50th Biel: Round 6 - Three wins for White

by Marco Baldauf
7/30/2017 – Leader Etienne Bacrot drew against Peter Leko to remain on top with 4.5 / 6. The closest pursuers are now Pentala Harikrishna and Ruslan Ponomariov. The Ukrainian former FIDE World Champion overcame of David Navara's Najdorf, as the Czech's slide continues. Rafael Vaganian got a win to pull himself out of the cellar. | Photos: Pascal Simon

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50th Biel International Festival

Round 6

Bacrot 1/2 Leko

The game of tournament leader league Etienne Bacrot proved to be less than exciting. Playing the white side of a Spanish game with 6.d3 against Peter Leko, he followed his own game against Ernesto Inarkiev from the 2016 European Team Championship, through move 15. The always well-prepared Leko had to play a few precise moves, but generally had no trouble holding the balance.

Ponomariov 1-0 Navara

David Navara had to lick his wounds after yesterday's defeat against Hou Hifan, standing at a disapointing 50% score, but instead Ponomariov poured salt in them:


The complex Najdorf

When choosing an opening repertoire, there are days when you want to play for a win with Black, when you want to bear down on your opponent’s position with a potentially crushing attack. The Najdorf is perfect for just such occasions – and it’s no coincidence that Garry Kasparov played it the most out of all the variations in the Sicilian – the opening served him well throughout his brilliant career. Strategy, combinations, attack and defence, sacrifices and marvellous manoeuvres – exciting chess is all about the Najdorf!


Ponomariov dispatched Navara's Najdorf and moves into the upper tier of Bacrot's pursuers | Photo: Pascal Simon

Harikrishna 1-0 Hou

The India vs. China matchup ended in favor of the former as Harikrishna leapfrogged Yifan to keep pace with Pono.


Harikrishna's timing was perfect, as the Chinese had to calculate some difficult variations just as the time control approached. After the sequence 37...hxg4 38.Qxg4 Ra8 39.h5 Kg7 40.hxg6 Hou was under pressure:



At this point both 40...Rf8 and 40...Rg8 hold the balance, but after the obvious move 40...fxg6, Harikrishna came up with 41.Qd7. The black king was now much more vulnerable than White's monarch, the and once Harikrishna's rook was able to join the attack, there was no hope for Hou.


Hari moves to 2nd place after today's win | Photo: Pascal Simon

Georgiadis 1/2 Morozevich

Nico Georgiadis has played an outstanding tournament. Undefeated with one win, is an unexpected position for the young Swiss facing such tough opposition. Today he even had Alexander Morozevich under pressure. Morozevich sacrificed a pawn for some compensation but had to fight his way to a drawn queen ending.

Alexander Morozevich looking a bit flumoxed | Photo: Pascal Simon

Vaganian 1-0 Studer

An exciting game was played by Rafael Vaganian and Noel Studer. Vaganian sacrificed an exchange for positional compensation in the center. In a confusing endgame, Vaganian's connected passed c- and d-pawns raced against Studer's passed h-pawn, and in the end, as often happens in these games, a single move decided:



A hard defeat for Studer, his third straight loss as he fades to clear last place.



Games and commentary


Live commentary by GMs Danny King and Joe Gallagher


Marco Baldauf, born 1990, has been playing since he was eight. In 2000 and 2002 he became German Junior Champion, in 2014 he became International Master. He plays for SF Berlin in the Bundesliga.
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Marco Baldauf Marco Baldauf 8/1/2017 10:53
@ alucas: you're right, the variation continues and I should have given the complete analysis. The problem in the line you give (after 54...h2) White has 55.Ra7+, the black king has to go to e6 (otherwise white wins an all-important tempo) and then the white rook stops the h-pawn: 56.Re7+ Kf5 57.Re1 h1 =Q 58.Rxh1 Rxh1. In this position the black pieces cannot stop the d-pawn after 59.d7! After 59...Rh8 White has the precise 60.Kd5! stopping the black king from joining the queenside. Though he has the wrong bishop, white will win the endgame as the pawn ist already on the 5th rank. After 59...Rd1 White has 60.Bd4! and the pawn is queening.
I hope, those variations clarified the assessment and thanks for the comment!
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 7/31/2017 10:13
@ turok : They choose to mark as "World Champion" all the World Champions, past and present. For example, Kramnik and Hou Yifan (...you can see this in this tournament's standings, for Hou Yifan...) are also marked as "World Champion"...
alucas alucas 7/31/2017 03:55
In the game Vaganian vs Studer, commentary suggests 51 ...RxC5 leading to a draw. But why shouldn't black try 51 ...Rxc5 52. Bxc5 ...Rh4+ 53 .Kd5 ...Rh5+ 54 .Kc4 ...a7. Black seems to me should queen first and be able to check the white king with rook and queen. Isn't this leathal enough for a try? Or do I totally miss something?
turok turok 7/31/2017 01:03
why does the title still say world champion if he is no longer one or is that something else