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Efim Geller
Number of games in database: 2,324
Years covered: 1946 to 1995

Overall record: +844 -348 =1124 (60.7%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 8 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (306) 
    B83 B92 B84 B42 B33
 Ruy Lopez (183) 
    C92 C95 C96 C78 C84
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (103) 
    C92 C95 C96 C84 C93
 French Defense (85) 
    C07 C05 C09 C03 C04
 Sicilian Scheveningen (75) 
    B83 B84 B85 B81
 French Tarrasch (73) 
    C07 C05 C09 C03 C04
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (220) 
    C84 C93 C89 C85 C92
 King's Indian (199) 
    E92 E60 E67 E73 E70
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (178) 
    C84 C93 C89 C85 C92
 Sicilian (159) 
    B52 B64 B88 B62 B22
 Orthodox Defense (90) 
    D58 D55 D59 D53 D50
 Queen's Gambit Declined (90) 
    D31 D37 D35 D30 D39
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Geller vs Smyslov, 1965 1-0
   Geller vs Karpov, 1976 1-0
   Fischer vs Geller, 1967 0-1
   Fischer vs Geller, 1967 0-1
   Geller vs Portisch, 1967 1-0
   Geller vs Fischer, 1962 1-0
   Kotov vs Geller, 1949 0-1
   Geller vs Panno, 1955 1-0
   Geller vs Keres, 1973 1-0
   Pilnik vs Geller, 1955 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1955)
   Przepiorka Memorial (1957)
   Budapest (1952)
   Nimzowitsch Memorial (1960)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   Capablanca Memorial 2nd (1963)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   USSR Championship (1960)
   Solidarity Tournament 2nd (1968)
   USSR Championship (1949)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   Skopje (1967)
   Havana (1965)
   Przepiorka Memorial (1950)
   Zuerich Candidates (1953)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Efim Geller and 23 USSR Ch tournaments by Chessdreamer
   GellerStones & Bisguiers Collection Reduction by fredthebear
   Application of Chess Theory (Geller) by skisuitof12
   Application of Chess Theory (Geller) by Qindarka
   The Application of Chess Theory by nakul1964
   The Application of Chess Theory by Benzol
   Application of Chess Theory (Geller) by Okavango
   The Application of Chess Theory by xajik
   Geller beats the world champions and pretenders by ughaibu
   Grandmaster Geller: The First Quarter Century by Resignation Trap
   Power Chess - Geller by Anatoly21
   Efim Geller's Best Games by KingG
   Efim Geller's Best Games by alip
   Legend Geller by Gottschalk

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(born Mar-08-1925, died Nov-17-1998, 73 years old) Ukraine
[what is this?]
Efim Petrovich Geller was born in Odessa, Ukraine. He learned how to play chess as a young man, and arrived on the international scene quickly by qualifying as a World Championship Candidate in 1952, thereby earning the grandmaster title. During Geller's career, he appeared in the Candidates five more times and competed in a record 23 Soviet Championships (winning two, in 1955 [rusbase-1] and 1979 [rusbase-2]). His aggressive playing style and expertise in double-edged positions culminated in a positive score against four World Champions over the course of his career (Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, and Robert James Fischer). He also scored victories against Max Euwe, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal and Anatoly Karpov, bringing his total of World Champions beaten to eight--a record he shares only with Botvinnik, Petrosian and Viktor Korchnoi. He won the 1992 World Senior Chess Championship.

Wikipedia article: Efim Geller

 page 1 of 96; games 1-25 of 2,376  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Geller vs Kogan 1-0341946OdessaB53 Sicilian
2. Sokolsky vs Geller 1-0281947Ukrainian ChampionshipC55 Two Knights Defense
3. Geller vs M Lubensky ½-½161947Ukrainian ChampionshipC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
4. Geller vs P Dubinin 1-0321947URS-ch sfC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
5. Geller vs V Saigin  0-1371947URS-ch sfB60 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
6. Furman vs Geller 1-0411947URS-ch sfD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
7. Geller vs G Ilivitsky 1-0261947URS-ch sfB60 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
8. Geller vs Koblents ½-½311947URS-ch sfD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
9. Geller vs Sokolsky  0-1471948Ukrainian ChampionshipD38 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation
10. Geller vs V Zagorovsky 1-02619481st Soviet Team-ch finalD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
11. Konstantinopolsky vs Geller  0-14819481st Soviet Team-ch finalE67 King's Indian, Fianchetto
12. S Kotlerman vs Geller 0-1311949OdessaE70 King's Indian
13. Geller vs M Grozdov 1-016194918th Ch Ukraine (sf-group 1)D15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
14. M Lubensky vs Geller 0-1341949URS-ch sfE70 King's Indian
15. A Pirtskhalava vs Geller  1-0291949URS-ch sfA47 Queen's Indian
16. Geller vs I Aramanovich  1-0641949URS-ch sfB84 Sicilian, Scheveningen
17. Geller vs Novotelnov 0-1201949URS-ch sfC77 Ruy Lopez
18. Kholmov vs Geller ½-½181949URS-ch sfC48 Four Knights
19. Petrosian vs Geller ½-½301949URS-ch sfC01 French, Exchange
20. Geller vs Z Solmanis  ½-½231949URS-ch sfC42 Petrov Defense
21. D Grechkin vs Geller  ½-½311949URS-ch sfC85 Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation Doubly Deferred (DERLD)
22. Geller vs I Pogrebissky  1-0311949URS-ch sfC78 Ruy Lopez
23. A Ebralidze vs Geller  ½-½411949URS-ch sfD76 Neo-Grunfeld, Nxd5, 7.O-O Nb6
24. Geller vs K Klaman 1-0711949URS-ch sfC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
25. G Ilivitsky vs Geller  0-1711949URS-ch sfD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
 page 1 of 96; games 1-25 of 2,376  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Geller wins | Geller loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 28 OF 28 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <Korchnoi played all world champions from Botvinnik to Carlsen>

