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Paul Keres vs Max Euwe
FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948), The Hague NED / Moscow URS, rd 6, Mar-15
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Worrall Attack Castling line (C86)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-16-02  pawntificator: How about 34...Ng5 35 Qxa6 Qxa6 36 Rxa6 Rf1+ 37 Kh2 Ne4 and I would bet on black to win! wooo!!! Although I personally like Keres better. Why is there no picture of Keres on his page??
Nov-16-02  drukenknight: I dont think white wants to exchange at this pt. he wants to work the pin and the passed pawn.
Nov-17-02  pawntificator: But they gave up and called it a tie over the protection of a pawn!! How cowardly. It appears that black could win from the final position
Nov-19-02  drukenknight: 34...Ng5 35 Rf1
Jun-24-06  Whitehat1963: So how do Crafty and the rest of the engines evaluate the final position. What's the best continuation? (Opening of the Day)
Jun-24-06  crafty: 34. ... ♖f5 35. ♔g1 ♖f8 36. ♕xa6 ♕d7 37. ♕a2 ♕c6   (eval -0.60; depth 15 ply; 1000M nodes)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I wonder why Euwe did not play simply 29...Qxc3. White was quite happy to escape with draw here.
Jul-12-13  zydeco: <honza cervenka> Euwe probably figured that white had too many threats and he needed the queen for defense. But I agree: 29....Qxc3 30.dxe5 Nxe4 31.Rxa6 Qc4! and it looks like he stops all of white's ideas.
Jul-12-13  thomastonk: From Euwe's book on this world championship tournament (translated from the Dutch): "29.. Qf8! 29.. Qxc3 is too risky: 30.dxe5 and then

1) 30.. Rd7 <line omitted>

2) 30.. Nxe4 31.e6

2a) 31.. Rf8 <line omitted>

2b) 31.. Rf6 <line omitted>."

So, it seems that he missed in variant 2 the advantageous moves 31.. Rf5 and 31.. Nxg3+ 32.hxg6 Rf6. This is reproducible, I think, because both continuations allow a check on d8.

Btw, Golombek in his book writes: "The tempting 29. .... QxP fails ..." and though he has several lines, it seems that he missed the same moves, because in variant 2 he considers only 31.. Rf8.

Jul-12-13  offramp: Euwe could miss quite a lot in analysis. In Euwe vs Reshevsky, 1938 he misses a fairly obvious mate in 2 while sitting at home with his bong.
Jul-12-13  thomastonk: <offramp> Yes, no doubt, you are right: Euwe blundered a lot. But in this special case I would guess that the winning moves seem to be counter-intuitive for many strong players. The rook moves forward, forcing the check on d8, and then backwards to f8, and only then it turns out that White has nothing better than to return with the queen to d1. The outcome of this 'simple' manoeuvre is the gain of a tempo, because Black's rook is no longer attacked on f7. However, selective human brains tend to exclude such subtleties, in particular, if the problem is a few moves ahead.
Jul-13-13  zydeco: I think the point is that, after 31.....Rf6 (in the variation starting with 29....Qxc3), white has 32.Qd8+ Rf8 33.Rd1 (threatening e7). But even then black has 33....Qf6 (maybe other moves too) and he can force a draw after 34.e7 with 34....Nxg3+ (not .....Qf1+?? 35.Rxf1!) 35.hxg3 Qh6+.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Both players had ended the first lap in the Hague on a downer. Keres had raced to the lead, winning his first two games, but then lost to Reshevsky and Botvinnik, leaving him tied for 3rd with Smyslov at 2-2, a point and a half behind Botvinnik.

The first lap had gone far worse for Euwe, who lost all four of his games and was mired in the cellar at 0-4.

The above notwithstanding, this 6th round game between Keres and Euwe was a tough fascinating and reasonably well-played contest. They squared off in a variation of the Ruy Lopez they both knew well and handled creatively. Ultimately, Euwe outplayed Keres and achieved winning chances if not a theoretically winning position.

Euwe seemingly missed his chances, and agreed to a draw in a position in which he had, at the very least, the superior prospects. Euwe later said that he offered a draw (an offer Keres accepted) "out of fear that I would mess up the position in time-trouble..." Given what had happened in his first four games, Euwe was probably happy to get on the board.

