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Paul Keres vs Alexander Alekhine
"Keresene" (game of the day Sep-10-2013)
Margate (1937), Margate ENG, rd 7, Apr-07
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense (C71)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: The next 9 games these two played, the best Keres could do was to draw six games, while Alekhine defeated Keres 3 times.

Overall head to head record:

5 wins to 1 loss, with 8 draws in favor of Alekhine.

Sep-10-13  gars: <perfidious>: To your remark <Spielman, Shamkovich or both?" I would add "Spielman, Shamkovich, Vukovic or "throth" ?"
Sep-10-13  gars: <sevenseaman>: I agree one hundred percent with your comments on Keres and I wonder why isn't he one of your favourite players? Who are them, by the way?
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Forced mate by queen sac.
Sep-10-13  vsiva1: 22. ..., Qf8 better for save I think
Premium Chessgames Member
  penarol: <vsiva1: 22. ..., Qf8 better for save I think > But then 23. Qxh7 winning a second pawn and also threatening Re7 and Ne5.
Sep-10-13  visayanbraindoctor: <chancho: The next 9 games these two played, the best Keres could do was to draw six games, while Alekhine defeated Keres 3 times.

Overall head to head record:

5 wins to 1 loss, with 8 draws in favor of Alekhine.>

I have a collection of all the decisive AAA vs Keres games here: Game Collection: Alekhine vs Champions & Prodigies Decisive Games

They are good chess fights, worth replaying. IMO Alekhine and Keres has similar styles, emphasizing dynamics, the initiative and the attack, and they went for each other's throats more often than not. From their games over-all, I think that Alekhine looked like a stronger version of Keres.

It's a huge loss to chess that Alekhine could not play in the Soviet Championships of the 1920s and 1930s, after winning the first one in 1920. I believe that Alekhine, with his propensity for researching strong opening lines and novelties and his highly dynamic attacking style, would have accelerated chess development in the USSR, and there subsequently would have been a bigger cohort of strong chess masters in the 1950s.

Sep-10-13  drnooo: I have always discounted any games
whatsoever by Keres when he was in
Germany during the war, especially under
the gun in regards to ole Alex: it was
he, Alekhine that was spewing the
Nazi line, so why beat the poster boy
for no particular reason. Nothing to be
I love it how people here blithely assume
chess is chess when played under the rule of tyrants. Anything is possible when you never quite know if your life
may be at stake. He was lucky to escape execution upon his being forced back into the coils of the Soviots then, a double whammy, never quite being able to escape. I have always said a Keres fled to the west, even the USA would have been a different Keres altogether.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <GSM: <sfm>--you call 20...Bh3 "the most obvious move in the position," but it was far from obvious to me. Keres didn't even mention it in his notes to the game, according to <mulde>. Maybe computers have made ordinary players too complacent about the difficulties of this game.>

Maybe they have, judging by comments very frequently observed in these pages.

Aug-20-15  Albion 1959: Very rare for a renowned tactician like Alekhine to overlook 23. Qxd7+
Jun-07-20  carpovius: Qb4... Horrible blunder
Jun-07-20  I Like Fish: a sac is way better than any nightclub...
a touchdown is way better than any bar experience I've ever had...
Nov-04-20  Justin796: Bh3 looks pretty sweet, but Stockfish made it obvious. Although once you consider moving the bishop to get to Whites queen, why not bh3. Far from obvious for a sub 2500 lol.
Premium Chessgames Member
  master8ch: In response to a Page 1 post of 16 years ago: Morphy beat Bird, Bird beat Lasker, Lasker beat Kan, Kan beat Korchnoi, and Korchnoi beat Carlsen. So it takes only five games to reach from Morphy to Carlsen. It's a bit longer if we start with "Morphy lost to" and continue in that vein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <master8ch>
What's your minimal solution for "lost to"? With 6 players, I found some near misses like Morphy lost to Golmayo, Golmayo lost to Lasker, Lasker lost to Reshevsky, Reshevsky lost to Halldorsson, Halldorsson lost to Carlsen, but unfortunately it is two different players named Halldorsson! 7 players should be easy.
Nov-19-20  RookFile: After 7. d4, most of us would have automatically played exd4, either immediately or on the next move. Alekhine played to keep the tension but on this occasion it didn't work out. I guess that exd4 is simply a better choice.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <RookFile>
Keres himself successfully tried 7...Bg7 in A Tarnowski vs Keres, 1950 so we can't necessarily fault it just by this game's result.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < MaxxLange: I agree that it is likely that Alekhine was drunk, or at best hungover, when he played this game.>

<Calli>, if the bar is still open, here's another for the <Alekine was drunk!> collection. I'm about ready to believe it myself this time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Margate is where Joseph mallord william turner began to take the world by its balls loike
Dec-16-20  Chessmaletaja: I have thoroughly analyzed the game <Keres - Alekhine 1937>, using the chess engine Komodo. There are a lot of mistakes both in the game (from both sides) and in Keres's commentaries; in Keres's book "The Road to the Top" (1996), John Nunn has discovered only a few of these mistakes.

