Hou Yifan Challenge: Keymer leapfrogs Pragg

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/21/2021 – Vincent Keymer grabbed the lead on the third day of action at the Hou Yifan Challenge. Praggnanandhaa, who had a perfect 9/9 start, only scored a half point on Monday and is now sharing second place with Christopher Yoo. Pragg has played one more game than Keymer and Yoo in the 17-player single round-robin.

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Yoo in the hunt

The fourth event of the Julius Baer Challengers Tour is a 17-player single round-robin tournament. Since there is an odd number of players, each participant gets to rest in one of the rounds. Out of the three players fighting for first place, only Praggnanandhaa (9½/13) is set to have a bye round on Tuesday. Vincent Keymer (10/12) and Christopher Yoo (9½/12) will play four games on the final day of action, while Pragg will rest in the penultimate round.

After his stunning 9/9 start, Pragg unexpectedly collapsed on day 3 of action, scoring only a half point in four games. Moreover, the Indian prodigy kicked off the day with losses against both of his direct rivals for the title, Yoo and Keymer.

While Yoo scored 3½/4 to climb to shared second place, Keymer got 3/4 points on Monday, as he lost his second game of the tournament in round 12, against Russian WGM Leya Garifullina — the German star has not drawn a single game so far in the online event.

Hou Yifan Challenge 2021

In the crucial round-11 game between Keymer and Pragg, the German youngster got the better of his colleague after the Indian incorrectly swapped the rooks in a technical endgame.


Black is a pawn down but can still save a half point after 42...Bb5, since his pieces are active enough to keep the balance. Instead, Pragg’s 42...Ra3 loses to 43.Ra2 Rxa2 44.Bxa2. Endgame specialist Karsten Müller explains why this was a mistake by Black!


GM Müller is impressed by the technical level of the participants. He analysed a victory by Balaji Daggupati over Oliwia Kiolbasa in a rook endgame, and wrote: “Really impressive rook endgame technique by Dagg. Amazing how strong these young players are in the endgame”.


In this complex ending, Black would have kept drawing chances with 35...Rd8, while 35...Rc4 was responded by 36.Rxd5 and White went on to show good technique until getting an 88-move victory!


Standings after round 13


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.


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