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Max Euwe vs Paul Keres
"Paul Vault" (game of the day Jul-07-2015)
Euwe - Keres (1939/40), Amsterdam NED, rd 9, Jan-05
Queen's Indian Defense: Classical. Traditional Variation Main Line (E19)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-21-14  suenteus po 147: <Benzol> By Jove, you're right. Taking a quick look at <amadeus>'s game collection on Keres, it seems Paul played a 14 game match with Euwe from December '39 through January '40.
Dec-21-14  visayanbraindoctor: I believe there should be a separate game page for the Euwe vs Keres match. I believe the purpose was to recommend a Challenger for Alekhine. Keres was then one of the leading contenders for a title shot, having won the proto-Candidates tournament AVRO 1938, and placed highly in a bunch of other strong tournaments. Euwe was the former World Champion. It could have been one of the most important matches of chess history had WW2 not intervened and AAA had decided to play the winner in a WC match.

In addition, if Euwe for any reason had decided not to push through with his rematch against AAA in 1937 and this had ended up as the WC match instead, Keres would now be known as the 6th Chess World Champion.

The game itself is a poster ad for Keres' attacking skills. Keres is one of the greatest attacking players of chess history.

Dec-21-14  parisattack: <Al Buschke> published a book/monograph on this match with two games annotated by Emmanuel Lasker.

I've never seen a copy tho <Zanzibar> provided this link on a discussion of one of the other match games Euwe vs Keres, 1939 -

Dec-21-14  suenteus po 147: Game Collection: Euwe-Keres Match 1939/40
Dec-21-14  parisattack: In Grandmaster of Chess, Keres refers to it as a 'friendly' match but "... the general opinion in the chess-world was that the winner would have the moral right of challenging the world champion, Alekhine."
Dec-21-14  visayanbraindoctor: <parisattack: In Grandmaster of Chess, Keres refers to it as a 'friendly' match but "... the general opinion in the chess-world was that the winner would have the moral right of challenging the world champion, Alekhine.">

Yes that is my impression. Although there was no formal Candidates cycle then, it was assumed by the chess public that the champion should choose only the strongest of challengers.

Steinitz always did. When he chose Lasker, the latter had just won a series of matches against the world's strongest players. There is no criticism anywhere of Steinitz in this regard.

Unfortunately Lasker did not necessarily choose his challengers on this basis. I am not into the debate of whether or not Lasker was ducking the strongest masters, but the fact is that there have been criticisms on this perceived behavior. It was worse in Alekhine's reign because everyone was aware that Capablanca was the strongest challenger that AAA could have chosen in the early and mid 1930s, before Capa's obvious decline by 1938. AAA must have gotten sick and tired of questions on why he was not playing Capa again, and might have welcomed another credible challenger such as Keres who won both a proto-Candidates tournament (AVRO 1938) and a proto Candidates Final match (this match with Euwe). I do believe that if WW2 had not intervened, there would have been an Alekhine vs Keres World Championship match in 1941 or 1942.

The concept of the two perceived strongest masters playing a match in order to determine who would challenge the champion seemed to have been new at that time. This would later be enacted in the Candidates finals match. Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov played in such matches.

I regard Euwe vs Keres 1939-1940 as a watered down non-formal version of a Candidates finals match. In other words, a proto Candidates final or proto Challenger's match. Just as I deem New York 1927 and AVRO 1938 as proto Candidates tournaments.

Dec-21-14  visayanbraindoctor: Keres is one of chess history's great attackers. His style placed much greater emphasis on piece activity, initiative, and attack over material considerations. This extraordinary Almost World Champions IMO is the chess world's most unappreciated tactician and attacker. On the subject of attack, I always hear of Anderssen, Chigorin, Alekhine, Tal, Spassky, and Kasparov, but in the same posts in which these great masters of attack are mentioned one usually never hears of Keres.

Below is another brilliancy featuring another Queen sacrifice by the great Paul.

