Talk:Paul Keres

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Forced to throw games?[edit]

I've added {{Fact}} to the comment that KGB files reveal he was forced to throw games. While there are strong rumours of this (especially caused by his 4 consecutive losses to Botvinnik in the 1948 tournament), and I suspect they are true, I am not aware of any documentary evidence of it, KGB or otherwise. So I think a citation is required. If there is no citation, I think it should be reworded to say that there are strong suspicions of thrown games, especially in 1948.

I'm a college student writing a thesis about Soviet Chess, and I must say there have never been any KGB files opened up that have proved this. Larry Evans and James Schroder claim they exist but have never been willing to prove that. A chess researcher named Taylor Kingston wrote an interesting article about the Keres/Botvinnik controversy and I share his opinion, that there isn't enough current information that supports a fix. I feel this whole line should be removed from the article. In fact I believe the war may have also had something to do with Keres’ play. Below are Keres' results against Botvinnik and Alekhine. Notice that his score dips during foreign occupations, against Alekhine under German occupation, then twice vs. Botvinnik under Russian occupation, finally recovering years later. Similar situations exist for other players too, including Salo Flohr, whose poor play at AVRO 1938 probably had a lot to do with the Nazi invasion of Czechoslavakia.
Keres vs. Alekhine/Botvinnik
1935-39 +1 -2 =7 (Both)
1940-41 +0 -1 =4 (Botvinnik only)
1942-43 +0 -3 =3 (Alekhine only)
1947-48 +1 -5 =0 (Botvinnik only)
1951-56 +2 -1 =2 (Botvinnik only)
Keres was also highly inconsistent. After sharing 1st with Alekhine at Bad Nauheim 1936, he placed in a tie for eighth at Dresden. After beating the world’s best players at AVRO 1938, he placed in a tie for twelfth against a much lesser field. Hague-Moscow 1948 may have been a similar downswing for Keres. Botvinnik’s triumph at Groningen in 1946, ahead of most of the world’s best players (including many un-coercible non-Russians) should prove that Botvinnik could succeed without a fix. These facts do not disprove coercion, but they do show that many simpler, non-conspiracy explanations are plausible. The5thHorseman 00:44, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
You write "Larry Evans and James Schroder claim they exist but have never been willing to prove that." If it's not asking too much, can you provide a cite for that? Not because I don't believe you, but because it would be a useful addition to the article. I agree the entire sentence should be deleted, or rewritten to begin "Larry Evans claims..." BTW, Taylor Kingston's very good articles are in the External Links. Rocksong 06:16, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Kingston says that right in his articles! That would be the site, but wait about a year and I'll be able to cite myself. Besides, I've read Larry Evans' columns; most people in the chess world don't think that highly of him as far as providing non-biased historical accounts. Kingston is one of those people. I mean, as far as these KGB documents are concerned...if they really existed, everyone in the chess world would have known about it by now. I'm fine if someone wants to leave the sentence as "Larry Evans claims...", but if you read a lot about the history of chess, many people are going to have an issue with Evans. The5thHorseman 08:00, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Defeated record 9 champions?[edit]

Searching at, I think Korchnoi has defeated 10: 8 "classical" champions (Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov), plus two FIDE champions in Ponomariov and Topalov. So Keres has defeated a record 9 Classical world chamions (a record he'll share with Korchnoi if Topalov wins the upcoming match against Kramnik). includes rapid games, but I think the Topalov win (1991) would have been at normal time controls. Not sure about the Ponomariov wins. Rocksong 06:45, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Correction. I searched their records at, not Rocksong 00:15, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
In fact, if you count the 5 FIDE champions in the last 8 years, Kasparov has beaten 11 world champions (everyone since Smyslov except himself and Fischer). Maybe Karpov too. Rocksong 09:06, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
You're right, Rocksong. It occurred to me this morning in the shower that Korchnoi had more, given the two lines of world champions now. I didn't think of Kasparov. Thanks for the correction. Krakatoa 14:36, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
Maybe it would be best to simply remove the "No other player has ..." line and leave it at defeating 9 world champions. The feat is impressive enough without having to try to find a carefully worded qualification that makes the achievment unique. 15:43, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
I am inclined to agree, and have removed it. I was responsible for the original (erroneous, as Rocksong pointed out) claim that Keres was the only player to beat 9 World Champions. I appreciate Rocksong's effort to save my sentence, but saying that Keres is the only player to beat nine "Classical World Champions" now sounds a little silly, almost like saying "X is the only player to beat three left-handed World Champions." Krakatoa 16:09, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

It wasn't until later that he found out the puzzles came from an actual game.[edit]

"It wasn't until later that he found out the puzzles came from an actual game."

