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Paul Keres
Number of games in database: 2,042
Years covered: 1929 to 1975
Overall record: +1020 -207 =808 (70.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      7 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (192) 
    B20 B50 B36 B43 B62
 Ruy Lopez (184) 
    C86 C78 C97 C83 C87
 French Defense (94) 
    C02 C07 C05 C10 C15
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (88) 
    C86 C97 C87 C88 C93
 Caro-Kann (62) 
    B10 B14 B18 B11 B13
 English (46) 
    A14 A15 A16 A13 A10
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (228) 
    C72 C92 C99 C79 C77
 Nimzo Indian (125) 
    E32 E43 E41 E45 E20
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (107) 
    C92 C99 C97 C96 C91
 Queen's Pawn Game (83) 
    A46 E00 D02 E10 A40
 Queen's Indian (66) 
    E15 E19 E12 E17 E14
 English, 1 c4 e5 (41) 
    A23 A28 A29 A22 A20
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Keres vs Szabo, 1955 1-0
   Euwe vs Keres, 1940 0-1
   Keres vs Geller, 1962 1-0
   Keres vs Verbac, 1933 1-0
   Keres vs Alekhine, 1937 1-0
   Keres vs W Winter, 1935 1-0
   A Karu vs Keres, 1931 0-1
   Keres vs Spassky, 1955 1-0
   Fine vs Keres, 1938 0-1
   Hort vs Keres, 1961 0-1

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1947)
   Budapest (1952)
   USSR Championship (1950)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   Buenos Aires (1939)
   Gothenburg Interzonal (1955)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   USSR Championship (1957)
   USSR Championship (1940)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)
   Zurich (1959)
   Bled (1961)
   Kemeri (1937)
   USSR Championship (1955)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Keres! by amadeus
   Keres' Whirligigs by chocobonbon
   Challenger of 48 Keres_125 by Gottschalk
   The Road to the Top & The Quest for Perfection by Bidibulle
   Veliki majstori saha 20 KERES (1916-1975) by Chessdreamer
   Paul Keres "Valitud Partiid" by Legend
   Keres vs World & Almost Champions Decisive Games by visayanbraindoctor
   Guess-the-Move Chess: 1940-1959 (Part 2) by Anatoly21
   Paul Keres by Legend
   Guess-the-Move Chess: 1940-1959 (Part 1) by Anatoly21
   A few Keres games by Catfriend
   WCC Index [Zurich 1953] by suenteus po 147
   WCC Index [Candidates Tournament 1959] by Resignation Trap
   WCC Index [Curacao 1962] by Hesam7

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Paul Keres
Search Google for Paul Keres

(born Jan-07-1916, died Jun-05-1975, 59 years old) Estonia
[what is this?]
Paul Keres was born in Narva, Estonia, where he would reside his entire life. He was very active in correspondence chess throughout his youth, and soon began to make a name for himself at over-the-board play as well with a series of tournament victories culminating with a tie for first at AVRO (1938). Keres was thrice Soviet Champion, in 1947 [rusbase-1], 1950 [rusbase-2], and 1951 [rusbase-3]. In 1948, Keres participated in the World Championship tournament to determine a successor to Alexander Alekhine. He finished joint third. This turned out to be the only opportunity Keres would ever have to play for the world title--he finished second five times in the Candidates' tournaments over the next fifteen years, but never won.

He scored 13/14 at the 11th Olympiad in Amsterdam 1954 (1) and in 1963 he won at Los Angeles (sharing the first place with Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian). Keres suffered a fatal heart attack in Helsinki on the way home from a tournament in Vancouver in 1975, at the age of fifty-nine.

Keres was the player who have defeated the largest number of world champions, no less than nine: Capablanca ( Alekhine Euwe Botvinnik Smyslov Tal Petrosian Spassky and Fischer

With his five second-place finishes in Candidates events and his results against world champions, Keres was often known as "Paul, the Second" and "The Uncrowned King".