This game, as it turns our, was the only one of the five Keres-Euwe games at the 1948 World Championship tournament that Keres did not win. It was his success against Euwe that allowed him to tie Reshevsky for third place.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 Be7
6. Qe2

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The Worrall Attack, instead of the more usual 6. Re1. The Worrall was played only this once in this 1948 World Championship Tournament but was well-known to both Keres and Euwe. Keres in particular was an aficionado, having played this line as both White and Black. On the face of it, Euwe might thus seem to have been at a disadvantage. However, and as will be seen, he had prepared a novelty.

6... b5

The normal move here as it is after 6. Re1. Black can get into trouble with 6...0-0: 7. BxN dxB (7...bxB is slightly better, though White still gets the best of the opening: 8. Nxe5 Re8 9. Nf3 Bb7 10. e5 Nd5 11. d4 c5 12. c4 Nb6 13. d5 d6 and Black regains his pawn but has a passive position) 8. Nxe5 and now Black has nothing better than 8...Bd6 or 8...Re8, since 8...Qd4 9. Nf3 gives White a clear edge (and Black losses two pieces for a Rook if he tries 9...Qxe4? 10. QxQ NxQ 11. Re1 Bf5 12. d3 Bb4 13. dxN BxR 14. exB.

6...d6 is also sound but can lead to tricky play, e.g., 7. d4 b5 8. dxe5 bxB 9. exN Bxf6 10. Qc4

7. Bb3 0-0

The passive 7...d6 is also playable. But the text presents possibilities similar to those in the Marshall counter-gambit after 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3.

8. c3

8. d3; 8. Nc3; 8. d4; and 8. a4 are all possibilities. But the text leads to the exciting lines. Keres had played this move four times before this game and won all four. He was to continue to play 8. c3 here even after this game.

The position was now:

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8... d5!

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8...d6 is also playable (and Keres said that it yields "Black a position with easier problems to solve"), but the text is even stronger here than in the normal Marshall Counter-Gambit after 6. Re1. Interestingly, Keres himself had played 8...d5! at least three times before this game. Euwe had also played 8...d5 before, so we now get treated to opening play in a complex position in which both sides were prepared to the hilt.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9. d3?!

Keres backing down from the sharp lines following 9. exd5?!

The earlier line beginning with 9. dxe5 leads to positions for Black that are better than the analogous positions in the Marshall, i.e., 9...Nxd5 10. Nxe5 NxN 11. QxN Nf6 12. d4 Bd6 and Black has at least full compensation for the sacrificed pawn. Black can also achieve approximate equality with 10...Nf4 ( a line discussed by Horowitz and Keres in their commentary on this game) 11. Qe4 NxN 12. d4 or 12. QxN(f4). But White must be careful. Indeed, in Keres' notes to the game he also gives 12. QxN(e5)?? though this loses immediately to 12...Bd6 13. Qe4 Qh4! 14. Kh1 Bh3!! 15. g3 Rae8 16. gxQ RxQ and White is completely busted.

9. d3 may look harmless, but it left the following:

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But looks can be deceiving. Keres knew the text well. He had won a fine game against Foltys (as Black!) at Salzburg 1942 (as reported by Golombek) 9...Bg4 10. dxN e4 11. e4 exN 12. gxB Bh5 (12...Bh3 may be better) 13. Bf4 Re8 14. Be5 (14. Bg3 may be even better) Bd6 15. Nd2 BxB 16. dxB Nd5.

Meanwhile, at Munich 1942, Alekhine had won a good game as White with 9. d3.

The game can get very sharp, and those unfamiliar with this variation should beware.

9... d4

Junge has played 9...dxe4 in the above-referenced game against Alekhine. This on its face is not bad, but Alekhine got the better position after Junge's less than stellar play: 10. dxe4 Bg4?! (Black has approximate equality with 10...Rb8) 11. h3 Bh5 (Black is still basically OK with 11...BxN) 12. Bg5 (12. Bc2 is stronger) Ne8 (Black can get equality with 12...h6) 13. BxB BxN 14. QxB NxB leaving White slightly better placed.

After 9...d4, the position was:

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10. cxd4

As recommended by Alekhine.

The main alternative is 10. h3. As Horowitz said, 10. h3 "keeps the position closed" while the text "risks complications" but is "not out of Keres' character."

