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Paul Keres vs Eero Einar Book
"A Closed Book" (game of the day Feb-25-2012)
Kemeri (1937), Kemeri URS, rd 6, Jun-22
Queen's Gambit Declined: Three Knights Variation. General (D37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-13-02  bishop: White had a big space advantage,but black gave up far too quickly with 15...b5?
Jul-27-04  patzer2: Kere's 23. Be4!! prepares 24. Bxg6!! and is the solution to number 1744 in Chess Informant's 1980 Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames/Combinations. The combination is classified under the theme "Demolition of Pawn Structure" via "Sacrifice at g6 (g3).

If 23...h6, White wins with 24. Qg6 Re8 25. Qh7+ Kf8 26. Bg6!

After 27...Qxe7, what follows is 28. Bxd4+ with a quick and easy White victory.

Feb-25-12  xthred: I don't understand 20...exd4. Why not try to save the Rook on c8?
Feb-25-12  sevenseaman: Par for <Keres>. Book must have thought White N at c8 was inconsequential.
Feb-25-12  Chessdreamer: According to the tournament book of Kemeri 1937, the moves 3-6 were actually 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 Be7 5.g3 O-O 6.Bg2 c6.
Feb-25-12  dale2222222: nice pun, nice game
Feb-25-12  newzild: Yeah, nice game. Clever attack by Keres.
Feb-25-12  rilkefan: I was expecting the pedestrian 26.Re4 and checked stockfish to see if it also worked. 26...Bxc8 27.Rae1 Nxb2 28.Re8 is under +3. 26.Re7 is best, with mate in 9. Black can stay unmated longer after 26.Ne7 after ...Bd3 though he's crushed. 15...Qc7 was perhaps half a pawn less bad than ...b5, and 16...b4 (with 17...a4) was even more of an improvement on ...f6, after which black is pretty hosed.
Feb-25-12  LoveThatJoker: Wow! I know this may sound slightly controversial, but I can tell you with all certainty that Petrosian must have studied quite a few of Keres' games that have the whole d4/reti complex.

This game could have easily been played by the great 9th World Champ himself!


Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: A pretty little combination at the end. White's double sacrifice on e7 clears away both defenders of d4. Then Bxd4+ is crushing.

Funny how sleepy pieces (Bg2, Nc8, Bb2 and Re1) suddenly combine to whip up a mating attack.

Feb-25-12  srag: <LoveThatJoker>: You are quite right! There is something "petrosianic" in this game, young Keres (21 years old) builds his attack with no hurry and for five moves lets his bishop "en prise". Book is not fool enough to take it! Someone (who? help needed) has written about Keres and Tal in fencing terminology, comparing Keres' attacks with rapier fencing and Tal's attacks with "swashbuckling sabre charges", if I remember it right.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Look at those minor pieces on the queenside. Not doing anything to help protect the king.
Feb-25-12  Gilmoy: <xthred: I don't understand 20...exd4. Why not try to save the Rook on c8?> Book outsmarted himself: he's deliberately offering an exchange for tempi to blow up White's center.

- After <21..Nxc5> he's got PP+(trapped)N for his R, which is a decent imbalance. The Nc8 has <no escape>, so it's 3 points in the bag: no hurry (he thinks). (Getting B+PP for R is slightly better, just because it breaks up the opponent's BB-pair.)

- If Black's pawn roller ever gets going, the extra PP is winning: at the very least they'll cost White a piece. <22..Na4> seems to force Bc1, after which c5-c4-c3 is unstoppable.

- It's tough to win with Black. You gotta break some eggs, and walk on the wild side. Chasing an imbalance is a good way to avoid a dull draw.

- Book's exchange sac plan has the subtle added benefit that it lures White into self-eliminating his "rusty nail in the other knee" Nd6 (which would otherwise just camp there for a few moves and hurt like a rusty nail). He knew it was coming as soon as he forced White to play <15..b5 16.c5>. Hence he captures <17..Bxf6> instead of Nxf6: he <wants> White to play Nd6. In turn, White won't stoop to take the B: you don't settle for a flat trade when you can have an Nd6.

- Plus, his e6-pawn is hanging, so he has to offer something even better to lure White into not taking it.

