Gelfand Challenge: A perfect start for Liang

by André Schulz
6/11/2021 – The Julius Baer Chess Tour brings together 20 of the world’s best male and female talented young players. The second tournament of the series, the Gelfand Challenge, started yesterday. After the first five rounds, Awonder Liang leads with a perfect score. Nodirbek Abdussatorov is currently in sole second place with 4 points. | Photo: Crystall Fuller

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The stars of tomorrow

The Play Magnus Group has launched a second online tournament series alongside the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, sponsored by the private bank Julius Baer. In this new series, the best young players and talents in the world, male and female, play single round robin tournaments. The idea is to give young players a chance to expand their skills, and also to close the gender gap: the level of play of young girls is expected to be gradually raised.

Ten young male and ten young female top talents were invited to play the series in which they fight for cash prizes, qualification places for the Champions Chess Tour, and an invitation for the winning team to the World Championship match in Dubai. In fact, the 20 players are divided into two teams, led by legends Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik.

The first tournament of the series, the Polgar Challenge, was won by Praggnanandhaa, while the Gelfand Challenge kicked off yesterday. The tournament will again be played over four days as a round-robin tournament, with rapid chess games of 10 minutes plus 5-second increments. 

Vincent Keymer off to a good start

Vincent Keymer started with two confident wins against Carissa Yip from the United States and Dinara Saduakassova from Mongolia.


23.Rad1?! [23.Bxb6 axb6 24.Nf3=] 

23...Nd5 With strong threats.

24.Nc4? b6 The bishop does not have many squares.

25.Ba3 b5 26.h4 White ignores all the threats. [26.Nd2 b4 traps the bishop.]

26...Rxe4 [Or 26...bxc4 27.h5 Nfe3 28.fxe3 Bxe4 winning; also playable is 26...b4–+]

27.Qxe4 Nfe3 28.Qf3 [28.Qxg6 hxg6 29.Nxe3 Re8 30.Nxd5 Rxe1+ 31.Rxe1 Qxd5–+]


28...Nxc4 0–1

A wild battle against Nihal Sarin

In the third round, Keymer played a wild game against Nihal Sarin in a sharp variation of the Caro-Kann Defence. Nihal went for an attack, but was forced to keep his king in the centre. The game was going well for Keymer at first, but in the wild tactical struggle that followed it was the Indian who managed to score a full point.

Nihal, Sarin (2620) - Keymer, Vincent (2591)

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.g4 Be4 [The alternatives are 4...Bd7; or 4...Bg6]

5.f3 Bg6 6.e6!? [6.h4 h5 7.e6 is a different move order.]

6...fxe6 [6...Qd6!? 7.exf7+ Bxf7 keeps the pawn chain intact.]

7.h4 h5 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Qd6 10.Ne2 Nd7 [In previous games, Black played 10...e5]

11.Bf4 [11.Dg6+ Kd8 Black had no fear.] 11...e5 12.dxe5 Nxe5


13.Qc3 d4 14.Nxd4?! [14.Qb3 0–0–0=]

14...Nxf3+ [A little trick gains Black another pawn.]

15.Qxf3 Qxd4 16.Nc3 e5 17.Bg5 hxg4?! [The queen trade with 17...Qxg4 18.Qd3 Qd7 19.0–0–0 Qxd3 20.Rxd3 Nf6 21.Re1 Ng4 secures Black’s material advantage.]

18.Qf5 Decisively threatens Rd1.

18...Ne7 19.Qe6 Qd7 20.Qxe5 White has almost restored the material balance.



21.Qe3 0–0–0? Black seizes the opportunity to castle and has an ulterior idea, but the move proves to be overly ambitious. [21...Qf3 forces an exchange of queens and relieves Black.]


[22.Qxa7? fails because of 22...Qxg5 23.hxg5 Rxh1+ 24.Ke2 Rxa1–+; 22.Bxe7? Bxe7 only helps Black. The white queen must not take on e7. Where to go now with the black queen?]

22...Qxc2 [After 22...Qd7 23.Qxa7 the queen blocks an escape square; 22...Qa5 is not good either: 23.Rd1 Rxd1+ (23...Nd5 24.Qe6++–) 24.Kxd1 Nd5 25.Qe8+ Kc7 26.Qd8#; 22...Qg6 23.Qxa7]

23.Rf2? [Giving Black a way out. Correct was 23.Qe6+ Kb8 24.Rf2 Qh7 25.Rd1+–]

23...Qg6? Only covers the e6-square. [Black missed 23...Qd3 24.Qxa7 (24.Qe6+ Qd7) 24...Qa6=]


24.Qxa7 g3 25.Qa8+ Kc7 26.Nb5+ [Or 26.Bf4+ Rd6 27.Bxd6+ Qxd6 28.Rxf8 Qe5+ 29.Ne2 Rxf8 30.Qxf8+–]

26...cxb5 27.Rc1+ Kd7 [27...Nc6 28.Qxd8#]

28.Rd2+ Ke6 29.Qxd8 Kf7 30.Re2 [The game is lost. Black tries some more tricks, but to no avail...]

30...g2 31.Rxg2 Qe4+ 32.Re2 Qb4+ 33.Kf1 Rxh4 34.Rf2+ Kg6 35.Bxh4 Qxh4 36.Qd3+ Kh6 37.Qe3+ g5 38.Kg2 Qg4+ 39.Kh1 Ng6 40.Rg1 Qh5+ 41.Rh2 Nh4 42.Rxg5 Qxg5 43.Rxh4+ Kg6 44.Qe4+ Kf6 45.Rf4+ Kg7 46.Rg4 1–0

Awonder Liang completed the first day with a perfect 5 out of 5, while Nodirbek Abdussatorov from Uzbekistan is currently in sole second place with 4 points. Liang defeated Praggnanandhaa in the very first round. The Indian talent then suffered another defeat against Abdussatorov, so with 3 points after the first day of action he is not yet where he would like to be in the standings.

Things did not go well for Nihal Sarin either. He was also defeated by Abdussatorov and gave away two half points, one of them against Carissa Yip.

Endgame analysis by Karsten Müller

Grandmaster Karsten Müller presents two instructive endgames. First, he looks at a duel between a knight and a bishop, in which the leader of the tournament managed to beat Danish star Jonas Buhl Bjerre.


In the second endgame analysed by Müller, he shows how a single spare move can make the difference when only kings and pawns are left on the board.


Standings after round 5


All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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