The position was now:

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10... Nxd4

The two alternatives were 10...Bg4 and 10...exd4

10...exd4 was a sound alternative (Keres said it "deserved attention"). 11. Bg5 leaves an even position. The sharper 11. e5 Nd5 12. Qe4 Be6 (as recommended by Keres) is unclear and provides fascinating possibilities for both sides.

10...Bg4 is a crucial variation. Keres called it "not fully satisfactory." Horowitz said it was "still to be investigated." Golombek said it "just fails."

Let's see: 10...Bg4 11. dxe5. Now:

(A) 11...Nd7 12. Nc3 (better than Keres' 12. Be3) leaves White, with his extra pawn or two, better situated.

(B) 11...Nxe5 is OK for Black: 12. d4 (Keres' move; 12. Rd1 is probably best after which Black is in reasonable shape with 12...c5) BxN (or 12...Nc6) 13. gxB and now Black is fine with the simple 13...Nc6 (much better than Keres' Qxd4 14. Rd1 followed by 15. Be3 and White, despite his isolated doubled pawns, has the better game with his two Bishops)

11. NxN QxN

11...exN is also OK (Keres claimed that after 11...exN 12. f4 would yield White "a dangerous initiative," but with 12...Bg4 Black looks fine. In this line, White's best are 12. a4 or 12. Bg5, but neither gives White much of an edge.

12. Be3

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

12... Qd6

The last diagrammed position had been reached in Keres--Lilienthal, Parnu 1947. Keres prevailed after 13. Nc3 (13. a4 may be even stronger--KEG) c6 [Keres called this a blunder and recommended 13...Be6, but 13...c6 was fine and White gets the better game after 13...Be6 14. BxB fxB 15. Rfd1; best is probably 13...Bb7) 14. h3 Nd7 15. Rac1 Bb7 16. Qh5 (16. Rfd1 would be much better) Bd6 (16...Bc6 was stronger) 17. Ne2 with some advantage to White.

The game against Lilienthal was not won because of the opening, but Euwe was a fine opening theoretician, and produced the superior text (12...Qd6), after which the position was:

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13. Nc3

"Hoping for a continuation similar to the Parnu game" (against Lilienthal)(Golombek)

13. f4 would not have been good; though not as bad as Golombek suggested: 13. f4 Ng4! 14. Nc3 (not Golombek's 14. fxe5 Qxe5 15. Bf4 Qf4+) NxB 15. QxN exf4 16. Qxf4 Qd4+ 17. Kh1 Be6 with better prospects for Black.

Golombeck wrongly rejected 13. Rc1 (which may well be best) because of 13...Ng4 14. Bc5? Qh6 winning, overlooking the much better 14. Bd2 with about equal chances.

13... Be6


"Black much neutralize the influence of the strong b3-Bishop, as otherwise White would obtain strong pressure [because of] of his control of the open c-file and the d5-square." (Keres)

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Thus, Euwe--despite Keres' prowess in playing the White side of the Worrall Attack, had obtained a fully satisfactory and approximately equal position.

14. BxB


"Obvious but not good owing to Black's reply. Better is 14. Bc2." (Golombek)

"Good alternative is 14. Bc2." (Euwe)

Keres claimed that 14. Bc2 would have protected d3 (was this really necessary?) and properly prepared for f4.

But all this trashing of 14. BxB is based, so far as I can see, on an overestimation of the merit of Euwe's response.

15... fxB


"The central doubled-pawns are extremly strong and Black now has the upper hand." (Golombek)

"Now Black no longer has anything to fear. The doubled pawns protect important central squares, while any White attack along the open f-file will be doomed to certain failure in advance." (Euwe).

Actually, it is far from clear that the text was superior to 14...QxB.

More balanced assessments were provided by:

"Black deprives White's pieces of the support points d5 and f5, and at the same time opens the f-file for counterplay against the Kingside. Naturally also possible was 14...QxB, but then 15. f4 exf4 16. Rxf4 would have given White some attacking chances on the half-open f-file." (Keres)

And best of all:

"Double-edged, a weakened Pawn position in return for an open game and counterplay. There is nothing wrong with the positional 14...QxB." (Horowitz)

Much of the criticism of 14. BxB and the praise bestowed on 14...fxB?! seems to stem from the fact that Euwe soon wound up with the better game, leading commentators to bend over backwards to explain how this occurred by downgrading Keres' moves and going into raptures over some of Euwe's maneuvers.