I thought that statement was inaccurate and a little misleading.

Here's a quote from Keres' book "Grandmaster of Chess":

"I made my acquaintance with the game of chess very early, round about the age of 4 to 5 years, when, together with my elder brother, I watched the games my father played with his friends. In this way we learned the moves and the elementary rules of chess, and then naturally there followed the first tries one against another. How slowly, however, one penetrates into the secrets of the art of chess in this way is shown by the fact that for many a year we were quite unaware that the games of chess could be written down.Only after we discovered in the daily newspapers some mysterious inscriptions together with diagrams did we eventually arrive at the knowledge that these imported written games of chess."

So anyhow, I've updated the article and I sincerely hope that nobody is offended by the change. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:58, 27 February 2007 (UTC).

Positive or equal scores against all the competitors? (Yugoslavia 1959)[edit]

According to Keres had a negative score of 1.5-2.5 against Petrosian in the 1959 candidates tournament. I suggest to remove the part about "positive or equal scores". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:56, 29 January 2014 (UTC)


The article says of the strongest chess players of all time. Many claim him to be the strongest player never to become World Chess Champion. He was dubbed "The Crown Prince of Chess".

For one, this employs weasel words. Who claims he was the strongest layer never to become world champion, and when did that happen? And who dubbed him the crown prince of chess?

Similar claims have been made about Akiba Rubinstein, for instance. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and the aim is objectivity. If we adapt chessmetrics, Keres' 3-year-peak is among the top 30, and his 20-year peak is on place 7 (but e.g. Viktor Korchnoi is always doing better than him). So, I propose that either a measure like this is used (or pointing out how often he finished on second place in the Candidates), or the intro is cut down to that he was one of the strongest players of his era. -- Zz 13:47, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

I've seen an interview where Kasparov said he was the best ever not to win the championship. Alas, it was an Internet Chess Club interview which carried a big sign saying not for use outside ICC. Perhaps someone can find a more definitive ref. I don't disagree that the Weasel Words need to go, I'm just pointing out that refs do exist but it just might take time to find them. Rocksong 23:44, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
The trouble with Wikipedia's popularity is that when you Google to check a Wikipedia phrase, mostly all you get is sites which have copied Wikipedia. However I've found "Crown Prince" at an Amazon review from 2001 that predates this article: Perhaps the phrase is used in that book? Rocksong 07:45, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
I've added a request for citation in the introduction. I do not honestly doubt the veracity of the claim, but it needs substantiation.--Gorpik (talk) 13:48, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Done. Martintg (talk) 20:12, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Political remarks in the article[edit]

I love communism about as much as Ronald Reagan did but I don't think passages such as this:

Even after he resumed a relatively normal life and chess career, however, his play at the highest level appears to have been affected by his outsider status within the Soviet Union, which at a minimum must have aggravated the stress of playing under the watchful eye and tight control of the Soviet chess hierarchy.

belong to an encyclopedia. This should either be supported with some sort of memoirs or omitted altogether. (talk) 13:53, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

  • I'm with you on this one-that section, titled 'Dangerous circumstances', offers no references. While in my opinion, no human could have functioned as well under these conditions, there's no place for this sort of POV polemic here. Hushpuckena (talk) 07:49, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
If you want sources on political pressures on Keres, see Kingston's 1-3 part article cited at Mikhail Botvinnik. --Philcha (talk) 10:11, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

nationality of Keres[edit]

It is necessary to pay special attention to the fact that Keres wasn't "estonian" grandmaster.Firtst of all,he was soviet grandmaster because the majoriry of his games were played for the benefit of USSR.Moreover,he was a soviet citizen and he picked soviet citizenship intentionally by returning in post-war soviet Estonia.

Frank Russian (talk) 14:45, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

I re-added the Soviet Union to the infobox (don't know when or why it was deleted), and clarified that his birthplace was in the Russian Empire. I'm not sure why we can't call him an Estonian grandmaster though. We do, for instance, call Mikhail Botvinnik a "Russian International Grandmaster" although he can't have played much for Russia. A possible compromise is what we have at Mikhail Tal, who is introduced as a "Soviet-Latvian chess player". Then, how to reasonably introduce Soviet citizens is tricky (as "Soviet" never became a nationality in the same sense that "American" or "German" has become), and perhaps something that should be brought to discussion at Wikipedia:WikiProject Soviet Union. Several biographies, such as David Bronstein and Tigran Petrosian, eschew the matter by not mentioning a nationality in the opening sentence at all. I'm not sure that's a good solution though. -- Jao (talk) 15:35, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
very good,presice,objective and scientifically-grounded work as to fixing Keres's birthplace and represantation country.One of the variants suggested by you,seem workable for me,I mean the case of Michael Tal who is eschewed as "soviet-latvian".Let me object you as to whether "soviet" was less approriate nationality as "american" or "russian".I was born in USSR myself and know very well that many people thought of themselves as "soviet people" meaning by that the common sharing of their country(USSR) as well as national identity because nation and nationality are usually associated with certain territory and country,in this case that country being The Soviet Union.Still,in the West,the majority of people made no difference between Soviets and Russians.Even Bobby Fischer didn't make any difference between Tal,Smyslov,Keres,Karpov,Vaganian.He simply called them "Russians" and probably he had reason to, because even nowadays Russia is the only legal succesor of USSR.Keres was in the first line of what USSR considered to be their elite ideological trump to prove that communism was superior to capitalism at any field especially in such a smart one as chess.In this sense,Keres fought for the soviet cause over the chessboard for half of his life and invested greatly in the soviet domination at the King's game.That's why it's appropriate to precise his nationality by adding the foreword "soviet".Frank Russian (talk) 11:04, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