A list of books about Keres can be found at

References: (1) Wikipedia article: World records in chess , (2) Wikipedia article: Paul Keres

 page 1 of 82; games 1-25 of 2,042  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Keres vs I Raud 0-140 1929 Parnu, Parnu-ViljandiC54 Giuoco Piano
2. I Raud vs Keres  ½-½54 1929 Parnu, Parnu-ViljandiE10 Queen's Pawn Game
3. Keres vs Molder 1-024 1931 Tartu, Est jr chC33 King's Gambit Accepted
4. A Karu vs Keres 0-127 1931 corrD08 Queen's Gambit Declined, Albin Counter Gambit
5. R Pruun vs Keres 0-124 1931 Tartu, Est jr chE60 King's Indian Defense
6. Keres vs I Raud 1-029 1931 Tartu, Est jr chB34 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto
7. Keres vs R Pruun 1-043 1931 Tartu, Est jr chB12 Caro-Kann Defense
8. L Norvid vs Keres 0-125 1931 Tartu, Est jr chC12 French, McCutcheon
9. Keres vs G Menke 1-062 1932 corresp.C33 King's Gambit Accepted
10. A Jurgens vs Keres 0-153 1932 Parnu, Est jr chD00 Queen's Pawn Game
11. Keres vs J Siitam 1-021 1932 Parnu, Est jr chC25 Vienna
12. Keres vs L Peterson 1-029 1932 Tartu, Est jr chB01 Scandinavian
13. Keres vs A Remmelgas  ½-½43 1932 Parnu, Est jr chD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Keres vs Beskov 1-043 1932 corrC50 Giuoco Piano
15. Keres vs M Villemson  ½-½47 1932 Deutsche Schz 133/A corrD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. A Holm vs Keres 0-143 1932 Parnu, Est jr chC00 French Defense
17. A Remmelgas vs Keres  0-155 1932 Tartu, Est jr chA46 Queen's Pawn Game
18. Keres vs J Vilkins ½-½24 1932 corrC25 Vienna
19. L Peterson vs Keres 0-139 1932 Parnu, Est jr chD02 Queen's Pawn Game
20. Keres vs A Peet 1-019 1932 Moisakula Moisak-ParnuC25 Vienna
21. E Kiiver vs Keres 0-158 1932 Tartu, Est jr chE20 Nimzo-Indian
22. Keres vs Faltweber 1-018 1932 corrA06 Reti Opening
23. Keres vs A Abel 1-061 1932 Parnu, Est jr chB01 Scandinavian
24. A Peet vs Keres  0-129 1932 Moisakula Moisak-ParnuD02 Queen's Pawn Game
25. Keres vs E Verbak 1-017 1932 corrC00 French Defense
 page 1 of 82; games 1-25 of 2,042  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Keres wins | Keres loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 40 OF 40 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-26-14  visayanbraindoctor: <Petrosianic: <I believe were just unlucky.>

Unlucky in the sense of unlucky in their games, or unlucky in the fact that somebody a little better was always around?>

A little bit of both in case of Keres. More of the latter for Kochnoi.

In the mid to late 1960s, Petrosian and Spassky were still a bit better than Korchnoi. By the time Korchnoi played better than them, Karpov had arrived on the scene.

For Keres, a little more luck in his games, and he could have been the Challenger instead of Smyslov, or Tal, or Petrosian. By that time, Botvinnik I believe was on a steady decline, notwithstanding intermittent strong performances. IMO Keres had a more than even chance of beating in a World Championship match the same Botvinnik that Smyslov, Tal, and Petrosian beat. At this time these three players were not significantly better than Keres. In particular, as you previously said, and I agree with it, Keres probably would have beaten Tal and I would give him even chances with Smyslov and Petrosian in match play.

