The 50th Biel Chess Festival kicks off

by Macauley Peterson
7/23/2017 – On Saturday the 50th chess festival of Biel officially openedl. Today chess players such as Anatoly Karpov, Vlastimil Hort and Rafael Vaganjan participate in a rapid tournament. Monday sees the start of the GM-tournament, the main event in the annual festivities. | Photos: Biel Chess Festival (bielchessfestival.ch)

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Navara wins Accentus Rapid

On Saturday, the stars of the Accentus Rapid were introduced, including legends Anatoly Karpov, Vlastimil Hort and Rafael Vaganian. They don't play much these days, so it was interesting to see how they fare against a group of younger and hungrier players.

Unfortunately, all three were eliminated in the preliminary quarter-final round, so we were only treated to two games from these experienced masters. Afterwards Anatoly Karpov was a guest on the live commentary with Danny King.

The rating favorites David Navara and Pentala Harikrishna advanced to the final two-game match, which was won by Navara. In the first game, playing with the white pieces, the Czech number 1 found a strong queen maneuver which won a pawn:

 

White threatens the a6 pawn, but once defended by 22...Bc8 (not Black's best, but there are no satisfactory options), Navara had 23.Qc3! hitting the rook and threating to win the a6 pawn via the discovered attack on Harikrishna's c6 knight. That material and the resulting initiative was enough for Navara to convert the position with relative ease. In the second game Navara drew comfortably in a Scheveningen Sicilian.

All games from the Accentus Rapid:

 

Commentary: Semi-final game 2 and Final

 

 

Commentary: Quarter-finals and Semi-final game 1:


 

The GM tournament gets under way on Monday at 14:00 CEST, with an ecletic field. Among the players is Peter Leko, who has played just one tournament game so far this year — a draw against the young Norwegian talent Aryan Tari in the Italian Team Championship — but he certainly has memories of Switzerland, where in 2004 he nearly became World Champion in Brissago, in his match with Vladimir Kramnik.

The complete GM tournament roster (in rating order) is:

  1. Pentala Harikrishna (2737)
  2. David Navara (2737)
  3. Etienne Bacrot (2715)
  4. Ruslan Ponomariov (2699)
  5. Peter Leko (2678)
  6. Alexander Morozevich (2675)
  7. Hou Yifan (2666)
  8. Rafael Vaganian (2562)
  9. Noel Studer (2493)
  10. Nico Georgiadis (2496)

Also starting Monday, the Masters Open has over 120 participants, including more than 30 Grandmasters. The American GM and Biel-veteran Sam Shankland leads the list.

ChessBase has a long cooperation with the organizers in Biel and will provide live commentary with Daniel King and Joe Gallagher.

Biel Lake

The beautiful Biel / Bienne lakeside | Photo: bielchessfestival.ch

Andre Schulz contributed to this report

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Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.

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