Efim Geller- A Chess Giant!
One of the uncrowned champions of the 20th Century, Geller was a giant-slayer!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Efim Petrovich Geller
November 17, 1998 (aged 73)
2630 (January 1971)
Efim Petrovich Geller (Russian: Ефим Петрович Геллер, Ukrainian: Юхим Петрович Геллер; March 8, 1925 – November 17, 1998) was a Soviet chess player and world-class grandmaster at his peak. He won the Soviet Championship twice (in 1955 and 1979) and was a Candidate for the World Championship on six occasions (1953, 1956, 1962, 1965, 1968, and 1971). He won four Ukrainian Championship titles (in 1950, 1957, 1958, and 1959) and shared first in the 1991 World Seniors' Championship, winning the title outright in 1992.
Geller grew up in Odessa, USSR, and was Jewish. He was a fine basketball player, and earned his doctorate in physical education before specialising in chess. His development as a top player was delayed by the inception of World War II.
Geller's first notable result was sixth place in the 1947 Ukrainian Chess Championship at Kiev with 9½/15; the winner was Alexei Sokolsky. He shared 3rd–5th places at Baku 1948 with 9/15, an event won by Jüri Randviir. Geller scored 11/18 in the 1948 Ukrainian Championship at Kiev for a shared 5th–8th place; the winners were Sokolsky and Poliak.
Geller began to make his mark in the late 1940s, as he won the USSR Championship semifinal qualifier at Tbilisi 1949 with 11½/16, thus advancing to the final later that year. His finals debut was sensational at URS-ch17 at Moscow; as a virtual unknown he tied for 3rd–4th places with 12½/19, behind only winners David Bronstein and Vasily Smyslov. Geller defeated such established players as Semyon Furman, Isaac Boleslavsky, Alexander Kotov, Salo Flohr, fellow finals debutant Tigran Petrosian, Viacheslav Ragozin, and Grigory Levenfish. Despite this showing, he was obliged to return to the semifinal level the next year, but advanced with a third-place finish in the 1950 qualifier at Kiev with 9/15. At URS-ch18 at Moscow 1950, Geller made 9/17 for a shared 7th–10th place; the winner was Paul Keres. Also in 1950, Geller won the Ukrainian Championship at Kiev, the first of his four titles in that event; he repeated from 1957 to 1959, with all three events at Kiev. Geller in 1950 made his international debut at the Przepiorka Memorial at Iwonicz Zdroj with 11½/19 for seventh place in a powerful field; Keres won again.
Geller is reckoned to have been among the best ten players in the world for around twenty years. He was awarded the International Master title in 1951, and the International Grandmaster title the following year.
Geller played in 23 USSR Chess Championships, a record equalled by Mark Taimanov, achieving good results in many. He won in 1955 at Moscow (URS-ch22) when, despite losing five games, he finished equal first with 12/19, then defeated Smyslov in the playoff match by the score of +1 =6. He won his second title in 1979 at Minsk (URS-ch47) at the age of 54, making him the oldest Soviet champion.
Among his best results in other important tournaments were: clear first at Iwonicz Zdroj 1957, equal first with Taimanov at Dresden 1959, equal first with Lajos Portisch at Beverwijk 1965, clear first at Kislovodsk 1966, clear first at Gothenburg 1967, clear first at Kislovodsk 1968, equal first with Mikhail Botvinnik at Wijk aan Zee 1969 (ahead of Keres), equal first at Havana 1971 with Vlastimil Hort, equal first at Hilversum 1973 with Laszlo Szabo, clear first at Budapest 1973 ahead of Anatoly Karpov, clear first at Teesside 1975, clear first at Moscow 1975 (ahead of Boris Spassky, Viktor Korchnoi, and Petrosian), clear first at Las Palmas 1976, equal first with Gennadi Sosonko at Wijk aan Zee 1977, clear first at Bogotá 1978, equal first at Bern 1987 with Daniel Campora, clear first at Dortmund 'A' 1989, and equal first at New York Manhattan 1990 with Gregory Kaidanov, at age 65.
In Seniors' competition, Geller further distinguished himself in the early 1990s. At the World Seniors' Championship, Bad Woerishofen 1991, he tied for first with Smyslov at 8½/11. Then, in the next year's Championship at the same site, Geller claimed clear first with the same score. Geller remained active in high-level competitive chess until age 70; his last event was the 1995 Russian Championship at Elista.