Keres was unlucky also in the same general context as Korchnoi. There was always someone active whose peak rose above his during the 3 decades of his long high plateau. At the start of his career, I don't think he would have much chances against Alekhine, unless the latter treated him as over confidently as he did Euwe. I admire Keres obviously but I would have to say that AAA was better than him in their kind of attacking game genre. Although he occasionally came out ahead of AAA, the general rule was that if they played in the same tournament, AAA tied or placed ahead of Keres and either drew or beat him in their games.

During the late 1940s, Botvinnik was playing more strongly than Keres. IMO Botvinik would have beaten him too. However, although it might sound peculiar, I don't think that Botvinnik was significantly better than Keres in the 1930s and early 1940s. (The only tournament wherein Botvinnik placed significantly ahead of Keres was the 1941 Soviet tournament, and I have doubts about the motivation of the other players here, considering the tournament was organized at the behest of Botvinnik in order to legitimize his challenge to AAA. This was one tournament where external pressure on the other players may have been exerted. Perhaps in the 1948 WC Tournament as well but I believe this was more unlikely. In AVRO 1938 and in the 1940 Soviet Championship Keres placed ahead of Botvinnik, in spite of the shock that he must have felt at Estonia just getting annexed by the SU.) Then Botvinnik peaked in the late 1940s, and he was clearly above Keres. Afterward, in the 1950s, Botvinnik began his steady decline. I am almost sure Keres would have beaten him in a match in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Again unluckily, this was the era when Smyslov, Tal, and Petrosian attained their high peaks.

Dec-15-14  Lovuschka: The wife (widow) of Paul Keres, Maria Konstantsia Rives, has died recently. (24.iv.1917-31.x.2014)

They had three children together, according to the website. At an inquiry to the officials in Tallinn, I was responded with the information she died there.


Yes, we can confirm that Maria Keres (born on 24.04.1917) died 31.10.2014 in Tallinn. Best Regards,

Darja Jemeljanova
AS Andmevara>

Dec-16-14  domradave: I have Fine's Basic Chess Endings and Keres' Practical Chess Endings and much prefer Keres. It is simpler and there are less variations. So I will go through Keres first and Fine second.
Dec-16-14  SimonWebbsTiger: whilst Fine's endgame was a standard book in its time, it is showing its age. Mistakes in analysis, discoveries in endgame theory in the past half Century, the advent of tablebase/computer analysis of simple positions.

In many respects "Fundamental Chess Endings" by Karsten Mueller and Frank Lamprecht has surpassed it as the one volume encyclopedia cum textbook.

But certainly a good approach to work though Keres and then move on to something more technical. As Paul mentions there are numerous details which were left out and which can be found in more specialist books.

Dec-29-14  Gottschalk: [Event "?"]
[Site "USSR"]
[Date "1951.??.??"]
[White "Keres,Paul"]
[Black "Taimanov,Mark"]
[Round "17"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A15"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 Be7 5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 b6 7. d4 Bb7 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. bxc4 c5 10. O-O cxd4 11. exd4 Nc6 12. Qe2 Re8 13. Rfd1 Rc8 14. Rac1 Qd6 15. Bb1 Qf4 16. d5 exd5 17. cxd5 Nb8 18. Rd4 Qd6 19. Rcd1 Bf8 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21. Rxe4 Rxe4 22. Qxe4 Qh6 23. Ng5 Bd6 24. h4 Nd7 25. Qf5 Nf6 26. Bxf6 gxf6 27. Nxf7 Qc1 28. Qxh7+ Kf8 29. Nxd6 Qxd1+ 30. Kh2 Qxd5 31. Nxb7 Qe5+ 32. g3 Rc7 33. Qh8+ Kf7 34. h5 Rxb7 35. Qh7+ Ke6 36. Qxb7 Qxh5+ 37. Kg2 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Later on in the 1960s, he played a newspaper game against grandmaster Paul Keres. Following a system similar to that adopted in the Kasparov versus The World match, readers would vote on moves and send them into the Chronicle. Koltanowski would select the move actually played, and would award points and prizes to his readers for their selections. However, after about only 25 moves, Keres abruptly stopped the game and declared himself the winner by adjudication. Koltanowski disagreed and showed analysis which seemed to give him at least an even game. Keres, an Estonian, may have been ordered by his Soviet handlers to stop playing.>

Didn't know about this, nor had Taylor Kingston:

Turns out the Donaldson score was correct, and the Keres letters shown here ( suggest it wasn't his idea to curtail the game, let alone the KGB's.

