WR Masters: Keymer beats So

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/25/2023 – Vincent Keymer scored his second win at the WR Chess Masters in round 8, as he defeated Wesley So with the black pieces and left him out of the race for tournament victory. Levon Aronian and Gukesh are sharing the lead on 5/8 points and will face each other in the final round. If they draw and Ian Nepomniachtchi manages to beat Keymer, a three-way play-off will decide the winner of the tournament. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Three players in the race for first place

Vincent Keymer returned to the 2700-club by beating Wesley So in round 8 of the WR Chess Masters. The German prodigy had lost two of his three first games in Düsseldorf, but remarkable wins over Nodirbek Abdusattorov and now So allowed him to bounce back to a fifty-percent score.

Keymer’s round-8 win affected the fight for first place in the standings, as So was one of two players closely chasing co-leaders Levon Aronian and Gukesh. Going into the final round, So and now Keymer stand a full point behind the shared leaders, but since Aronian and Gukesh face each other, it is impossible for them to reach a play-off for tournament victory. On the other hand, Ian Nepomniachtchi is still in the race, as he is a half point behind the leaders after drawing Praggnanandhaa on Friday.

Round 8 also saw Aronian surviving an opening mishap against Andrey Esipenko. Aronian later said he felt “over the moon” after saving the half point from a really unfavourable position. The 40-year-old will have the white pieces in the all-important confrontation against Gukesh, while Nepo will play black against Keymer.

Gukesh, Levon Aronian

In good spirits — Gukesh and Levon Aronian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

So 0 - 1 Keymer

Annotations by Shahid Ahmed

Wesley So won his first classical game against Vincent Keymer at the Tata Steel Chess Masters last month. The German got the rematch with the same colour. So opted for the Italian Opening this time, unlike what he went for on the previous occasion, when he played the Spanish Opening.


21.N3d4 was a positional mistake. White needed to trade the knights via 21.N3h4 as the knights can become menacing, and after 21...Re8, the d4-knight is under attack. It does not have a decent square to go to, moreover he lost a couple of tempi without gaining anything.

There followed 21...Ree8 22.Nb3 Qd7 23.Nd6 Re6 and the knight at d6 cannot stay there for long as ...Bb8 will eject it. Black kept increasing his positional advantage and eventually liquidated into a minor piece endgame, bishop vs knight, exactly the way So won in Wijk aan Zee. Only this time it was the German who was on the winning side.

Yasser Seirawan, Vincent Keymer

Yasser Seirawan and Vincent Keymer | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Esipenko ½ - ½ Aronian

Annotations by Shahid Ahmed

Levon Aronian’s mind played tricks on him as he misplayed 22...Nd4 against Andrey Esipenko, instead of 22...Ne7.


Aronian later explained: “If you remember something, you normally play it and then the details kind of become evident. After he played 24.Rd3 it became evident that I didn’t — my memory failed me this time”. 

The tournament co-leader managed to exchange the queens and a bishop to go into rook, bishop and knight vs double rook endgame. A well-timed draw offer, when his opponent had three minutes for five moves, showed that one can recover after playing an incorrect move.

Andrey Esipenko, Levon Aronian

Andrey Esipenko and Levon Aronian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Results - Round 8


Standings - Round 8


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.