Reports Apr 25, 2019 | 11:01 AMby Colin McGourty

GRENKE Chess 5: 14-year-old Keymer grabs 1st win

After four losses in a row 14-year-old Vincent Keymer finally got off the mark in his first supertournament on Wednesday with the only win of Round 5 of the GRENKE Chess Classic. He did it in style, as his victory over Georg Meier featured a study-like endgame victory. Magnus Carlsen also tried to weave his magic against Arkadij Naiditsch, but had to concede a draw after a fascinating 6-hour struggle. Svidler-Vallejo was also hard-fought, while Anand-Caruana and MVL-Aronian had a “day before the rest day” feel to them.

The long wait is over for Vincent Keymer! | photo: Eric van Reem, GRENKE Chess 

You can replay all the games from the 2019 GRENKE Chess Classic using the selector below:

Round 5 was the last day in Karlsruhe before the action switches to Baden-Baden from Friday, and you can get a feel for the atmosphere in the following video:

The hero of the day was the local prodigy:

Keymer 1-0 Meier

In terms of cold, hard results Vincent Keymer was having a miserable start to his supertournament career with 0/4, but that was only half the story. Against Magnus Carlsen and particularly Fabiano Caruana he’d achieved close to winning positions with the white pieces. As Paco Vallejo put it, however, reflecting on his own loss to Magnus, “in chess very often one bad move and you’re gone”. Vincent had reason for optimism:

It was also great to understand that even if they are so strong and in general better chess players, I have a chance.

In Round 5 he was facing compatriot Georg Meier, who while not an elite player has plenty of experience playing in such top events. Once again the same scenario played out of Vincent getting a wonderful position out of the opening. He followed the sharp line that had given Ding Liren a brilliant win over Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the 2018 Olympiad, and soon played the novelty 12.Nc3 (his coach Peter Leko mentioned 12.Rd1 had been played in Dubov-Matlakov from the 2018 World Blitz Championship). Meier’s 12…h6?!, played after 9 minutes’ thought, was already a mistake (the bold 12…f5!? may be required):


Meier’s move wasn’t as innocent as it seems, however, since Vincent had assumed it was impossible due to 13.Ne4. What he realised during a 17-minute think of his own, was that after 13…g5! 14.Nf6+? Bxf6 15.Qxf6 Rh7! Meier would have succeeded in trapping the queen:


That pitfall was avoided, and after 13.Rd1! g5 14.Qg3 0-0-0 15.Be3 Meier admitted his 15…Nb4?! was already “desperation”. Keymer was playing a great game and on move 22 found the most forceful solution:


22.d5! Nxd5 23.Nxd5 exd5 24.Rac1 Qb7:


As in Vincent’s other games, however, he went astray just at the moment when he had a chance to wrap things up. The quiet 25.b4 or 25.a4 here were crushing, but the young German instead went after a mere pawn with 25.Qf5+?! (“I was very happy to see Qf5, I thought this was my only chance to survive” – Meier) 25…Kb8 26.Qd7 c5! 27.Qxd5 Qxd5 28.Rxd5 and soon it became clear that the ending was likely to fizzle out into a draw.

Meier would later lament, “I was sure it was a draw, but I should have calculated a bit too!”, and suddenly after 42…h4?! 43.Bc3! the computer evaluations of the position spiked:

It would soon become clear that this was a position that could bamboozle computers as well as humans, with only tablebases providing certainty. Here’s the verdict at the key moment after exactly 7 pieces were left on the board (this is taken from the Lomonosov Tablebases Android app):


It would have been a draw with perfect play after either the immediate 50…c4 (one point is to make g1=Q come with check) or 50…h3, but here Georg went for 51…g2, when for the second time in two days he would get ground down with virtuoso endgame play by his opponent (MVL had done the grinding in Round 4).

Vincent danced with queen checks to e5, then played 59.Qe1!


People often ask how long grandmasters can see ahead, and usually the answer is that it’s about quality not depth or some variation on “as long as required”. Here, however, the answer was 16 moves!

I calculated everything until b7 and then I was sure I will win this.

