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Paul Keres
Number of games in database: 2,040
Years covered: 1929 to 1975

Overall record: +1018 -204 =807 (70.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 11 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (184) 
    C86 C78 C83 C97 C88
 Sicilian (181) 
    B20 B50 B36 B43 B62
 French Defense (94) 
    C07 C02 C05 C10 C15
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (88) 
    C86 C97 C88 C87 C93
 Caro-Kann (61) 
    B10 B14 B18 B11 B13
 English (45) 
    A15 A14 A16 A13 A10
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (228) 
    C72 C92 C99 C79 C77
 Nimzo Indian (125) 
    E32 E41 E43 E45 E20
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (107) 
    C92 C99 C97 C96 C84
 Queen's Pawn Game (82) 
    A46 E00 D02 E10 A45
 Queen's Indian (65) 
    E15 E19 E12 E17 E14
 English, 1 c4 e5 (41) 
    A23 A28 A29 A22 A25
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Keres vs Szabo, 1955 1-0
   Euwe vs Keres, 1940 0-1
   Keres vs Verbac, 1933 1-0
   Keres vs Geller, 1962 1-0
   Keres vs W Winter, 1935 1-0
   Keres vs Alekhine, 1937 1-0
   A Karu vs Keres, 1931 0-1
   Keres vs Spassky, 1955 1-0
   Keres vs E Arlamowski, 1950 1-0
   Keres vs Vladimir Petrov, 1940 1-0

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

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1947)
   USSR Championship (1950)
   Budapest (1952)
   Hastings 1957/58 (1957)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   Gothenburg Interzonal (1955)
   USSR Championship (1957)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   USSR Championship (1940)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)
   Bled (1961)
   Kemeri (1937)
   USSR Championship (1949)
   USSR Championship (1955)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Keres! by amadeus
   Keres' Whirligigs Compiled by chocobonbon by fredthebear
   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
   Paul Keres by Legend
   Chess in the USSR 1945 - 72, Part 2 (Leach) by Chessdreamer
   Chess in the USSR 1945 - 72, Part 1 (Leach) by Chessdreamer
   Quest for Perfection (Keres) by Qindarka
   Road to the Top (Keres) by Qindarka
   Move by Move - Keres (Franco) by Qindarka

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, finishing joint third. This would turn out to be the only opportunity Keres would ever have to play for the world title--he finished second ex aequo or outright four times in the five Candidates' tournaments, from 1950 to 1962 inclusive, but never won.

Keres scored 13½/14 at the 11th Olympiad in Amsterdam 1954 (1) and in 1963, he won at Los Angeles (sharing 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 is the player who has defeated the largest number of world champions, no fewer 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

Last updated: 2017-09-10 14:57:50

 page 1 of 82; games 1-25 of 2,040  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Keres vs I Raud 0-1401929Parnu, Parnu-ViljandiC54 Giuoco Piano
2. I Raud vs Keres  ½-½541929Parnu, Parnu-ViljandiE10 Queen's Pawn Game
3. A Karu vs Keres 0-1271931corrD08 Queen's Gambit Declined, Albin Counter Gambit
4. Keres vs Molder 1-0241931Tartu, Est jr chC33 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Keres vs R Pruun 1-0431931ChJB12 Caro-Kann Defense
6. L Norvid vs Keres 0-1251931Tartu, Est jr chC12 French, McCutcheon
7. Keres vs I Raud 1-0291931Tartu, Est jr chB25 Sicilian, Closed
8. R Pruun vs Keres 0-1241931Tartu, Est jr chE60 King's Indian Defense
9. Keres vs E Verbak 1-0171932corrC00 French Defense
10. Keres vs Faltweber 1-0181932corrA06 Reti Opening
11. Von Feilitzsch vs Keres 0-1321932corr ,/33C22 Center Game
12. Keres vs M Villemson  ½-½471932Deutsche Schz 133/A corrD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Keres vs G Menke 1-0621932corrC33 King's Gambit Accepted
14. Keres vs J Vilkins ½-½241932corrC25 Vienna
15. Keres vs Beskov 1-0431932corrC50 Giuoco Piano
16. E Kiiver vs Keres 0-1581932Tartu, Est jr chE20 Nimzo-Indian
17. A Remmelgas vs Keres  0-1551932Tartu, Est jr chD02 Queen's Pawn Game
18. Keres vs L Peterson 1-0291932Tartu, Est jr chB01 Scandinavian
19. Keres vs Tuul 1-0331932Tartu, Est jr chC33 King's Gambit Accepted
20. Keres vs A Peet 1-0191932Moisakula Moisak-ParnuC25 Vienna
21. A Peet vs Keres 0-1291932Moisakula Moisak-ParnuD02 Queen's Pawn Game
22. Keres vs J Siitam 1-0211932Parnu, Est jr chC25 Vienna
23. A Holm vs Keres 0-1431932Parnu, Est jr chC00 French Defense
24. Keres vs A Abel 1-0611932Parnu, Est jr chB01 Scandinavian
25. R Pruun vs Keres 0-1331932Parnu, Est jr chD08 Queen's Gambit Declined, Albin Counter Gambit
 page 1 of 82; games 1-25 of 2,040  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 42 OF 44 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <tamar> Nice quote. I did not know that Spassky was a fan of Keres. Come to think of it, Keres was 21 years older than Spassky, and the young Spassky may have idolized him. When Spassky sets his mind to attack, his style bears some resemblance to that of Keres'.