World title candidate
Geller reached the later stages of the World Championship several times. He was a Candidate at Zurich 1953 and Amsterdam 1956. Geller's best result was in the 1962 cycle, as he finished second to Bobby Fischer at the Stockholm Interzonal. Then in the Candidates', he ended up one-half point short of playing for the title by scoring 17/27 at Curaçao, tying for second place with Keres. That tournament was won by Tigran Petrosian, who went on to defeat Botvinnik for the title the next year. Geller lost a playoff match to Keres at Moscow 1962 by 4½–3½, but was able to enter the 1965 Candidates' matches as a substitute when Botvinnik (defeated World Champion) declined to take part. He defeated Smyslov by 5½–2½ at Moscow in the first round, but lost to Spassky by 5½–2½ at Riga in the semifinals. In a 1966 Copenhagen playoff match against Bent Larsen, the two players split eight games with two wins each, and Larsen won the first tiebreak game to secure Candidates' exemption in case of a withdrawal by a qualified player in the next cycle. (Eventually, this turned out not to matter, since none withdrew.) In the 1968 cycle, Geller again lost to Spassky, at Sukhumi by 5½–2½, in a Candidates' first-round match. He returned to the interzonal stage in 1970 at Palma de Mallorca, and qualified as a Candidate again, losing his first match to Korchnoi at Moscow by 5½–2½. In 1973, he tied with Lajos Portisch and Lev Polugaevsky for second place at the Petropolis Interzonal, but lost out in the three-way playoff match tournament at Portorož, with two qualifying spots at stake, so he did not advance.
Beating the best
Geller represented the USSR seven times in Chess Olympiads, over a 28-year span from 1952 to 1980, and contributed well each time to the team gold medal victories. He won three gold medals and three silver medals on his board. His overall score in Olympiad play is: (+46 =23 −7), for 75.7 per cent. Chess Olympiads#Best individual results in men's Olympiads
- Helsinki 1952, board 4, 10½/14 (+8 =5 −1), board silver medal;
- Amsterdam 1954, 1st reserve, 5/7 (+4 =2 −1), board gold medal;
- Moscow 1956, 2nd reserve, 7½/10 (+7 =1 −2), board gold medal;
- Varna 1962, 1st reserve, 10½/12 (+10 =1 −1), board gold medal;
- Lugano 1968, board 4, 9½/12 (+7 =5 −0), board silver medal;
- Siegen 1970, 2nd reserve, 8/12 (+6 =4 −2);
- Valletta 1980, board 4, 6½/9 (+4 =5 −0), board silver medal.
Geller was also selected on six occasions for the USSR team to the European Team Championships. His team won gold each time, and he won four gold medals on his board. According to olimpbase.org, his overall score in Euroteams events is: (+17 =19 −1), for 71.6 per cent.
- Oberhausen 1961, board 7, 6½/9 (+4 =5 −0), board gold medal;
- Kapfenberg 1970, board 4, 4/6 (+3 =2 −1), board gold medal;
- Bath, Somerset 1973, board 7, 4½/5 (+4 =1 −0), board gold medal;
- Moscow 1977, board 6, 4½/7 (+2 =5 −0), board gold medal;
- Skara 1980, board 5, 4/6 (+2 =4 −0);
- Plovdiv 1983, 2nd reserve, 3/4 (+2 =2 −0).
According to Jeff Sonas' Chessmetrics rating system, Geller was ranked No. 3 in the world from 1962–63, and was in the world's top ten for much of the 1950s and 1960s, and broke back into the top ten in 1973, 1975–7 and 1979–80. Geller also had an overall plus score against world champions, .
Thereare so many Geller great games! The ones in this blog post will be taken from his book (highly recommended) "The Application of Chess Theory"
At the time the following game was played, Lev Psakhis was the reigning USSR Champion...but he gets a lesson from Geller!
By popular request, I include here the game Geller-Kogan, from the 1946 Odessa Team Champioship (remember, WWII had just finished!)
Comments to follow later!
Another game that gives great pleasure to watch is the game Beliavsky-Geller, Alekhine Memorial Tournament, 1975....
Beliavsky was 22 years old at the time, while geller was 50!
The young talent gets a Master Class from the great Master!
Petrosian learns from Geller also!.....
In 1976, Karpov had been world Champion for one year, but here he gets a spanking from Geller!