After 14...QxB, the game would be about equal. That is about the best that can be said for Black's chances after 14...fxB, the position now being:

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Keres did indeed get into difficulties presently, but not because of 14. BxB 14...fxB. Indeed, the doubled Black e-pawns disappeared after Keres' next move.

All in all, to this point the game had been an exciting opening battle. While I slightly prefer White at this point because of the isolated doubled Black e-pawns, Keres' overall assessment that "the position is roughly equal" seems correct. In light of what followed, the weakness of the Black e-pawns quickly became moot.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

15. f4


"The typical break, which oddly enough seems to be the point of transition from tenable to difficult." (Horowitz)

"The thrust is premature and gives Black a comfortable game." (Keres)

Notably, Keres then backed off and said that the text forces White "to accept a quick equalizing of the position" (suggesting that the text was not all that bad).

While the text did not accomplish much (and allowed Black to rid himself of his isolated doubled-e-oawn), there were in fact no alternatives that would have given White more than at best a modest edge.

(A) 15. a4, advocated (according to Keres) by Boleslavsky) is (again according to Keres) not very dangerous" since Black can just play 15...Qb4. But this allows White to get much the better game with 16. Rfc1, The better response is 15...b4 16. Na2 c5 after which Black is fine.

(B) 15. Rad1 (the choice of Horowitz and Keres) is indeed an improvement on the text, but their follow-up is doubtful: 15. Rad1 c5 (15...Rad8 or 15...Rfd8 may be slightly better) 16. f4?! allows Black to get the better game after 16...exf4 17. Bxf4 Qd7. White should just play 16. Rd2 with a small edge.

(C) 15. Rac1 or 15. Rfd1: simple and sound, giving White a small advantage, yet not mentioned by any of the commentators.

15... exf4
16. Bxf4

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16... e5

Fighting for space. But perhaps the solid 16...Qd7 was best. It seems to give Black a small edge.

The text (16...e5) did put the question to Keres' Bishop and compelled him to make an important choice:

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17. Bg3

Perhaps the weakest of the possible Bishop moves. As Keres aptly said, "The attack on the e5-point intended by this move does not lead to anything."

Golombek and Euwe both preferred 17. Bg5, though Golombek admitted that Black would then still be for choice.

17. Be3, pointing towards both wings (a move mentioned only by Keres) looks best.

17... Rad8
18. Rad1 Qe6

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"To meet the threat of 19. d4 and at the same time threatening in turn to win a pawn by 19...b4." (Golombek)(see similarly Euwe)

"Opening up the path for the Bishop to come to c5, and simultaneously attacking the a2 pawn, in some lines using the threat of b4." (Keres)

19. Rf5

Keres said that 19. b3 was better, but Black would definitely have the better chances after 19...Bc5+ 20. Kh1 Bd4.

The text is not all that bad, though White might have played instead the simple 19. Qc2 or the prophylactic 19. h3.

19... Bc5+
20. Kh1

As Euwe pointed out, 20. the seemingly plausible Bf2 would run into 20...BxB+ 21. QxB b4! after which White would be in trouble.

After 20. Kh1, the position was:

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To this point, both players had done well, though Euwe had emerged with a small advantage. From here, however, play became complicated and Keres slowly but surely got himself into major difficulties.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

20... Bd4

The commentators fall all over themselves in trumpeting their approval of this strong move.

"Once more threatening b4." (Golombek)

"Black has not only defended his weak points, but also threatens a penetration on the Queen's wing." (Horowitz)

"Black's Bishop now stands excellently and the pressure against White's queenside assures him of at least equal chances. Now White had to look for a way to simplify the position in order to maintain equality." (Keres)

But perhaps these fine commentators have forgotten Lasker's maxim: "Why you see a good move, look for a better one." (or words to that effect).

Here, 20...Nd7 both preserves the chance to attack White's Queenside while defusing any pressure Keres may have hoped to bring on that wing.

The text, however, was soon crowned with success when Keres erred badly on his 22nd and 23rd moves.

21. Bh4

Keres might have gone to work immediately on the f-file with 21. Rdf1.