Actually I doubt if Keres would ever have left the USSR by himself, but not necessarily because the best players in the world were there. After the war, he had family, relatives, and friends in Estonia and the USSR. No telling what indirect threat or pressure was placed on him to remain 'loyal'. He may have also been too much of a patriot to totally leave Estonia. Had he defected, he knew well enough that he would never see Estonia again for the rest of his life.

There are stories that Alekhine wanted to return to Russia, but obviously could not for political reasons. AAA I think left relatives behind in Russia, such as his brother (who got executed) and sister. AFAIK AAA never saw them again. If Keres ever engaged in personal conversations with Alekhine (or perhaps another 'defector' like Bogolyubov), he could have known about this problem first hand. 'Defectors' could never return.

On the other hand, what if Estonia somehow managed to successfully secede from the USSR, to become an independent country once again? If this happened in the the 1950s, then the scenario I described above would have more chances of happening. Keres would have become joyfully inspired. An inspired well motivated Keres could well have become the proto Korchnoi of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <perfidious: Spassky's <But it was too late; my KGB file had already been opened> is telling; had he not been a contender for the title at the time, one may speculate as to his fate for such clearly 'anti-Soviet' statements.>

Yes the fear factor. And it must have been much much worse for Keres.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: In CHESS November 1984 Spassky is reported to have said that because of the hostility shown towards him after finishing above Karpov in Linares in 1983...

Game Collection: Linares 1983

...he finally left Russia for France.

The linked report states that Spassky came to the tournament suffering from flu and passed it onto all the other competitors.

Now that is what I call preparation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Sally....The linked report states that Spassky came to the tournament suffering from flu and passed it onto all the other competitors.>

Who said Boris not good communist? He share and share alike. That is way things are done in workers' paradise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Sally Simpson>

<Now that is what I call preparation.>

That's nothing. Spassky had left for France seven years before. In 1983 he just made it legal.

Jan-13-16  Petrosianic: Odd tournament. Spassky beat the bottom 3 and drew the rest, Karpov beat the bottom 2 and drew the rest. For Karpov in 1983, it's the kind of tournament where you'd expect him to go +5-0=5.
Jan-13-16  Olavi: This is off topic, but I would like to draw attention to Larsen's result in that Linares tournament. Plaskett scored +5 -8 =0 in London GLC 1986, and I think Velimirovic played one Jugoslav Ch in the early 70s where he had one draw out of 19 games.
Jan-14-16  Howard: Actually, it was in 1984 (not 1983) when Spassky made it "legal". He played at a tournament in Yugoslavia back in roughly May, 1984, and it was stated that this was the last event he'd play in under the Soviet flag.

He turns 79 this month, by the way.

Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: As far as I can recall B.Spasky didn't have any problems leaving the (former) USSR and settling in France.

In regards to an alleged KGB file, how about Bobby's files in the States? And all the other CIA and FBI files way back then and today.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: <In regards to an alleged KGB file, how about Bobby's files in the States? And all the other CIA and FBI files way back then and today.>

I don't think there would be much of CIA or FBI file re Bobby before 1990. Heck, Henry Kissinger encouraged Bobby to play for the 1972 Championship.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Kissinger has outlived them all. He's the last major living figure of the Nixon era, early 70s.
Oct-19-16  gars: <jussu>: do you really think that Josef Stálin and the KGB could really be called "some secondary factors"? If so, my congratulations for your unbounded optimism!
Oct-19-16  Petrosianic: <Bio> <With his five second-place finishes in Candidates events...>

Nope, only four: 1953, 1956, 1959, and 1962.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: An interesting ongoing series of articles on Keres's life & career in chess24: (I: 1916-36) (II: 1936-37) (III: 1938-40) (IV: 1941-47)

Dec-27-16  ketchuplover: New in Chess now has The World Chess Championship 1948 (or something like that) available for sale. Enjoy!
Jan-07-17  Kamagong42: happy birthday!
Jan-07-17  gars: This is from <tamar> on Jan-13-2016: Spassky held Keres in the highest regard and felt he was superior to Botvinnik. from the Kingpin Interview

<Boris Vassilievich, whom could you single out as a personality among chess players?

