A place to park some info and links on Paul Keres, one of the strongest players never to become World Champion.
"I was unlucky, like my country." -- Paul Keres
<"I loved Paul Petrovitch with a kind of special, filial feeling. Honesty, correctness, discipline, diligence, astonishing modesty – these were the characteristics that caught the eye of the people who came into contact with Keres during his lifetime. But there was also something mysterious about him. I had an acute feeling that Keres was carrying some kind of a heavy burden all through his life. Now I understand that this burden was the infinite love for the land of his ancestors, an attempt to endure all the ordeals, to have full responsibility for his every step. I have never met a person with an equal sense of responsibility. This man with internally free and independent character was at the same time a very well disciplined person. Back then I did not realise that it is discipline that largely determines internal freedom.
For me, Paul Keres was the last Mohican, the carrier of the best traditions of classical chess and – if I could put it this way – the Pope of chess.
Why did he not become the champion? I know it from personal experience that in order to reach the top, a person is thinking solely of the goal, he has to forget everything else in this world, toss aside everything unnecessary – or else you are doomed. How could Keres forget everything else?" -- Boris Spassky>
Wikipedia bio of Keres:
Wikipedia article: Paul Keres
ChessBase article on Keres:
Keres died in 1975 while returning to Estonia from a Vancouver tournament, which is why there are Keres memorial tournaments in both Vancouver and Tallinn.
Keres played every World Champion from Capablanca to Karpov, missed out on the WC match that would have been his by winning AVRO 1938 because of the outbreak of WWII, and finished second in so many candidates' tournaments he was sometimes called "Paul II."
Geller-Panno, 1955; Keres-Najdorf, 1955; and Spassky-Pilnik, 1955 were all played in the same round of the Goteburg Interzonal. The Argentinians had jointly prepared 9...g5 to spring on the Soviets simultaneously. Geller was the first to bust it at the board with 13 Bb5! Keres and Spassky followed suit, and the Soviets swept all three games. A few years later, Fischer played the correct 13...Rh7! to a draw with Gligoric in 1958.
"At Amsterdam in 1954 he scored 96.4% on fourth board and won another game so brilliant against Šajtar of Czechoslovakia that the Soviet non-playing captain, Kotov, told to me that it was 'a true Soviet game.' I told this to Keres who, with the nearest approach to acerbity I ever saw him show, said: 'No, it was a true Estonian game.'" – Grandmaster Harry Golombek