Prague: Keymer leads challenger, Abdusattorov just behind

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Three rising stars

A very interesting program has been put together in the Challengers section of this year’s Prague Chess Festival. Three players from the top 10 of the junior ranking were invited: Hans Niemann, Vincent Keymer and Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The promising talents are all likely to become stable 2700+ players, and they top the rankings in the Czech capital.

After five rounds, Keymer has accumulated three wins and two draws to take the sole lead with a remarkable 4/5 record. Abdusattorov, also unbeaten, is half a point behind while Niemann is one of three players with +1 – the US grandmaster has won twice after his Round 2 loss.

Niemann has already drawn his direct encounters against his top 10 peers. Keymer and Abdusattorov, on the other hand, are yet to face each other in Round 7 when the Uzbek star gets the white pieces.

All three won their Round 5 games on Monday. Niemann caught Krishnan Sasikirans in a mating net in a queen double-edged position.

33.Bxc7+ Kc8 34.Be6threatens a fatally discovered check, 35…Rg2+ 35.Kf1 Re2 and White needs to play a nice double check to end the game.

Both the rook and the light-squared bishop are attacked, but Black cannot grab either piece. Sasikiran resigned instead of playing the only move 36…Kxc7, which would be followed by 37.Rc8#.

Hans Niemann, Kirshnan Sasikiran

Focused — Hans Niemann and Krishnan Sasikiran | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

In round 4, Dutch grandmaster Max Warmerdam defeated Peter Michalik with Black. A very interesting endgame appeared on the board, in which Warmerdam had a queen and a pawn against Michalik’s rook and two far-advancing passers-by. As GM Karsten Müller has shown, Black could have held the draw from the following position:

Michaliks 74…Kd2 later allowed White to create Zugzwangs, which together with a2-a3 were later enough to unravel his position and get rid of the dangerous passers-by. Instead, 74…Re2 would have drawn the game for Black!

Watch GM Müller’s full analysis in the replayer below.

Results Round 5 – Challengers

Status after round 5

All games

Le and Harikrishna still at the top

In the Masters section, Monday’s five draws meant Le Quang Liem and Pentala Harikrishna maintained their joint lead at the top of the table.

We also received a detailed analysis from GM Müller from the fourth round of the Masters. Hari’s win with Black over Parham Maghsoodloo was certainly the highlight of the day as he reached the Troitsky endgame.

GM Mueller writes:

Two knights against pawns was studied in great detail by the Russian endgame theorist Troitzky. If the pawn is safely blocked by a knight, it has given a line where the attacker always wins. If the pawn is blocked on a5, b3, c4, d5, e5, f4, g3, h5 or below, the attacker always wins, but the 50-move rule is ignored. Here the pawn has crossed this line and thus there is a draw and a loser zone for the defending king. The draw zone starts at the safe corners and the loser zone starts at the unsafe corners. Here b7 is safe and h8 is unsafe.

A great opportunity to learn more about this rare setup!

David Navara

David Navara | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

Results Round 5 – Champions

Status after round 5

All games

connections

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