Prague: Keymer leads Challengers, Abdusattorov close behind

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/14/2022 – All five games finished drawn in round 5 of the Masters section at the Prague Chess Festival, which left Le Quang Liem and Pentala Harikrishna sharing the lead on 3½ points. Meanwhile, in the Challengers, Vincent Keymer kept the sole lead after beating Peter Michalik with the black pieces. Nodirbek Abdusattorov (pictured) also won and is now in sole second place, a half point back. | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

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Three rising stars

A very interesting lineup has been put together in the Challengers section of this year’s Prague Chess Festival. Three players from the top-10 in the juniors’ ranking were invited: Hans Niemann, Vincent Keymer and Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The promising talents are all likely to become stable 2700+ rated players, and they are topping the standings in the Czech capital.

After five rounds, Keymer has collected three wins and two draws to take the sole lead on a remarkable 4/5 score. Abdusattorov, who is also undefeated, stands a half point back, while Niemann is one of three players on a +1 score — the US grandmaster has won twice after his loss in round 2.

Niemann has already drawn his direct encounters against his top-10 colleagues. Keymer and Abdusattorov, on the other hand, are yet to face each other in round 7, when the Uzbek star will get the white pieces.

All three of them won their round-5 games on Monday. Niemann caught Krishnan Sasikiran’s in a mating net in a double-edged queenless position.


33.Bxc7+ Kc8 34.Be6, threatening a deadly discovered check, 35...Rg2+ 35.Kf1 Re2 and White got to play a nice double check to end the game.


Both the rook and the light-squared bishop are under attack, but Black cannot grab either of the two pieces. Sasikiran resigned instead of playing the only move 36...Kxc7, which would be followed by 37.Rc8#

Hans Niemann, Kirshnan Sasikiran

Focused — Hans Niemann and Krishnan Sasikiran | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

In round 4, Dutch grandmaster Max Warmerdam got the better of Peter Michalik with the black pieces. A very interesting endgame appeared on the board, in which Warmerdam had a queen and a pawn against Michalik’s rook and two far-advanced connected passers. As shown by GM Karsten Müller, Black could have held the draw from the following position:


Michalik’s 74...Kd2 allowed White to create zugzwangs later on, which combined with a2-a3 later were enough to untangle his position and get rid of the dangerous passers. Instead, 74...Re2 would have drawn the game for Black!

Check out GM Müller’s full analysis in the replayer below.


Round 5 results - Challengers


Standings after round 5


All games


Le and Harikrishna still on top

Meanwhile, in the Masters section, Monday’s five draws meant Le Quang Liem and Pentala Harikrishna remained in the shared lead atop the standings table.

We also received an in-depth analysis by GM Müller from the Masters’ fourth round. Hari’s victory with black over Parham Maghsoodloo was certainly the highlight of the day, as it reached the Troitsky Endgame.


GM Müller writes:

Two knights against pawn has been investigated very deeply by Russian endgame theoretician Troitzky. When the pawn is securely blocked by a knight, he has given a line where the attacker always wins. If the pawn is blocked on a5, b3, c4, d5, e5, f4, g3, h5 or below then the attacker always wins, but the 50-move rule is not taken into account. Here the pawn has crossed that line and so there is a drawing and a losing zone for the defending king. The drawing zone starts from the safe corners and the losing zone from the unsafe corners. Here b7 is safe and h8 is unsafe.

A great chance to learn more about this rare setup!


David Navara

David Navara | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

Round 5 results - Masters


Standings after round 5


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.