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Paul Keres vs Alexander Alekhine
"Keresene" (game of the day Sep-10-2013)
Margate (1937), Margate ENG, rd 7, Apr-07
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense (C71)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-01-11  stst: Easy with a little trap.
Looks like 23.QxB+ is the top choice.
IF (A)23.... RxQ; 24.Re8+ Rd8; 25.Either d or e RxR#

BUT IF (B)23....K flees to b8, even though 24.QxR+ is very strong, Ka7 will delay the defeat; yet 25.QxR will give W overwhemling advantage in material.

Does this echo our country's debt "problem" -- the "K" flees to avoid responsibility, only to see tougher situations coming to haunt everyone.....

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In the book, "Paul Keres: The Road to the Top", Keres stated regarding 13.e5!?, <"After long thought I decided upon this promising pawn sacrifice, since I could find nothing better against the threat of 13...Qf6 followed by ...0-0-0.">.

Keres's evaluation of 13.e5!? was: <"The pawn sacrifice is not altogether clear, but it ensures White excellent practical chances.">

Keres noted that L. Steiner later discovered that White could have assured his opening advantage by the simple move 13.0-0!

Fritz confirms that White has the advantage after 13.0-0: (.58) (23 ply) 13...Qf6 14.Bd4 Nxd4 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.e5 Qb6 17.Nxd4, (.62) (23 ply) 17...Ke7 18.Nf3 Rhd8 19.Qc1 Bh6 20.Qc3 Kf8 21.Rad1.

After Keres's move 13.e5, Fritz indicated a careful defense would have enabled Alekhine to survive: 13.e5 Nxe5 14.Qe2 Bxa4! 15.Nxe5 f3 16.Nxf3+ Kd7 17.0-0.

Keres believed this variation was clearly advantageous for White. However, after: (.10) (23 ply) 17...Re8! 18.Qd2+ Kc8 19.Qb4 Qd7, the position has an almost totally equal evaluation.

Keres noted that Alekhine thought for a long time before making his move 13...g5?. Alekhine indicated he had concluded that accepting the pawn sacrifice would have imperiled his game game too much. In their post-game analysis, Alekhine and Keres concluded White would obtain only slightly the better position after: 13.e5 Nxe5 14.Qe2 f6. As noted above, Black's best move in this variation is 14...Ba4!, leading to a near equal position.

Fritz suggests that instead of 13.0-0, White had an even stronger move available: (.83) (23 ply) 13.Qb3! Na5 14.Qb4 Bxa4 15.Qxa4+ Qd7 16.Qxa5 b6 17.Bxb6 cxb7, (.80) (24 ply) 18.Qd5 Rc8 19.0-0 Qxd5 20.cxd5 Kd7.

Aug-01-11  stst: want to re-visit the story behind Paul Keres failed to make it to the top!

And while it's unbelievable a world champ slumped into this position, one needs to be alert that probably chess alone reveals most honestly the strength and health of a human's mental capacity at any moment - not because he's champ, nor it's because he's a buff!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Reinfeld stated regarding 19.Nxg5: <"Not only winning a Pawn, but devaluating the remaining Black King-side Pawns">.

Fritz confirms that White has some advantage after 19.Nxg5 0-0-0 20.Nf3, but stronger was: (.90) (24 ply) 19.Qd4! c5 20.Qd6 Rg8 21.Qb6 Rg6 22.Qxb7 Bc6 23.Qxe7+ Kxe7, (1.21) (24 ply) 24.Ne1 Rag8, (1.11) (25 ply) 25.h3 h5 26.Rg1 Rc8 27.Nd3 Be4 28.f3 Bxd3 29.Rxd3 g4 30.hxg4 hxg4 31.Rgd1 gxf3 gxf3.

Aug-02-11  MaxxLange: I agree that it is likely that Alekhine was drunk, or at best hungover, when he played this game. He was still very strong in the late 30's, but increasingly inconsistent, as he progressed into late stage alcoholism. It is technically possible that he just had a bad day and got outplayed, but this is such a poor performance, by his own standards.....I don''t believe that he would have lost like this, unimpaired, in the Ruy. Even to Keres.