You're right, we can't duck it. In Keres' case I suggest "Estonian and "Soviet", as he won AVRO 1938 as an Estonian, played as a Soviet citizen after WW 2, and died before the collapse of the USSR. "Soviet-Latvian" looks right for Tal, who played as a Soviet citizen, died only a year after the collapse of the USSR and was born and lived in Latvia. I'd be happy with "Soviet" for Botvinnik as he was only 6 at the time of the Russian Revolution and I'd guess he was no longer actively teaching much by the time the USSR collapsed. Kasparov's going to be tricky: raised in an Armenian family but within Azerbaijan, has said the party boss of Azerbaijan helped him get a chance at the world championship, won the title as a Soviet citizen, played for Armenia in 2004 (see First-move advantage in chess), is now active in Russian politics. -- Philcha (talk) 16:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't give any weight to the 2004 match, or we would have to call Peter Leko Armenian as well. The team wasn't even formally called Armenia, just the T. Petrosian's team. -- Jao (talk) 16:28, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. There seems to be a lot of confusion about this event, e.g. The Poisoned Pawn is Still Looking Tasty describes it as "Petrosian Memorial, Moscow 2004." I suggest you post your last comment at Talk:First-move advantage in chess, as that article apparently needs ot be updated. -- Philcha (talk) 18:29, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Good catch. I changed it to simply "Moscow 2004", which is what Georgiev and Kolev call it in The Sharpest Sicilian, p. 11. Krakatoa (talk) 19:53, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Keres is an Estonian, his ethnicity is Estonian and he identified himself as one, I suggest looking at the first of his quotes. And please stop this "and he picked soviet citizenship intentionally", Keres didn't manage to emigrate to the West and had no other choice, you were either "Soviet citizen" or just dead. However, Soviet Union as in the infobox is absolutely correct, since he represented it internationally. Oth (talk) 20:20, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Keres is a Soviet,his ethnicity is soviet-estonian and he identified himself as one.I looked at his quotes and didn't find him claiming to be estonian.He picked the soviet citizenship intentionally because he had numerous opportunites to emigrate in the West during nazi 's occupation of Estonia.In fact,it is hard to imagine better circumstances for a man to leave a country than those that a chessplayer has,with him travelling around the World.Even in 1944,when everybody already understod that Estonia was going to be liberated by the Soviets,Keres participated in a chess tournmement in Sweden where I believe,he had all opportunities to stay.In fact,i wrote that he returned to Soviet Estonia way after its liberation from Nazis so he chose deliberately to live in USSR.That's why I think such quotes from the main article as "after unsucessful attempt to flee,Keres was harrased..." don't correspond to reality.I can quote Averbakh, he questions such accusations and states that in fact Keres had a lot of support from Estonian communist party and that a special tournement was organized by Soviets to boost Keres.See Averbakh's interview.

Frank Russian (talk) 11:21, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

He tried to escape to Sweden in 1944. It was impossible to live in Soviet Union as a citizen of the Republic of Estonia because all Estonian citizens were treated formally as Soviets. Improvisaator (talk) 11:54, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
Estonia was going to be reoccupied by the Soviets.
Fixed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
There was a famous quote from Keres in the 50's. He brilliantly won a game, and Kotov commented, "That was a true Soviet game!" And Keres replied, "No, that was a true Estonian game!" So Keres did consider himself an Estonian. Spektrowski (talk) 14:09, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Keres was no more Soviet than the French were the Germans during the occupation of France. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:38, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were never part of USSR de jure. -- Ahsoous (talk) 08:44, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Is the Russian version of his name necessary?--WooteleF (talk) 13:37, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Keres was as much a soviet and not Estonian player as conquered and imprisoned Carthagian was a Roman. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:01, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

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