Keymer Fights, Loses Marathon Game To Carlsen As Grenke Chess Classic Takes Off
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich making the first move in Keymer vs Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Keymer Fights, Loses Marathon Game To Carlsen As Grenke Chess Classic Takes Off

| 59 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen started the Grenke Chess Classic in Karlsruhe, Germany where he had left his previous tournament, the Gashimov Memorial: winning. The world champion defeated IM Vincent Keymer in a marathon game in which the 14-year-old put up a great fight.

Carlsen needed six hours and 42 minutes to beat an opponent half his age and 329 Elo points lower rated. That, and the fact that Keymer had a promising middlegame position and later was close to a draw, showed the talent of the 14-year-old International Master.

Keymer Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Keymer shaking hands with his strongest ever opponent. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

What to choose when you're a (super) grandmaster and you need to beat an IM as Black? The King's Indian quickly comes to mind, and that's what Carlsen chose, while he quickly left theory as well by combining both ...c5 and ...e5.

Keymer seemed not impressed and continued with logical moves, after which Carlsen decided to unbalance the position even further by giving up his king's bishop to damage his opponent's structure, and then also swap his other bishop for a knight.

The position before 28.g4.

A few moves later, it was in fact Keymer who was doing well, especially when he could throw in g3-g4. Peter Svidler said, after he had finished his own game, that he would have preferred Black's g7-knight to go to h5, instead of the one on f6. "After g4-g5 only White can play for a win,” said the Russian GM.

Keymer Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Keymer actually had a promising middlegame position against Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The tables turned when Keymer came up with the mini plan to move his king from f2 to d2. Carlsen won White's g-pawn and built up a probably winning position, only to spoil it with an unfortunate rook trade on move 56.

However, the path to draw remained narrow for the 14-year-old, who eventually made the last mistake. All in all, not a game to be ashamed of for him!

Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
A bearded Carlsen needed to go deep to beat a talented 14-year-old IM today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"I don't think I played too well today. I was playing way too much for tricks and my head was a bit heavy," said Carlsen. "Well done to him for a great fight. It was just a matter of outlasting him, to be honest. There wasn't much in it. But you gotta fight till the end and sometimes you get rewarded."

Carlsen interviewed after the game.

All other games ended in draws today, in a round that was visited by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. In his speech in front of the top grandmasters, spectators and hundreds of participants of the Grenke Open, he mentioned the historic decision of FIDE to officially sanction the Fischer Random Tournament in October in Norway as the "FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship."

Dvorkovich interviewed in Karlsruhe today.

This means that after Steinitz-Zukertort in 1886, we will now have the first official world championship in Chess960 as well, 133 years later. Who knows what tradition will be built up from here?

It should be noted that the tournament partners with, which will be hosting qualifiers starting very soon. Find all the information on the official website.

Dvorkovich Noppes 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Dvorkovich giving his speech alongside tournament director Sven Noppes. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Back to regular chess, where the first draw of the day was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Vishy Anand. This game was over really quickly, and not much more can be said about it than that the players mostly tested their opponent's knowledge in a sharp line of the Advance Caro-Kann. The French GM hadn't been able to find a new idea there, and Anand was well prepared.

Vachier-Lagrave Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Vachier-Lagrave and Anand mostly tested each other's Caro-Kann homework. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Peter Svidler vs Fabiano Caruana was highly theoretical as well, with the interesting twist that Caruana fully adopted the Sveshnikov with Black as it was played against him by Carlsen in the November world championship match.

The difference in preparation, however, was striking: Svidler had looked at the line for the last two days with his second, while Caruana hadn’t returned to the position after 12.Bd2 basically since November.

The reason was that during the match Caruana had only played this particular move once as White, and he wasn’t planning to try it again (and went looking at 9.Kh1 and 9.b4 instead) because “Black has various ways of playing” there.

“I thought if I don’t play this I really don’t have ideas at all against Fabi’s repertoire currently,” Svidler argued. “At least this is a very interesting and double-edged position.”

Caruana deviated from the match game with 18…Bf6, a move so obvious that he stated Carlsen must have confused the move order back in November.

A few moves later, both players thought they were slightly worse. Svidler: “From that moment it was quite logical what we did and the position eventually simplifies.”

Svidler Caruana 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Caruana was this time behind the black pieces in a deeply theoretical 7.Nd5 Sveshnikov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Arkady Naiditsch has had a tough schedule recently. First, at the Gashimov Memorial he was giving commentary for a few days, substituting for Ljubomir Ljubojevic who couldn't travel Azerbaijan due to visa issues. After that, Naiditsch travelled from Azerbaijan back to Germany and played in the Bundesliga, then he flew to China for some games in the team championship there, and today, back in Germany, he was fit enough to draw with Levon Aronian in the first round.

Aronian Naiditsch 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Aronian vs Naiditsch. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Finally, there was a draw between Georg Meier and Paco Vallejo. Here was saw an irregular but interesting 1.d4 opening where the Spaniard answered White's fianchetto setup with an early ...d5 and ...b5. It seemed to work in this game.

Meier Vallejo 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
A relatively quick draw in Meier vs Vallejo. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Pairings round two, Sunday April 21: Vallejo Pons vs Carlsen, Anand vs Keymer, Caruana vs Vachier-Lagrave, Naiditsch vs Svidler, Meier vs Aronian.

Grenke Chess Karlsruhe playing hall
The enormous Grenke Chess playing hall in Karlsruhe with hundreds of spectators and players of the Grenke Open. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The first five rounds (April 20-24) of the Grenke Chess Classic take place in the Schwarzwaldhalle in Karlsruhe. After a rest day, the tournament moves to the Kulturhaus LA8 museum in Baden-Baden for rounds six to nine (April 26-29).

The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from move one. Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

The games start at 15:00 CEST (14:00 London, 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific). You can follow the tournament here, as part of our events portal. The games will also be relayed in Live Chess.

IM Levy Rozman will be covering the tournament on his Twitch channel, GothamChess.

Impressions of the first round.

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