If you saw this game without attribution, what would you guess Black's rating was? 2200?

<Pawn and Two> thanks for the interesting computer analysis, starting with 6...exd4!

Aug-02-11  aliejin: I believe that Alekhine was very regained health in 1937. Shortly after this game, brilliantly defeated
to Euwe.

In my opinion, in those days, Alekhine was very anxious, that's all.

Of course, there is a deterioration as the years pass. ( addition to health problems,
Alcoholism is just that, a health problem )

But this is relative, in 1941/43 beat Keres playing a magnificent chess

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Neither Keres, or Reinfeld, in "Keres Best Games of Chess 1931-1948", or Egon Varnusz, in "Paul Keres' Best Games - Vol. 2", mention the possibility of 19.Qd4!.

After 19.Nxg5 0-0-0 20.Nf3, White still has an advantage, but Black can hold the position.

White can get no advantage from 20.Nxh7? Bg4!, (-.05) (26 ply) 21.Qa3 Rxd1+! 22.Rxd1 Qxa3 23.bxa3 Rh8 24.f3 Rxh7 25.fxg4 Rxh2 26.Rf1 Rxg2 27.Rxf4, or (-.17) (26 ply) 21.Qe4 f5! 22.Qxf4 Qxh7 23.f3 Bh5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Analysis by Fritz indicates Alekhine had three moves more promising than 20...f6.

The first of these choices we will consider is 20...Bh3.

Several of our kibitzers have indicated Alekhine should have played 20...Bh3. Some indicate 20...Bh3 was easy to spot or obvious, yet Keres, Reinfeld and Varnusz failed to mention it.

Varnusz gave 20...f6 an (!), and stated that it was, <the only practical chance>.

Keres also gave 20...f6 an (!), and stated, <Thus Black gets rid of his doubled pawns, opens up the position and procures more freedom of action for his pieces>.

Reinfeld states, <He could put up a longer resistance with 20...Rg8. The opening up of the position which the text entails, is all in White's favor>.

Fritz indicates White has the advantage after 20...Bh3, but the variation provided leaves Black with fairly good defensive chances: (.44) (25 ply) 20...Bh3 21.Nd4 Bxg2 22.Rhg1 f3, (.45) (24 ply) 23.Qe4 Rfe8 24.Rge1 Rd7 25.Qf5 Red8 26.Nb3.

Reinfeld's choice, 20...Rg8, appears to gaves Black very good defensive chances: (.46) (25 ply) 20...Rg8 21.Qxh7 Rxg2 22.Rhf1 Qe6, (.42) (24 ply) 23.Qc2 Rgg8 24.h4 Qg4.

Fritz's other and best choice, was 20...Be6!. This move was not mentioned by Keres, Reinfeld or Varnusz. 20...Be6! certainly looks logical, and Fritz indicates White has only a minimal advantage after: (.35) (25 ply) 20...Be6! 21.Qc2 Qc5, (.22) (24 ply) 22.b3 Bg4 23.Qe2 Bxf3 24.gxf3.

Even after 20...f6, Alekhine still had some survivial chances, but his 21st move was to prove fatal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After the game Alekhine told Keres that he was afraid of the move 22.Qxh7, and therefore he avoided the move 21...Qxf6!.

Keres noted, <21...Qxf6! was essential. White can then force a transition to a good endgame with a solid pawn more by 22.Qd4 Qxd4 23.Nxd4.>

Keres indicated he could also choose after 21...Qxf6!, <...the vigorous 22.Qxh7.> Keres noted this alternative was very risky, as it would allow Black some dangerous counterplay by 22...Bf5 23.Qh4 Rxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Qc6.

Keres stated that had Alekhine played 21...Qxf6!, he would have contented himself with 22.Qd4, noting that he was at that point rather short on time.

Fritz agrees with Keres that 21...Qxf6! was Black's best move, and that 22.Qd4 was White's best response.

