Saturday, May 06, 2006

Paul Keres

Paul Keres is one of the two strongest players never to become world champion (Korchnoi being the other). On the ChessMetrics 20-year peak rating list Keres is #7 (with a peak period from 1944 to 1963), ahead of world champions Petrosian, Botvinnik, Spassky and Tal.

1938 - He won (on tiebreak over Fine) the AVRO tournament to determine the challenger to Alekhine's crown. However, World War II interrupted, and a title match never took place.

1948 - He won 3rd prize (tied with Reshevsky) in the World Championship match tournament held in The Hague and Moscow, 1/2 point behind 2nd place Smyslov and 3.5 points behind winner Botvinnik, and ahead of Euwe.

1950 - He placed 4th in the Budapest candidates tournament behind joint winners Bronstein (who won the play-off and went on to draw a match with Botvinnik) and Boleslavsky and 3rd placed Smyslov, his weakest showing ever in a candidates event, which should say it all.

1953 - He placed 2nd (tied with Reshevsky and Bronstein) in the Zurich Candidates tournament, behind Smyslov (who went on to draw a match with Botvinnik), and ahead of Petrosian and Euwe.

1956 - He placed 2nd in the Amsterdam Candidates tournament, behind Smyslov (who went on to take the title from Botvinnik only to lose it back a year later), and ahead of Petrosian and Spassky.

1959 - He placed 2nd in the Candidates tournament in Yugoslavia, behind Tal (who repeated Smyslov's story by taking the title from Botvinnik and losing it back a year later), and ahead of Petrosian, Smyslov and Fischer.

1962 - He placed 2nd (tied with Geller) in the Curacao Candidates tournament, just 1/2 point behind winner Petrosian (who went on to wrestle the title from Botvinnik), and ahead of Tal and Fischer.

1965 - He lost a quarter-final candidates match against Spassky (who went on to win the candidates cycle) 4-6.

During his long career, he played every world champion from Capablanca to Karpov, beating all but Karpov at least once. He was the only player who had a plus record against Capablanca over more than one game. He also had plus records against Euwe and Tal, and equal records against Smyslov, Petrosian and Karpov.


Mark Weeks said...

1965: In fact, Spassky lost the title match to Petrosian in that cycle (1966). He beat Petrosian in the next cycle (1969). - Mark

ALD said...

Yup. I knew that. I have no idea why I wrote that. Fixed.

Thanks so much!