Leko on surviving the "Swiss ping-pong"

by Bernd Vökler
12/1/2017 – Vincent Keymer is 13 years old and the youngest International Master Germany has ever had. But playing the World Junior Championship U20 for him was still a bit like "swimming with sharks" and the tournament gave him insights into the rules of "Swiss ping-pong". Keymer was supported by Peter Leko who shares his impressions in an interview. | Photo: Bernd Vökler

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An interview with Peter Leko

Vincent Keymer finished the World Junior Championship in Tarvisio, Italy, which was won by Aryan Tari from Norway, in 61st place, more or less according to expectations. He might have finished a bit higher if he had not played "Swiss ping-pong".

Keymer was supported by Peter Leko, who Keymer plays along side at the German League team SF Deizisau. Bernd Vökler, coach of the German junior squad, used the opportunity for an interview with Leko.

Leko on the World Junior Championship

What do you think about this year's World Junior Championship?

For me, it is a big difference whether I follow the games and results on the net or whether I see the players live at the board. Some players who were not seen as top favorites at the start of the tournament, e.g. Kirill Alekseenko or Pragnanandhaa, began in a very promising way. I think, this was mainly due to two reasons: the top favorites van Foreest and Svane were still recovering from the European Team Championship, and these 2550 are at any rate extremely dangerous. In the middle of the tournament Aryan Tari took the lead and defended it to the very end. Congratulations! And who knows how the World Junior Championship would have ended if the usual 13 rounds had been played — and not 11 rounds as here.

Your support your team-mate from Deizisau, Vincent Keymer. Can you say a few words about him and his play in this tournament.

Our cooperation came on short notice and was a surprise for both of us. Without almost no time to prepare we were thrown into the shark tank of the best players U20, spiced up with a couple of reigning world junior champions and a number of state professionals from India. 

I know Vincent as a boy with great potential who loves chess very much. I also like his friendliness and his feeling for chess. He has that "certain something" which you cannot get through training.

But in the tournament he was forced to play "Swiss ping pong" and suffered four losses against >2550 players. These guys have experience, are cold-blooded and know every trick in the book. Sanal Vahap, for example, managed to turn the tables in a completely lost position.

But Vincent still wanted to win in every game and always took high risks. Therefore, these defeats also had their positive sides. And in the remaining games he scored a rather smooth 5½/7. But two weeks of preparation with Vincent would have been nice! It would have been exciting!

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Peter Leko playing bughouse with Josefine Heinemann (Germany)...

... against Rasmus Svane and Vincent Keymer | Photos: Bernd Vökler

On Crete you recently played brilliantly at the top board for Hungary. How do you keep your level and how do you see yourself as a player?

For me it is always a special honour to play for the Hungarian national team. My well-structured repertoire that has been built over the years making me a very solid first board, as well as a second that every top ten player would like to have. However, I still try to make progress as a player. But because open tournaments do not particularly suit me and high class invitations have become rare I'm thinking about playing the European Championship 2018 to try to qualify for the World Cup. But working with Vincent is not a farewell to my own chess career...

Last question — about the project "Deizisau and Bundesliga"!

With the support of Grenke Leasing it was possible to create a Bundesliga-team in Deizisau that, first and foremost, gives German players the chance to show themselves. Matthias Blübaum, Andreas Heimann and Vincent Keymer are the young guns. They are complemented by current and former members of the German national team such as Georg Meier, Alexander Graf, and Rustem Dautov. Apparently, with my more than 25 years of experience with German chess, I do seem to fit into this concept! [laughs]

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


Bernd is and International Master and a FIDE Trainer.


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