21... Rd7

As Golombek noted, 21...b4 immediately allows White good counterplay via 22. BxN [not, as Golombek also noted, 22. Nd5? NxN 23. BxR RxB 24. Qg4? [24. Rf3 Nf4 25. Qc2 c5 26. b3 Bc3 is "better" than Golombek's line for White but still hopeless) Nf6 and White is busted] RxB 23. RxR QxR 24. Nd5 Qd6 and while Golombek's claim that White here has achieved "complete equality" is a bit of an overstatement, he is far better than after Euwe's actual move 21...Rd7.

After 21...Rd7 the position was:

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Thus far, though Euwe had obtained the better position, neither side had committed any serious blunders. That all changed here:

22. Rc1?


"White neglects to take this opportunity to simplify the position...Now he gradually finds himself in a losing position." (Euwe)

"...hoping for a miracle from his adversary." (Keres)

Golombek recommended simplifying beginning with 22. BxN, but this was not entirely satisfactorily (though much better than the text): 22. BxN RxB (the intermediate move 22...g6 was perhaps somewhat better than Golombek's move, e.g., 23. Rf3 RxB) 23. RxR QxR 24. Nd5 (24. Rf1 looks better) Qe6 (24...Qd6 is slightly better) 25. a3? [This should lose. White must play 25. b3 or 25. Rf1) c6 (missing the winning 25...Rf7! 26. Ne3 "...with the worse but still tenable game" (Golombek).

White's best chance here lies with 22. Rdf1 (a move Euwe said was still probably sufficient for a draw). Then, after 22...Rdf7, White should play not Horowitz' 23. a3? (after which Black has excellent winning chances with 23...g6 24. RxN RxR 25. BxR 26. RxR QxR and it would take a miracle to prevent Black from penetrating) but Keres' suggested 23. BxN! RxB 24. RxR RxR 25. RxR QxR 26. Nd5 (26. g3 is even stronger and a better way to equalize) Qg5 "...with a draw the likely outcome" (Keres).

Not to be a spoilsport, but at the end of Keres' line Black retains real winning chances with the better 26...Qf7!

22... Rfd7

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23. a3?

Keres may not have been lost before this move, but he almost certainly was now:

"In some lines Black was threatening to play the awkward b4, but after the text-move a new weakness on be appears." (Keres)

Golombek and Keres considered 23. BxN, but correctly concluded that it would not save the day, though their faulty analysis makes the move appear even worse than it really was: e.g., 23. BxN RxB and now not 24. RxR? as recommended by Keres and Golombek (24...RxR 25. Rf1 RxR+ 26. QxR BxN 27. bxB Qxa2 and the Queen and pawn ending looks hopeless for White) but 24. b4! RxR 25. exR Rxf5 26. Ne4 with counterplay that might allow White to survive though a pawn down.

The best try for White, however, was 23. Rcf1. Play might then proceed 23...b4 24. BxN bxN (a better try for Black than 24...RxB 25. RxR RxR 26. RxR QxR 27. Nd5 after which White is very much alive) 25. bxc3 Bxc3 26. Bh4 RxR 27. exR Rxf5 28. RxR QxR 29. Bf2 and Black's three isolated pawns give White real chances to save the game despite being a pawn down.

By contrast, after Keres' actual 23. a3?, things looked dismal for White:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VI

23... BxN?



Though Horowitz thought this move was excellent, it is hard to disagree with Keres that Black should definitely not exchange off such a strong Bishop (although it was an overstatement for Keres to say that "White now does not have any difficulties in obtaining equality."

The harder question is what Black should play. As Golombek pointed out, 23...c6 is wrong--although the way to exploit that is with the simple 24. Rcf1 and not with Golombek's 24. Qc2 which gets crushed by 24...Ng4.

Keres is also correct that 23...Qb3 lets White off the hook, though his analysis of that move had some significant flaws. He gives 24. BxN, which seems to allow White to hold after 24...RxB 25. RxR RxR 26. Nd5!, though Black could make things tougher here with 26...Rf7 in lieu of Keres' suggested 26...Rf2 which makes things easy for White with 27.Rf1! or Keres' 27. Qg4. In fact, after 23...Qb3 White has a better route to salvation with 24. Nd1 (i.e., 24...c5 25. Bf2).

