Aurora: Dennis Monokroussos writes:
In the last month we've picked on poor Efim Geller (1925-1998) twice, showing his losses to Max Euwe and Paul Keres. As he is one of the legends of the game (as evidenced by his being one of the few non-world champions singled out for a mini-chapter in Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series), we'll use this week's show to present him in a better light.
By 1979, his career as an elite GM was drawing to a close. The Ukrainian had played in six candidates events from 1953 to 1971 and narrowly missed making a seventh in 1974, but didn't succeed in making the 1977 or qualifying for the 1980 knockout matches. He had won the USSR championship in 1955, but now, as a 54 year old, his best days seemed behind him. And yet, in the 1979 Soviet Championship in Minsk, the good old days returned. After a series of seven draws, he won in rounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 and won the tournament with an undefeated 11.5-5.5 score, a point ahead of Artur Yusupov and a further half point ahead of Yuri Balashov and (a very young) Garry Kasparov.
The game we'll look at this week <is his last win in the tournament, against Alexander Beliavsky. The game, a Queen's Gambit Declined in which Geller had Black, demonstrated his excellence both as a chess player and as an analyst.> As great a player as Geller was, he was at least as good as a theoretician. According to Botvinnik, the King's Indian wasn't really understood until Geller, and he made big contributions to all the major openings: the Sicilian, the Ruy Lopez, the Slav, the Queen's Gambit and so on. <In the game with Beliavsky, Geller shows a very deep understanding of what seemed an innocuous position, and from there he outplays his opponent using ideas we ourselves can apply in positions with an isolated queen's pawn.>