And all challengers from Bronstein to Caruana except Karjakin.

Jun-27-19  diagonal: In 2006, Korchnoi played Karjakin at Mexico City in a *Rapid* Quadrangular at the Mexico City Chess Festival, the event included a Guinness World Records for maximum number of games played in simuls on one day:

Youngster GM Sergei Karjakin, born 1990, top seeded (with an ELO 2672 from the classical rating list) won at 4 points, 'the Chessqueen', Alexandra Kosteniuk and Veteran Viktor Kortchnoi, born 1931, shared second-third spot, with 3 points each. Mexican GM Gilberto Hernandez (2551 ELO) from the hosting nation finished fourth with 2 points. The games were not available for TWIC.

As listed, Korchnoi has played in classical chess every World Champion since Alekhine's death in 1946!

Korchnoi has beaten nine undisputed World Chess Champions, a record shared with Keres and Beliavsky.

In total, Geller has played ten and beaten eight undisputed World Chess Champions (Euwe, and all seven from Botvinnik to Karpov; Geller also played Kasparov and Anand), and his overall record from more than hundred games in classical chess against the World Champions he faced, is positive!

Jul-20-19  Sally Simpson: ***

Editorial Comment Shakhmaty v SSSR December 1961:

"The leading Soviet players have won many fine victories. Their skill, the high quality of their play, their persistence, tactical abilities and will to win are all well known. Also well known are their modesty and openness.

Unfortunately this cannot be said of grandmaster Geller.

Having rendered considerable service to Soviet sport, he began to exaggerate this service and become conceited. This gave rise to a disdainful attitude toward his comrades and an unwillingness to consider their opinions.

Braggarts and boasters are not popular with us. As was to be expected, at the plenary session of the Ukrainian Chess Federation the comrades subjected E.Geller to justifiable criticism. It is to be hoped that the grandmaster will draw the correct conclusions."

Soviet Chess - D.J. Richards (page 168).


Suitably chastised by his comrades (and with a black mark in his KGB folder) the next month Geller set off for the Stockholm Interzonal.

In round one he faced Cuellar who finished 2nd bottom in the that event, but in their individual game he checkmated Geller!

Geller vs M Cuellar Gacharna, 1962

At that moment in time Geller must have felt he had one foot in a Gulag. He recovered well and finished 2nd equal with Petrosian.


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The snippet <braggarts and boasters are not popular with us> is one I remember seeing long ago.
Jul-21-19  BUNA: <Sally Simpson: At that moment in time Geller must have felt he had one foot in a Gulag.> There was no GULAG system left in 1961. It was dismatled after the 20th party congress (1956). Haven't you heard of the "Khrushchev Thaw"?

And why shouldn't a soviet chess magazine whose editor was Ragozin at the time report that the Ukrainian Chess Federation had openly criticized Geller? Rumors about that incident were probably already being spread.

"Braggarts and boasters" are now popular with us (think for instance of Kasparov). Instead we'll go into endless discussions whether today's players are "morally justified" to draw in less than thirty moves or draw at all. Leko and Giri are the new enemies that are denying us our holy right of entertainment.

Chessplayers seem to be viewed as a particular brand of gladiators in this new Roman Empire. Like gladiators we expect them to fight until someone dies.

Jul-21-19  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Buna,

There was one Gulag left, a secret one, the Soviets referred to it in hushed tones as 'Gulag 51'. (you might not of heard of it...few people have.)

It was for boasters, braggarts and anyone disagreeing with Ragozin.

D.J. Richards relates to a spate between Petrosian and Shakhmaty on page 170-171.

In the mid 50's Ragozin mentioned that the top players were 'point chasers' and agreeing quick draws.

