Valourous Vidit wins Biel Blitz with 11.0/14

by Tanmay Srinath
7/28/2019 – After the rapid tournament, one felt that Vidit was not playing his best chess. But his play improved towards the end of rapid and in the classical event! After dominating the first four rounds of the classical, he now razed the field in Blitz with a powerful 11.0/14! His victory in this section followed a well-known pattern: ruthless against the bottom half with 8.0/8(!) and holding his own against the remaining three by breaking even (3.0/6). Sam Shankland played superbly as well, but a last round loss from a completely winning position ruined his chances, and he now trails the two-player race by a point with three Classical games left to play. TANMAY SRINATH has an exhaustive report. | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

The Fashionable Caro-Kann Vol.1 and 2 The Fashionable Caro-Kann Vol.1 and 2

The Caro Kann is a very tricky opening. Black’s play is based on controlling and fighting for key light squares. It is a line which was very fashionable in late 90s and early 2000s due to the successes of greats like Karpov, Anand, Dreev etc. Recently due to strong engines lot of key developments have been made and some new lines have been introduced, while others have been refuted altogether. I have analyzed the new trends carefully and found some new ideas for Black.


Well, Biel is heading into its last three rounds of chess, and I must say the plot has gone mostly according to the script so far: The top two seeds are a league above the rest, with Leko being the closest to catching them. Vidit Gujarathi is playing some inspired chess at the moment, and by destroying the lower half with 8.0/8 in blitz and keeping things even against his nearest rivals he managed to win the Blitz Leg by a whole point! Sam Shankland was impressive as well: +6 is never a bad result! Maghsoodloo and Abdusattorov tried to make up for lost ground by performing well but, as it stands, it's a two horse race now! Let us now take a closer look at our star performers:

Vidit's Felicity!

Well, I've run out of superlatives for Vidit! The man has played such effective chess that an entire article can be spent dissecting how he does it. We can learn a very important chess nuance over the last few days — it's sometimes not important to get an objective advantage, but it is important to get a position which is uncomfortable to play for the opponent. That explains why 2600+ GMs overlooked really simple things sometimes: the power of psychology in chess! Here are some of his best moments:


Here Nico played 1...c5?! and was soon under pressure after 2.dxc5!. Instead, 1...♞f5!? is the best way to maintain a balanced position.


Black has to wait a bit — ♚g7!? was an interesting way to do so, with enough solidity to maintain the balance. Instead, 1...a4?! was an unfortunate mistake, allowing Vidit to win a pawn after ♘a7! and ♘xb5.


Black had to deflect the White queen from guarding the d4 rook — 1...♜xe2! 2.♕xe2 ♝xf3! with a balanced position. Instead, Bogner chose 1...f6? and was slowly ground down after 2.e3!


Peter is objectively slightly worse already due to Black's perfect co-ordination. 1.d4? only made things worse — after 1...e4! Vidit took control and won a fine game. Retreating the queen to d1 was perhaps a better way to play, with a tenable position.


As is typical in the Queen's Indian, once Black equalises he more often than not takes over. Here Black is threatening to start pressing, so it was optimal to go 1.b4! trying to fight for space on the queenside. Instead, after 1.c2?! ac8 2.b1 b4! Vidit took over and won soon after.


The two bishops guarantee Black enough play for the pawn, so it was imperative to retain them with 1...a8! fighting for the initiative. Instead, Cori played the naive 1...xc5? and after 2.dxc5! was seriously worse.


Having defended well for a long time, Bogner botched an elementary draw after 1.c7! ♜c2 2.♖g7 and Black has no way to make progress. Instead, after 1.h6?? g1! Black is suddenly winning, and Vidit rode his luck to the finish line.

The positions I've shown look clear cut, and it initially seemed (to me as well!) that Vidit was plain lucky. However, what we need to understand that such luck needs to be created, and is not a random set of factors. In all these positions, Vidit had annoying pressure, and it is not immediately clear what his opponent should do, despite the engine's evaluation as equal. This is how chess is — sometimes equalising is not enough to draw! 

With this, Vidit takes over the lead yet again, by a solitary point over Shankland. With him playing like this, I am inclined to call him the favourite to lift the prestigious Biel title!

Vidit on excursion

Will Vidit win the Biel GM 2019? | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Shankland — so near yet so far!

After catching up with Vidit before the final round in blitz, Sam must have fancied his chances. He was facing Abdusattorov as White, while Vidit had Black against Cori. However, due to limited time, he messed up a completely winning endgame, and even ended up losing, while the ever solid Vidit was too accurate for Cori. Thus, what should have been a potential tie at the top, became a one point gap. Bluff is a very important factor in Blitz, and as we shall soon see Sam is a master of winning bad positions!


Cori had to play the energetic 1...d4! here, after which it is not clear how White should continue his attack, Instead, after 1...d8? 2.f6! Sam created a whirlwind attack that soon won him the game.


Vidit had to go for the Black king: 1.♖c8+! ♚g7 2.♕c5! and White has an irritating initiative in the endgame. Instead, after 1.c7? d5?(1...♜d1+ 2.♔h2 ♛d4! was stronger) 2.e2? (♕c5 maintained some drawing chances) ♚g7!? Black is winning.


This is one of Shankland's cleanest victories — after 1...g5! Black obtains a winning attack.


After the elementary 1.♔d3! ♜xg2 2.b6 White's pawn is unstoppable. Nico's move 1.b4? was bad, and after gaining an equal position Sam even went on to win!


One of Sam's best escape acts. Here after 1...f5! 2.♘g3 f4!! 3.exf4 d2! Black is close to winning, due to the simple fact that White's king is perennially weak. The weaker 1...g8? allowed 2.g3 c8 3.e4 g8? 4.xd3! after which White is much better.

Let us now look at the last game Shankland played in Blitz:


The simple 1.♗g4! ensures an easy win after 1...♜d4 2.g6!. Instead, Sam ventured 1.g6? immediately, and Nodirbek was allowed to play ♚f6! after which he is no longer worse. Sam blundered again, and soon Black was trivially winning, and converted.

Can Sam deliver the goods in the last three rounds of the classical? | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Parham Maghsoodloo and Abdusattorov did well too, while Peter Leko finished on a disappointing 6½, reducing his chances of first place greatly. The Swiss GMs imploded, scoring an identical 2.0/14. Here are some other interesting moments:


1...♚d8 wins on a canter, but Cori went for 1...xf7?? and after 2.xf7+ he faced too many problems to solve correctly.


Nico left a piece en prise and resigned after 1...b6?? 2.xc6+.


In Blitz, even the best commit mistakes. Here Sam played 1...d6? and lost his winning advantage. Instead, 1...♚b6! is a forced mate in 23!

Here are the overall standings after the Blitz Tournament:

Rank Name Games Classic Rapid Blitz Total
1 GM Santosh Vidit 25 8 8 11 27
2 GM Sam Shankland 25 7 9 10 26
3 GM Peter Leko 25 5 10 6.5 21.5
4 GM Parham Maghsoodloo 25 3 8 9.5 20.5
5 GM Jorge Cori 25 5 7 7 19
6 GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov 25 5 5 8 18
7 GM Nico Georgiadis 25 3 6 2 11
8 GM Sebastian Bogner 25 5 3 2 10

All blitz games



Tanmay Srinath has been writing for ChessBase India since quite some time now. His tournament reports and depth of analysis have been widely appreciated. Pursuing a full-fledged career in engineering Tanmay doesn't get enough time to pursue chess, but he loves to follow top-level encounters and analyzes those games with his Fat Fritz engine. We hope you find his analysis useful in your games.


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