GRENKE Chess Day 4: Rapport Beats Ding As Carlsen-Rapport Battle Looms


GM Richard Rapport bounced back from 0/2 on Friday to beat World Champion Ding Liren and GM Vincent Keymer, closing the gap at the top to half a point. GM Magnus Carlsen remains the sole leader after defeating GM Daniel Fridman, with Rapport and Carlsen currently on course to play a match for the 2024 GRENKE Chess Classic on Monday. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave can still stop that outcome but was frustrated with two wild draws on Saturday.  

Day five starts on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET / 15:00 CET / 7:30 p.m. IST.


Day four of the GRENKE Chess Classic was one of redemption for Rapport, who got back to his winning ways of the first two days and moved within half a point of Carlsen.

GRENKE Chess Classic | Day 4 Standings


There were three decisive games, with two wins for Rapport and one for Carlsen. GM Anish Giri joined for live commentary.

GRENKE Chess Classic | Day 4 Results


Carlsen Keeps The Sole Lead

Carlsen scored 1.5/2 on day four of the Classic. Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

When the five-time classical world champion gets momentum, he’s usually hard to stop, and it was another smooth day at the office for Carlsen on Saturday. He began against Fridman, whose decision to swap queens on move six of a French Tarrasch didn’t get the Giri stamp of approval.

Giri noted that the general level of chess improving over time means that Carlsen is “the best [endgame] player of all time, obviously, but that’s not going to last forever!” His point is that if the level keeps getting better, the best endgame players in the future will be even better, but that wasn’t much consolation for Fridman right now.

In what followed, as is often the case, Fridman got some chances, but his bold attempt to set up a fortress at the cost of a pawn ultimately collapsed when Carlsen found a breakthrough.

That win was the third in a row for the world number-one, and a fourth would have been significant since he had the black pieces against the current World Champion Ding, who had just suffered a first loss after six draws. Giri felt Ding was then caught in two minds between trying to play strictly for a draw and principled chess. When Carlsen took over, the Dutch GM saw the writing on the wall:

“Ding’s floodgates have been broken. He lost a first game, and that’s huge. If you’re playing badly but you’re making draws—I know from experience, it’s ok, you’re keeping it all together. But as soon as one loss comes, then everything collapses!”

The position after 21.h3 is one where Carlsen had a threatening edge with the black pieces.

Ding managed to avert disaster, however, when he seized the chance to invade with his queen, forcing Carlsen ultimately to head for a draw by repetition.

The current and former world champions had a tricky task to leave the venue! Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

Rapport Strikes Back With Ding Collateral Damage

That half-point drop gave Rapport the chance to cut the gap at the top, which he did by first defeating Ding in a game that showed there was no deal in place that the two good friends and world championship colleagues would draw their games. It was clear, however, that Rapport was in no mood to celebrate at the end.

Ding’s defeat stemmed from a decision to allow doubled f-pawns, though in better form he might have found one or two of the escapes on offer near the end. 

That win was just what Rapport needed after losing both games the day before, and he carried the momentum into a win over the luckless Keymer, who had time and again spoiled winning positions in time trouble on the previous days. Rapport went on to score a fine win in what GM Rafael Leitao describes as “a very important game for the opening theory of the Benoni Defense.”

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

At the moment it’s Carlsen and Rapport who would play a two-game match for first place on Monday, but there are still two rounds to go on Sunday first. Rapport vs. Vachier-Lagrave in round nine will be huge, since the Frenchman is one point behind.

Rapport was back in business. Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

Vachier-Lagrave’s Still In The Hunt After Dramatic Draws

Vachier-Lagrave’s exploits on Saturday deserve a mention, since despite making two draws, he provided a huge amount of entertainment. Against Keymer he went for a coffeehouse swing of his rook from d1 to d4 to h4 just after the commentators were explaining why it wouldn’t work. 

The French star confessed he’d missed how strong the f5-defense from Keymer is. Although he soon found himself in a lost position, it was also one that he correctly pointed out was impossible to win quickly, which was what his German opponent needed to do given he was drastically short on time. In the final position, where a draw by repetition was reached, Keymer had 13 seconds against six minutes.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave still has a chance to fight for first place. Photo: Angelika Valkova/GRENKE Chess.

Then in the final game of the day, Vachier-Lagrave went for a queen sacrifice that left him with just two bishops in return.

This was a conscious decision, however, with the French grandmaster explaining that a normal queen retreat would simply have been a draw, while he felt obliged to play for a win based on his tournament situation. There was serious compensation, but Fridman had no trouble and made some flashy moves of his own before deciding to take a draw.

Youngsters Tudor, Maurizzi On Fire In GRENKE Chess Open

Meanwhile, we’re already five rounds into the nine-round GRENKE Open, with 16-year-old GM Marc-Andria Maurizzi one of six players on a perfect 5/5 after defeating GM Alexey Sarana with the black pieces.










Rk. Seed

Name FED Rating Points TB
1 7 GM Ivan Saric 2670 5 17.5

19 GM Marc`Andria Maurizzi 2602 5 17.5
3 10 GM Dmitrij Kollars 2629 5 16.5

12 GM Rasmus Svane 2623 5 16.5
5 3 GM Vladimir Fedoseev 2690 5 16
6 34 IM Dominik Horvath 2534 5 15.5

Top seed GM Arjun Erigaisi is among the 27 players on 4.5/5 after he was held to a draw by 12-year-old (!) Romanian FM Henry Edward Tudor. It wasn’t just any draw, as Tudor, with some help from his illustrious opponent, managed to set up a fortress and survive what was in fact 136 moves!

There were youngsters everywhere, with the youngest player ever to become a grandmaster, now 15-year-old U.S. GM Abhimanyu Mishra, making a draw against Turkish IM Yagiz Kaan Erdogmus, who is also on the brink of becoming a grandmaster at the age of 12. 

They’re both on 4.5/5, as are 17-year-old GM Christopher Yoo and 20-year-old GM Hans Niemann, who made a 10-move draw in round five. That might partly be explained by Niemann’s trip to German hospitals the day before after he woke up with excruciating pain in his ear.

With two rounds each day, the Open can change fast, while Sunday in the Classic will decide who plays the matches for first, third, and fifth places. 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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