Soviet, Russian and Estonian International Grandmaster Paul Keres was born on 7 January 1916 in Narva. He first learnt to play chess at the age of four from his father and brother. When he was six, his family moved to Pärnu. Here it was hard to find chess literature so he improved his knowledge making notations about chess puzzles in the daily newspapers, and gathered a handwritten collection of nearly one thousand games (Wikipedia). His peak World Ranking was 2nd (in 52 months between July 1943 and July 1960). He was considered to be one of the ten best chess players of the world between 1936 and 1953. His peak rating was 2786 according to Chessmetrics.
He participated five times as candidate in the World Championship tournaments between 1948 and 1965. In 1948 he finished 3-4 places behind Botvinnik and Smyslov. In 1953, 1956, 1959 and 1962 he ended up second in the Candidates tournaments in all events defeated by only the later World Champion (Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian) (Wikipedia).
He participated in eleven Chess Olympiads between 1935 and 1964. He competed for Estonia four times from 1935 to 1939, and for the Soviet Union seven times from 1952 and 1964. In 1935 he placed fifth individually and eleventh in tem. In 1936 he won individual gold medal and placed tenth in team. In 1937 he won individual silver medal and placed seventh in team. In 1939 he placed fifth individually and won bronze medal in team. In 1952 competing for the first for the Soviet Union he won team gold and he placed tenth individually. In 1954 he won both individual and team gold medal. In 1956 in Moscow he repeated this performance just like in 1958 and 1960. In 1962 he won individual bronze and gold in team. In 1964 in Tel-Aviv he won both individual and team gold again.
He died of a heart attack in Helsinki on 5 June 1975.
FIDE named 2016 the Year of Paul Keres for the 100th anniversary of his birth.
By winning the AVRO tournament in 1938 Keres qualified to challenge World Champion Alexander Alekhine. The negotiations about the match started but it fell through because of World War II and especially the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union.