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Paul Keres vs Vasily Smyslov
Zurich Candidates (1953), Zurich SUI, rd 24, Oct-13
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Hedgehog System (A17)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-06-03  Dr Young: Check this one out. Smyslov did the right thing on move 19. Maybe you already know this game but if u don't then try to find out what will happen if black plays 19...gxh5.
Jan-07-03  Dr Young: I know the solution ;)
Jan-07-03  Sylvester: Since Smyslov did not take it, it means something horrible would happen to him if he did. This is really hard. 20. Qxh5 seems obvious, but that is not the killer move. Could it involve white's dark squared bishop?
Jan-07-03  Cyphelium: 20. Qxh5 seems fine to me.

20. Qxh5 Re8 (only move) 21. Qh6! with the threat of Rg3+.

Jan-07-03  mj29479: what about white 19.Qg4?
Jan-07-03  Cyphelium: 19. Qg4 Bg7
Jan-07-03  PVS: I think Cyphelium and Sylvester have white's next move dead on after black grabs the rook in 20. Qxh5. I favour Sylvester's speculation with 21. a4 threatening Ba3. Cyphelium on the other hand has a more concrete and safe solution that should get white the draw. This is a meeting between two of the century's greatest players at or near the top of their form.
Jan-07-03  Dr Young: 21. Qh6 is ok but there is even better move according to my resources.
Jan-07-03  Cyphelium: 21. a4 is interesting, but I thought black could play 21.- Qd6 then. White is a rook down and has to show something convincing.

Indeed, after 21. Qh6 there seems to nothing more than a draw for white. 21. - dxc4 to stop any Bd3 stuff and then 22. Rg3+ Kh8 23. Rh3 Kg8 24. Rg3+ etc.

Jan-07-03  Dr Young: a4 is correct of course
Jan-07-03  Cyphelium: Aha, ok. 19.- gxh5 20. Qxh5 Re8 21. a4 Qd6 and now what?

22. Rf3 perhaps?

Jan-07-03  Dr Young: Its still not forced win for white after 21.a4 but black will be under considerable pressure. Keres had to win this game in order to win the tournament. Smyslov didn't dare to take the rook because he thought Keres had some hidden combinations and so he played safe.
Jan-07-03  Dr Young: Chessmaster 8000 played the position as follows: 19. gxh5 20. Qxh5 Re8 21. a4 Qd6 22. Qxh7+ Kf8 23. c5 Qf4 24. cxb6 axb6 25. Ba3+ Re7 26. Rg3 Ke8 27. Bb5+ Kd8 28. Rg8+ Kc7 29. Qc2+ Kb8 30. Rxc8+ Bxc8 31. Qc6 Bb7 32. Bd6+ Ka7 33. Bxf4 Bxc6 34. Bxc6 *
and white is slightly better
Jan-07-03  PVS: Sylvester had the right intuition about the position, having found 20. Qxh5 and knowing the "killer move" involved white's dark squared bishop (25. Ba3+). Given the situation Keres and Smyslov both made the correct plays.
Jan-07-03  PVS: Dr Young, Can you tell me a little about Chessmaster 8000?
Jun-07-03  Lopin: I think the solution after 19. - gxh5 is:
20. Qxh5 Re8 21. a4
I) 21. - dxc4 22. Qxh7+ Kf8 Ba3+ Re7 24. Rg3

II) 21. - Qd6 22. c5
a) 22. - bxc5 23. Qh6 Bg7 24. Qxh7+ Kf8 25. dxc5
b) 22. - Qd8 23. c6 Rxc6 24. Ba3 Rd6 25. Qh6 Bxd4 26. Bd3 c) 22. - Qf4 23. Rf3 Qg5 24. Rg3
All variants with winning position for white.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: I think the tournament situation affected Smyslov's decision, as discussed in Think Like a Grandmaster and Bronstein's book on Zurich 53. It was round 24 of 28 (I think) rounds, and Smyslov was clear first by at least a point, so he decided not to risk a loss even with the strong possibility of a win presented to him.

Still, this is another game which shows the nerves of steel a lot of top players have. Smyslov allows what at first glance looks like a menacing or even unstoppable attack on the h-file, but has confidence in his calculations that there is no mate. Completely beyond me how a player can be so cold-blooded.

