GRENKE Chess Day 2: Rapport Extends Leads; Carlsen, Keymer, MVL Miss Wins


GM Richard Rapport now leads the 2024 GRENKE Chess Classic by a full point after beating GM Daniel Fridman to score 1.5/2 for a second day in a row. Elsewhere time pressure saw wins evaporate for world number-one Magnus Carlsen (against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave) and GM Vincent Keymer (against World Champion Ding Liren). Vachier-Lagrave suffered the most painful turnaround as he lost a winning position to Fridman. 

Day three starts on Thursday 3.5 hours later than usual at 12:30 p.m. ET / 18:30 CET / 11:00 p.m. IST.


Day two of the GRENKE Chess Classic again featured just two decisive games, but that masked some huge swings, brilliancies, and missed wins.

Rapport Continues His March

Richard Rapport is a popular leader. Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

Rapport is usually an agent of chaos on the chessboard, but on day two he was the only player to keep things under control and make a positive score. He extended his lead by making a draw from a position of strength against Keymer before putting Fridman to the sword in just 25 moves. 

Perhaps it was more, however, that Fridman fell on his sword, since his aggressive 20…Rc1? was simply a losing blunder, or a dance move gone wrong…

Rapport mopped things up with ruthless efficiency.

It’s so far, so good for Rapport, but his biggest test yet will come on Thursday, when he has the black pieces against both Vachier-Lagrave and Carlsen.

Ding Shows Glimpses Of Old Self To Hold Carlsen

The first round of the day was notable for featuring the first standard-chess (and not Chess960) clash between Carlsen and Ding since the Chinese star had taken over the mantle of world champion. 

It came in the wake of a recent podcast where Carlsen talked about Ding’s chances in a match against either GM Fabiano Caruana or GM Hikaru Nakamura:

“I also think that if Ding plays the way he has played recently, he will obviously have no chance. If he plays the way he played against Nepomniachtchi, I also don’t think he will beat either of these two guys.” 

The game looked to be going Carlsen’s way when he found a clever way to give up a pawn on e3 only to target the bishop on e3 as well as the black king with 23.Qb3+!.


In what followed, however, Ding found the best defense and reminded us just how resourceful and resilient he can be. Both players sacrificed an exchange before the contest fizzled out into a draw. 

If that made it seem Ding was back, however, the following game would reawaken doubts.

Spoilt Brilliancies

It’s early to draw conclusions, but so far it feels that the 45-minute time control in Karlsruhe is enabling more brilliant moves than we usually get to witness on the board in classical events—but also leaving the players too little time to finish off their mini-masterpieces. The heaviest blow came for Vachier-Lagrave, who after 39.Nd5! seemed on course to beat Fridman.  


You can’t take the knight or the d-pawn will run, while the knight looks set to dominate from f6. The French star perhaps saw some c-pawn-queening-shaped ghosts, however and, while trying to keep control, only allowed Fridman to turn things around and score a hugely unlikely win.

Fridman had the decency to look apologetic at the end!

Vachier-Lagrave couldn’t feel too disappointed at how the day had gone, however, since he dodged a bullet against Carlsen, who played the move of the day, 29.Nc7!!.

Taking the knight leads to disaster for Black, so the French star picked the other poison of giving up a piece instead. It shouldn’t have worked… but it did, as Carlsen got down to his final seconds and missed a win you would expect him to find 99 times out of a 100, if not more! 

Vachier-Lagrave’s escape was perhaps deserved given what had happened earlier in the day. Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

We’ve left the best to last. 19-year-old Keymer won all three games he played against World Champion Ding in Weissenhaus recently, and he came incredibly close to making it four wins in a row.   

“Unfortunately for him, Keymer doesn’t take his magnificent game to its logical conclusion,” says GM Rafael Leitao, while analyzing the clash below.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

GM Anish Giri saw the key moment as evidence of the existence of luck in chess.

Keymer’s 44…Ke4? seemed to be enough to win, since he was queening a pawn first, but in fact the move had to be 44…Kg4!. It makes all the difference in the end that the black king can eliminate the white h-pawns.

That drama left Rapport a full point ahead  of Ding, Keymer, and Carlsen.

GRENKE Chess Classic | Day 2 Standings


That can all change fast, however, while there’s another big change ahead on Thursday. The weekend GRENKE Open, with almost 3,000 players, starts in the evening, to enable as many players as possible to get to the venue after work.

The remaining rounds will be played on a stage in front of hundreds of chessboards. Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

The Classic will be played at the same time in the same venue, so that for one day only the games will start 3.5 hours later than usual. Don’t miss all the action!


The 2024 GRENKE Chess Classic takes place from March 26-April 1 in Karlsruhe, Germany. The six-player double round-robin features two rounds per day played at a 45-minute time control, with 10 seconds added per move. On the last day, two-game matches will be played to decide the final places, with 1st vs. 2nd, 3rd vs. 4th, and 5th vs. 6th. 

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