Niemann on Earning the GM Title

Hans Niemann is now America's newest Grandmaster, having taken his rating over the required 2500 at the recent Sunway Sitges tournament. This was confirmed by FIDE on Friday, January 22.


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Currently writing an article for an upcoming issue of Chess Life on his path to GM, Niemann discussed his feelings in December after crossing 2500 at Sunway Sitges.


He has also annotated a key game in the final march to 2500 exclusively for Chess Life Online.

[pgn][Event "Sunway Sitges"] [Site "?"] [Date "2020.12.19"] [Round "6.5"] [White "Niemann, Hans"] [Black "Cornette, Matthieu"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2478"] [BlackElo "2558"] [Annotator "Niemann"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2021.??.??"] [SourceVersionDate "2021.01.24"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 h6 {I was ready to go into the Nimzo-Indian but Cornette deviated. While I was somewhat familiar with these structures, I didn't remember anything concrete so I decided to go for a simple setup.} 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. e3 {I expected ... a7-a6 here, forcing me to release the tension with c4xd5. Why? I don't want to play a move like Bf1-e2, allowing ... d5xc4 and ... b7-b5 .} Nbd7 (5... a6 6. Be2 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5) 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 a6 8. a4 c5 9. O-O {This position is a transposition to a Queen's Gambit Accepted, but the knight is on d7 instead of c6 and Black has wasted a tempo with ... h7-h6. I felt that this position down one tempo and with an inferior knight placement would provide me an advantage.} Qc7 {Another key waste of tempo. My opponent underestimated my potential initiative.} (9... cxd4 10. exd4 Nb6 11. Bb3 Nbd5 {Black would like to setup a blockade on the d5 square, followed by .. . Bf8-e7 and castles. But he has squandered too many tempi, and White can punish the king in the center.} 12. a5 (12. Re1 Be7 {The computer suggests ignoring the a4-a5 idea completely and normally developing pieces, preparing for a possible kingside attack.} 13. Ne5 O-O 14. Qd3) 12... Be7 13. Ba4+ Bd7 14. Ne5 Bxa4 15. Qxa4+ Kf8 16. Qb3 Rb8 {Although this isn't the computer's top choice, my calculation ended here and I concluded that I had an advantage due to the king on f8 and lead in development}) 10. Qe2 Bd6 {My opponent has wasted one tempo with ... h7-h6, a second with ... Bd6, and a third with ... Qc7. My next moves are very strong.} 11. dxc5 Bxc5 12. e4 Ng4 13. h3 Nde5 ({ The move} 13... h5 {initially scared me but after} 14. Ba2 {Black's position may look imposing but in reality there is nothing to fear.}) 14. hxg4 Nxc4 15. e5 {I believe the position is practically lost at this point. If Black castles, I'll have moves like g4-g5 or Nc3-e4-f6 to breakthrough. Additionally, the c4-knight is extremely loose and my opponent is begging me to put a rook on c1. } Bd7 16. Bf4 Na5 17. Ne4 Be7 18. Rfc1 Qb6 19. Be3 Qb4 20. Bd2 Qb6 21. Be3 { I decided to repeat because I was down to about 25 minutes.} Qb4 {There are many options here but I decided to play the simplest one, as Black's position falls apart without the dark-squared bishop.} 22. Nd6+ Bxd6 23. exd6 Qxg4 24. Rc7 {The pawn on g4 is irrelevant. Black's pieces are dominated and castling is basically impossible without also giving up a significant amount of material.} Nc6 25. Rc1 Ne5 ({The final mistake which seals the game.} 25... e5 {would have been a better try, but the position is still extremely desperate.}) 26. Bb6 Nxf3+ 27. Qxf3 Qxf3 28. gxf3 {Compare the rooks on c7 and c1 to the rooks on a8 and h8 - it tells you everything you need to know about the position.} Rb8 29. Ba7 Rd8 30. Rxb7 O-O 31. b3 {Consolidating the position and preparing to bring the second rook to the seventh file.} e5 32. Bb6 Rb8 33. Rcc7 {The d-pawn is unstoppable.} Be6 34. d7 Ra8 35. Bc5 Rfb8 36. Be7 {The final dagger, preventing all counterplay. I was especially pleased by this game because I didn't take unnecessary risks in the opening and played logical moves. I also managed my time well and played precisely at all of the critical moments without faltering.} 1-0 [/pgn]

Congratulations to Hans on his achievement!