Hort vs Keres, 1961

Jan-05-15  FairyPromotion: <Andrijadj: Make this GOTD with pun Paul the Octopus:)>

I believe in 2010 this would have made a great pun!

My suggestion: <Paul Vault>

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: It was practically impossible to out combine Euwe. A wonderful series of moves by Keres trading his Q for R+B, then declining the offer of an exchange with 26...Rae8, then tossing an exchange himself with 32...Rxf4. Really marvelous play taking advantage of not so accurate moves by Euwe
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Does 10 Qc2 threaten 11 Ng5 with double attack on h7 and b7? Not just preparing e4. And 10...f5 defends against both the tactical and the strategic threat?
Jul-07-15  FairyPromotion: A brilliant game by Keres, who I also sense is a little underrated around here. I would second everything <visayanbraindoctor> said in his final post.

As mentioned by <morfishine> earlier, 26... Rae8! is one of the star moves of the game, and it's my personal favorite. After sacrificing a queen, one usually tends to restore as much material as possible (unless there is a forced mate.) But instead of going for the 2R vs Q imbalance, Keres kept on sacrificial mode, with his bishop pair eventually suffocating the white king.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: good game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: I once read in a chess book that the bishop pair on an open board is a powerful weapon in the hands of a master.

This game may have been the example that the author had in mind.

Jul-07-15  FairyPromotion: An addotional note: This game is featured in both "The Mammoth Book of The World's Greatest Chess Games" by Nunn, Burgess, and Emms (with a score of 9/15,) and the "The 100 Best Chess Games, of the 20th Century" by Soltis (ranked at #55).

I personally think that Keres has 3 games that are top 100 all-time('ish'), but I would give this game the nod over the other two (Keres vs Szabo, 1955 & Hort vs Keres, 1961.)

Sep-19-15  kishore4u: Fantastic game!!
Mar-04-16  peterh99: Keres is often called the strongest player never to have been world champion. Some say he was required to lose games to Botvinnik, the only player he had trouble with. Botvinnik was the poster boy for Soviet Chess, while Keres as an Estonian was suspected of anti-Soviet tendencies.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Keres would be amused to learn that Botvinnik he was the only player he had trouble with.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Didn't Keres score +10 -0 =0 against Fischer and make similar clean scores against every other top player he faced?

Even Kasparov went 0-5 against Gulko!

Um, okay, that is a revisionist view.

Mar-04-16  Absentee: <peterh99: Keres is often called the strongest player never to have been world champion. Some say he was required to lose games to Botvinnik, the only player he had trouble with. Botvinnik was the poster boy for Soviet Chess, while Keres as an Estonian was suspected of anti-Soviet tendencies.>

Some say the Queen of England is a reptilian.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <peterh99: Keres is often called the strongest player never to have been world champion.>

I think he and others (Korchnoi, Reshevsky) were just unlucky to have so many strong players around.

...too many legends to contend with.

Dec-14-16  bcokugras: If white goes on playing 35. Ke4, then?
Dec-14-16  JimNorCal: After 35. Ke4 then Re8+ wins, no?
Kd3 Bf5+ gets the Q.
Kd5 Bf3 gets the K
Premium Chessgames Member
  HarryP: At one time years ago I considered calling this the greatest game ever played.
Dec-29-18  sudoplatov: I wouldn't say that Lasker ducked many opponents per se. Pre WWI he played Marshall, Tarrasch, Janowski, and Schlecter who generally rated in the top 5 or 6. The only ones missing (though significant) and probably through lack of money were Maroczy, Rubinstein, Duras, Bernstein, and Teichmann. (This probably goes on a Lasker thread.) ALekhine seems to have ducked Capablanca (our of either fear or pique) but Bogolyubov and Euwe weren't that weak.
Premium Chessgames Member
  pdvossen: This match is classic Keres. Attacking and moving forward with a thriving attack. Many would just try to muddy up the matches they played with Paul, or just make it not very interesting, that way seeing Keres at times just grab a draw. Or, making curious moves that would become blunders in an attempt to move the match forward.
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