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Efim Geller
Number of games in database: 2,228
Years covered: 1946 to 1995

Overall record: +802 -341 =1078 (60.4%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 7 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (292) 
    B83 B92 B84 B42 B33
 Ruy Lopez (177) 
    C92 C95 C96 C78 C84
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (99) 
    C92 C95 C96 C84 C93
 French Defense (81) 
    C07 C05 C09 C03 C04
 Sicilian Scheveningen (74) 
    B83 B84 B85 B81
 French Tarrasch (70) 
    C07 C09 C05 C03 C04
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (212) 
    C84 C93 C89 C92 C85
 King's Indian (186) 
    E92 E60 E67 E73 E70
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (169) 
    C84 C93 C89 C85 C92
 Sicilian (153) 
    B52 B64 B88 B62 B89
 Orthodox Defense (87) 
    D58 D55 D59 D53 D50
 Queen's Gambit Declined (87) 
    D31 D37 D35 D30 D39
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Geller vs Smyslov, 1965 1-0
   Geller vs Karpov, 1976 1-0
   Fischer vs Geller, 1967 0-1
   Fischer vs Geller, 1967 0-1
   Geller vs Keres, 1973 1-0
   Geller vs Portisch, 1967 1-0
   Kotov vs Geller, 1949 0-1
   Geller vs Fischer, 1962 1-0
   Geller vs Panno, 1955 1-0
   Geller vs Anikaev, 1979 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1955)
   Budapest (1952)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   USSR Championship (1960)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   Skopje (1967)
   USSR Championship (1949)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   USSR Championship (1952)
   Havana (1965)
   Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1952)
   USSR Championship 1961a (1961)
   USSR Championship (1969)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Efim Geller and 23 USSR Ch tournaments by Chessdreamer
   The Application of Chess Theory by Benzol
   Application of Chess Theory (Geller) by Qindarka
   The Application of Chess Theory by nakul1964
   The Application of Chess Theory by xajik
   Geller beats the world champions and pretenders by ughaibu
   Grandmaster Geller: The First Quarter Century by Resignation Trap
   Power Chess - Geller by Anatoly21
   Efim Geller's Best Games by KingG
   Efim Geller's Best Games by alip
   E F G Players that Fredthebear Read by fredthebear
   Chess in the USSR 1945 - 72, Part 2 (Leach) by Chessdreamer
   Legend Geller by Gottschalk
   -ER Others by fredthebear

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Efim Geller
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(born Mar-08-1925, died Nov-17-1998, 73 years old) Ukraine
[what is this?]
Efim Petrovich Geller was born in Odessa, Ukraine. He learned how to play chess as a young man, and arrived on the international scene quickly by qualifying as a World Championship Candidate in 1952, thereby earning the grandmaster title. During Geller's career, he appeared in the Candidates five more times and competed in a record 23 Soviet Championships (winning two, in 1955 [rusbase-1] and 1979 [rusbase-2]). His aggressive playing style and expertise in double-edged positions culminated in a positive score against four World Champions over the course of his career (Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, and Robert James Fischer). He also scored victories against Max Euwe, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal and Anatoly Karpov, bringing his total of World Champions beaten to eight--a record he shares only with Botvinnik, Petrosian and Viktor Korchnoi. He won the 1992 World Senior Chess Championship.

Wikipedia article: Efim Geller

 page 1 of 90; games 1-25 of 2,228  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Geller vs Kogan 1-0341946OdessaB53 Sicilian
2. Geller vs T Lubensky ½-½161947Kiev ch-UkraineC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. Furman vs Geller 1-0411947URS-ch sfD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
4. Geller vs V Saigin  0-1371947URS-ch sfB60 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
5. Geller vs G Ilivitsky 1-0261947URS-ch sfB60 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
6. Geller vs P Dubinin 1-0321947URS-ch sfC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
7. Geller vs Koblents ½-½311947URS-ch sfD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
8. Geller vs V Zagorovsky 1-02619481st Soviet Team-ch finalD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
9. Konstantinopolsky vs Geller  0-14819481st Soviet Team-ch finalE67 King's Indian, Fianchetto
10. S Kotlerman vs Geller 0-1311949OdessaE70 King's Indian
11. Geller vs M Grozdov 1-0161949Soviet UnionD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
12. Geller vs Novotelnov 0-1201949URS-ch sfC77 Ruy Lopez
13. T Lubensky vs Geller 0-1341949URS-ch sfE70 King's Indian
14. A Pirtskhalava vs Geller  1-0291949Ch URS (1/2 final)A47 Queen's Indian
15. Geller vs I Aramanovich  1-0641949URS-ch sfB84 Sicilian, Scheveningen
16. Petrosian vs Geller ½-½301949URS-ch sfC01 French, Exchange
17. D Grechkin vs Geller  ½-½311949URS-ch sfC85 Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation Doubly Deferred (DERLD)
18. Geller vs Nezhmetdinov 1-0271949URS-ch sfC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
19. Geller vs V A Vasiliev  ½-½501949URS-ch sfC78 Ruy Lopez
20. Geller vs Kasparian  1-0421949URS-ch sfB11 Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4
21. Kholmov vs Geller ½-½181949URS-ch sfC48 Four Knights
22. Geller vs I Pogrebissky  1-0311949URS-ch sfC78 Ruy Lopez
23. Geller vs Z Solmanis  ½-½231949Ch URS (1/2 final)C42 Petrov Defense
24. Geller vs V Makogonov  1-0361949URS-ch sfC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
25. G Ilivitsky vs Geller  0-1711949URS-ch sfD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
 page 1 of 90; games 1-25 of 2,228  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Geller wins | Geller loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 27 OF 27 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-08-17  Petrosianic: You can't always go by that kind of thing, due to the fact that top GM's often simply stop playing real games with each other after a while.

