Grenke Chess Festival: Niemann Wins Open With Fantastic Score

The Grenke Chess Festival took place from Tuesday, March 26 through Monday, April 1 in Karlsruhe, Germany, and featured over 2,600 competitors across four sections.

Many eyes were on the Grenke Classic, which featured the current and previous world champion in a series of fast-classical Round Robins and matches. Competing alongside GMs Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren were French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Romanian GM Richard Rapport, and top German GMs spanning several generations (19-year-old Vincent Keymer and 48-year-old Daniel Fridman).

Despite the innovative format, the Classic had a predictable result, with Carlsen winning his first-place match against Rapport 1½–½. Vachier-Lagrave won third place over Keymer in tiebreaks, and Ding defeated Fridman 1½–½ as well. Expect highlights from these games in future Wednesday Workouts.



For today, we turn attention to the 900-plus players who competed in the prestigious Open A section. At the top, American GM Hans Niemann took clear first with an undefeated 8/9 score. After a hot 4/4 start, quick draws with fellow American GM Christopher Yoo in round five and 12-year-old Turkish upstart IM Yagiz Kaan Erdogmus in round seven saw Niemann in a tight race headed into the final two rounds. Along the way, it's worth mentioning, Erdogmus overtook American GM-Elect Andy Woodward to claim the title of currently youngest grandmaster.



At this point, Niemann separated himself from the pack by winning his last two games over German GM Frederik Svane and Serbian GM Velimir Ivic. The game with Svane became a highly tactical Closed Sicilian (with Niemann playing the white side), while the Ivic game was a more positional display from Niemann (on the black side of a Sicilian Najdorf).




Trailing Niemann were nine players tied for second with 7½/9. This group included eight GMs, but the ninth player — American IM Bryce Tiglon — is a GM-Elect who made the most of his spring break between quarters at Stanford University.

Tiglon’s event was a nice reminder of the “grind” these players must endure in order to score strong results. In round six, Tiglon had to endure a slightly worse opposite-colored bishop endgame (with a pair of rooks still on the board) against Romanian GM Kirill Shevchenko for a whopping 137 moves of mistake-free chess. Then, after protecting his precious half-point there, he managed to convert a slightly better position against Lithuanian GM Valery Kazakouski in a “mere” 104 moves:



Other American GMs towards the top of the standings including a trio on 7/9 (listed in tiebreak order): Christopher Yoo, Gata Kamsky, and Andrew Hong. WGM Gulrukhbegim “Begim” Tokhirjonova boasted a strong 6/9 performance as the sole member of the women’s national team competing (bottom-right in below post).



The reigning U.S. Junior champion, GM Abhimanyu Mishra, scored 6/9 as well. Below are two highlights. First, a back-from-the-dead triumph from Yoo, and then Tokhirjonova's near-upset of a 2600+ GM:




Quick Links

Official Website

Full Results (Classic | Open A | Open B | Open C)

Games (Classic | Open)