I am of the opinion that the tactical complications of this game are out of the reach of the capabilities of human reason (at least, during the game), and that, therefore, we should study not how Keres did calculate the variations, but rather how he <avoided calculating the variations - some kind of thought economics.>

Most of the mistakes in the game have been already mentioned in the commentaries above. As it follows, I shall make only a few remarks.

<8. ♗e3?!>


"After 8. ♗g5 f6 9. ♗e3, which many people hold to be the refutation of Black's last move, Black gets a satisfactory position by 9...♘h6!. This Alekhine himself had often shown, for example in a similar position in his 1929 match against Bogoljubow."

From Keres's this and other remarks it is clear that Keres avoided those variations that were well known to Alekhine.

However, after WWII, the continuation

8. ♗g5

has been very successful for White.

8...f6 9. ♗e3 ♘h6?

This move does not belong to the list of 4 best moves, according to the computer. Nevertheless, it is in the opening books and popular.

(Better is 9...♘xd4 10. ♘xd4 exd4 11. ♗xd4 ⩲ (0.35/30) Gilg - Meyer 1954.)

10. dxe5 Δ 10...♘xe5 11. ♘xe5 fxe5 12. c5! ± (1.41/31) S Zagrebelny vs V E Adler, 1993

There is a controversy about the <roentgen> motive on the d-line. Let me note that Keres had to be aware of this threat already during the game.

<17. ♗xc6>

Keres provides this move with the exclamation mark "!" and writes:

"...he [White] avoids 17. ♘xg5 after which Black would play 17...0-0-0! suddenly creating several unpleasant threats."

Indeed, after 18. ♘f3?? ♗f5 -+ White's queen has been captured.

As after


Keres did not play 20. ♘e4? (aiming at ♘e4-f6-d5) 20...♗g4 ∓ it should be clear that he was aware of the roentgen motive.

Keres played

<20. ♘f3>

click for larger view

As Keres was aware of the roentgen motive, it remains mysterious, why he has not commented on it concerning the position shown above.

The commentators here have already mentioned that Alekhine's answer


was a mistake and both 20...♗e6 and 20...♗h3 gave Black a full equality.

My comments on this game can be seen on the board in Lichess Study:

I printed my analyses out as the PDF file. Together with all the diagrams, it is a book with 40 pages! If you are interested, you can download this file from here:

And this is not the final judgement, I have analyzed this game like the correspondent chess players are doing this, but I have not used some powerful supercomputers.

Dec-16-20  SChesshevsky: Seems Keres was able to cleverly transpose Black into some kind of unpleasant King's Indian. Maybe more unpleasant for Alekhine as it looks by the cg database, he rarely or maybe never played it.

Wonder if just the idea he got stuck in this defense caused Alekhine to tilt?

Dec-17-20  Chessmaletaja: <SChesshevsky: Seems Keres was able to cleverly transpose Black into some kind of unpleasant King's Indian. Maybe more unpleasant for Alekhine as it looks by the cg database, he rarely or maybe never played it. Wonder if just the idea he got stuck in this defense caused Alekhine to tilt?>

From Keres's book "The Road to the Top":

<5. c4>

"So, since my opponent was very well acquainted with the opening, I decided to try this seldom-played move..."

<8. ♗e3>

"After 8. ♗g5 f6 9. ♗e3...Black gets a satisfactory position by 8...♘h6!. This Alekhine himself had often shown..."

I conclude that Keres intentionally avoided those variations that were well known to Alekhine. (Actually, after 8. ♗g5! f6 9. ♗e3 ♘h6?! White stands better, the chess engines are showing.)

Concerning the King's Indian Structures:

<5...♗d7 6. ♘c3 g6>

"...Alekhine had almost without exception always employed this line."

I guess that Alekhine went wrong after

<10. ♗c5?!>

(Better was 10. 0-0 for example.)

Now, the only good move for Black is

10...♗f8! Δ 11. ♗xf8 ♔xf8 Δ ♔g7

(11. ♗e3?! ♗b4!)

Alekhine's trouble was that to play 10...♗f8 was to play for a draw, and such a move was not his style.

Apr-04-21  tympsa: I think Alechine quit drinking in 1935 after losing his title and remained alchohol free for next 5 years. Kmoch wrote about it . So his bad play cannot be attributed of being drunk . But everyone has a bad day in the office . In wartime tournaments Alechine proved that he is still better than Keres and tough opponent for everyone who would want to play World Championship match against him.

So his mysteriuos death and lopsided 1948 World Championship tournament with 3 Soviet players playing in it was real relief for Botvinnik. Stalin was of course very happy about result. Whether he had something to do with Alechine`s death or not, it worked out eventually like a charm and communist propaganda declared Soviet chess superior and invincible.

Apr-05-21  aliejin: On Alkehine's death
Suspicion, we are speculating by the way,
falls on a revenge of French groups
of resistance against those who collaborated
(we continue to speculate) or they had coexistence with the Nazis.

Regarding the drink sometimes abstinence
produces serious disturbances. Alekhine seems
coped pretty well, though as
He says it in one of his books, being "former" champion the world affected his nerves.

Jun-15-22  siimens: Yes, although Keres beat 9 world champions,
that game is remacable as the only one when he beat Alehhin
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