When Petrosian and Geller drew their final game in 1983, they hadn't had a decisive result with each other in 20 years, and most of their games stopped being real ones. There are a lot of other long-time opponents who do the same thing.

One who DIDN'T do it was Tal vs. Spassky. After Spassky won their Candidates Final in 1965, he never won another game from Tal in his life. Spassky turned Russian Bear against him. Tal, on the other hand, still had a lot of fight left against Spassky, and managed to win 5 games in that time. As a result, he reduced his lifetime deficit against Spassky from 9-1 to 9-6.

Mar-08-17  Petrosianic: Another funny thing about Petrosian and Geller. They drew most of their games through their whole life. But they had two decisive games in the 1956 Candidates.

Vasiliev's book explains that in their Round 1 game, Petrosian was amenable to another draw as usual, got a slightly superior position, and offered it. But Geller was in a fighting mood, said no, Petrosian got rattled and lost.

The next time they played, Petrosian had to avenge that loss, of course, so he went out and played one of his all-time best games. So, two decisive results. But had Geller taken that draw offer in the first game, probably both games would have been drawn.

Petrosian vs Geller, 1956

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: OK - so I had to check - it is true that all their games after 1963 were drawn but from 1949-63 they played 8 decisive game which is mot unusually low.
Mar-08-17  Petrosianic: True, they did play a decent number of real and decisive games before 1963. But they also had plenty of non-games. I show they played 20 draws in 30 moves or less between 1949 and 1963. In fact, I only see ONE draw that went more than 30 moves in all those years, and only three lifetime (out of 32 total draws).
Mar-08-17  Petrosianic: It's always tough when friends play each other. Aren't there those two sisters (I forget their names), who not only draw all their games, but play the SAME game each time, move for move?
Mar-08-17  Petrosianic: The Kosintseva sisters, that's it. But it's been a few years since I last checked them out (figuratively speaking) and I see that they were actually forced to play real games (with some decisive results), when they met in the 2012 FIDE Knockout Women's Championship.

Dec-21-17  The Boomerang: Dominated Fischer...are rare feat.
May-16-18  Senk:
Premium Chessgames Member
  stoy: According to Bronstein's widow her late husband thought that the greatest KID player was Efim Geller.
Jul-01-18  ughaibu: Stoy! You posted the same comment on March the eighth 2014!
Jul-01-18  ughaibu: And on the first of October 2009!!
Mar-08-19  saturn2: <Speaking of look-alikes, I always thought Robert Vaughn looked like Efim Geller:>

Good point that I have never observed though I like both of them in their respective profession.

Mar-08-19  gars: "A very great player who didn't become World Champion because he studied too many openings." I have read it somewhere.
Mar-08-19  saturn2: 1.e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Nf3
that is how he played against me a sinultan.

Somewhere else I read it is the way Geller and Karpov play against the Pirc defence. So one could conclude even in simultan he relied on his opening principles.

Mar-08-19  stridergene: Efim P. Geller is the bete noire, the jinx, the contra pelo, and the boogeyman of Robert James "Bobby" Fischer
Premium Chessgames Member
  jith1207: Does his name in Modern Short-Hand English form, translate to:

F'im Geller!?

Premium Chessgames Member
  jith1207: <ul-01-18 ughaibu: Stoy! You posted the same comment on March the eighth 2014!

Jul-01-18 ughaibu: And on the first of October 2009!!>

Was that the reason MH370 disappeared on that fateful day! In a way, that tragic event is now tied with Geller's Birthday.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jith1207: <bringing his total of World Champions beaten to eight--a record he shares only with Botvinnik, Petrosian and Viktor Korchnoi>

Is he among the players who have played with most number of world champions - past, present and future - combined?

I guess Korchnoi would have that prize, having probably played all the modern day champions as well. But I also guess Geller would be close company.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <I guess Korchnoi would have that prize, having probably played all the modern day champions as well. >

Korchnoi played all world champions from Botvinnik to Carlsen:

Korchnoi-Botvinnik +1 -1 =2
Korchnoi-Smyslov +3 -5 =13
Korchnoi-Tal +13 -4 =27
Korchnoi-Petrosian +12 -10 =48
Korchnoi-Spassky +20 -16 =33
Korchnoi-Fischer +2 -2 =4
Korchnoi-Karpov +14 -31 =63
Korchnoi-Kasparov +1 -14 =17
Korchnoi-Kramnik +0 -6 =6
Korchnoi-Anand +0 -6 =3
Korchnoi-Carlsen +1 -0 =0

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <Korchnoi played all world champions from Botvinnik to Carlsen>

And all challengers from Bronstein to Caruana except Karjakin.

