This is the autobiography of Paul Keres. It is the first volume in a series of three books. The other two volumes are The Middle Years of Paul Keres Grandmaster of Chess ISBN 4871875415 and The Later Years of Paul Keres Grandmaster of Chess ISBN 4871875423. In this, the first volume, he covers the period from his childhood until his great victory at AVRO 1938.
This volume describes Keres' first brilliances and outlines his rapid development to assured and unchallengeable mastery. His victims include Botvinnik, Capablanca and the great Alekhine himself (whom he beat with a characteristically fine Queen sacrifice). Keres is probably the best writer on chess of all the practicing grandmasters. His annotations to these games form a thorough description, at once profound and lucid, of the processes of thought that go to make up a grandmaster. The quality of Keres is such as to make this book and its companion volumes a standard work on strategy and tactics - a standard work on chess itself - as well as a collection of almost impeccable classic games.
Paul Keres was one of the five or six strongest players in the world from 1935 when he emerged as a sensational 19-year-old at the 1935 World Chess Olympics in Warsaw until his untimely death by heart attack at the time of an international airplane flight from Vancouver to Helsinki in 1975. During most of his life, Keres was the number three player in the world. This unfortunate circumstance led to the top two players in the world playing repeated matches for the World Chess Championship, whereas Keres who was usually number three never got a shot at the World Championship.
Keres was a native of Estonia. He was always an Estonian patriot, even though he had to keep quiet about it during the years of Soviet rule. His picture appears on both the money and the postage stamps of Estonia. His greatest result ever was his tie for first in the strongest chess tournament ever played, AVRO 1938, a double round-robin tournament to determine who would be the next challenger to World Champion Alexander Alekhine. Keres tied with Fine and finished ahead of future champion Mikhail Botvinnik, current champion Alekhine, former world champions Max Euwe and Capablanca, and Grandmasters Samuel Reshevsky and Salo Flohr.
This result earned Keres the right to play a match with Alekhine for the World Chess Championship, a match that Keres would almost certainly have won, but World War II intervened and the match was never played.