13 Jan

Keres Memorial


Keres was dubbed the ‘crown prince of chess’ who won both the 1938 AVRO Tournament and the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup, two of the strongest tournaments ever held in his era; and during his long and distinguished career, along the way he beat nine undisputed world champions - more than anyone in the annal of the game. He also played on the gold medal-winning Soviet team in the 1953-1964 Chess Olympiads.

He was a popular figure with invites from around the world that allowed him to play chess well into his late fifties. And Keres died suddenly of a heart attack in Helsinki on Jun. 5, 1975, while on his way home from yet another tournament triumph in Vancouver, Canada. The nature of his death - en route from winning in Vancouver - and his popularity in his homeland makes him the only player to have annual memorial tournaments in two countries, Canada and Estonia.

And the centennial anniversary Paul Keres Memorial in Tallin was surprisingly won by Latvian GM Igor Kovalenko, who took the title with a score of 9/11, half a point clear of David Howell (England), Boris Gelfand (Israel) and Surya Shekhar Ganguly (India).

GM Igor Kovalenko - GM Alexander Motylev
Paul Keres 100 Memorial, (8)
Semi-Slav Defence
1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.b3 Bd6 6.Bb2 0-0 7.d4 Nbd7 8.Qc2 Re8 9.h3 b6 10.g4 Bb7 11.g5 Ne4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Qxe4 Bb4+ If Black thinks he's getting good play for the pawn, then he's sadly mistaken, as there's no way to make a breakthrough with White's king perfectly safe in the middle of the board. 14.Ke2 e5 15.Rd1 Qe7 If 15...Qc7 16.dxe5 c5 17.Qf4 Nf8 18.a3 Ne6 19.Qf5 Ba5 20.Bg2 White has everything covered, two pawns up, better developed pieces, and now ready to strike at Black's king. 16.Bg2 a5 17.Nxe5 a4 18.Nxd7! Qxd7 Black would be in dire straits after 18...Qxe4 19.Bxe4 a3 20.Nxb6 Ra6 21.Bc1 Rxe4 (No better was 21...Rxb6 22.Bd3) 22.c5 and White's three-pawns easily win. 19.Qc2 axb3 20.axb3 Be7 21.h4 f5?! It's a difficult position for Black, but this can't be right. He would have been better going for a little relief by exchanging a set of rooks with 21...Ra2 22.Ra1 Rea8 23.Rxa2 Rxa2 24.Qb1 Ra8 - White is still much better, but at least Black has eased his position slightly, and could have saving chances here. 22.Bh3! Rf8 The only move, as 22...g6 23.d5 will lead to quick carnage on g7 or h8. 23.Ra1 The rule of thumb being material up is to seek the exchange of pieces, which White now sets about doing. And in trying to avoid exchanges, Black runs into further problems. 23...Rae8 24.Ra7 Bd6 25.Kd1 Just simply removing his king from any potential heat down the e- and f-files. 25...Re7 26.h5 Qc8 27.e4 Stronger was 27.c5! as it would have locked-in Black's white-squared bishop. 27...c5 28.d5 Qb8 29.Rxb7 The exchange sacrifice allows White to cut to the chase, what with the pawn phalanx storming down the board coupled with a pair of very active bishops. 29...Rxb7 30.Bxf5 Be5 31.h6 Bxb2 32.Qxb2 Qf4 33.Bxh7+! (See Diagram) 33...Kf7 Of course, if 33...Kxh7 34.hxg7+ Kg6 35.gxf8Q Qxf8 36.Qe2 White is mating. 34.hxg7 All roads lead to Rome here, but the clinical route would have been 34.Qxg7+ Ke8 35.Qxb7 Qf3+ 36.Kc2 Qxf2+ 37.Kb1 and Black can resign. 34...Qf3+ 35.Ke1 Qxh1+ 36.Kd2! And certainly not 36.Ke2?? Qh5+ that sees Black escaping certain death with a draw. 36...Qf3 37.g6+ Ke8 38.Qe5+ Kd7 39.gxf8Q Qxf8 40.Qf5+ 1-0

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