Chess Masterpieces: Euwe vs. Keres, 1940
While Alekhine dodges a match, Keres bests former world chess champion, Max Euwe.

Chess Masterpieces: Euwe vs. Keres, 1940

NM SamCopeland

In 1939/1940, Max Euwe and Paul Keres played a "friendly" match which the chess world followed enthusiastically in light of the current turmoil in the world championship situation.

In 1937, Euwe had lost his rematch with Alexander Alekhine, while in 1938, Keres had won AVRO 1938 on tiebreaks ahead of Reuben Fine. He also came ahead of Alekhine, Euwe, and Capablanca in that tournament, none of whom had strong showings.

Keres' victory was supposed to secure a title match with Alekhine, but Alekhine had a long history of making such things difficult. Notably, he avoided a rematch with Capablanca. Keres further victory in this match against Euwe (secured largely by winning this critical and celebrated ninth game) only cemented his status as rightful challenger.

Unfortunately for Keres, World War II conspired to prevent any world championship match, and by the time the war was concluded, Alekhine soon passed. Keres never got his match and despite staying atop the chess world for decades, he would never get a world championship match.

Setting aside the world circumstances to focus on this game, Keres takes the initiative early after some superficial play from Euwe, and after a fine aggressive sequence of moves, Keres finds a brilliant queen sacrifice and later mating ideas to beautifully seize the lead in the match.

I've annotated this game below in further depth. I hope you enjoy some of the interesting lines pointed out by Stockfish.

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