Apr-01-05  Pawsome: The game and the role it played in the tourmament and in Smyslov's career is thoroughly discussed in Vol 2 of Kasparov's OMGP (game #103) Kasparov gives the opening as a Queen's Indian E14, which it is. by transposition.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheAlchemist: What Keres missed (Dennis Monokroussos pointed this out in his series) was:

16.c5! bxc5 17.dxc5 Bf6 18.Rc2 Bxb2 19.Rxb2 Qa5 <Smyslov in his earlier notes of the game thought, black was simply better here, as he's winning a pawn> 20.b4! Qxa3 <the only consistent continuation> 21.Qb1! <and suddenly Black is in huge trouble, as Smyslov later acknowledged too>

Jun-15-05  ughaibu: In that line wouldn't Smyslov be better off with 17....d4 18.Rc2 Bf6?
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheAlchemist: <ughaibu> Perhaps, but this was the line given by Smyslov in his notes after the game, so this is what Smyslov probably saw and would have played.

Anyway, the line you suggested looks reasonable, maybe 18.Rc1 instead of Rc2, to prevent possible Bf6 and d3 manoeuvres? So, then probably 17...d4 18.Rc1 Bf6 19.b4 and White has the potetial to start pushing his queenside pawns.

Jul-10-05  waddayaplay: Re the ideas earlier by Cyphelium and others who agreed with him. According to my source, Smyslov was in agreement with Cyphelium's first suggestion on what would happen. After 21..dxc4 he thought 22.d5! Bxb2 and 23.Rg3+ would be a perpetual. (Without d5 Black can resque himself with 23...Be4)
Dec-15-06  sucaba: The magazine KARL 2/04 had an interview with Smyslov about his relation to Keres, see . They were talking about this game and the situation after 19. ♖ch3, too. (Quotes in this post are my translations.)

<Q: One of the most important games in your and Keres' career you have played in Zürich 1953. Do you remember your emotions during the game?

A: This game in Zürich 1953 excels by struggle without compromise. Paul Petrowitsch absolutely wanted to win, since with a victory he would have taken the leadership in the tournament. Thus he played with huge pressure against my king, and I had to defend exactly. During the game, at the decisive moment, I pondered almost one hour on whether to accept his rook-sacrifice or not. Since I could not exactly foresee the complications, eventually I intuitively declined, and made an intermediate move, which gave me counter-play. Paul still could have had a draw, but not more. Finally he lost since my counter attack became to strong. This game had a high level. For me this tournament, which belongs to the strongest in chess history, was the best tourney of my career, the climax of my creative production in chess.>

First I had no idea what Smyslov means by "Paul could have a draw".

But in his collection "Meine 130 schönsten Partein von 1938 - 1984", Heidelberg 1988, Smyslov writes: <The better solution for White (proposed by Bronstein) was 20. ♕g4 c3 21. ♗xc3 ♖xc3 22. ♖xc3 ♕xd4 23. ♕xd4 ♗xd4 24. ♖c7 gxh5 25. ♖xb7 ♖c8 26. ♗c4 and it is doubtful whether the black extra♙ can be converted into a win.>

I guess this surprising 20.♕g4 line is also given in the famous tournament book.

Can Black improve it with 20. ♕g4 cxb3 21. ♖xh7 ♕c7; if now 22. ♗d3, Black wins with 22. _ ♕c1+ 23. ♗xc1 ♖xc1+ 24. ♗f1 ♗a6 ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <sucaba> On 20.Qg4, I believe the point is to get to h4, so 20.Qg4 cxb3 21.Rxh7 Qc7 22.Rh8!+ Bxh8 23.Qh4 will at least draw.

Dec-16-06  sucaba: Yes <Calli>, ♖h7-h8+! in that position seems to be the (only) salvation, thanks. So a hidden drawback of 20. ♕g4 cxb3 21. ♖xh7 ♕d8-c7 is that the black ♕ no longer protects the h4 square, and the white ♕ can go there when the f6♗ has been removed after 22.♖h8+ ♗xh8.
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