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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
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Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <This was one of those 'key moments', when a player's qualities are fully revealed. Was it an accident that Keres placed the game 'on its end' and played in an uncustomary manner? No, I think that this great player was simply unable to withstand the savage tension in decisive, culminating moments on the very approaches to the chess heights.> -- Kasparov
Mar-16-07  slomarko: Bronstein explains how before this games soviet officials put enourmous pressure to make a short draw.
Mar-16-07  Brown: <acirce>
Kasparov's quote is interesting. It is easy to see an argument for his sangfroid in game 24 in both 85 and 87, perfect examples of patient and accurate play under the most stressful of situations. Kramnik vs Leko in Game 14 of their '04 match as well.
Dec-19-08  PugnaciousPawn: Smyslov exhibited tremendous poise in this game. To Keres's attempt to overwhelm his king, Smyslov calmly answers 19...dxc4! The doubled rooks on the h-file along with her majesty's predatory gaze from d1 do not phase Smyslov. After 22...Rfd8, Keres is spanked for his chutzpah.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: White has all of his heavy pieces lined up on the h-file after 22.♕h6, but they threaten very little.
May-22-11  qqdos: <Pawsome> Belatedly on ECO's, Grigory Bogdanovich in his 2010 book on the Zukertort System embraces this game into the Colle fold (presumably D05?). He explains why 21...cxb2?? is off limits: 22.Qh6 Qxd4 (or 22...b1Q 23.Rh8+ Bxh8 24.Qxh8#) 23.Rh8+! Bxh8 24.Qh7#. Perhaps Keres was hoping that wily old Smyslov would let him pull off a similar stroke but secretly felt it was doomed to fail! There are excellent and detailed annotations (plus background information) by Graham Burgess to be found in The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games. I have always hoped an improvement (and not just some drawing resource) would be found to justify to the hilt Paul Keres's headlong but courageous attack at some point after he had committed himself all-out to that h-file battery. He was a genius.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <qqdos> I think the ECO classificationon this game is all right. I don't see it as a Colle, since White plays an early c2-c4. And it's hard to think of it as a Queen's Indian either; since Black's bishop doesn't get to b7 until move 10, there's not much QID strategy to the opening.

By the way, I assume you are joking about "Perhaps Keres was hoping that wily old Smyslov..." Keres was five years older.

May-23-11  qqdos: <Phony Benoni> Thanks. On ECO classification I'm not a purist, so let's treat it as a hybrid. On "old", not a joke nor meant literally but as an expression. My image of Smyslov is simply not as a callow youth so "wily young Smyslov" would not have seemed right. OK then, shall we just delete that "old"!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <ggdos> I should have figured as much. Sometimes my Inner Librarian takes over for my sense of humor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <The decisive game against Smyslov still lay ahead. Should I succeed in winning this then I would be at the head of the tournament with every hope of emerging with final victory, but a draw too would not have extinguished my hopes, and therefore I should not have played in too risky a style in this game. However, I again repeated a mistake I have made so often before and staked everything on one card. I offered my opponent an extremely complicated piece sacrifice, acceptance of which would have submitted Smyslov to a fierce attack. But, after long reflection, Smyslov discovered an excellent defence and once I had sacrificed the chance of securing equality in favour of an ill-considered plan, the consequences were soon apparent. I suffered an ignominious defeat and in so doing I had not only thrown away all chances of first place but was once again back in fourth place. The stiff struggle for an upwards climb had to be started all over again.>

Paul Keres: The Quest for Perfection 55-56 (Batsford).

Jul-02-11  qqdos: <on hybrid Classification> - reverting briefly to Bogdanovich's book, he describes the position after Black's 10th move as "A tabiya located at the intersection of ECO E14 and the Zukertort System." Presumably he could have added English Opening A17. <sucaba/Calli> on 20.Qg4!?, in 2003 there seems to have been a computer-thematic tourney to test this resource. See the games:- Fritz vs Hiarcs, 2003 (0-1) 54m. (20.Qg4 Ba6 21.Bc3 Rc7 22. b4 Bc8) and Shredder vs Junior, 2003 (1-0) 51m. (20.Qg4 Bd5 21.Rxh7 c3 22.Bc1 Bc6 23.Qf4 Qxd4 24Qh6). Not very conclusive!
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <By 1953, when I was beginning to play chess seriously, everybody was talking about the unfair way of selecting Botvinnik's opponents. And there were charges that the Russians were rigging international tournaments to keep the world championship in Russian hands. For example, the Chess Review wrote about the Candidates' Tournament of 1953: "There has been undeniable collusion by the Russians to freeze out Western competition." The main argument was this: nothing could prevent one of the Russian players' winning the Candidates' Tournament if, at a critical stage, "it became expedient to throw collective support to the Soviet candidate whose prospects had crystallized above those of his fellow Russians." Nothing could prevent it because the Russian team could draw all their games with each other if they were in the lead, or throw their games to the strongest Russian contender it they were threatened by a player from another country. In an editorial The New York Times said that the system for picking the challenger for the world championship led "to possible collusion between Soviet players to help one win a tourney, as against a non-Soviet opponent.">

-- Bobby Fischer

Jun-11-12  Petrosianic: Chess Review sniffed a bit at the results, but Chess Life apologized publicly afterwards, saying that their fears of collusion had come to nothing, and that Kotov even beat Smyslov at a critical juncture.