After 21...Qxf6!, (.90) (23 ply) 22.Qd4 Qxd4 23.Rxd4 Bc6 24.Rhd1 Rxd4 25.Rxd4 Bxf3 26.gxf3, (.75) (24 ply) 26...Rg8 27.Rxf4 Rg2 28.h4 h5 29.Rf5 Rxf2 30.Rxh5 Rxf3, with a likely draw. Perhaps an improvement in this varation can be found for White, otherwise I think 21...Qxf6! could have given Alekhine a draw.

After 21...Qxf6! 22.Qxh7 Bf5!, (.30) (24 ply) 23.Qh4 Rxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Qc6 25.Qxf4 Qa4 26.Ne1 Qxd1+ 27.Kxd1 Bc2+ 28.Kxc2 Rxf4 29.Nf3 Rxc4+, with an almost totally equal evaluation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: Bird of course played v Morphy,Steinitz and Lasker
Dec-29-12  Llawdogg: Thanks Pawn and Two!
Feb-09-13  KingPetrosian: All hail Keres!!! He has left the great Alekhine in ruins! A game deserving of being 'game of the day'!
Sep-10-13  Abdel Irada: Alekhine seems to have strayed with 13. ...g5?! He'd perhaps have done better merely to eliminate White's remaining center pawn with 13. ...Nxe5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Very unusual for Alekhine to get beaten like a drum this way.
Sep-10-13  morfishine: Alekhine got a bit Kereless with his middlegame play. Even an Alekhine could not hope to get away with this against such a Keresmatic player as Keres...


Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: The next 9 games these two played, the best Keres could do was to draw six games, while Alekhine defeated Keres 3 times.

Overall head to head record:

5 wins to 1 loss, with 8 draws in favor of Alekhine.

Sep-10-13  gars: <perfidious>: To your remark <Spielman, Shamkovich or both?" I would add "Spielman, Shamkovich, Vukovic or "throth" ?"
Sep-10-13  gars: <sevenseaman>: I agree one hundred percent with your comments on Keres and I wonder why isn't he one of your favourite players? Who are them, by the way?
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Forced mate by queen sac.
Sep-10-13  vsiva1: 22. ..., Qf8 better for save I think
Premium Chessgames Member
  penarol: <vsiva1: 22. ..., Qf8 better for save I think > But then 23. Qxh7 winning a second pawn and also threatening Re7 and Ne5.
Sep-10-13  visayanbraindoctor: <chancho: The next 9 games these two played, the best Keres could do was to draw six games, while Alekhine defeated Keres 3 times.

Overall head to head record:

5 wins to 1 loss, with 8 draws in favor of Alekhine.>

I have a collection of all the decisive AAA vs Keres games here: Game Collection: Alekhine vs Champions & Prodigies Decisive Games

They are good chess fights, worth replaying. IMO Alekhine and Keres has similar styles, emphasizing dynamics, the initiative and the attack, and they went for each other's throats more often than not. From their games over-all, I think that Alekhine looked like a stronger version of Keres.

It's a huge loss to chess that Alekhine could not play in the Soviet Championships of the 1920s and 1930s, after winning the first one in 1920. I believe that Alekhine, with his propensity for researching strong opening lines and novelties and his highly dynamic attacking style, would have accelerated chess development in the USSR, and there subsequently would have been a bigger cohort of strong chess masters in the 1950s.

Sep-10-13  drnooo: I have always discounted any games
whatsoever by Keres when he was in
Germany during the war, especially under
the gun in regards to ole Alex: it was
he, Alekhine that was spewing the
Nazi line, so why beat the poster boy
for no particular reason. Nothing to be
I love it how people here blithely assume
chess is chess when played under the rule of tyrants. Anything is possible when you never quite know if your life
may be at stake. He was lucky to escape execution upon his being forced back into the coils of the Soviots then, a double whammy, never quite being able to escape. I have always said a Keres fled to the west, even the USA would have been a different Keres altogether.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <GSM: <sfm>--you call 20...Bh3 "the most obvious move in the position," but it was far from obvious to me. Keres didn't even mention it in his notes to the game, according to <mulde>. Maybe computers have made ordinary players too complacent about the difficulties of this game.>

Maybe they have, judging by comments very frequently observed in these pages.

Aug-20-15  Albion 1959: Very rare for a renowned tactician like Alekhine to overlook 23. Qxd7+
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