Biel: Three draws

by André Schulz
7/26/2018 – The streak of two decisive games per day finished on Wednesday at the Biel GM tournament, as the players split points in all three boards in the fourth round. Nico Georgiadis finished his bad run by defending a highly complicated position against World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Mamedyarov and Carlsen still lead the standings and will face-off in the fifth round. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Biel International Chess Festival

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


Two Grünfelds and a French

After starting with two wins, the Carlsen Express was stopped on his tracks on Tuesday, when Peter Svidler held against the World Champion in a tempestuous Najdorf. In the meantime, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov caught him in the standings with a win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave — who does not seem to be in great shape — and Nico Georgiadis fell for the third time against a tough field.

In the fourth round, Carlsen had the black pieces against the nominally weaker young Swiss GM — 316 points separate their ratings. Did it end up being a walk in the park for Magnus? Not at all! 

A friendly handshake to start things off | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Some of the people that are following the Biel tournament closely suggested that the players might be receiving extra money for going into unusual openings, after seeing what has been going on in the first three rounds. 

Throughout his career, especially during his first years in the circuit, Magnus Carlsen has tried his hand at a wide variety of openings. He tried the French Defence many times, but he never used the Armenian variation, the line he chose against Nico Georgiadis.


The game followed theory until move 12, but at that point Georgiadis adopted a new approach.


White played 13.Qd6, while after 13.Qc3 the computer gives White an edge. The game slowly started to favour Carlsen and, eventually, Georgiadis found it necessary to sacrifice the exchange. Carlsen was definitely in front, but Georgiadis had enough compensation to complicate matters. Magnus was having practical problems converting his material advantage.

Finally, the World Champion relieved the tension giving back the exchange and tried to use some tricks in the slightly imbalanced endgame. 


Here Carlsen tested 41...f4, but Georgiadis chose not to take the bait. The draw was signed on move 58.

Svidler with a familiar opening in front of him — a Grünfeld | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Biel Chess Festival

Peter Svidler was not satisfied with his handling of the opening in his game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov — they delved into the Fianchetto variation of the Grünfeld Defence. In the press conference, the Russian champion could not pinpoint exactly where he had gone wrong, although most likely his problems began when he played 12...Qb6.


Svidler proposed the alternative 12...Qc8, when White will have difficulties to defend his h-pawn — of course, 13.Kh2 fails to 13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 Ne4 and two pawns are hanging. 

Instead, after 12...Qb6 the queens were exchanged quickly and Mamedyarov gained a big space advantage. Shak missed a couple of tactical shots that would have given him a clearer edge and Svidler defended effectively to keep the balance.



Maxime Vachier-Lagrave still has six rounds to improve his performance | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Biel Chess Festival

The game between David Navara and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave followed a Grünfeld Defence as well. Unlike Mamedyarov, David chose a sideline when he played 9.Nd2. The queens were exchanged on move 12 and White gained a passed pawn on the c-file. Black had a big initiative against the white king in the centre, however, and that was enough to provoke a threefold repetition on move 28.

Live coverage with commentary by Daniel King and Anna Rudolf

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Translation from German and additional reporting: Antonio Pereira


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


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