Wrap it all up, and it's a deep and brilliant plan for Black, which he had to calculate from about 13. And it was one tempo short of working. If White didn't have mate, he'd be losing.

White saw all that, then saw past Black's horizon. The "trapped" N didn't <need> an escape: like Morphy's Qxf3, the N hops into a deflection-chain, which unzips Black's protection-graph.

Chess psychology: If you invest an hour to calculate a brilliant win, it's really tough and painful to spend another 5 minutes to admit to yourself that you're wrong, it's losing. Keres used Book's clock productively: what's he thinking about, aha, oho, heh heh

Feb-25-12  kevin86: Black's pieces are planted on the west wall;white's pieces are poised to attack:who wins? Three guesses,first two don't count.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <xthred> When we first learn the game we can get very hung up on material. We learn that a knight is worth three and a rook is worth five, and so on.

And for a while this is good knowledge to have. It stops us from doing anything too stupid over the board.

But to take the game to the next level we need to learn when to trade static advantages - eg a piece or an exchange - for dynamic advantages. A dynamic advantage may be a space advantage, tempi, an attack, a weakened enemy king.

In today's game Book trades material for passed pawns - giving up a static advantage for a dynamic one. And he would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for the strength of the attack that Keres whips up. <Gilmoy> describes it well.

Mind you, we shouldn't get too gushy about the brilliance of Keres' attack here. Black didn't play the strongest moves to defend. For example, Fritzie prefers 21...Qxc8 to 21...Nxc5 and 22...Nd3 to 22...Na4.

In other words, Black had a fantastic <long term> strategic plan. Unfortunately, white had a killer <short term> tactical plan that gets in first.

Feb-25-12  lemaire90: Nicely played by Keres.
Feb-25-12  Xeroxx: Reti to roll.
Feb-25-12  Memethecat: <LTJ> I'm sure Petrosian, like most others in the know, thoroughly analysed the games of Keres, the man was a genius. I've read that he suffered with bad nerves during his games, but he was still able to be "almost" the world champ. Alekhhine dodged him for 4yrs until the start of WWII. In 48 FIDE kicked things off again & Keres came 2nd, a position he became intimate with. He was 2nd in no less than 5 Candidates Tournaments. Both Petrosian & Keres sail into my top 10. Just about to start 'Art of the Middle Game' Keres & Kotov. ^.^
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <Memethecat> Seems we think along similar lines. What a tremendous player he was and what a travesty he never became World Champ. Games like this remind me ...
Feb-25-12  LoveThatJoker: <srag, Memethecat, scormus> It's cool to hear you guys bring up the importance of Keres.

That's a great reminder to never forget him and always try one's best to study his games here and there.

Right on!


Feb-25-12  bischopper: I love play like the G.M. but... always I try like them step to step... I dont know what to do... books and computers and so...
Feb-26-12  srag: <LoveThatJoker, scormus, Memethecat>

My address is , please write. I'd like to discuss some books by and about Keres. Thanks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <I don't understand 20...exd4. Why not try to save the Rook on c8?>

Bruce Pandolfini presents this game in the May 2017 "Chess Life" for his "Solitaire Chess" feature which is a guess-the-move format. Here are his comments about that sequence:

"<20. Nd6> Such an invasion surely hurts. The commanding knight is beautifully placed, and Black's c8-rook is menaced. Book's game is ready to fall apart."

"<20 ... exd4> Black decides to surrender the Exchange, trying to undermine the white center and maybe gain a pawn or two in the bargain. But it doesn't work out as possibly envisioned."

"<21. Nxc8> Keres takes the material, though he has more up his sleeve. Things are happening. More is about to happen. Let's see what happens."

"<21 ... Nxc5> For the meantime, Black has two pawns and the c8-knight seems trapped. Black's knight also has access to the square d3. But Keres has seen all of this and more."

"<22. Qh5> White's queen enters the game with significant effect. The knight at c5 is now threatened, and the position appears quite tense and lively."


Keres went on to win in five moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Octavia: Varnusz in his book on Keres closed games: 3 Nc3 does not fit into the closed system. Black's best reply would have been 5...dxc4 since he could have then completed his development whilst white was busy regaining the pawn.

why bother if he could have been world champ? He played games worth studying & that's all that matters

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