Kramnik Challenge: Liang and Abdusattorov top the standings

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/14/2021 – Awonder Liang and Nodirbek Abdusattorov leapfrogged Vincent Keymer on day 2 of the Kramnik Challenge to take the lead with seven rounds to go in the online tournament. Liang kicked off the day with three consecutive wins and temporarily grabbed the sole lead, but a loss against Polina Shuvalova in round 8 allowed Abdusattorov to catch up with him on a 6/8 score. | Photo: Eric Rosen / FIDE World Cup

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Rating favourites show their strength

Awonder Liang, Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Vincent Keymer are slowly but surely becoming household names in the world of chess. The three junior players (under 20 years of age) are the top seeds in the third event of the Julius Baer Challengers Tour, and after 8 (out of 15) rounds, it is they who are atop the standings table.

Liang and Abdusattorov are currently sharing the lead on 6/8 points, while Keymer, who finished day 1 in the sole lead, stands a half point back, sharing third place with 14-year-old American IM Christopher Yoo.

Kramnik Chess Challenge 2021

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Keymer kicked off the day with a win, outplaying Marc Andria Maurizzi, who recently became the youngest ever French player to get the grandmaster title.

 

White has a structural advantage, but Black still has some recourses to get counterplay. As endgame specialist Karsten Müller shows in his annotations, Black’s best defensive approach here was to play 40...Rf6 41.e4 Bf7 42.Ra3 Rd7, attacking the d-pawn. On the other hand, Maurizzi’s 40...Rb7, infiltrating along the b-file, turned out to be insufficient.

Keymer, who is known for having trained with Peter Leko — an excellent technician by all accounts — converted his advantage into a win.

 

The German youngster drew his next game, when he had the black pieces against Iranian star Sarasadat Khademalsharieh. Keymer could have won, though, as he played the wrong move in a critical point of a double-edged rook ending.

 

Going for the passive 50...Rc6 was not the most precise here. Instead, entering a pawn race with 50...Kb2 51.Rxg6 Kxb3 wins for Black, as GM Müller demonstrates in his analysis below. 

 

Meanwhile, Liang climbed up the standings by winning his first three games of the day. The 18-year-old prodigy was stopped by Polina Shuvalova in round 8, who came out on top from a sharp struggle.

 

Liang needed to be careful here and block the a-file with 37...Na2. His choice of 37...Qd3, on the other hand, allowed 38.Rf3 Qd2 39.Qa8, and Black is doomed. This was Shuvalova’s second consecutive win after starting the day with back-to-back losses against the Chinese duo of Zhu Jiner and Lei Tingjie.

 

Standings after round 8

 

All games

 

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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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