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Viktor Korchnoi vs Paul Keres
USSR Championship (1965), Tallinn URS, rd 1, Nov-22
Torre Attack: Classical Defense. Nimzowitsch Variation (A46)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Keres' quiet moves after the thunderous 24...♖xb2 and 25...♕a3+ are amazingly cool--26...♗g7 and 27...♔c7
Mar-23-04  drukenknight: yes but 29 c3 made no sense, what if 29 Re3?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <DK> 29.Re3 Qa7 with next 30...Ra8 doesn't look much better for white.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: This must go down as an almost incalculable sacrifice of a rook much like Bird vs Morphy, 1858 But to do it against Korchnoi!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 27 Ne5 shutting the bishop out of play was tempting, but bad after 27...Kc7! because the rook over to b8+ became a bigger menace.

27 Re3 must be a better defence, guarding c3 and keeping the rook from joining the attack (if 27...Kc7? 28 Nd5+ wins the queen)

Black could keep an edge by the following sequence, but it is doubtful he could win.

27 Re3 Qb4+ 28 Kc1 d4 29 Na2 Qxd2+ 30 Kxd2 dxe3 31 dxe3+ Nxe3 and Black has the two bishops and activity to balance his four isolated pawns.

Mar-03-06  Maynard5: While Keres' rook sacrifice is nice, Korchnoi's entire deployment here is poor. 15. exf6 gives away the pawn center. Better is 15. Nd3. Then, 20. Rh4 misplaces the rook. Better is 20. Bg2, although by this time, black has the advantage.
Mar-03-06  Karpova: 10...Kd8 is a notable move. Keres could have played 9...0-0-0 instead of g5 but he wanted to fight for the win - quite impressive!
Nov-15-06  RookFile: Yeah, this was a nice game.
Nov-15-06  aazqua: Incalculable?? Isn't this one kind of obvious? Trade the rook at b2 for two pawns. The bishop move creates a threat to take the knight. Either defned with a rook, or better, close the diagonal with the knight as Korchnoi did. Now the king move sets up r-b8 black wins. This isn't a deep sacrifice - Keres knew he was getting the material back almost immediately with a much better position. Even with n-b5 Korchnoi barely escapes from b*n ba4 rb8 or p*n c3 r-a8. Its sort of amazing that Korchnoi manages to escape to the endgame.
Nov-15-06  Wolfgang01: 27 Re3??? d4 - +
Feb-06-08  crwynn: Kortschnoi's pawn-grabbing seemed to get him in trouble against Keres. Who else would play his rook to h4 like that in this position?

The rook sacrifice was pretty, based on meeting Re3 with d4 - but not right away; I thought 27.Re3 d4, then I realized: 28.Nb5! de 29.Qd7 Kd7 30.Na3. I thought this won a piece for White, but actually 30...Rb8 and 31.Kc1 is forced, allowing 31...Bb2 and 32...Ba3. Still, White is more or less okay in this line. First 27...Qb4 as Tamar pointed out, with an edge for Black.

Aug-03-11  50movesaheadofyou: Some sources give 40...Rf2 0-1
Jan-24-12  LoveThatJoker: Actually Korcnoi says that 27. Re3 was indeed best for if 27...d4 28. Nb5.


Oct-08-13  jerseybob: Maynard5: Korchnoi's 16th move - not 15th - should actually be 16.exf6 E.P., since Keres' previous move was 15..f5, not f6. The score given here is incorrect. White's 16th may still deserve criticism, but there was never the option of a fluid center with pawns on e5 and f6.
Oct-11-13  jerseybob: Karpova: Keres,in his notes to the game(1966 BCM)criticizes 10..Kd8 and recommends 10..g4 first, because if 11.Nc7+,Kd8 wins two pieces for a rook.
Apr-17-15  SpiritedReposte: A neglected game from two great players. Keres just kept pocketing those pawns.
Jan-10-16  visayanbraindoctor: It's almost always worth your time to study just how master attacker Keres conducts his attacks.

He usually starts off from a positionally sound base and employing fundamental chess principles. At 15. f4, the position is in a Caro-Kann or French advanced closed center pawn structure. Keres does precisely what chess principles recommend- attack the White closed center pawn chain by challenging it with pawns at f6 and c5.

15... f6 and 17... c5

Instead of allowing a pawn storm by Black with c4, b5, a5, b4, Korchnoi decides to take the c5 pawn.

