Biel: Wojtaszek wins triathlon

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/30/2020 – Radoslaw Wojtaszek won the 2020 edition of the Grandmaster Tournament, this year played as a triathlon, in Biel. The Polish grandmaster did it by losing one game in total across all three time controls (he played 28 games!). Pentala Harikrishna came in second place, after getting the highest score in classical chess, winning four games and losing none. Michael Adams finished third. | Photos: Simon Bohnenblust

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An exciting final round

No other top event dared to put forth an over-the-board tournament during the pandemic except the organizers of the traditional Biel Chess Festival. As stated in the official press release, Peter Bohnenblust, the President of the organizing committee, concluded:

From an organizational point of view, the pandemic-related requirements led to various additional expenses, but as things stand today, it can be concluded that the measures taken have proved their worth and could serve as a model for other organizers around the world.

We’ll have to wait and see if other top events follow in their footsteps. 

Leaving aside the corona-related issues, the tournament was certainly a success from a sporting point of view. The triathlon format was used for a second year, and it seems to be here to stay. Unlike the 2019 edition, the pointing system for the classical section was slightly modified — instead of granting 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw, each win was worth 4 points and each draw gave the players 1½ points apiece.

Although the relative weight of a win in comparison to a draw was reduced, the relative weight of a win in classical compared to a win in rapid and blitz was increased. This modification made for a very exciting finale, in which three players still had chances to win the title in the seventh round of the classical section. The results? All three contenders for first place won! Which meant Radoslaw Wojtaszek took the title.

Playing white against Noël Studer in round 7, Wojtaszek correctly simplified into a winning pawn endgame when he got a chance:

 

48.Rxg6+ Kxg6 49.Ne5+ Kf6 50.Nxf7 Kxf7 51.e4 fxe3+ 52.Kxe3 b6 53.h4 c5 54.f4 Kg7 55.Kf3 [55.h5 is not enough: 55...Kh6 56.f5 Kxh5 57.Kf4 cxd4 58.f6 (Not 58.b3 d3 59.Ke3 Kg5 and Black wins.) 58...Kg6 59.Ke5 d3 60.Ke6 d2 61.f7 d1D 62.f8D and White will give perpetual check; 55.f5 is okay: 55...Kf6 56.Kf4 cxd4 57.h5 d3 58.Ke3 Kxf5 59.Kxd3 Kg5 60.Kd4 wins.]

55...Kg6 56.Kg4 Kg7 [56...cxd4 57.f5+ Kf6 58.Kf4 d3 59.Ke3]

57.h5 Kf6 58.f5 cxd4 59.h6 1-0

This was Wojtaszek’s second win of the classical section. He won the Rapid and tied for first in the Blitz, impressively finishing undefeated in both events. His only loss came in round 5 of Classical, when he was defeated by Pentala Harikrishna. 

Wojtaszek noted in an interview after winning the tournament that this victory was comparable to his triumphs in Dortmund and Isle of Man.

Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Noel Studer

A draw would not have been enough for Wojtaszek to win the event

Harikrishna, who won four out of seven classical games and lost none, finished the tournament with a win over David Antón. The Spaniard miscalculated a sharp tactical continuation out of a Semi-Slav:

 

23.Nb5 [23.Nxd4 Bxg2 24.Kxg2 Qb7+ 25.Kg1 cxd4 26.exd4 with a tough fight ahead.] 23...Qa5 24.Nfxd4 Bxg2 25.Qxc5 Bb7

 

26.Nf5 was the decisive mistake [26.Nc3 Qxc5 27.Bxc5 and Black has a strong pair of bishops, but the game continues] Rd5 27.Ne7+ Rxe7 28.Qxe7 Qxb5 and Black went on to win with his material advantage.

Harikrishna got a mere half point less than Wojtaszek. His 6/14 score in the Blitz is what prevented him from winning the triathlon.

Michael Adams, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Pentala Harikrishna

The top three finishers sharing a laugh

Third place went to Michael Adams, who beat Arkadij Naiditsch on the final day of action. The experienced English grandmaster won three classical games, drew three and lost one. His strongest performance was seen in the Blitz, as he shared first place with the eventual tournament winner.

Adams did not really need to get that last-round victory to secure third place (although, of course, he was still fighting for first) as the three top finishers had quite an edge in the standings table compared to the remaining five participants. In the end, the young Vincent Keymer got fourth place, a certainly commendable performance, although given his strong start perhaps he expected to be fighting for tournament victory in the last rounds!

Michael Adams

A smiling Mickey Adams

Final standings - GM Triathlon

Rank Name Classical Rapid Blitz Total
1 GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek 14 12 11 37
2 GM Pentala Harikrishna 20½ 10 6 36½
3 GM Michael Adams 16½ 8 11 35½
4 GM Vincent Keymer  13½ 10 28
5 GM Arkadij Naiditsch 11 5 22½
6 GM David Antón Guijarro 4 22
7 GM Romain Édouard 10 4 17½
8 GM Noël Studer 7 3 5 15

All games - Classical section

 

Christian Bauer wins the Special Corona Tournament

In the Corona Open Tournament, French grandmaster Christian Bauer did full justice to his position as a favourite with a start-to-finish victory and an 8/9 score.

Germans Frank Buchenau and Gerlef Meins came in second and third with 7½ points each.

Final standings - Open tournament

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Bauer Christian 8,0 54,5
2 Buchenau Frank 7,5 48,5
3 Meins Gerlef 7,5 48,0
4 Bellahcene Bilel 7,0 52,0
5 Gschnitzer Adrian 7,0 50,0
6 Mathieu Phileas 7,0 48,5
7 Pham Khoi 7,0 44,5
8 Fecker Noah 6,5 46,0
9 Baenziger Fabian 6,5 45,0
10 Siebrecht Sebastian 6,5 45,0
11 Adrian Claude 6,5 44,0
12 Rohrer Christophe 6,0 48,0
13 Youssoupov Moisse 6,0 47,5
14 Saya Ethan 6,0 45,5
15 Jovanovic Sladjan 6,0 45,0
16 Perestjuk Marko 6,0 44,5
17 Krivenko Dion 6,0 44,5
18 Jepsen Thomas Tange 6,0 44,5
19 Karsay Pascal 6,0 43,5
20 Cahen Alexis 6,0 42,0
21 Dammann Jorn 6,0 41,5
22 Pahud Cedric 6,0 41,0

...138 participants

Frank Buchenau , Christian Bauer

FM Frank Buchenau (2nd) and GM Christian Bauer (1st) (third placed IM Meins Gerlef had already departed)

Additional reporting: Sebastian Siebrecht

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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