Biel: Mamedyarov sole front-runner

by André Schulz
7/28/2018 – Magnus started the Accentus Biel GM Tournament with two wins, but could only draw in the four games that followed. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov took advantage of the Norwegian's drawing streak to take the sole lead with a win over Nico Georgiadis. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, like Shak, won with the black pieces and now is in shared third place. | Photos: Lennart Ootes / Simon Bohnenblust / Biel International Chess Festival

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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.


Not a good day to have White

The first leg of the tournament finished with Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov sharing the lead on 3½/5. On Friday, the players started the second half by repeating the first round pairings with colours reversed. After two rather quiet rounds, the players went back to their two-wins-per-day routine.

Carlsen started the event with a win over David Navara — the Czech player misjudged his position and pushed his pawns too early. Today, however, the World Champion had the black pieces, and the game followed a different script. Against Navara's Queen's Gambit, Carlsen chose the popular Semi-Tarrasch variation. With 12...Ba6, however, the Norwegian gave the game a different tone. 

Lennart Ootes photographing Navara and Carlsen | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel International Chess Festival

By move 20, the players had already exchanged the queens and a pair of rooks. In the ensuing endgame, Black had the possibility of creating a passed pawn on the queenside, which would leave him with a strategic advantage. 


Carlsen did not take long to get a passer on the a-file, and also got a target to work on — the isolated white d-pawn. Although it was necessary to be careful, there was not much danger for either of the players.


Carlsen's attempts to trick his opponent were duly recognised and neutralised by Navara. The players signed a draw on a drawn rook endgame after 45 moves. 

GM Daniel King looks at this key game

MVL is still in the hunt | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Biel International Chess Festival

The other two games finished with decisive results.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is slowly bouncing back after his subpar start. In round six, he defeated Peter Svidler with the black pieces from a balanced position that emerged from an English opening. Everything seemed normal until Svidler lost the thread on move 26:


Peter continued with 26.Re4, which was answered by 26...g5. After 27.Rh5 Rf5, White went astray with 28.g4, opening the f-file to his detriment. Only four moves later, the player from Saint Petersburg resigned. With this win, Vachier-Lagrave caught Navara and Svidler in the standings — they are sharing the third place on 3/6.

Another hard day at the office for Nico | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel International Chess Festival

Nico Georgiadis did not shy away from playing against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's Sicilian Najdorf. The players followed previously seen lines up to move 16. The last game that reached this position was Carlsen - Grischuk, from 2015. Back then, Black won the encounter as well.


Grischuk played 16...g6, while Mamedyarov preferred 16...f5. As it is visually evident, Black obtained good play in the centre and the kingside.


This was a good time for White to eliminate the dangerous f5-knight with 30.Bxf5. Georgiadis played 30.Nc3 instead, and after 30...Nd4 Black continued his attack with a quick g5-g4. Nico tried to fight back, but had to accept his defeat a rook down on move 39.

Saturday will be the only rest day in Biel. The players will come back to the fray for the final four rounds starting Sunday.

Commentary of Round 6

Commentary by GM Daniel King and IM Anna Rudolf

Current standings


All games


Surprising leaders in the Open

Two players are sharing the lead at the Masters Open Tournament that is taking place parallel to the main event in Biel: 19th seed Vaibhav Suri from India and 21st seed Davorin Kuljasevic from Croatia. They have won four and drawn one game so far. Seven players are close behind at a half-point distance.

Magnus Carlsen's father, Henrik, is participating. He is on 1½/5 in the tough event.

Magnus Carlsen checking on his dad | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Biel International Chess Festival

Standings after Round 5 (top 20)

Rg. Name Pkt.  Wtg1 
1 Vaibhav Suri 4,5 13,0
2 Kuljasevic Davorin 4,5 11,5
3 Wagner Dennis 4,0 15,0
4 Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 4,0 13,5
5 Kovchan Alexander 4,0 13,0
6 Donchenko Alexander 4,0 12,5
7 Lampert Jonas 4,0 12,0
8 Dragun Kamil 4,0 11,0
9 Ikeda Junta 4,0 11,0
10 Prithu Gupta 3,5 15,0
11 Aryan Chopra 3,5 15,0
12 Kaczmarczyk Dennis 3,5 14,0
13 Eljanov Pavel 3,5 14,0
14 Baklan Vladimir 3,5 13,5
15 Flom Gabriel 3,5 13,0
16 Salem A.R. Saleh 3,5 13,0
17 Tania Sachdev 3,5 12,5
18 Moussard Jules 3,5 12,5
19 Arjun Kalyan 3,5 12,0
20 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 3,5 11,5

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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