“Im very motivated”

A conversation with Vincent Keymer

One bad day – and you’re out. Vincent Keymer remains motivated nevertheless. He has played a good tournament so far that he can draw from, as he pointed out in a conversation with Peter Doggers. Also, there may be a new perspective on the horizon. Should the WEISSENHAUS Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge 2025 happen, the top 5 players of the 2024 edition will be invited. All the more reason for Vincent to fight on and go for 5th place.

FREESTYLE CHESS G.O.A.T. CHALLENGE_DSC05348 Maria Emelianova

Vincent Keymer. Photo: Maria Emelianova

Vincent, you won relatively quickly today. Where do you think it went wrong for Gukesh?

Yeah, I mean, after Nf5 Nc4 the position was already really complicated and I have no idea how to evaluate it. I mean, at this point, I’m pretty sure that he can’t be worse, maybe he’s better, but that felt that Qc3 should be a really a wrong move, simply like he’s basically trapping his own bishop on b1 and this proved to be a huge problem. Of course, it’s kind of weird to open up the center and go with the king away but I felt in this specific moment it was very good. I had this knight on c4 that he couldn’t really get rid of and I could use this momentum to get some initiative.

This position seemed the closest to classical chess from  everything we’ve seen so far. Was it easier to play or was it just as difficult as as anything else?

No, it was very difficult actually, because basically both sides were very ready to occupy the center so all the e4, d4, e5, d5 squares were already pretty easy to control. So this was kind of weird that both sides had the opportunity to play e4 and d4 more or less immediately, which made it very difficult. I thought that my best chance was to go some symmetrical and, of course, when he went Nb3 I was a little surprised because, like, to me, it made more sense to put the knight on d6 to have more pressure on the center but of course this knight on f5 idea awas very interesting. First of all, I was not as happy but I think after Nc4 then at least I will get a very complicated game.

In classical chess winning as black almost means that you’re with one foot in the next round but maybe it’s not the same in Chess960. What is the difference of playing white and black in this game?

Well, maybe you could even say that in Chess960 the advantage of having white is bigger than in normal chess, I would assume but if you’re only playing for a draw, of course, here it’s much more uneven, the whole position, everything. I have a huge knowledge of opening theory, basically, it’s already extremely difficult for Black to even get a game and you will already have to play some kind of weird unknown, not so good lines to avoid a forced draw. Of course, I don’t think you will see any forced draws here. So yeah, I think I just have to play a good game tomorrow. I can’t rely on any knowledge.

Anything you want to say about yesterday because in your game yesterday it was not so pleasant, you were on the wrong side and things went also wrong early I think for Black?

Yeah, it’s very difficult sometimes that you have to decide whether you go symmetrical or not. And sometimes it’s bad to go symmetrical and sometimes it’s not. I think yesterday it was the wrong choice to do something else and then simply the structure is extremely dangerous. And OK, maybe I had some chances somewhere but he also played a very nice game I think.

Now that you’re in the fight for fifth place, is it easier or harder to play the remainder of the tournament?

Not really, no. I mean, of course, I’m very motivated because I felt like basically I had only one bad day so far this whole tournament and this immediately knocked me down to the kind of losers bracket. So, yeah, surely I will try to win the remaining matches, but I think so is everybody else.

How did the chess community react to the kind of format of the Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge?

What I heard from the players here themselves, everybody is very happy about it so I think we all really enjoy the format. Of course, organisation is fantastic, but also simply the format itself is really pleasant to play and really exciting. It’s like it brings back a lot of the fun of chess. So for our from our side, I think, sure, it’s great.

From the public, I’m not exactly sure. I think still, it’s very exciting to watch, because basically, even if both players play very well, there’s a very high chance it’s going to be a decisive result so we see, I think, way less draws than you would in a normal round robin, the games are much more exciting and normally also, the price of every move is going to be much higher because we know less so it can easily be that we make bigger mistakes, even at this level.

Peter Doggers

By Peter Doggers

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