Petrosian wrote in the Alekhine Memorial (1956) bulletin (which was held after the Amsterdam Candidates (see below) - Petrosian did not play in the Alekhine memorial. Looks like he was in Gulag 51 noting up the games.)

"It is naive to think that is is expedient (let alone possible) for a player striving for the top place in a tournament to play every game all out, putting all his creative energy into every encounter..."

Ragozin hit back in a Shakhmaty January 1957.

"We shall limit ourselves to reminding grandmaster Petrosian that the chess masses, whom Petrosian is summoned to serve with his art, think quite differently.

Petrosian's maxims have nothing in common with the Soviet school of chess."


The date, January 1957 is important.

Clarke in his book on Petrosian (page 81) notes that Petrosian has come in for criticism for 'colourless draws.'

So, according to Clarke, Petrosian changed his style for the Amsterdam Candidates (1956) and 'he had come to play chess.'

Disaster! He played the worst move of career. Petrosian vs Bronstein, 1956 and from the first 4 games where had at one time he good positions, he scored just 1 point.

He pulled himself together with a couple of good wins including this mini masterpiece Filip vs Petrosian, 1956 but then Clarke tells us he slipped back into his old ways with a 'distressing run of eight draws.'

Could be Petrosian was saying in the bulletin; 'I'm trying but it's just not me. Give me a break.'


Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: It's often debated who was the greatest chess player never to become world champion, but here's another question: who was the greatest never to participate in a world championship? Geller, Stein, Ivanchuk, and Aronian immediately spring to mind. Others?
Jan-31-20  Petrosianic: Well, Rubinstein, of course.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Yes, well there are lots of names from the pre-FIDE era: Rubinstein, of course, and Maroczy and Pillsbury and Flohr, and Fine and even Reshevsky.
Sep-30-20  SymphonicKnight: Since Reshevsky participated in the 1948 Match Tournament for the World Championship against Botvinnik (who became world champion by winning it), I don't think we can include him in the list of best players never to have played for the title.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Reshevsky was also facing Smyslov, Euwe and Keres; tournament and match play are not quite the same.
Aug-31-21  tonsillolith: <Speaking of look-alikes, I always thought Robert Vaughn looked like Efim Geller:>

I've always thunk Geller looked like Jim Belushi.

Nov-13-21  Albertan: Geller’s “Magister Ludi “ moment:

Nov-14-21  Ron: <Eggman: It's often debated who was the greatest chess player never to become world champion, but here's another question: who was the greatest never to participate in a world championship? Geller, Stein, Ivanchuk, and Aronian immediately spring to mind. Others?>

In the FIDE era, I submit Bent Larsen. This website claims that at Larsen's peak he was #3 in the world, behind Fischer and Spassky:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: You could probably make a case for Akiba Rubinstein and Paul Keres too
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Correction Keres did play in the 1948 event didn't he.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Paul>, indeed he did, with losses to Botvinnik in the first four cycles before booking a win after Botvinnik had already wrapped up matters.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <Eggman: It's often debated who was the greatest chess player never to become world champion, but here's another question: who was the greatest never to participate in a world championship? Geller, Stein, Ivanchuk, and Aronian immediately spring to mind. Others?>

<In the FIDE era, I submit Bent Larsen.>

Well, Larsen, Geller, Stein and other greats of FIDE era participated in zonal, interzonal and candidate tournaments and matches regularly, and so it is not correct to say that they never participated in a world championship.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I think that Rubinstein had solid chance to become world champion, if he would have played match against Lasker in 1912.
Nov-15-21  Nosnibor: <Honza Cervenka> I agree with you point concerning Rubinstein, but I believe raising the stakes to play was the problem why such a match never happened. Also after this time with the advent of the great war approaching his strength dipped ,witness his poor result in St Petersburg 1914. Another player who briefly shone and could have had a genuine chance before 1898 was Charousek who had beaten Lasker in the last round of the 1896 Nuremberg Congress. However ill health and money prevented such a match taking part.
Nov-15-21  Olavi: The Lasker - Rubinstein match was agreed on and scheduled for autumn 1914.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: The Chess World is poorer for a Rubinstein - Lasker match not haven't taken place. The same could be said of a Capablanca - Alyekhin rematch and a Fischer - Karpov clash. One can only lament on what could have been.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Speculating. If Botvinnik had actually lost to Bronstein in 1951 and then exercised his rematch rights what would the result of the second Botvinnik - Bronstein clash have been ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Benzol: Speculating. If Botvinnik had actually lost to Bronstein in 1951 and then exercised his rematch rights what would the result of the second Botvinnik - Bronstein clash have been ?>

Not clear Botvinnik had a rematch right then. The world may have been treated to a three-way competition among Botvinnik, Bronstein, and Smyslov in 1954. See here.

Vladimir Kramnik (kibitz #28860)

But of course if there <had> been a rematch, Botvinnik would have won. :-)

Mar-11-22  Albertan: Born in Odessa:Efim Geller:

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