But the real killer for Black here is Keres' 23...g6. As Keres shows, 24, RxN RxR 25. BxR RxB 26. Rf1 RxR+ 27. QxR BxN 28. bxB Qd6 results in a Queen and pawn ending in which Black's weak pawns must fall. White can make things harder for Black with 24. Rff1 or 24. Rf3 (rather than Keres' 24. RxB), but Black still comes out on top.

After 23...BxN?, Keres had to decide how to recapture:

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24. bxB

Keres' judgment here was correct. The more natural looking 24. RxB runs into trouble after 24...Nd5! 25. RxR QxR (Golombek's move, which is muct better than Horowitz' 25...RxR which lets White escape with 26. exN Qg4! 27. Qe1 QxB 28. Qc1) 26. Rc1 Nf4 and now White must play 27. Qd1! rather than Golombek's 27. Qf3? which gets crushed by 27...Qb3).

24... Nd7

"Threatening both Qh6 and Qb3." (Golombek)

Horowitz claimed that this move wins in light of White's weak pawn configuration on the Queen's side, but matters are no longer so easy for Black.

Keres correctly pointed out that the immediate 24...Qb3 would not have been better: 25. Rxe5 Qxa3 (not 25...Ng4? which lets White escape with Keres' 26. Qf5!), though even here White must take great care since Keres' 26. Qe1 (the saving move is 26. Rf1!) loses to Ng4 27. Rf5 which--Keres' claim to the contrary notwithstanding, loses to 27...Qd6! 28. Bg3 Qxd3 29. RxR (there is nothing better) RxR 30. e6 (the best try) h6.

25. RxR RxR

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26. Bg3?


"Losing a pawn for no compensation." (Golombek)

"The pawn sacrifice is not justified and again unduly jeopardizes White's position." (Keres)

But the saving move for White is not easy to find.

26. d4? fails to 26...Qh6 (Golombek and Euwe; 26...exd4 also seems to win) 27. Qe1 and now 27...exd4 which is even better than Golombek's 27...Rf4 which still seems to win after 28. Bg3 (better than Golombek's 28. g3) Rxe4!

26. Qc2, suggested by Horowitz, Euwe, and Keres (who strangely claimed it led to "complete equality") may or may not save the day for White after 26...Qd6 27. c4! (and not Golombek's 27. Ra1? which loses straight off to 27...Nc6--stronger than Golombek's 27...Qxa3, which probably also wins) Qxa3 28/ cxb5 axb5 29. h3 Nc5 30. Kh2 Nb3 after which White will have--at most--an uphill battle to save the game, the position being:

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Returning to the actual position after 25...RxR, the only saving move for White seems to be 26. Rb1 (a big thank you to Fritz and Stockfish) which appears to hold in all variations (e.g., 26...Qd6 27. a4!).

After 26. Bg3?, the position was:

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26... Qb3

"Now Black wins at least a pawn in a good position." (Euwe)

"White is no longer able to protect the a3 pawn." (Keres)

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VII

27. d4?!

"This thrust in the center represents his only counter-chance. Black has to defend himself very accurately against the following attack." (Keres)

Since the text ultimately seems to fail--though over the board it must have been very difficult to meet--perhaps passive defense was best. None of the commentators mentioned 27. h3 (the choice of Fritz and Stockfish), but it may well be White's best chance to survive e.g., 27...Qxa3 28. Qe1. I still think Black should win in the end, but I was not able to do so against my silicone friends. 27. h3 does seem to give White the most difficulties. I would bet that Korchnoi would have found this over the board.

27... Qxa3

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28. Qd1?

This eased Euwe's task. The best chance lay in 28. Qe1 which, as Golombek pointed out, is the best defensive move, and--as Euwe noted--the Queen is better placed here on e1.

Golombek gave a luke-warm defense of the text, saying that it:

"...holds out the possibility of attack on the diagonal a2..g8"

Golombek went on to note that, in choosing between the defensive 28. Qe1 and the move active text "Keres, typically, chooses the offensive."

28... Nf6


"An unpleasant turn for White that transfers the Knight to e4, with all the consequences that this entails." (Euwe)

As Keres points out: 28...Qe7 (29. exd5 [or perhaps better still 29. h3 or 29. Qe2--KEG] Nxe5 30. Qd5) or 28...Qd6 (and now 29. h3 instead of Keres' 29. Qb3 c5) leave Black's win very much in doubt.