18. dc5 bc5

This however gives new positional advantages to Black. Specifically the b-file, a3-f8 diagonal, and the a1-h8 diagonal are opened.

After further development 19. g3 Bc6 we now definitively enter the middlegame. True to his style, Korchnoi tries to grab a pawn, as is pretty obvious from his next three moves. Rh4, Nd3, Nf2

20. Rh4 Rg8 21. Nd3 Rb8 22. Nf2

'Wasting' three tempi while there are open lines to your King may work with lesser masters, but it would never do against Keres, whose style is to sac and attack if opportunity arises. What is a legitimate pawn grab for Korchnoi is a pawn sac for Keres for tempo. This difference in stylistic approach may be one reason why Korchnoi never got a handle on Keres. A materialistic Korchnoi is just the right meat for a sacrifice loving Keres.

After 22. Nf2, Keres opens his a3-f8 diagonal with 22... c4. He has already spotted that the White a3 pawn is vulnerable to a Queen attack supported by his DSB via this diagonal after another attack at the base of the mini pawn chain at b2.

Kochnoi does his pawn grab, which from Keres' perspective is a pawn sac for tempo. The attack has definitively commenced.

23. Nxg4 (pawn grab!) Qe7!

Note that Keres never wasted tempo on routinely developing his DSB out. It remains in the back rank where it supports his Queen on an attack on the a3 pawn.

Korchnoi tries to give his King room to escape by 24. Re1 but it's too late. Keres the master attacker never wastes any tempo once the attack starts. He removes the base of the mini pawn chain by 24... Rxb2 and then captures the a3 pawn 25... Qxa3.

Note the position after 26. Kb1. Keres momentarily lacks pieces to mate the White king, and so he immediately clears his back rank for his KR to swing over by the creeping moves 26... Bg7 (this also develops his DSB onto the a1-h8 diagonal) and 27...Kc7. The ability to foresee necessary quiet or creeping moves while on an attack seems to be common in all the great attackers.

Korchnoi valiantly defends by blocking the b-file and the a1-h8 diagonal.

27. Ne5 and 28. Nb5

Keres decides that his attack won't quite mate the White King and he goes to plan B, eating as many of White's pieces as he can.

Sound attacks if not able to do an outright mate often results in a severe disruption of the defender's piece coordination and pawn structure. They are at their most vulnerable after fending off an attack, and often are scattered and don't defend each other. This is the secret to many of the Alekhine sting at the end of the tail combinations. Keres as with AAA before him and Kasparov after was always on the look out for loose pieces and pawns during an attack.

Although he survives a King Hunt Korchnoi is easily dispatched by Keres in the endgame after Keres eats a load of loose material.

28. Nb5 axb5 (eat) 29. c3 Bxe5 30. fxe5 Rxg3 (eat) 31. Rh3 Rg5 32. Rhe3 Nc5 33. Rf3 Be8 34. Qa2 Qxa2 35. Kxa2 Rxh5 (eat) 36. Ka3 Ne4 37. Rf8 Bd7 38. Kb4 Rxe5 (eat)

The 'eats' above mark the points wherein Keres shifts the material balance back in his favor.

Quite an instructive game- a study in different chess styles and how to conduct an attack.

Nov-27-16  offramp: Korchnoi must have been in time trouble. His 40th move is bad.

click for larger view

He played 40. Rh8. If he had exchanged rooks with 40. Rxf5 he had some survival chances.

Nov-27-16  ughaibu: But the rook was on a8, not f8!?
Nov-27-16  offramp: <Yghaibu>, Oh yeah!

I looked at the game first on chessbase, which gives 39. Ra1. Both players are now dead, so I suppose we will never know.

Jun-12-21  tympsa: Yes, chesstempo database also says game notes 39.Ra1 Rf5.40 Rh8 Rf2. Here 40...Rf2 is missing completely

Back then time control was after 40th move. Perhaps Keres sealed his 40 ...Rf2 into envelop,for adjourment, but Korchnoi did not continue the game next day because he was convinced position is hopeless ? In cases like that sealed move is often missing from game notes in newspapers and books, player could resign even from hotel with telephone call to arbiter. But in official arbiter recordings all moves exists of course . I doubt someone just made up 40 ...Rf2, which is perfectly good move by Keres.

40. Rh8 Rf2 means more trouble for white because king has to leave Ka3 or Ka5. , only white pawn c3 is lost ( black does not care much about h-pawn ). Black army and pawns are in perfect order and white to resign sounds right thing to do.

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