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Paul Keres vs Boris Spassky
"Don't Worry b-Happy" (game of the day Apr-09-2017)
Spassky - Keres Candidates Quarterfinal (1965), Riga URS, rd 4, Apr-11
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Smyslov Defense (C93)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-13-06  Rama: This is the first e-pawn game of the match.

They play a Ruy Lopez which looks familiar until 12. dxe5 .... It is not customary for white to give up the center like this, and after 14. ... dxe5, black has benefited from the exchanges. The white Bishops are restrained while those of black have more scope.

17. ... Qe7, surprised me; I expected Bc5. Nonetheless, the position after 20. Bb2 ..., clearly shows black's superiority.

But after 22. bxa4 bxa4, the calculus changes. Relative worth shifts in proportion as to how the pieces help or hinder the black a-pawn. The white Bc2 can control the a2-square and has become valuable; now it is in black's interest to exchange it. Thus 23. ... a3, and 24. ... Ba4.

With 25. ... Rxa4, Boris is making good progress. The Bf8 quietly supports the pawn, and now he only needs to gain control of the a1-square.

27. ... Nxe4!, gets the job done. The Bc3 is exchanged off and after 31. Rxb1 ..., the queening square is covered; the pawn is just about ready to roll.

32. Qa2 ..., and Keres blockades with his queen as a desperation measure. Strategically it is good; tactically it is bad to have your most mobile piece tied to a static preventative role. The sequence beginning with 35. ...Qg3, shows this clearly.

Just as in the last game, Keres' defensive resources crack. 38. Qb3 ..., allows Spassky to overcome the last obstacle. With 39. ... a2, it is clear there is no stopping the pawn. White resigns.

There is no good defense against 38. ... Qb2. After 39. Qxb2 axb2, 40. Nc3 ..., looks good but 40. ... Bb4!, pins it and the pawn gets through.

Spassky must have felt very good after this. Keres' inaccuracy was very slight; turning it into a point showed great chess skill.

Nov-21-07  Marmot PFL: "This and the previous are strangely quiescent for an energetic Keres!" Chernev. Maybe this was yet another game that Keres was ordered to lose.

Apr-09-08  DrGridlock: <Rama: This is the first e-pawn game of the match.>

This is game 4 of the match. Keres had the white pieces in the even games, Spassky in the odd games. This is the first e-pawn game - if you don't count game 2, where the opening was also a Ruy Lopez - Smyslov defense.

Keres won game 1 (as black in a Queen's Indian), Game 2 was drawn (with Kere's e4 opening move resulting in the Ruy Lopez - Smyslov), game 3 was a Spassky victory, playing White in a Nimzo Indian - Leningrad. The match was tied with Keres playing the White pieces for game 4. Keres deviated from the game 2 move order at move 12, playing Nf1 instead of a3, and Spassky's victory gave him the lead in the match. Spassky played the white pieces in game 5, and won another Ruy Lopez. His 2-point lead after 5 games pretty much decided the 10 game match.

May-09-09  kurtdereli: 35.. Qg3 is very good maneuver
Oct-28-10  Ulhumbrus: Irving Chernev annotates this game in his book "The golden dozen"

With White's King on the black square g1, 35...Qg3 threatens 35...Qxf2+ 36 Qxf2 Bxf2+ with check so that in reply White cannot leave the bishop alone and stop Black's a pawn by 37 Nc3

Keres plays 36 Kf1 so that on 36...Qxf2+ 37 Qxf2 Bxf2 won't be check, making 38 Nc3 possible.

Spassky then forces White's King back on to a black square by 36..Qd3+

With 37 Ke1 White's King is on a black square again so that 37... Qd4 threatens once more 38...Qxf2+ 39 Qxf2 Bxf2 with check so that White can't ignore the B and play 40 Nc3 ro stop Black's a pawn.

With Black's Queen on d4 Keres can't play his K back to the white square f1 as then on 38 Kf1 Qd1 is mate, and 38 Ne3 is not adequate as 38...Qb2! wins.

If at move 37 the White King goes to the black square g1 instead by 37 Kg1, 37...Qd4 will threaten still 37..Qxf2+ 38 Qxf2 Bxf2 (with check and so preventing 39 Nc3 to stop Black's a pawn). On 38 Kf1 Qd1 will be mate, and 38 Ne3 will have lose to 38...Qb2.

