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Paul Keres vs Mark Taimanov
USSR Championship (1951), Moscow URS, rd 17, Dec-13
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. King's Knight Variation (A15)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-31-04  Catfriend: Is it all sound?
Jan-31-04  Hinchliffe: Not sure of the soundness of this game Catfriend but I am sure of the pleasure it gave me. It was so light and charming it almost seemed as if the players were having fun. Thank you for displaying the game.
Jan-31-04  fred lennox: Sound and tactical on both sides. Taminov was outplayed in deep strategy. I believe Keres saw the R on c8 was doomed after 21...Rxe4.
Jan-31-04  Hinchliffe: Well Fred having read your comment I returned to the game and looked at it again with your remarks in mind. Frankly, Fred I think you are absolutely right. Nice one.
Aug-16-07  ForeverYoung: Kotov put this game in his book "think like a grandmaster". It is found on p. 77. Keres did some heavy duty analysis on the position which arises after 17 Nxd5 Nxd5 18 exd5 Bf6! Noteworthy is his comment "This analysis shows that 17 Nxd5 would undoubtedly leave White with the better game, but the complicated nature of the variations which arise rather incline one to prefer 17 cxd5 as more appropriate in practical play."
Feb-07-08  computer chess guy: 27. .. ♕c1 is clever, but no doubt overlooked 28. ♕xh7+. But after 27 .. ♔xf7 28. ♕d7+ 29. ♔f8 30. ♕xd6 Black really has no hope either.

I think Nxf7 a move earlier was better:
26. ♘xf7 ♔xf7 27. ♕e6+ ♔f8 28. ♕xd6+ ♔g8 29. ♕e6+ ♔h8 30. d6!. The difference here is Black has even less defensive chances because the Queen is badly out of play.

Aug-08-09  Crocomule: What an amazing game! Why didn't he go in for the Q sac, starting with 17. Nd5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <comp chess guy> - <27. .. ♕c1 is clever, but no doubt overlooked 28. ♕xh7+.>

I very much doubt whether either player overlooked 28.Qxh7+ ... players like that just don't miss such obvious moves. I'm not in their league, but I could see at once that White's best chance to continue the attack was Qxh7+ with Nxd6 to come -- an Exchange sac, in effect.

Jun-20-15  zydeco: In Think Like a Grandmaster, there's a long discussion of the position on move 17. Kotov says that Keres told him he analyzed a large number of variations over the board, all of them showing an advantage for white.

After 17.Nxd5 Nxd5 18.cxd5 Bf6 19.dxc6! Rxe2 20.cxb7 black's rook can move to four different squares (c1, b8, e8, or f8), but in every case white has significant back rank threats and black has to give up material to stop the promotion of the b7 pawn. If 20....Rf8 (probably best) white plays 21.Ba3 Be7 22.Bxe7 Rxe7 23.Rc8 g6 24.b8=Q Qxb8 25.Rxb8 Rxb8 and white has some advantage in the endgame. Kotov quotes Keres as saying, "This analysis show that 17.Nxd5 would undoubtedly leave white with the better game but the complicated nature of the variations which arise rather incline one to prefer 17.cxd5 in practical play."

It's actually not completely clear what Keres means by that: either he didn't trust his own calculations; or he didn't actually calculate all these variations over the board (he analyzed them after the game was played and shared his analysis with Kotov) but just sensed that the complications would work out in white's favor; or he wanted to keep a draw in hand (a draw would have meant shared first place) and didn't want to burn his bridges by plunging into an attack too fast; or actually that he wanted to stay longer in the middlegame with 17.cxd5 instead of simplifying into the endgame that would have followed from 20....Rf8.

Jun-20-15  Olavi: In his Selected Games Keres writes that he couldn't calculate precisely enough the consequences of the queen sacrifice, although he saw a lot (but he doesn't state explicitly how much he saw over the board - it's often impossible to know yourself after the game), and considering the risk (last round) he preferred the safe route.
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