Efim Geller 1925-1998

Mark Crowther reports


Efim Geller one of the greatest chess players of all time died on Tuesday 17th November 1998 at the age of 73. He had been very ill with cancer for quite some time. Geller was one of the very best players from 1949 (when he made a spectacular debut in the Russian Championships) until late in his career (he won the Soviet Championships at the age of 55 in 1979). According to Tal only his late start in learning the game (due to the war) prevented him scaling even greater heights than he did. He was a World Championship Candidate from 1953-1970 and only just missed out in 1973 too. He shared second place in the Curacao Candidates tournament with Keres, half a point behind Petrosian and might very well have beaten an aging Botvinnik had he qualified for the title match. Out of more than 30 strong events he played between 1952-1980 he won or shared 11 firsts and 7 second places. You have no problems finding good wins against top opposition for Geller either as his scores against the World Champions shows (stats mostly from his 1984 book the application of chess theory except for Kasparov and Karpov). He had a +4 -1 record against Botvinnik, +10-7 record against Smyslov, +4-2 record against Petrosian and a +5-3 record against Fischer. A level record against Euwe (+1-1) against Tal (+4-6) and Spassky (+6-9) he had negative records, also with some later games he was Karpov -2 +1 and Kasparov -1 =3. A great pioneer in the Kings Indian and Sicilian he was a very respected openings theoretician. He had a good all round game but revelled in tactical complications. A truly great player.