Of course the tournament format is imperfect for some of these reasons. Remember a few years back when Cheparinov went all out to beat Ivanchuk in the last round of Sofia, when most people would have taken a quick draw, to try to help Topalov into first. Or when all the GM's got together and ganged up on Needleman to keep him out of the FIDE lottery.

This is why the tournament format isn't good for these things. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have been for it when it mattered. Fine wrote that deciding the world championship in a tournament in 1948 was a great idea because it gave so many players the chance to compete for it. I think that's silly. A much better format would have been an 8 player knockout, culminating in a Best of 24 final to crown the new champion. That gives you both matches and gives a lot of players the chance to compete. But FIDE's organizational skills might not have been up to it at the time. (Come to think of it, they aren't up to it any more either).

Jun-11-12  Petrosianic: This from Chess Life, January 5, 1954:

<Not so long ago, our best Chess brains prematurely but emphatically predicted that the nine Russians will gang up on all the non-Russians, particularly on our own and only entry on the Challengers Tournament i Switzerland, Sammy Reshevsky.

Now the tournament is over and our faces are red. Every participant played his best. The Russian winner of the tournament lost ony one game and that to a Russian.>

Jun-11-12  ughaibu: Your remarks about the Needleman affair are incorrect and defamatory. Needleman was the only player who needed a win, all the other players would have qualified on draws alone.
Jun-12-12  Petrosianic: Which remarks would those be? The outcomes and lengths of those games are a matter of public record. You may need to look up the meanings of both "incorrect" and "defamatory" before attempting to apply them.

To save you the trouble, "incorrect" means "not true", not "true but embarrassing". And "defamatory" means to damage ones reputation with libel, (again, not "to point out something true but embarrassing".

To libel them, I would, of course, have to first accuse them of doing something wrong, and all of them acted within the rules. That's the point that you're missing here. It's the rules themselves that are the problem.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Thanks <Petrosianic>!
Jun-13-12  ughaibu: It's pretty @#$%* obvious which remarks, isn't it? "All the GM's got together and ganged up on Needleman to keep him out of the FIDE lottery" is incorrect and defamatory.
Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: Okay, well I just explained why those remarks couldn't have been defamatory,and you don't seem to have any answer to my explanation. Repeating a mistake doesn't make it become true as a consolation prize.
Jun-13-12  ughaibu: The term isn't exclusive to legal usage, again obviously, but here you go: So your explanation wasn't worth @#$%. Further, if the lengths of the games is a matter of public record, produce that record, produce any score from the play-off. Next, explain why those who only need to draw would have a motive to "gang up" on anyone.
Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: <The term isn't exclusive to legal usage, again obviously, but here you go:>...

I'm reading it. "Defamatory: The act of defaming." Oh yes, that was very helpful. This should show you the dangers of trying to use a link as a substitute for arguing your own case.

Before you continue, have you actually <seen> the games in question? And have you seen the crosstable of the event? If you haven't, they're available here on, so consider them "produced". You don't seem to have any idea why anyone would think they played harder against Needelman than each other, so I assume you've seen neither. Get the facts first, THEN form your opinion. That's the way the pros do it.

Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: Incidentally, how come you aren't upset about the Cheparinov comment? That's why it wasn't obvious which comments you meant. I thought I was harder on him than the others (the GMS in the Needleman case acted in their own best interests, but Cheparinov might have acted against his) but you seem to have passed that over completely.
Jun-13-12  ughaibu: 1) either you understand that "defamatory" has a breadth of usage or you're incorrigibly ignorant on the matter.

2) if you cannot show me any of the games, then I will not be able to see any of them, will I? If you can produce the score of any game from the play-off, do so. As far as I'm aware, those games were not recorded. The burden is on you.

3) you are some species of master, aren't you? This really should be piss easy for you to figure out, from my first reply to you. If the there is a collection of players, all but one of whom need only draws, and if it is late at night, after a hard day of chess, should it surprise anyone if the players who only need draws quickly both offer and accept those draws? On the other hand, if there is only one player who needs a win, would it be a surprise if that player offered or accepted quick draws?

4) are you unaware of the fact that this matter was fully sorted within days of the event? That Needleman himself repudiated any association with the accusations?

Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: 1) You have a tendency to ask people to accept your case before you've even made one. This is you third post on the matter, and only now are you deigning to actually argue your case, rather than demand I accept your conclusion on faith. This is why you lose arguments.

2) I told you where the games are, why haven't you looked at them?

3) If you'd looked at the games, you wouldn't be asking this. I'm telling you <what actually happened> in those games. You've got an explanation for why it probably wouldn't happen, which ignores the fact <that it already has>. You're like the mathematician who proved that bees can't fly. There's just one <tiny> problem with that theory...

4) I explicitly said that all the players acted within the rules. Therefore there was no "accusation". I'm just repeating myself now.

You're wasting my time now. Unless you look at those games, my next answer to you, word for word is going to be "If you'd looked at the games, you wouldn't make that mistake." I'm giving you my next post in advance, unless you prevent it.

Jun-13-12  ughaibu: Link to a game from the play-off, any game.
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