Prague: Keymer stuns Wang

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/22/2023 – The Prague Chess Festival kicked off on Wednesday. Both the Masters and the Challengers saw four draws and a decisive game each. In the Masters, top seed Wang Hao was defeated by German star Vincent Keymer, who got a superior endgame out of a sharp, theoretical variation, and converted it proficiently. In the Challengers, 13-year-old Czech FM Vaclav Finek beat Indian GM Akash G with the white pieces. | Photo: Petr Vrabec

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The top seed begins with a loss

After the 2020-21 Candidates Tournament came to an end, Wang Hao shocked the audience by announcing his retirement from competitive chess. The Chinese GM struggled in the double round-robin which faced many difficulties due to the pandemic, and noted his health issues had prompted him to make such a drastic decision. Since then, he played only two classical tournaments: Norway Chess and the Abu Dhabi Masters, both in 2022. Now, the 33-year-old from Harbin entered the Prague Masters as the top seed.

In the first round, Wang faced Vincent Keymer, who in contrast has been very active in the grandmaster circuit. The young German entered a sharp variation of the Slav, castling long and thus creating a double-edged battle. Following complications, Keymer emerged with a superior endgame position. The final, technical phase of the game was not a walk in the park, but Keymer managed to outplay his opponent to grab an early lead in Czechia’s capital.

All four remaining games finished drawn. Out of the eight players who collected a half point on Wednesday, Sam Shankland is the one that missed the biggest chance, as he got a favourable structure against Boris Gelfand in an endgame position with queens and knights.

Sam Shankland

Sam Shankland has played in all five editions of the Prague Festival | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Peter Leko, Thai Dai Van Nguyen

Peter Leko played the ceremonial first move in the game between Thai Dai Van Nguyen and Pentala Harikrishna — the Czech player went for 1.e4 as ‘suggested’ by Leko | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Results - Round 1

Standings - Round 1

All games

Finek scores in the Challengers

FM Vaclav Finek, aged 13, is the lowest-rated player in the Challengers. The youngster, a promising talent representing the host country, managed to start off on the right foot, as he got the better of Indian GM Akash G to grab an early lead in the 10-player single round-robin.

Vaclav Finek

Vaclav Finek, the early leader | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Results - Round 1

Standings - Round 1

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.