Happy birthday to Paul Keres, who was born on January 7, 1916. From 1935, when he debuted as a sensational nineteen-year-old at the Sixth World Chess Olympiad in Warsaw, Paul Keres was one of the top five players in the world before his untimely death from a heart attack on an international airplane flight from Vancouver to Helsinki in 1975. Perhaps his greatest achievement came at the age of 22, when he won one of the most powerful tournaments ever held: AVRO 1938, a double round-robin tournament to decide Alexander Alekhine challenger for the World Championship. The result granted Keres the right to play a World Chess Championship match with Alekhine, a match that I believe Keres would have won, but World War II intervened and the match was never played. For a few years after the war, Keres was arguably the strongest chess player alive but unfortunately, he was never granted another opportunity to play for the title of World Champion.
Here is a famous position that occurred in 1955 during round 4 of the Gothenburg Interzonal in which Paul Keres was paired against Boris Spassky. Spassky, who had the black pieces, had just played 29… N6d7. Can you spot Keres’ knockout punch?
Watch today’s Daily Chess Musing to see an explanation of the answer to this chess problem.