After 28...Nf6!, Black seemed to have the game well in hand:

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29. Ra1?

After this error, Euwe should have registered his first victory in this tournament.

Stiffer resistance would have been offered by Keres' later suggestion of 29. dxe5, Golombek's contrary view notwithstanding. This still loses, but it makes Black's task much more difficult.

After 29. dxe5, White has no difficulties after Keres' suggested 29...Rd7? 30. Qf1 Nxe4 (30...Ne8 or 30...Nh5 are no better) 31. e6!

Black has to play 29...Nxe4 (Golombek's move--also noted by Keres) 30. e6 [Keres' move which is far better than Golombek's 30. Qd8+ which loses immediately to 30...Rf8 (30...Qf8 is probably even quicker) 31. Qd5+ Kh8 and now 32. QxN loses to 32...Qxc1+ 33. Qe1 Rf1+ and mate next move while 32. Rg1 gets crushed by 32...NxB+ 33. hxN Qxc3] 30...Rf8 after which Black must ultimately win.

After 29. Ra1, the position was:

click for larger view

To present this as a problem ("Black to move and win") might seem silly. Black just plays 29...Qxc3, right?

Well, yes, but that is not what Euwe did, and this error by Euwe was one of the reasons he had to settle for a draw. Remarkably, all of the earlier commentators (Golombek, Horowitz, Euwe, and Keres) thought that 29...Qxc3 would have been a mistake (or "too risky"). The contributors on this site (including the always reliable <Honza Cervenka>) simply play 29...Qxc3. But this is easier to do when one has lots of time to mull over the position (I studied this game for more than a week) and plenty of computer back-up to make sure no tactical tricks are missed. Having to play this move with the clock ticking and Paul Keres sitting on the other side of the board is, of course, quite another thing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VIII

29... Qf8?

As mentioned in my last post, the simple 29...Qxc3 wins for Black. So why did all the commentators claim the text was best? (Euwe and Horowitz gave the text an "!")

User <thomastonk> (and later <Honza Cervenka> discovered the flaw in the earlier analysis.

The earlier commentators all considered 29...Qxc3 30. dxe5 Nxe4 (Golombek, Euwe, and Keres also discussed 30...Rd7 which lets White off the hook) 31. e6 which would leave:

click for larger view

The only move considered here in the pre-computer days was 31...Rf8, which does indeed lead to some scary play for Black in which with best play Black can do no better than escape with a draw. But, as the above-referenced colleagues on this site noted, the winning move here is 31...NxB+ (31...Rf5 also wins, as <thomastonk> points out) 32. gxB Rf6 (a tough resource to find over the board) and now neither 33. e7 [other moves extend but do not save the game] leads to mate in three after 33...Rh6+.

After Euwe's understandable 29...Qf8 (if none of the commentators were able to find the winning move at home, Euwe can hardly be blamed for missing it over the board), the position was:

click for larger view

30. dxe5?

This should have cost Keres the game. The saving move here is 30. Bxe5 pinning the Rook at least temporarily). As Euwe stated, Black after this move "retains the better chances," but the win seems to be gone.

Keres did not mention 30. Bxe5 in his commentary on the game. Golombek rejected it, but his line is badly flaws: 30. Bxe5 Nxe4 and now not Golombek's 31. Kg1? Nxc3 32. Qb3 Ne7+ but 31. Qb3! after which White can probably survive: e.g., 31...Nd2 (the best try) 32. Qe6 Nc4 (the only winning chance) 32. h3 (safeguarding the King, 32. Kg1 may also be sufficient) a5 (the only serious winning possibility for Black) 34. Rb1 Qe7 35. Qa6! NxB 36. dxN Qxe5 37. Qxa5 Rf5 38. Rd1 after which Black can probably--but not definitely--hold the tricky Queen and Rook ending.

30... Nxe4

click for larger view

Euwe now again appeared to be on the way to racking up a win in front of the home fans (the first two laps were played at the Haguee before the scene shifted to Moscow for the final three laps).

Keres characterized the above as "an odd zugzwang position."

