Vincent - First Move Chess -First Move Chess


Vincent” was, of course, a big 1971 global hit for Don McLean, and written by the singer/songwriter as a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. It is also known by its opening line, “Starry Starry Night”, a reference to Van Gogh’s famous painting The Starry Night. But now there’s a new Vincent, only this one being overnight chess sensation IM Vincent Keymer, and his storming performance in the über-strong Grenke Chess Open has possibly set the German teenager up for a starry starry future.

With Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana doing battle in the Karlsruhe leg of the Grenke Chess Classic, in the very same playing hall, it was  13-year-old Keymer who stole the show from the world title combatants, as the new local hero made a sensational breakthrough performance to win the Grenke Chess Open outright, and in the process finishing ahead of more than 50 seasoned grandmasters.

The tournament had Etienne Bacrot, Richard Rapport, Wang Hao, Dmitry Andreikin, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Loek van Wely, Anton Korobov, and Alexei Shirov as the top seeds. But 99th seed(!) Keymer, who beat 2700+ Hungarian Rapport in the final round, bested them all with his undefeated score of 8/9 to win the title and €15,000 first prize ahead of the illustrious grandmaster field – and he also managed to overshoot his first grandmaster norm by 1.5-points!

Keymer has already assembled a strong backroom team around him – and this perhaps explains better his big breakthrough performance. Since last November, he’s been coached by Peter Leko, the Hungarian former world title challenger; his manager is the redoubtable Hans Walter Schmitt, the former tournament director of the Mainz Chess Classic and one-time manager of five-time ex-world champion Vishy Anand. Not only that, but the Mainz teenager is also being sponsored by Grenke.

Coach Leko, who was also a leading prodigy in his early teenage days, was left almost speechless but very excited about the instant success of his new pupil. ”I’m unable to think now. I’m just so happy for Vincent [Keymer] and so pleasantly shocked. To make 8/9 in this open is just unbelievable. I think Magnus would be very happy.”

And Magnus and Vincent could find themselves facing each other sooner rather than later. An added bonus for Keymer by winning the open is that it comes with an automatic spot into the 2019 Grenke Chess Classic. But first, the teenager will have to raise his rating by around 150 points – a mere bagatelle for a rapidly-rising new kid on the block with a formidable backroom team to support him!

Grenke Open final standings:
1. IM Vincent Keymer (Germany) 8/9; 2-4. GM Anton Korobov (Ukraine), GM Dmitry Gordievsky (Russia), GM Alexei Shirov (Latvia) 7.5.

Photo: Could this be the future? Vincent Keymer flanked by Peter Leko and Hans-Walter Schmitt | © Georgios Souleidis (Grenke Chess Classic)

GM Richard Rapport – IM Vincent Keymer
GRENKE Chess Open, (9)
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 h6 6.Bh4 0-0 7.Rc1 Nbd7 It’s just a simple Queen’s Gambit declined Orthodox – but perhaps Rapport diverts now to avoid the solid Lasker Variation with …c6 and …Ne4, and now enters into a sort of Exchange variation – but the rook should ideally be on b1 rather than c1 to support the b4-b5 pawn push. 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 c6 10.Bg3 Re8 11.h3 Bb4 The opening has gone ‘wrong’ for Rapport, and Black has easily equalized – but then again, perhaps it was all a ploy by Rapport, trying to see if he could confuse his younger opponent into an inferior set-up? 12.Nf3 Ne4! Keymer has ‘won’ the opening battle, and now he’s beginning to take a grip of the position. And all this leaves Rapport resorting to desperate stuff now in an effort to ‘mix things’ up a little. 13.Bf4 c5 14.0-0 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Nb6 16.Ne5 f6 17.Ng4 c4 18.Bb1 h5 19.Nh2? It was time to take stock and accept that the teenager has more than held his own here in the position. A good and better shot was 19.Nh6+, but after 19…gxh6 20.Qxh5 Re7! 21.f3 Ng5 22.Qxh6 Rg7 Black has everything under control, and the best White could hope for now is the game fizzling out to equality and a draw – but Rapport is looking to win! 19…g5 20.Qxh5 gxf4 21.f3 Nd6 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.Qh6+ Ke7 24.Qg7+ Ke6 It looks risky with Black’s king wandering around in no man’s land, but the crucial key to the monarch’s safety is that this move allows him the resource of …Re7, after which the king can better shield itself on d7. 25.Rfe1 Re7! 26.Qg4+ f5 27.Bxf5+ Nxf5 28.Qg6+?! It’s the vagaries of playing in the final round of an open and looking for a win, as Rapport opts now to press the ‘gamble button’ in trying to confuse his younger opponent – but it soon backfires, as Keymer calmly walks his king to safety while at the same time unraveling his pieces. And with hindsight, Rapport should have played 28.e4!? that should lead to equality, though it’s still a little murky after 28…Kd6! 29.exf5 Rf7 30.Qxf4+ Kc6 31.Ng4 Rxf5 32.Qh6+ Qd6 33.Ne5+ Kc7 34.Qxd6+ Kxd6 35.g4 Rf8 36.Kg2 Black still has the advantage, but White will have excellent chances with his kingside pawns coming up the board. 28…Kd7 29.Qxf5+ Kc6 The bottom line here is that Black’s king has found a safe haven on the queenside, and now, as the dust settles, he’s emerged with an extra piece, albeit though White has three pawns for the piece. But the Black pieces are unraveling very, very fast now. 30.Qxf4 Be6 31.e4 Qg8 32.Qh6 Kc7 33.Kh1? This seems a total waste of time as there’s no hit on White’s king for now, as his queen covers h3. Rapport really had to move swiftly to continue harassing his younger opponent, and he should have tried 33.a4!? to hit the …Nb6 that covers d5 and the pin on the e-file. Now, best is 33…Rg7 34.Ng4 Rf8 (Black can’t play 34…a5? as now the game opens up to White’s advantage, with 35.exd5 Bxd5 36.Qf4+ Kc8 37.Rb1 and Black’s king is going to get caught in the crossfire.) 35.a5 Nd7 36.exd5 Bxd5 37.Qh4 and it is hard to see how Black can win this. 33…Rf8 34.Re2 Rh7 All of Black’s pieces are now ideally poised for the counterattack – and Keymer doesn’t miss his moment of instant stardom. 35.Qd2 Kb8 36.Rce1 dxe4 37.fxe4 Bd7 38.Rf2 Re8 Exchanging pieces will only help ease the pressure on White’s position. 39.Qf4+ Ka8 Keymer has brazenly walked his king across the board to complete safety – now all the pressure will switch to White’s king. 40.Nf3 Rf8 41.Qh2 Na4 42.Re3 a6 Keymer gives his king just a little extra breathing space, with protection from any possible back-rank happenings. 43.Qe5 Bxh3! [see diagram] Splat! 44.Kg1 There’s no time to take the bishop. If 44.gxh3 Rxh3+ 45.Rh2 Rg3! and Black is either going to crash through to mate the White king or emerge with a treasure chest full of material, with the best White can hope for being Q v 2 rooks & the knight. 44…Rg7 45.Nh4 Rxf2 46.Kxf2 Rxg2+! The final strike! Now the White king is going for a little walk – only there’s no path to safety for Rapport’s king as there was for Keymer’s king. 47.Nxg2 Qxg2+ 48.Ke1 Qf1+ 49.Kd2 Bg4 50.Qe8+ Ka7 51.Qxa4 Qf2+ 0-1


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