Keres-Spassky Candidates 1965: Deciding Game

Keres-Spassky Candidates 1965: Deciding Game‎

NM GreenLaser
16 | Opening Theory

Paul Keres and Boris Spassky met in the quarterfinals of the Candidates’ Matches in 1965. It was to be the last campaign Keres made to reach the world championship. For Spassky, it was his first drive that achieved a match with the world champion, Tigran Petrosian.

Paul Keres (1916-1975) had been a world class player for thirty years before the match. He won the AVRO in 1938 and was presumed to be the challenger for Alekhine’s title, but a match did not take place. He played in the World Championship Tournament in 1948 and came in third. He had played in five Candidates’ Tournaments and came in second in four consecutively (1953-1962). Keres won the USSR Championship three times (1947, 1950, and 1951). His loss to Spassky in 1965 was his only match loss.

Boris Spassky (1937-) won the USSR Championship in 1961 and 1973. He was a candidate seven times (1956-1985). Spassky was World Champion from 1969 to 1972. In the late sixties he was almost unbeatable. He tied for first place with Tal, Smyslov, and Larsen in the Amsterdam Interzonal in 1964. He had to win three matches to reach the world championhip match. In the quarterfinal, he defeated Keres 6-4 with 4 wins, 2 losses, and 4 draws. In the semifinal, he defeated Geller 5.5-2.5 with 3 wins and 5 draws. In the final, after losing the first game, he defeated Tal 7-4 with 4 wins, 1 loss, and 6 draws. In the title match with Petrosian, he came up short 11.5-12.5 with 3 wins, 4 losses, and 17 draws. In his next campaign, he defeated Geller, Larsen, and Korchnoi before winning the title from Petrosian 12.5-10.5 with 7 wins, 3 losses, and 11 draws.

The game shown was the final game of the Keres-Spassky match. The score was 5-4 in favor of Spassky. A win by Keres would have tied the score. Keres had the first move and needed to win. The opening was the King’s Indian Defense. Keres chose the aggressive Four Pawns Attack. The game is shown with analysis and game references. For another variation, without d5, see That game is considered in the ECO code as E78, a King’s Indian. This game is A68, a Modern Benoni. The Four Pawns Attack is used against both the King’s Indian and the Modern Benoni and should be studied without regard to the code or the opening name.

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