Biel R9: Alekseev beats Onischuk, Dominguez leads

7/31/2008 – Russian GM Evgeny Alekseev took a full point from Alexander Onischuk, USA, to join Magnus Carlsen in second place. Cuban grandmaster Leinier Dominguez, who in round nine had good chances against top seed Carlsen, is still a full point ahead and assured at least joint first in the tournament. The final round begins an hour earlier to accommodate possible tiebreaks. Round nine report.

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The 41st Biel International Chess Festival is taking place from July 20th - 31st, 2008. The Grandmaster Tournament is a category 18 event with an average rating of 2686. Biel is located in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, on the north eastern shore of Lake Biel. It is a thoroughly bilingual town – called Biel in German, Bienne in French. Since 2005 the official name has been "Biel/Bienne". About two thirds of the population of 52,000 speak German, one third French.

Round 9: Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Alexander Onischuk 
0-1
 Evgeny Alekseev
Leinier Dominguez 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Yannick Pelletier 
½-½
 Etienne Bacrot

Onischuk,Al (2670) - Alekseev,Evgeny (2708) [E15]
41st Festival GM Biel SUI (9), 30.07.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.Bf4 Na6 12.Ne5 Re8 13.Rc1 h6 14.Nb5 Bf8 15.Nc6 Qd7

16.Nbxa7 Rxa7 17.Nxa7 Ra8 18.Qc2 c5 19.a3 Rxa7. White has a rook and pawn for two knights. The black position is definitely superior. 20.Rfd1 Qe6 21.Qd3 Ra8 22.Qb5 Nd7 23.Qd3 Nf6 24.Qb5. White is willing to repeat, but Black has more in mind. 24...Ne8 25.Qd3 Nac7 26.a4 Rc8 27.Qe3 Nf6 28.dxc5 bxc5 29.Qxe6 Nxe6 30.Be5 Rd8 31.e3 Ba8 32.Rd3 Ne8 33.Rcd1 N8c7 34.f4 Na6 35.Bc3 Nec7 36.Ba5 Rb8 37.Rc3 Bd6 38.Rdc1 Kf8 39.Kf2 Ne8 40.Bf1 Nac7 41.Bg2 Na6 42.Bf1.

Once again White wants to repeat, but Black is playing for a win: 42...Nb4 43.Bb5 Na2 44.Rxc5 Nxc1 45.Rxc1. Now it is two pawns for a knight, with White fighting for survival. 45...Ke7 46.Ke2 Bb7 47.Kd3 Bc8 48.e4 dxe4+ 49.Kxe4 Ba3 50.Re1 Nd6+

Onischuk decides to do the "iron king" routine: 51.Kd5+? Be6+ 52.Kc6 Rc8+ and it is over, the battle is lost: 53.Bc7 (forced: 53.Kb6 Bc5+ 54.Ka6 Ra8#) 53...Ne8–+. 0-1.


Sharing second place with Carlsen with one round to go: Evgeny Axekseev


The start of the game Yannick Pelletier (Switzerland) vs Etienne Bacrot (France)

Pelletier,Y (2569) - Bacrot,E (2691) [D45]
41st Festival GM Biel SUI (9), 30.07.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 e6 6.Qc2 c5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Be2 Nc6 9.0-0 Be6 10.Rd1 Nb4 11.Qd2 Ne4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.a3 exf3 14.Bxf3 Nc6 15.d5 Ne5 16.dxe6 Nxf3+ 17.gxf3 fxe6 18.Qc2 Qg5+ 19.Kf1 Rd8 20.Qa4+ Kf7 21.Rxd8 Qxd8 22.Qf4+ Qf6 ½-½.


Bacrot took a quick draw, giving Pelletier his third half-point in this tournament


Magnus Carlsen vs Leinier Dominguez at the start of the ninth round

Dominguez Perez,L (2708) - Carlsen,M (2775) [B35]
41st Festival GM Biel SUI (9), 30.07.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Kb1 a6. GM Miso Cebalo, commentator for the audience in Biel, criticised this move as being too slow. He should know: he lost a game with it against Alexandre David in 1997 (grandmasters have elephantine memories for this kind of thing). 13.h4 h5 14.g4 hxg4 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6 e6 17.Rdg1 Qf6 18.fxg4 Bxh6 19.Qxh6 Qg7 20.Qe3 Nf6 21.g5 Nh5 22.Nde2 a5.

23.Rxh5 gxh5 24.Nf4 Ng4?! 25.Qh3 Qd4 26.Nce2 Qxe4 27.Qxh5 a4 28.Rh1.

The assault on his king is becoming inbearable for Black. Playing 28...Kg7 to escape from the mate on h8 is the only alternative to the pro-active defence for which Carlsen went: 28...Qxh1+ 29.Qxh1 axb3 30.axb3 Bc6 31.Qh4 Be4 32.Nc3 Bf5 33.Nh5 f6 34.Ng3 Rc7 35.Nxf5 exf5 36.gxf6 Nxf6 37.Qg5+ Kf7 38.Qxf5 Re7. White must be better, but a player of Carlsen's calibre is able to hold. 39.b4 Re5 40.Qf2 Rd8 41.b3 Rd7 42.Kb2 Rde7 43.Qb6 Rd7 44.Qd4 Ke7 45.Qd3 Kf7 46.Nb5 Ke7 47.Nd4 Kf7 48.Qf3 Rh5 49.Nf5 Ke6 50.Nd4+ Kf7 51.Nf5 Ke6 52.Nd4+ ½-½.


