Chess Masterpieces: Keres vs. Smyslov, 1939
Paul Keres plays a 17-year-old Smyslov in their first game!

Chess Masterpieces: Keres vs. Smyslov, 1939

NM SamCopeland

Paul Keres defeated more world champions (9!) than any other chess player. That list includes every world champion from Jose Capablanca through Bobby Fischer.

Here is his very first recorded win against a future world champion, Vassily Smyslov. At the time, Smyslov was just 17 years old. The game was played in a training tournament in which Keres' comments indicate he clearly cared about the result, but he was also willing to play to the audience a bit.

With the opportunity to win a pawn in front of him, he selects a vivid double bishop sacrifice (same bishop!). The sacrifice is strong, but resourceful play from Smyslov and an inaccuracy from Keres almost get Smyslov off the hook before he makes a final, fatal mistake.

I've annotated this game below in further depth. There are LOTS of beautiful variations that I wasn't able to include in the video.

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Want more of Paul Keres? Check out my previous video!