31. Qd3

As Golombek pointed out, 31. e6 loses to 31...Rf6 32. Bh4 g5 33. h3 Rxe6 ("and White can resign)[33...Rf4 also wins--KEG]

31. h3? gets demolished by 31...Rf1+! (32. QxR NxB+)

Keres' 31. d3 wasn't pretty (for him!), but there was nothing better. It left the following:

click for larger view

31... Nc5


After the game, Euwe and Keres discovered 31...Rf5, which does appear to win in all variations (31...c6 and 31...h6 also seems to win)

After 31...Rf5, if:

(A) 32. e6 Black wins with Golombek's 32...NxB+ (32...Rf6 may be simpler) 33. hxN Rh5+ 34. Kg1 Qc5+ 35. Qd4 Rd5 36. QxQ RxQ 37. Rxa6 Kf8 38. Ra8+ Ke7 and now if 39. Rg8 (against anything else the win is easy) Rxc3 40. Rxg7+ Kxe6 41. Rh7 b4 and the two passed pawns on the Queenside decide the Rook and pawn ending.

(B) 32. QxN? Rf1+ (ouch!)

(C) 32. Qd5+ (White's best chance) Kh8 33. Kg1 (White still faces back-rank mating threats) Nxc3 34. Qd3 Qc5+ 35. Kh1 Rf8 and now 36. e6 [36. Rxa6 loses to 36. Qd5!) Nd5 37. h3 Kg8 and Black should probably win, the position now being:

click for larger view

(D) 32. h3 Rf1+

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IX

After Euwe's actual 31...Nc5, the position was:

click for larger view

32. Qe2

"Not 32. Qd5 c6." (Golombek)

This (32. Qe2) left:

click for larger view

32... Ne6

This does seem to make White's task easier. Golombek and Euwe preferred 32...Ne4. White's best then was likely 33. e6 (and not Golombek's 33. Rxa6?? which allows mate in two after 33...Rf1+; and if 33. Qd3 c6 wins) though 33...Rf6 still seems to win.

It therefore appears that Euwe still had good winning chances here with 32...Ne4 (a move not mentioned in Keres' commentary)

After the text, a win for Black was--at best--difficult.

33. h3

click for larger view

Things do now look a bit more cheerful for White, but Keres' evaluation seems to take this too far:

"White no longer has anything...[to fear], since it is very difficult for Black to make use of his weakened queenside majority."

In any case, Euwe hardly gave himself the best chance:

33... Qc8

"Black boots away his last chance." (Horowitz)

33...Qa8, as Keres agreed, was indeed better. Whether is wins (as Horowitz claimed), however, is a tough call. It does seem to win against Horowitz' weak suggestion of 34. Qa2 in light of 34...Qc6 35. Qxa6 Rf1+ 36. Kh2 QxQ 37. RxQ Kf7 after which White's cramped King-side formation may cost him the game, but 34. Ra3 seems to give White decent chances to hold on despite the pawn minus.

In any case, it appears from what follows that Euwe was ready to throw in the towel by this point and give Keres his half-point:

34. Qa2

34. Kh2 may have been slightly better. The text was, in any case, better than 34. c4 c6 as Golombek noted.

After 34. Qa2, the position was:

click for larger view

Here, Euwe, fearing that he might blunder away another game in this (for him) miserable tournament, agreed to a draw.

Objectively, he may have been right, since a win for Black is difficult to prove. But practically, with a pawn to the good, it is surprising (his fears of another disastrous blunder notwithstanding) that he didn't play on and try to give his Dutch fans reason to cheer.

If there is a win to be had, the best chance (as previously discussed on this site) is 34...Rf8.

34...Ng5 looks tempting, but as has already been shown by contributors here White now draws with 35. Bh4 (or probably 35. Kh2 as well).

34...Rf5 also does not seem to win (e.g., 35. Qd5 c6 36. Qa2 Rf8 37. Kh2).

Euwe must have been happy to get on the board and break his losing streak. But this was another missed opportunity for him in a tournament he must have wanted to forget.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Keres occasionally used the Worrall Attack (6 Qe2). 8..d5!? is a sharp double edged line that has scored well for Black and seems to be one the reasons that the Worrall Attack is not more popular. Euwe gets a decent position out of the opening here and has all the winning chances in the middle game that follows.

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