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Keres-Geller Candidates Playoff Match
Compiled by WCC Editing Project

Tigran V Petrosian had won Curacao Candidates (1962), with Paul Keres and Efim Geller sharing 2d-3d. Based on this result, both Keres and Geller would be seeded directly into the candidates event in the next WCC cycle, but their playoff for clear 2d had more than symbolic significance. Mikhail Botvinnik had not yet formally decided if he would defend his championship title. According to Petrosian, "This explained the hastily-arranged match between Keres and Geller... The match was needed to determine... the right to participate in a match for the world championship itself, if Botvinnik did not play."1

Moscow 11-25 Aug 19622

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 Paul Keres 1 0 1 4.5/8 2 Efim Geller 0 1 0 3.5/8

Botvinnik did end up deciding to defend his title, but if he had not, Petrosian would have faced the winner of this playoff in a world championship match. The score was tied after seven games, and Keres needed to win the last, because Geller would be declared victor in a drawn match due his superior Sonneborn-Berger score.3 Keres rose to the occasion in game eight, saccing a knight in a sharp kingside attack to destroy Geller in just 28 moves.

Both Keres and Geller were duly seeded directly into the candidates matches in the next WCC cycle. At the Varna 1962 FIDE conference, it had been decided that in the post-1963 cycle the next WCC candidate would be decided in a series of matches, rather than in a tournament.3 In the 1963-66 cycle, Keres lost his quarterfinal match to Spassky; Spassky - Keres Candidates Quarterfinal (1965). Geller won his quarterfinal match against Smyslov; Geller - Smyslov Candidates Quarterfinal (1965), but was eliminated in his semifinal match against Spassky; Spassky - Geller Candidates Semifinal (1965). 5


1. Igor Botvinnik, ed., Steve Giddens transl. "Botvinnik-Petrosian: The 1963 World Chess Championship Match" (New in Chess 2010), p.93

2. Round order and dates: Paul Keres, "Photographs and Games" (International Chess Enterprises 1997), pp.337-38

3 Paul Keres and John Nunn, "Paul Keres: The Quest For Perfection" (Batsford 1997), p.148

4. Yuri Averbakh, Steve Giddins transl. "Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes- the Personal Memoir of a Soviet Chess Legend."(New in Chess 2011), p.114


Original collection by User: capybara: Game Collection: 1962 Candidates play-off match: Geller-Keres. Valuable assistance for this introduction from User: Benzol, User: Tabanus, and User: Paint My Dragon

Round 1: Aug 11
Geller vs Keres, 1962 
(A15) English, 59 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 2: Aug 13
Keres vs Geller, 1962
(B36) Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto, 43 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 3: Aug 15
Geller vs Keres, 1962 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 35 moves, 0-1

Round 4: Aug 17
Keres vs Geller, 1962
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 32 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 5: Aug 19
Geller vs Keres, 1962
(E54) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, 18 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 6: Aug 21
Keres vs Geller, 1962 
(A56) Benoni Defense, 41 moves, 0-1

Round 7: Aug 23
Geller vs Keres, 1962
(E55) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, Bronstein Variation, 51 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8: Aug 25
Keres vs Geller, 1962 
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 28 moves, 1-0

8 games

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