Undoubtedly, Paul Keres. He was the greatest treasure of the chess world. Being a man of great modesty and tact, he possessed the highest chess and general culture. His tragic destiny reminds of the end of Alekhine’s life. And if we remember that for some time there was chess rivalry between Alekhine and Botvinnik, I’d rather resort to some literary comparison. Keres was the Gulliver among the Lilliputians, he was a real giant. Botvinnik, I believe, was the leader of the Lilliputians. And that is the crux of the matter. As simple as that.

You always expressed sympathy towards Keres openly, even in the most ‘silent’ times.

In 1965 I was giving a lecture in Novosibirsk and I was asked why Keres had not become World Champion. This is what I answered: ‘Just imagine a young man who is only 24, who is already a strong grandmaster and who loves his Estonia, his small country which within a short period of time changes hands – passing to Stalin, a bit later to Hitler and again to Stalin. What does he feel when all this is happening?’ After the lecture some komsomol leaders asked me why I was so anti-Soviet. ‘Did I tell you a lie?’ I reiterated. But it was too late; my KGB file had already been opened.> What else can I say? Thanks, <tamar> and Happy Birthday, GM Keres!

Jan-07-17  Absentee: <‘Did I tell you a lie?’ I reiterated.>

No, you just didn't answer the question, Boris.

Jan-07-17  paavoh: My hat is off for Keres. Such a small country producing so much chessic talent. He will always be remembered, and it is a great gesture that Tallinn has erected a statue for him. Happy to have found it on my last visit to that charming city.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Falkirk Herald, February 1st, 1939, p.11:

<Mr Meek notes in London “Evening News”:—The remarkable development of chess in Russia may be judged by a recent simultaneous display given by Keres against thirty Leningrad schoolboys. They put up such astounding opposition that the famous master won only 11 games, lost 11, and drew 8.

Capablanca, Flohr and other front-rank masters have had poor results in simultaneous displays against Russian clubs in past years, but for schoolboys to put up such a performance as they did against Keres - the prospective challenger for the next world championship match - is simply marvellous.">

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <gars> thank you for such a nice post.

<Boris Vassilievich> might have been the most decent and admirable world champion ever.

His respect for Paul Keres shows not just in this interview, but in his (Spassky's) demeanor and conduct of himself as a chess professional.

Does anyone criticize Spassky?? Of course not! Spassky is beloved, and rightly!

Apr-14-17  Boomie: Having such an interesting history and one of the most impressive playing records in history, you would think the CG Biographers would try to produce a good biography. Instead we are presented with this totally inadequate one.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Boomie> duly noted - maybe you should also drop a note in over at the Bistro.
May-22-17  Granny O Doul: I just learned that Keres is the fourth-most spoken language in New Mexico. I couldn't wait to share the good news here.
Sep-10-17  drnooo: these two fine posters, very knowledgeable as they are...and they are...oddly enough miss the point, as most of the best do about Keres. I've posted this before. KERES WOULD HAVE LEFT AND NEVER COME BACK, ESCAPED TO THE EAST AND THEN.....PROBABLY CHANGED CHESS HISTORY FOREVER. It is recorded even with a photograph of him and his wife during the turmoil of the second world war, they were poised to escape by boat and missed at the last moments and he was plunged back into the mess and never had a chance for another shot. The 48 championship was as rigged as the Clinton Sandars affair: he knew by 1945 it was hopeless, he barely escaped hanging as it was in 46 Look at his bloody stats. They very nearly rival Capas and Fischers. In their prime I would only put Capa ahead of him. Only Capa, nobody else. Bronstein 3rd. And only then Botvinnik...and Reshevsky after that. Had Keres fled to the west...Fischers claim to be being the best player in the west would have folded under Keres domination and record...he would have beaten everybody and it would have taken the KGB to take care of him with either poison or a bullet.
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