The first game in Paul Keres' book "The Complete Games of Paul Keres" is a correspondence game against "A. Karu" who is otherwise unidentified. I could find no entry for him in Chess Personalia by Jeremy Gaige.

Who was he?

  • 1
    First name is Aivi, it seems. Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 22:20
  • Or maybe not. Aivi seems to be a feminine name, so it would be strange to refer to the person as "him". Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 22:36
  • 1
    In those days, correspondence chess had a certain level of anonymity (similar to that of the internet today). Also, Keres played hundreds of correspondence games, many of them against ordinary Joes.
    – user1108
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 9:08

3 Answers 3


Investigating a bit further, we find that A. Karu wasn't quite an "ordinary Joe", he was actually one of Estonia's strongest correspondence players at the time.

He finished shared 6.-7. place at the Estonian correspondence chess championship in 1935/36: table.

He was also, together with Keres, part of the Estonian national correspondence chess team during the 1935-1939 IFSB European Olympiad: see table at the bottom of the page.

He lived in the small village of Haaslava, and he took part in a correspondence tournament organized by the Deutsche Schachzeitung: Uus Eesti 16 veebruar 1936.

  • If someone wants to maintain that he was actually a she and played in the 1997 women championship, they need to provide better evidence. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 17:15

According to 365chess.com, Aivi Karu was a female player from Estonia.

She has 12 games logged, including those with Keres, and scored 20.83%. In fairness, she played against highly rated players (elo's above 2000), so my guess is that she was an amateur player who played some correspondence, training games and open tournaments where she was inevitably mismatched.

  • 1
    This seems to be two different persons. In the book by Keres, "A. Karu" is referred to as him. This also makes sense when you consider which years the person(s) were active. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 14:48
  • 2
    @DagOskarMadsen: I would caution regarding the term 'him' in Keres' book. I'm guessing the original book was in Estonian, and was subsequently translated. Also, Keres may not have known the gender of A. Karu (because the game was via correspondence), or he may have made a typo/stylistic decision to his writing (similar to how Seirwan calls chessplayers him in his 'winning...' series)
    – user1108
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 14:58
  • 2
    Even if all of that was true, it is still hard to believe Aivi would make a comeback in the Estonian championship 62 years later. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 15:03
  • @DagOskarMadsen: With a sample size of 12 games and her not being a famous player (she doesn't have interviews saying why she made any of the decisions she did regarding chess that I know of), then it's hard to say why she went back into chess later in life. Maybe she did it to try to clean up her reputation after a well published loss against Keres?
    – user1108
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 15:08
  • Given the dates, I suspect it's two different players, possibly, but not necessarily, related. The 365chess.com link shows that she played in the Estonian Women's Championship. A search on the name returns results for a female basketball player from Estonia who would have been a young woman, as opposed to someone, who had they played Keres, would likely have been well over 80, at the time of that tournament.
    – Herb
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 0:22

The best sources I can find reference a Aivi Karu, who Keres played in correspondence chess.

Take note (from Wikipedia):

[Keres] played about 500 correspondence games, and at one stage had 150 correspondence games going simultaneously.

It is likely this was a person he played in correspondence, but we may never know who he/she actually was.

Also worthy of note, Keres was only fifteen years old when he played this game!

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