Keymer edges out Liang to win Kramnik Challenge

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/16/2021 – Two wins and a draw on the fourth day of action granted Vincent Keymer tournament victory at the Kramnik Challenge for young stars. Most importantly, Keymer beat Awonder Liang in the penultimate round — Keymer and Liang would end the event tied in points, and the result in their direct encounter was the tiebreak decider that gave the German prodigy first place.

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A crucial win

Awonder Liang finished day 3 of the Kramnik Challenge in sole first place, with Vincent Keymer standing a half point behind. The fight for tournament victory was fierce on Sunday, as both players kicked off with wins. In the penultimate round, they were paired against each other, and Keymer had the white pieces.

In a tough strategic battle, Keymer got a positional plus. On move 36, the German simplified into an advantageous position with rooks, same-coloured bishops and queens.


35.f3 Nc5 36.Bxc5, and Black cannot capture with the rook — after 36...Rxc5 White has the killer 37.e4, when 37...fxe4 is bad due to 38.Rd8+ Kh7 39.Qxe4+ and Black is doomed.


Thus, Liang had to play 36...bxc5, and White got a strong initiative with his rook infiltrating along the d-file and the bishop finding good coordination with the queen to attack along the light squares.


This position was reached four moves later. After 40.h5, there was no way to save Black’s position. Liang resigned soon after.


So, going into the final round, Keymer was a half point ahead of Liang and knew that he would be granted tournament victory if they finished tied in points. Liang had white against Balaji Daggupati while Keymer was paired up against Dinara Saduakassova with the black pieces. At some point, both players had losing positions!

Keymer was a piece down in an endgame.


The conversion is not at all trivial, but of course only White can win from this position. Keymer defended stubbornly and saved an 86-move draw. Meanwhile, Liang in fact tricked his younger compatriot and got a full point to climb to shared first place.

Both dramatic games are presented in the replayer below.


Kramnik Challenge 2021

Final standings (with team points tallied)

Endgame analysis by GM Karsten Müller

In his daily instructive analysis from the youth tournament, endgame specialist Karsten Müller analyses a position with rooks and bishops of opposite colours. French prodigy Marc Andria Maurizzi twice failed to play the winning move with black against Christopher Yoo.


The immediate 52...h3+, dubbed ‘the sting of the scorpion’ by GM Müller, wins for Black. Maurizzi played 52...Kxg4 and the tough struggle continued. A couple more imprecisions led to a 75-move draw. Do not miss the full analysis by our in-house specialist!


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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