The 'bad innovation' 9...Qa5 had actually occurred a few months earlier in R Byrne vs Benko, 1962. The bigger problem was 10...d4.

Jan-07-15  Martin Riggs: Happy B'Day Mr. Keres & thank you for the immortal games & memories. :]
Jan-07-15  thegoodanarchist: <Petrosianic: ...

For example, I consider Fischer to be a little unlucky in coming right before Karpov and Kasparov. With the dominance he showed, compared to the primus inter pares champions that had reigned since the war, Fischer could reasonably expect to be considered far and away the best player in history for decades to come. Instead, two players that were in the same ballpark followed right on his heels. That's bad luck>

That is quite an interesting assessment of Fischer's bad luck! You make no mention at all of the fact that he became a paranoid whacko. I think that should be considered part of his unluckiness as well.

Or one could counter my argument and say that Fischer was lucky, in that his mind went south on him <after> winning the world championship. Poor Rubinstein! Fischer's arc in life was 1. Become great at chess. 2. Win WC. 3. Become a kook. Rubinstein's arc jumped right from 1 to 3, skipping 2 altogether.

Jan-07-15  thegoodanarchist: <domradave: I have Fine's Basic Chess Endings and Keres' Practical Chess Endings and much prefer Keres. It is simpler and there are less variations. So I will go through Keres first and Fine second.>

Don't bother with Fine's. I used it for years as my endgame manual, until Muller and Lamprecht's "Fundamental Chess Endings" was published.

It is so far above Fine's work, in no small part due to their access to powerful chess engines (as well as the advancement in general in chess knowledge since Fine), that I donated Fine's book to the public library.

Why not? I might meet those library-educated players in a tournament and I want the advantage :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chess is a test of wills> - Paul Keres.
May-08-15  drnooo: Korchnoi is on record (at least according to one book) that Keres would likely have become
the World Champion had he escaped to the
west during the war. With his wife, that is.
He always suffered from high blood pressure which could hardly have served him much during the ultra critical games in the paranoid sweat rooms of the Soviet Union.
It would be interesting history indeed to have seen Keres OUTSIDE the borders of Russia, playing in the relative calm of the West. There he would have bloomed and at his peak he might well have done just what Korchnoi said.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <A player can sometimes afford the luxury of an inaccurate move, or even a definite error, in the opening or middle game without necessarily obtaining a lost position. In the endgame ... an error can be decisive, and we are rarely presented with a second chance> - Paul Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Even the best grandmasters in the world have had to work hard to acquire the technique of Rook endings> - Paul Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karposian: <TheFocus> That's a good quote from Keres concerning Rook endings.

Earlier it seemed to me that Carlsen struggled somewhat with Rook endings. But I suspect that he has worked hard on getting better in such endings, and now he seems to handle them much better.

Carlsen was already at a very young age a great endgame player, but Rook endings were an exception. Yeah, I think Keres was onto something!

May-10-15  visayanbraindoctor: <Even the best grandmasters in the world have had to work hard to acquire the technique of Rook endings> - Paul Keres.

Good quote. Rook endgames are the most common endgames, and are in a class by themselves in difficulty.

I still think that for a beginner, the most practical way to begin studying rook endgames is by going through Capablanca's rook endgames and trying to figure out how he positionally and tactically handled them, as he almost always somehow managed to treat them in the most maximal of ways.

