing a5.
Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <If Timman is merely saying that there was a private arrangement to draw this game, then "not allowed" is a misleading phrase on his part, if Geller's conscience was the only thing that wasn't "allowing" him.>

Has anyone read Timman's book? As I've said, the most I've ever thought was that there was some sort of tacit deal among the three (or maybe, per Suetin, a more formal agreement). I've never thought there was an "order" from the authorities.

Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <It seems that if neither felt they had anything significant, by moves 15-25, they'd call it a draw. At Curacao they just didn't get that one game, maybe only on account of Petrosian offering a draw before playing a5.>

Yup, that's quite plausible. Clearly, it's never going to be proven that there was a drawing compact in 1962. Nor should it be a big deal from Fischer's perspective; he finished out of the money because he wasn't good enough, not because Petrosian, Geller and Keres drew their games with each other. It's just that, unlike with some of the nonsense that's been written about the championship tournament in 1948 or the Candidates' tournament in 1953, the accusations about a drawing agreement in 1962 are consistent with the facts.

Sep-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <By the way, as long as I have your attention, does anyone know of a book of the 1959 candidates' tournament?>

I wish. That tournament was at least as big as Curacao, and had 4 World Champions in it, rather than just 3. Tal at his height doesn't get enough attention.

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