50th Biel: Round 7 - Four winners, four leaders

by André Schulz
7/31/2017 – Round 7 saw a stark reversal of fortune for tournament leader Etienne Bacrot whose loss to Hou Yifan, coupled with a win by Morozevich, infuses new drama into the 50th Biel Chess Festival's GM tournament. Half the field now has chances to win!

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50th Biel International Festival

Round 7

The leader Etienne Bacrot faced Hou Yifan with black today — amazingly their first encounter over the board. Bacrot was prepared to play a Berlin Defense, Hou went for the 4.d3 anti-Berlin and after 14 moves a nearly symmetrical position arose.


Hou then concentrated on the kingside, while Bacrot sought counterplay in the center. White's chances were perhaps a little better, but a draw would certainly have been the most logical result if the Frenchman had not committed a slight inaccuracy — with dire consequences:


Pentala Harikrishna and Ruslan Ponomariov are the immediate pursuers of Bacrot, with only half a point behind him. The Ukrainian played today with the black pieces against Alexander Morozevich who played a sharp attacking novelty in the Queen's Gambit Declined.


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Rarely has Morozevich been so content with himself. | Photo: Pascal Simon

Today there was also a duel between the two young Swiss, Noel Studer and Nico Georgiadis. Just looking at the players' Elo the two are not far apart, Georgiadis has been punching well above his weight class while Studer has struggled, scoring just two draws. Even today, Georgiadis had the upper hand.


In a queenless middlegame, Black won a pawn, then another, and his passed queenside pawns, were eventually cashed in for a knight, which allowed a straightforward technical win.

The young men of Biel | Photo: Pascal Simon

Peter Leko also scored his second win of the tournament. Rafael Vaganian passed up the invitation to the Armenian variation of the French, this time chosing the solid Rubinstein. During a long manevering middlegame, Leko cultivated the positional advantage of a queenside pawn majority along withe the bishop pair, finally converting to an easily winning rook ending.

The meeting between David Navara and Pentala Harikrishna was not as eventful as the other games. In a French Tarrasch, the players followed 18 moves of theory, reached an equal middlegame and shook hands five moves later. Harikrishna has no reason to press hard with black as he remains tied for the lead, while Navara is probably wishing the tournament would be over already.

Current standings

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


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