One difference is that with his K on g1 instead of on e1 White has the option of letting the f pawn go by 38 Kh1, but then both 38..Qb2 and 38...Qxf2 seem to win.

The move 38 Qb3 is probably an act of desperation or of despair, seeing no answer to the threat of 38...Qxf2+ 39 Qxf2 Bxf2 with check whereupon White can't play 40 Nc3 to keep Blac's a pawn back.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Marmot PFL: Maybe this was yet another game that Keres was ordered to lose>


Do you believe that the Soviet authoritites figured Keres would have beaten Petrosian for the title in 1966?

Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: Show me the hard evidence that Keres was ever "ordered to lose" a game.
Sep-13-11  jakaiden: Just because there is no "hard evidence" doesn't mean it didn't happen. You sound like one of the Casey Anthony jurors.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <Data>

The burden of proof is on the claimant. This is especially important for chess history, which is riddled with innuendo, half-truths, rumor, and unsubstantiated lore. As a TV "Spock substitute" I'd assume you to be familiar with this logic.

I know what you mean though, this kind of charge has been made concerning other Masters within the Soviet system as well.

I think "where there's smoke" there is usually some fire, and we certainly have Bronstein and Korchnoi leveling charges against the Soviet Chess Committee in some of their writings.

But as <keypusher> once pointed out to me with regard to Bronstein, you can't necessarily believe him just because he wrote it in a book.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: Here is an example of bona fide chess history writing on this controversy by <Taylor Kingston>, one of the best chess historians we have.

He cares about quaint notions such as "hard evidence" and "facts."

He has also done a great deal of hard work to discover the *actual* state of evidence in this controversy, both sides of it.

<The Keres-Botvinnik Case Revisited: A Further Survey of the Evidence>

Taylor Kingston

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <jess> This article, as well as the first by Taylor Kingston, looks solid, though I've always had questions in my mind about the whole business. With all the principals long dead, barring the release of documents from some hitherto unavailable source, this is what we've got.

As to Kingston himself, we were members of the same club for a while in the 1990s, and I assure you that his attitude was rather less objective in what he wrote regarding other chess topics.

Apr-08-15  A.T PhoneHome: I don't think <Marmot PFL> was being serious with his remark. Now I don't know if he is a Botvinnik basher but I didn't take his statement as a real accusation.

I myself have got the feeling that authors like to write about Keres' not-so-good games with a tragical undertone. Like "he doesn't feel normal" or words to that effect. How could they possibly know how Keres is feeling? (Keres was the man with a golden heart, I respect him)

I think <Marmot PFL> was being sarcastic (he quoted Chernev and THEN he said that "Maybe this was yet another game that Keres was ordered to lose.")

And yes, I know this argument is some years old and I wasn't originally any part of it. Just wanted to offer my opinion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I don't understand the pun.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: 'b' is Boris. He's happy because he won. The pun is also a song title of a hit pop song, I think from the 90s.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <HeMateMe> I know the song, but I didn't make the connection between "b-" and Boris. Pretty lame pun if you ask me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: it is a bit weak, not really a pun.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: excellent game, though. Spassky was a bear, in the middle game.
Apr-09-17  Pawn N Hand: <FSR> allusion to the first letter of Spassky's first name conveniently buttresses the pun's allusion to black's b-pawn - which could be said to win this game's MVP(awn) award
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: the black pawn was on the 'a' file.
Premium Chessgames Member
  norami: Yeah, but it started on the 'b' file. Those pun makers don't fool around!
Premium Chessgames Member
  catlover: "Don't Worry—Be Happy" is a Bob Marley song.
Apr-09-17  Boomie: Could be Marley but more likely McFerrin, who had a #1 hit with it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  catlover: <Boomie> Yeah, I got my wires crossed. McFerrin's hit was the one I was thinking of.
Apr-09-17  theodor: <<jessicafischerqueen>: Show me the hard evidence that Keres was ever "ordered to lose" a game.> - 38.Qb3
Jun-01-18  Nietzowitsch: <theodor: <<jessicafischerqueen>: Show me the hard evidence that Keres was ever "ordered to lose" a game.> - 38.Qb3>

You have a point there.

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