The sequence began 59…c4 60.b4! c3 61.Kc6 c2 62.Qc1! and ended with 74.b7:

The black king physically can’t move and there are no queen checks, so there’s nothing to stop Keymer queening the pawn. He went on to do so and seven moves later the game was over:

You can see Keymer’s smile at the end at the start of this interview he gave to Eric van Reem:

And here are Keymer and Meier in the studio with Jan after the game (you can also watch the full day’s live commentary):

Four draws, with no prizes for guessing who played longest

A comfortable viewing experience now the Open hordes had left | photo: Eric van Reem, GRENKE Chess 

Round 5 was the last in Karlsruhe before a rest day and the tournament switching to Baden-Baden, and in a couple of all-superGM clashes it seemed as though neither player wanted to risk spoiling their mood for the next two days. Anand-Caruana saw the 5.Re1 Berlin, with chess arbiter Chris Bird quipping:

Vishy sprung a surprise with the novelty 14.Qd1, varying from 14.Nd2 in Giri-Caruana in last year’s Olympiad, but after a few precise moves the draw that eventually followed in 40 moves was already overwhelmingly the most likely outcome. MVL-Aronian saw Levon on the side of the Marshall that’s more familiar to him after beating Svidler with White the day before, but neither player could find a path to an advantage in a complex position so they took a repetition that ended the game on move 25.

Svidler got an edge against Vallejo, but did nothing to harm their friendship! | photo: Eric van Reem, GRENKE Chess 

Peter Svidler’s game against Francisco Vallejo-Pons got off to a much livelier start when Vallejo picked a Mamedyarov favourite in the Giuoco Piano – the early 6…g5!?


He told Jan:

When you’re on -2 already I guess you don’t have much to lose. I thought ok, let’s play this, it’s a very risky opening, of course, but on the other hand it’s quite interesting. It’s not that bad. Probably it’s slightly worse, but it’s very complex and it’s a difficult position. I thought, why play solid? I’m not very happy with my -2, so let’s try to get either -1 or -3.

Paco failed, since although Peter did get an advantage, and at one stage he had a dangerous passed c-pawn, the edge never grew to unmanageable proportions. Even in the final stages he was worried that Peter might try to play on with an extra pawn, but the 8-time Russian Champion instead went for a little tactic to fix the draw:


38.Bxe4 Rxc4 39.Rxf7+ Kxf7 40.Bd5+ Kg7 41.Bxc4 Bc5 and the players shook hands.

Magnus is always looking for more, but had to settle for a 2nd draw in a row | photo: Oliver Koeller

That leaves Carlsen-Naiditsch, where two of the most combative players in chess didn’t disappoint. You could feel the tension even at the start, when Magnus arrived a couple of minutes late but still paused to fill out his scoresheet and adjust his pieces – note he likes his knights to face sideways while Arkadij has them staring straight at the opponent!

The 1.c4 e5 system with an early Nd5 was one Magnus had used to beat Mickey Adams in the 2015 GRENKE Chess Classic and also Jan-Krzysztof Duda in what turned out to be the crucial game of the 2018 World Blitz Championship. Naiditsch immediately deviated, however, and had the World Champion thinking for 26 minutes on move 8. What we ended up with was an unusual, complex position with no less than 4 IQPs (Isolated Queen’s Pawns)!

A complex, playable position is just what Magnus is looking for, but Arkadij gave as good as he got and also threatened to take over the initiative. It was only when the queens came off the board that it seemed as though only Magnus could win:

Naiditsch managed to hold things together, however, and as the game dragged on and on it eventually meant Jan Gustafsson had to leave the live commentary as some irate Super-GMs were waiting for him to bring their Avengers: Endgame cinema tickets!

Arkadij Naiditsch is not an easy guy to bully | photo: Oliver Koeller

Naiditsch didn’t get distracted from playing the endgame, though, and remained precise until the last:


If Black plays 57…Rxa5 immediately it would be possible to lose quickly to something like 58.Rb6+ Kh5?? 59.Kf3! and Black gets mated, but deflecting the king with 57…d2! 58.Kxd2 ensured no such issues. The game was wrapped up with 58…Rxa5 59.Rd7 Kh5 60.Ke3, extending the World Champion’s unbeaten streak to 55 games:

So Round 5 left Magnus and Vishy in the lead, with the one change being that Vincent Keymer now has company in last place!


Round 6 will be in Baden-Baden on Friday, with the chances of decisive results boosted by the large rating gap in Vallejo-Caruana, Naiditsch-Anand, Meier-Carlsen and Aronian-Keymer, though the fact the higher-rated player has Black in three of those games slightly lowers expectations.

Follow all the action from 15:00 CEST, when Jan Gustafsson will again be joined by Peter Leko live here on chess24.   

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