Vincent Keymer wins the Hou Yifan Challenge

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/22/2021 – German prodigy Vincent Keymer obtained his second consecutive tournament victory at the Julius Baer Challengers Tour by winning the Hou Yifan Challenge, a 17-player single round-robin tournament that took place online on September 18-21. Christopher Yoo and Praggnanandhaa shared second place, finishing two points behind the winner. Keymer, Yoo and Pragg are 3 out of 8 players who qualified to the knockout final of the tour, set to start on October 14. | Photo: John Saunders

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Top 8 of the series qualify to knockout final

Vincent Keymer won the Hou Yifan Challenge with a round to spare. The 16-year-old thus obtained his second consecutive tournament victory of the tour, which helped him finish first in the overall standings. The 8 youngsters who accumulated the most points during the four regular tournaments of the series moved on to the knockout final, which is scheduled to take place on October 14-17.

After two days of action at the Hou Yifan Challenge, it seemed like there was no stopping Praggnanandhaa, who scored 9 points in as many games — however, the Indian prodigy had a subpar second half to finish in shared second place on 11½/16. Pragg tied for second with 14-year-old Christopher Yoo, who could have fought for more had he not lost his round-15 game against Israeli FM Yahli Sokolovsky.

Awonder Liang, who finished second in the overall standings, got fourth place on 10½/16 points. The strongest female participant was Lei Tingjie, who incidentally is the one girl that made it to the knockout final.

Hou Yifan Challenge 2021

Tour standings

Curiously, Keymer only drew one game out of the 16 he played in the tournament. In round 15, he had the white pieces against Chinese WGM Zhu Jiner. The players reached a critical position on move 16.


Here 16.Rxe6 screams to be played, but Keymer went for the more cautious 16.d3. Of course, his decision probably had to do with his tournament situation, as by then a half point was more than welcome by the German. Nonetheless, Boris Gelfand, who was commentating live, noted amicably that Keymer’s coach Peter Leko would not be happy to see his pupil rejecting this classical idea.

Keymer later explained that he had seen the line, but saw some ghosts in the ensuing potential variations.


Abhimanyu Mishra, who famously became the youngest grandmaster in history a few months ago, obtained a 7½/16 score. The 12-year-old finished the tournament with a victory over Sokolovsky, who took a wrong step in a king and pawn endgame.


As Karsten Müller demonstrates in his annotations below, Black needs to play 53...Kd7 here to save a draw, while Sokolovsky’s 53...Kf6 loses quickly to 54.Kd6 Kg7 55.Ke7.

Back in August, Abhimanyu was GM Müller’s guest on his Endgame Show. Amid a lively discussion around the studied positions, the ever-curious teenager confessed that he had watched all previous Endgame Shows!


Final standings


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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