Grenke Classic: Carlsen wins two games in a row, takes the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/29/2024 – Magnus Carlsen scored back-to-back wins on Thursday to take the lead at the Grenke Chess Classic in Karlsruhe. Carlsen defeated Vincent Keymer and former leader Richard Rapport to go into the rest day a full point ahead of Rapport, Ding Liren and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The remaining four rounds of the double round-robin will be played during the weekend, with the final playoff set to take place on Monday. | Photo: Angelika Valkova

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Two Benonis

Magnus Carlsen entered the fifth round of the Grenke Chess Classic with a fifty-percent score. Rapport stood a full point ahead after a strong start. Rounds 5 and 6, however, saw Carlsen winning two games in a row while Rapport suffered two consecutive losses. At the end of the day, Carlsen emerged as the sole leader, a full point ahead of Rapport, Ding Liren and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

First, Carlsen got the better of Vincent Keymer from the black side of a Benoni. Curiously, he then went on to defeat Rapport from the white side of a Benoni. The rapid and blitz world champion later confessed that he had forgotten most of his preparation in this opening, which meant he had been forced to “play by hand”.

It was a particularly inauspicious pair of rounds for Rapport and Keymer. While Rapport lost to MVL and Carlsen, Keymer again failed to make the most of a big advantage in an endgame in his round-6 encounter against Daniel Fridman — Keymer had faltered similarly in his game against Ding from round 4.

Good Friday is a rest day for the participants of the Classic, though rounds 2 and 3 of the multitudinous Grenke Chess Open will take place at 9.00 and 15.00 local time respectively — no fewer than 935 players are taking part in the A-Open, with 19 players rated 2600 or above.

Keymer 0 - 1 Carlsen

An intricate Benoni saw Carlsen, playing black, emerging with an outside passer on the a-file in a materially balanced endgame. Keymer, who had 13 minutes on the clock to Carlsen’s 32, blundered with 29.Nb6

The refutation, which Carlsen played after thinking for 45 seconds, is 29...Nd5, opening up the dark-squared long diagonal. Keymer replied by 30.Rxa4 Nxb6 31.Rb4 Nd5, acquiescing to play a piece down against the strongest player in the world.

Keymer made Carlsen work until move 66, when resignation finally came in a position with knight and pawn against two pawns.

Vincent Keymer

Vincent Keymer | Photo: Angelika Valkova

Game analysis by Robert Ris

Fridman ½ - ½ Keymer

Keymer’s woes continued in his round-6 encounter against Fridman. Much like in round 4, when he faltered in a pawn endgame by misplacing his king, the German prodigy faltered in an advantageous rook ending with passed pawns on opposite sides of the board.

Black needs to act quickly in this setup, as 51...g5 is the only winning move in the position. Keymer’s 51...Kxh4, on the other hand, gives White a key tempo to mobilize his army via 52.Kc1 Re2 53.b5

The ensuing position was drawn, but a mistake by Fridman on move 58 again gave Keymer a chance to win the game. The 19-year-old agreed to enter a triple repetition, though, as he did not notice that the final position was winning for him.

The game ended drawn after White gave continuos checks from d4 and d3 while the black king moved back and forth from h3 to h4.

However, Black could have placed his king on g6, played Rg8-c8+ and placed his rook on c5 to win the game — e.g. 62...Kg5 63.Rd5+ Kg6 64.Rd1 Rc8+ 65.Kb2 Rc5

White cannot push either of his pawns due to Rb5+, getting rid of one of the passers, while the white rook is stuck defending against ...h2-h1Q. A big miss for Keymer, who had less than 30 seconds on his clock when the draw was agreed.

Grenke Chess Festival 2023

The playing hall during round 5 | Photo: Angelika Valkova

Carlsen 1 - 0 Rapport

In the most relevant game for the standings, Carlsen gained the initiative in a messy middlegame, and Rapport erred by playing the more passive of two alternatives on move 25.

White is threatening to capture twice on g6, so Black decided to defend the weak spot with 25...Rg7, a blunder. Instead, the more active 25...Rf6 was stronger.

After the text, Carlsen played the natural 26.Re1, and a series of exchanges followed — 26...gxh5 27.Rgxe4 Qxe4 28.Rxe4 Rxe4 29.Nxd6 Re5

With a queen for two rooks, White has a completely winning position given the black king’s vulnerability and the fact that the black knight is out of play on b4.

Resignation came after 30.f4 Rxd5 31.Qe2 h6 (31...Rxd6 32.Qe8#) 32.Qe6+

The pair of rooks cannot deal with the killer queen-and-knight tandem. 1-0

Standings after round 6

All games


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
Discussion and Feedback Submit your feedback to the editors