Jun-27-19  diagonal: In 2006, Korchnoi played Karjakin at Mexico City in a *Rapid* Quadrangular at the Mexico City Chess Festival, the event included a Guinness World Records for maximum number of games played in simuls on one day:

Youngster GM Sergei Karjakin, born 1990, top seeded (with an ELO 2672 from the classical rating list) won at 4 points, 'the Chessqueen', Alexandra Kosteniuk and Veteran Viktor Kortchnoi, born 1931, shared second-third spot, with 3 points each. Mexican GM Gilberto Hernandez (2551 ELO) from the hosting nation finished fourth with 2 points. The games were not available for TWIC.

As listed, Korchnoi has played in classical chess every World Champion since Alekhine's death in 1946!

Korchnoi has beaten nine undisputed World Chess Champions, a record shared with Keres and Beliavsky.

In total, Geller has played ten and beaten eight undisputed World Chess Champions (Euwe, and all seven from Botvinnik to Karpov; Geller also played Kasparov and Anand), and his overall record from more than hundred games in classical chess against the World Champions he faced, is positive!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Editorial Comment Shakhmaty v SSSR December 1961:

"The leading Soviet players have won many fine victories. Their skill, the high quality of their play, their persistence, tactical abilities and will to win are all well known. Also well known are their modesty and openness.

Unfortunately this cannot be said of grandmaster Geller.

Having rendered considerable service to Soviet sport, he began to exaggerate this service and become conceited. This gave rise to a disdainful attitude toward his comrades and an unwillingness to consider their opinions.

Braggarts and boasters are not popular with us. As was to be expected, at the plenary session of the Ukrainian Chess Federation the comrades subjected E.Geller to justifiable criticism. It is to be hoped that the grandmaster will draw the correct conclusions."

Soviet Chess - D.J. Richards (page 168).


Suitably chastised by his comrades (and with a black mark in his KGB folder) the next month Geller set off for the Stockholm Interzonal.

In round one he faced Cuellar who finished 2nd bottom in the that event, but in their individual game he checkmated Geller!

Geller vs M Cuellar Gacharna, 1962

At that moment in time Geller must have felt he had one foot in a Gulag. He recovered well and finished 2nd equal with Petrosian.


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The snippet <braggarts and boasters are not popular with us> is one I remember seeing long ago.
Jul-21-19  BUNA: <Sally Simpson: At that moment in time Geller must have felt he had one foot in a Gulag.> There was no GULAG system left in 1961. It was dismatled after the 20th party congress (1956). Haven't you heard of the "Khrushchev Thaw"?

And why shouldn't a soviet chess magazine whose editor was Ragozin at the time report that the Ukrainian Chess Federation had openly criticized Geller? Rumors about that incident were probably already being spread.

"Braggarts and boasters" are now popular with us (think for instance of Kasparov). Instead we'll go into endless discussions whether today's players are "morally justified" to draw in less than thirty moves or draw at all. Leko and Giri are the new enemies that are denying us our holy right of entertainment.

Chessplayers seem to be viewed as a particular brand of gladiators in this new Roman Empire. Like gladiators we expect them to fight until someone dies.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Buna,

There was one Gulag left, a secret one, the Soviets referred to it in hushed tones as 'Gulag 51'. (you might not of heard of it...few people have.)

It was for boasters, braggarts and anyone disagreeing with Ragozin.

D.J. Richards relates to a spate between Petrosian and Shakhmaty on page 170-171.

In the mid 50's Ragozin mentioned that the top players were 'point chasers' and agreeing quick draws.

Petrosian wrote in the Alekhine Memorial (1956) bulletin (which was held after the Amsterdam Candidates (see below) - Petrosian did not play in the Alekhine memorial. Looks like he was in Gulag 51 noting up the games.)

"It is naive to think that is is expedient (let alone possible) for a player striving for the top place in a tournament to play every game all out, putting all his creative energy into every encounter..."

Ragozin hit back in a Shakhmaty January 1957.

"We shall limit ourselves to reminding grandmaster Petrosian that the chess masses, whom Petrosian is summoned to serve with his art, think quite differently.

Petrosian's maxims have nothing in common with the Soviet school of chess."


The date, January 1957 is important.

Clarke in his book on Petrosian (page 81) notes that Petrosian has come in for criticism for 'colourless draws.'

So, according to Clarke, Petrosian changed his style for the Amsterdam Candidates (1956) and 'he had come to play chess.'

Disaster! He played the worst move of career. Petrosian vs Bronstein, 1956 and from the first 4 games where had at one time he good positions, he scored just 1 point.

He pulled himself together with a couple of good wins including this mini masterpiece Filip vs Petrosian, 1956 but then Clarke tells us he slipped back into his old ways with a 'distressing run of eight draws.'

Could be Petrosian was saying in the bulletin; 'I'm trying but it's just not me. Give me a break.'


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