With this game Dominguez maintained his one-point lead


Magnus admitted that he had been "lucky" in this round nine game


The Norwegian star gives an interview to a Swiss reporter...


... and is the darling of the media here in Biel


A typical newspaper story long before the start of the event

Photos by Simon Bohnenblust and Stefan Tock

Current standing


The suprise leader, by a full point with one round to go: Leinier Dominguez of Cuba

The final round sees Leinier Dominguez has black against Etienne Bacrot, who surged back from a disastrous start with three consecutive wins in rounds 5-7. Evgeny Alexeev has white against Yannick Pelletier and will definitely play for a win in the final round. The same applies to Magnus Carlsen, who has white against Alexander Onischuk, who must be thoroughly disheartened by his ninth-round loss. In case of a tie for first place (but only first place) there will be a tie-break on the same day to designate the official winner of the tournament. The rules specify:

  1. The tie-break will start no later than one hour after the end of the last game. Two rapid games with 15 minutes. If 1-1, two games with 5’+2”. If again 1-1, one Armageddon game with 5’ for White (has to win) and 4’ for Black. In each round, the player ranked with the best Sonnenborn-Berger points can choose his colour for the first game.
  2. If three players finish with the same amount of points after the last round, the best player according to Sonnenborn-Berger points will be qualified for the tie-break. The two others will make a semi-final in blitz (two games with 5’+2’’; if 1-1, one Armageddon game).

The final round on Thursday begins at 14:00h local time (CEST).


Player portrait

Alexander Onischuk

United States of America, 32 years old
Elo: 2670
World ranking: 50

Date and place of birth: .9.1975 in Sevastopol (Ukraine)
Lives in: Manassas (Virginia)
National ranking: 3
Best world ranking: 28 (July 2001)
Previous results in Biel: 1999 (3rd), 2007 (Co-Winner); won the GMT B in 1997

The Pursuit of a New Performance

Alexander Onischuk’s strengths are well known: a universal player, who is at ease in strategic and tactical positions, and a tough defender. He displayed his skills in the summer of 2007, when he tied Magnus Carlsen at the end of the Biel grandmaster tournament, after some brilliant victories during the Festival. The American player yielded to the Norwegian by a narrow margin, in the fifth match of the tie-break (blitz).

Born in Sevastopol, Ukraine, Alexander Onischuk received an early initiation to chess. He followed the Soviet training school while studying sociology in Moscow. His hard work paid off: in 1995, he represented his country at the world championships for juniors and finished second. A pillar of the national team, with which he won the silver medal at the 1996 and 1998 Olympics, he took advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union, traveled freely, and participated in numerous tournaments abroad.

In 2001, he received a green card and settled in the U.S., first in Denver (Colorado), then in Baltimore (Maryland) and now in Manassas (Virginia), close to Washington, D.C. A member of the U.S. national team, he was crowned U.S. champion in 2006, and finished at the second place in 2007 and 2008. Today, his official I.D. documents and his personal website (www.alexonischuk.com) show that he replaced his first name “Alexander” with “Alex.”

He comes to Biel for the fifth time. In 1997, he won the grandmasters B tournament. In 1999, he earned the bronze medal at the grandmasters tournament, and silver in 2007.

Simon Kümin, Olivier Breisacher

All results and schedule

Round 1: Sunday, July 22, 2008
Evgeny Alekseev 
1-0
 Etienne Bacrot
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Yannick Pelletier
Leinier Dominguez 
½-½
 Alexander Onischuk
Round 2: Monday, July 21, 2008
Evgeny Alekseev 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Yannick Pelletier 
½-½
 Leinier Dominguez
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Alexander Onischuk
Round 3: Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Leinier Dominguez 
½-½
 Evgeny Alekseev
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Etienne Bacrot
Alexander Onischuk 
1-0
 Yannick Pelletier
Round 4: Thursday, July 24, 2008
Yannick Pelletier 
0-1
 Evgeny Alekseev
Alexander Onischuk 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Leinier Dominguez 
1-0
 Etienne Bacrot
Round 5: Friday, July 25, 2008
Evgeny Alekseev 
½-½
 Alexander Onischuk
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Leinier Dominguez
Etienne Bacrot 
1-0
 Yannick Pelletier
Round 6: Saturday, July 26, 2008
Etienne Bacrot 
1-0
 Evgeny Alekseev
Yannick Pelletier 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Alexander Onischuk 
0-1
 Leinier Dominguez
Round 7: Monday, July 28, 2008

Magnus Carlsen 

0-1
 Evgeny Alekseev

Leinier Dominguez 

1-0
 Yannick Pelletier

Alexander Onischuk 

0-1
 Etienne Bacrot
Round 8: Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Evgeny Alekseev 
0-1
 Leinier Dominguez
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Yannick Pelletier 
½-½
 Alexander Onischuk
Round 9: Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Alexander Onischuk 
0-1
 Evgeny Alekseev
Leinier Dominguez 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Yannick Pelletier 
½-½
 Etienne Bacrot
Round 10: Thursday, July 31, 2008
Evgeny Alekseev 
-
 Yannick Pelletier
Magnus Carlsen 
-
 Alexander Onischuk
Etienne Bacrot 
-
 Leinier Dominguez
Games – Report

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