50th Biel: Hou and Leko score in Round 1

by André Schulz
7/24/2017 – Hou Yifan and Peter Leko won their games — both with Black — against Alexander Morozevich and Noel Studer to start the Biel GM tournament. Hou rebuffed Morozevich's sacrificial stab in a King's Indian Attack, while Peter Leko fought for victory in the endgame after a sharp Modern Benoni.

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A triumph for the defense

Today the Grandmaster tournament and the Master tournament began. As with yesterday's rapid, special guest Rafael Vaganjan is also playing in the showcase GM tournament. The former Armenian top-flight player joins David Navara, Pentala Harikrishna and Etienne Bacrot, who are the tournament's Elo-favorites rated over 2700. Alexander Morozvich, once as high as number two in the world, 2004 World Championship challenger Peter Leko, and the FIDE World Champion of 2002, Ruslan Ponomariov, have all been top ten players in years gone by. The world's best woman, Hou Yifan, is always dangerous, while relatively unknown Swiss participants Noel Studer and Nico Georgiades round out the field.

Vaganian started today against Harikrishna and took the Indian number two down a line from a recent game Harikrishna himself played against Anish Giri in March up to move 16.a3, but a few moves later the pair began repeating moves for an early draw.

Rafael Vaganian has played just four tournament games in 2017, drawing all of them | Photo: Pascal Simon

The game between Etienne Bacrot and Ruslan Ponomariov, also ended in a move repetition, but one of the stranger ones you will see with Black's bishop and knight caught in a little dance with White's king.

The young Swiss Nico Georgiadis can be pleased with his defensive effort in drawing David Navara. In a Sicilian Scheveningen, which the Czech ace also deployed in the Accentus Rapid final, Black equalised comfortably and then pressed a slightly better endgame playing against White's isolated d-pawn. In the end, Navara was still fighting with two pawns for a bishop, and playing to win, but Georgiadis held his own.

Alexander Morozevich, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, has been largely absent from competition in recent years. He has been a regular in Biel however, and a past winner, although the last time he participated in 2012, he had to withdraw due to illness after losing his first two games.

Two black wins

On Monday "Moro" met Hou Yifan, and came out swinging. In a variation of the King's Indian Attack, with both sides charging on opponsite flanks, Morozevich sacrificed a knight on d5 and gained a strong initiative. However, Hou defended patiently, gradually consolidating her kingside and then counter-punching at the right moment to force the queens off.


King's Indian Attack

The King’s Indian Attack is a unique opening system in that it offers White a dynamic and interesting game but without the need to know reams of theory. In addition to being easy to learn it has an excellent pedigree, leading exponents including great players such as Bobby Fischer, Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, Viktor Korchnoi, Leonid Stein and Lev Psakhis. GM Nigel Davies presents a complete repertoire for White.

Peter Leko, too, used to be in the top ten, and a regular in the best invitational tournaments. As opportunities have grown scarcer, he has been training hard and is hungry to get back into competition. Still just 37-years-old, and with undying class, we can surely expect him to be back over 2700 soon. His first round opponent, Noel Studer, was beset by a Benoni defense, as Leko signaled early that he was out for blood. He sacrificed an exchange for a pawn to obtain the bishop pair and continuously posed problems for Studer until the Swiss IM cracked at move 40.

Peter Leko was strong out of the gate | Photo: Pascal Simon


Interestingly the position as late as 37...f5 has been reached in the ChessBase LiveBook no less than 635 times! So someone has been analysing this deep. The engine indicates White can still hold, but precision is required and it's easy to go wrong quickly, as this game shows.


Commentary webcast

GMs Danny King & Joe Gallagher

Results of Round 1

Brd. Title Name Fed. Elo Res. Title Name Fed. Elo
1 GM Etienne Bacrot
2715 ½ - ½ GM Ruslan Ponomariov
2 GM Alexander Morozevich
2675 0 - 1 GM Yifan Hou
3 GM Rafael A Vaganian
2562 ½ - ½ GM Penteala Harikrishna
4 IM Nico Georgiadis
2496 ½ - ½ GM David Navara
5 IM Noel Studer
2493 0 - 1 GM Peter Leko

All games from Round 1


Standings after the first round

Rank. Title Name Fed. Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts. Perf. Wtg.
1 GM Peter Leko
2678                   1 1.0 / 1 3293 0.00
2 GM Yifan Hou
2666                 1   1.0 / 1 3475 0.00
3 GM David Navara
2737               ½     0.5 / 1 2496 0.25
4 GM Penteala Harikrishna
2737             ½       0.5 / 1 2562 0.25
5 GM Etienne Bacrot
2715           ½         0.5 / 1 2699 0.25
6 GM Ruslan Ponomariov
2699         ½           0.5 / 1 2715 0.25
7 GM Rafael A Vaganian
2562       ½             0.5 / 1 2737 0.25
8 IM Nico Georgiadis
2496     ½               0.5 / 1 2737 0.25
9 GM Alexander Morozevich
2675   0                 0.0 / 1 1866 0.00
10 IM Noel Studer
2493 0                   0.0 / 1 1878 0.00

Translation from German and additional reporting from Macauley Peterson.


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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