50th Biel, Round 3: Five draws, two exciting games

by Johannes Fischer
7/26/2017 – The third round of the Grandmaster tournament in Biel ended with five draws, but two of them were exciting and varied. Once again it was Alexander Morozevich, with tactical and combative play who caused the most excitement, with an honorable mention to David Navara, who also impressed with many surprising ideas | Photos: Pascal Simon

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50th Biel International Festival

Round 3

Alexander Morozevich once again caused a stir. He played with White against Pentala Harikrishna and quickly turned a 4.Qc2 Nimzo Indian into a tactical minefield of hanging pieces. In a fantastically complicated position on move 27, Morozevich missed a chance to sieze an advantage, and Harikrishna didn't give him a second one. After a further tactical blows were exchanged, the game finally ended in a perpetual check draw, and quite a curious one at that!


Meet the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the FIDE World Champion in 2004, has been extremely successful with the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2 with White and with Black. In over 4 hours of video, Rustam Kasimdzhanov explains all the important ideas, strategies and tricks helped by sample games in which the white side is represented, e.g., by Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk as well as the author himself.

The exciting meeting between Noel Studer and David Navara saw Navara play energetically from the start. In the Fianchetto variation of the Benoni Defense, he dictated the pace right out of the opening, putting pressure on White with an exchange sacrifice. But objectively, the position was balanced and Studer always managed to keep it so. Thus, the game ended after a long tactical sequence of exchanges finally led to a rook ending which was theoretically drawn. Even so, Navara fought almost to bare kings, before finally shaking hands.

Noel Studer and David Navara Provided a thrilling strike exchange  | Photo: Pascal Simon

On the other hand, the match between Peter Leko and Hou Yifan was not very spectacular. In a Petroff, neither side shied away from exchanges and so the position after 20 move was already fairly dead. After 30 moves it was agreed drawn.

Hou Yifan retains a share of the lead | Photos: Pascal Simon

There was little excitement in the match between Nico Georgiadis and Etienne Bacrot either. Bacrot defended with the Berlin and Georgiadis chose the variation with 5.Re1, but could not do anything against the solid black structure. Although White accepted an isolated d-pawn in a bid to get active play, after an exchange of rooks Bacrot took the wind from White's sails. Two moves later, the queens came off and the position flatlined. The game ended with a draw on move 37.

Ruslan Ponomariov, playing Black against Rafael Vaganian, seems to have had no qualms about a draw. The two followed 18 moves of theory, before Ponomariov sacrificed a pawn to simplify into and opposite colored bishops ending. Vaganian pressed on until his extra pawn became passed and advanced as far as e6, but with the last pair of rooks exchanged it was clear that there was no further way forward. The players shook hands on move 40.

Rafael Vaganian is still searching for his first win | Photo: Pascal Simon

Commentary with Daniel King and Joe Gallagher

Results of round 3

Br. Title Name Fed. Elo Res. Title Name Fed. Elo
1 GM Peter Leko
2678 ½ - ½ GM Hou Yifan
2 GM Alexander Morozevich
2675 ½ - ½ GM Pentala Harikrishna
3 GM Rafael A Vaganian
2562 ½ - ½ GM Ruslan Ponomariov
4 IM Nico Georgiadis
2496 ½ - ½ GM Etienne Bacrot
5 IM Noel Studer
2493 ½ - ½ GM David Navara

All games from rounds 1 to 3


Standings after 3 rounds

Rg. Titel Name Land ELO 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pkt. Perf. Wtg.
1 GM Ruslan Ponomariov
2699   ½       1   ½     2.0 / 3 2772 3.00
2 GM Etienne Bacrot
2715 ½     ½       1     2.0 / 3 2707 2.75
3 GM Hou Yifan
2666           ½ 1   ½   2.0 / 3 2735 2.75
4 IM Nico Georgiadis
2496   ½     ½         ½ 1.5 / 3 2729 2.25
5 GM Pentala Harikrishna
2737       ½     ½ ½     1.5 / 3 2578 2.00
6 GM Peter Leko
2678 0   ½           1   1.5 / 3 2620 2.00
7 GM Alexander Morozevich
2675     0   ½         1 1.5 / 3 2713 1.75
8 GM Rafael A Vaganian
2562 ½ 0     ½           1.0 / 3 2596 1.75
9 IM Noel Studer
2493     ½     0       ½ 1.0 / 3 2573 1.50
10 GM David Navara
2737       ½     0   ½   1.0 / 3 2435 1.25


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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