May-10-15  visayanbraindoctor: <A player can sometimes afford the luxury of an inaccurate move, or even a definite error, in the opening or middle game without necessarily obtaining a lost position. In the endgame ... an error can be decisive, and we are rarely presented with a second chance> - Paul Keres.

A very constructive quote from Keres, one that every competitive chess player should keep in mind.

Now that we have the internet, we can see many games as they progress along in real time, and we can clearly see how so many games are won or lost as precisely described by Keres above. Among competitors of the same level, these tiny but irrevocable endgame errors often decided the final placings in the tournament table. IMO even more so than surprise opening novelties.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <The older I grow, the more I value pawns> - Paul Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <However hopeless the situation appears to be there yet always exists the possibility of putting up a stubborn resistance> - Paul Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <An innovation need not be especially ingenious, but it must be well worked out> - Paul Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <The older I get the more I value pawns> - Paul Keres.
Aug-13-15  fisayo123: Keres' win percent in this database is 70 plus %. That's Capablanca, Fischer, Alekhine, Kasparov range. Pretty impressive.
Nov-01-15  ndg2: <The older I get, the more I value Keres> - Me

Well, seriously, looking through Keres' games (again), I noticed a combination of straightforwardness, elegance and understandability and brilliance of course I've rarely seen with other masters. Smyslov comes close, but he's a bit more manouvering than Keres.

With Keres nothing is convoluted. He was as forceful as Botvinnik was in younger years, but also classic and innovative at the same time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <With Keres nothing is convoluted. He was as forceful as Botvinnik was in younger years, but also classic and innovative at the same time.>

Very well stated <ndg2>. The reasons I think Keres games are among the most instructive to study. And, of course, his annotations are excellent, very straight-forward.

Some Keres books - My favorities are the Golombek/ARCO series, Road to the Top, Power Chess and Quest for Chess Perfection -

Golombek - Grandmaster of Chess: The Early Years of Paul Keres

Golombek - Grandmaster of Chess: The Middle Years of Paul Keres

Golombek - Grandmaster of Chess: The Later Years of Paul Keres

Gude - Keres 222 Partidas

Heuer - Meie Keres (Estonian)

Keres - The Art of the Middle Game

Keres - Ausgewahlte Partien 1931-1958

Keres - Chess Combination as Fine Art

Keres - 100 Games of Paul Keres (Russian)

Keres: Photographs and Games

Keres - Power Chess

Keres Practical Chess Endings

Keres Quest for Chess Perfection

Keres - The Road to the Top

Keres - Theorie der Schacheroffnungen (3 Volumes)

Linder - The Chess Genius Keres (German)

Neistadt - Paul Keres Chess Master Class

Postma - Paul Keres Ausgewahlte Partien 1958-1975

Raamat - Malestusi Paul Keresest (Estonian)

Reinfeld - Keres Best Games, Part I ('Mimeo Series')

Reinfeld - Keres Best Games, Part II ('Mimeo Series')

Reinfeld - Keres' Best Games of Chess 1931-1948

Reinfeld - Keres' Best Games of Chess 1931-1940

Suetin - Das Schachgenie Paul Keres

Varnusz - Paul Keres Best Games - v1

Varnusz - Paul Keres Best Games - v2

Wildhagen - Keres (Weltgeschichte des Schachs; German)

Nov-08-15  drnooo: Keres, even were he to have escaped to the west, with his wife, that night they missed the boat, literally and figuratively, might well have become World Champion. Then it would have been interesting to see how long he might have been able to stay at the top. The Botvinnik questions would never have come into play, even Tal had his problems with Keres as late as the early 60's. Its not even impossible he and his wife could have landed in the U.S. because of war torn Europe. What an honest rivalry that would have been, Keres and Fischer. as it was he barely had his life saved by a top soviet official according to Sosonko: they were ready to kill him. So you can forget the minor matters of his dealings with Botvinnik, his life was in the balance: I'm sure they would never have had to give him ANY orders to lose. By then he knew the path he had to take. Its a wonder they even let him into the ring for the 48 championship.
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