Prague: Bartel on the attack

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/23/2023 – All five games in the Masters section of the Prague Chess Festival finished drawn, leaving Vincent Keymer in the sole lead. Meanwhile, in the Challengers, Matuesz Bartel and Benjamin Gledura both won with white to join Vaclav Finek in the lead with 1½/2 points. Bartel obtained a fine win over Czech IM Richard Stalmach, whose approach in the French Defence proved ineffective against Bartel’s energetic play. | Photo: Petr Vrabec

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Two attacking wins

Good preparation, strong nerves and reticence to take unnecessary risks led to five draws in the Masters section of the Prague Chess Festival. Thus, Vincent Keymer, the only player who scored a win on the first day of action in the main event, continues to lead the standings.

Meanwhile, in the Challengers, Mateusz Bartel and Benjamin Gledura both grabbed nice wins with white to join Vaclav Finek in the lead.

Facing Richard Stalmach’s French Defence, Bartel followed theory until move 13, giving up a pawn early in the game to keep the initiative against Black’s uncastled king. 

14.Qg4 Nf5 15.Bd3 swiftly shifted the focus to the kingside. Black could have castled short on move 14 according to the engines — but of course, for a human, it is very tough to make such a decision in this setup. 

A few moves later, Stalmach lost his right to castle by placing his king on f8. By then, the Czech IM was already in deep trouble, since there was no effective way to prevent the dark-squared bishop from reaching a strong outpost on opposite camp.

The bishop immediately infiltrated to d6 via b4, and things only went from bad to worse for Black. By move 25, there was no way to find a way out for the local player.

Stalmach tried 25...f5, which failed to the forcing 26.exf6 gxf6 27.Rxf6+ Rxf6 and the devastating 28.Nh7+

Black resigned.

Mateusz Bartel, Benjamin Gledura

Mateusz Bartel and Benjamin Gledura drew their direct encounter in the first round — they both won with white in round 2 | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Similarly, Benjamin Gledura employed a strong dark-squared bishop to break through Erwin l’Ami’s defences in a position with opposite-side castling.

Both kings are vulnerable, but White is definitely the one with the stronger, more coordinated army, as Black’s dark-squared complex around the king is extremely weakened.

There followed 30.Rxg6, since 30...hxg6 fails to 31.Rh8#.

L’Ami replied by the tactical 30...Nd4, but after the quiet and precise 31.Qb2 White remained in the driver’s seat. Gledura kept up the pressure, and eventually forced a queen swap to enter a winning endgame. Resignation came immediately afterwards. 

Results - Round 2

Standings - Round 2

All games

Keymer keeps the lead

A draw with black against Thai Dai Van Nguyen helped Vincent Keymer to remain in the lead of the Masters. The 18-year-old from Mainz will get two whites in a row in the following two rounds, when he will face two crucial contenders for the title: defending champion Pentala Harikrishna and Czech star David Navara.

Thursday was children’s day at the Festival in Prague. Special guest Karel Janeček was actively involved in the day’s activities.

Results - Round 2

Standings - Round 2

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.