Biel: Vidit's imaginative pawn sacrifice stuns Bogner

by Tanmay Srinath
7/29/2019 – Change is never pleasant, but when one succeeds in expanding his skill set the results are often staggering - ask Vidit Gujrathi! His attacking masterclass over Bogner sees Vidit just 3 points away from his 1st Biel title! Sam Shankland was a surprise victim today - Jorge Cori played splendidly in a reversed French structure to hand the American a potentially decisive loss and come closer to the coveted 2700 mark. Abdusattorov came back from the brink to stun Georgiadis, while Leko blundered deep into the endgame to switch places with Maghsoodloo in the points table.

Winning against the Classical Slav Winning against the Classical Slav

The videos on this DVD give White a repertoire with concrete variations against all main lines Black can play and also show the typical strategic and tactical ideas of the Slav and the hidden subtleties of the position.


White triumphs in all games

The tournament of Biel is entering the last two rounds. Not so surprisingly, it has been a one man show! Vidit Gujrathi, who has had a lean couple of months, has bounced back with some scintillating chess to take an almost unassailable lead of 4 points. All he needs now is a win from his remaining two games to guarantee sole first, and two draws to guarantee tied first atleast (that is if Sam wins his remaining two games!). On the other boards, Abdusattorov and Maghsoodloo improved their prospects of finishing in the top 3 with contrasting wins over Georgiadis and Leko. Jorge Cori drummed up a creative attack against Shakland and won a piece on move 30, but took his time to force resignation, and has now returned to a plus score in the classical section. It's time to go deep:

Vidit 1-0 Bogner

I am personally very happy with this Vidit 2.0 I am seeing. Players need to constantly reinvent themselves to reach the top, and Vidit is no exception. He was known for being a solid player who rarely lost, but also struggled to win against inferior opponents. In Danzhou Vidit showed glimpses of how he wanted to play, by beating Inarkiev in a Sicilian and taking risks in every games. The trials have finally paid off, as he demolished the Chebanenko Slav with a pawn sacrifice:

The rise of a great champion? | Photo : Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival


Bogner chooses the Chebanenko Slav to defend against Vidit's 1.d4. In reply, White chooses a relatively rare system involving an early 6.h4 and a kingside pawn advance.


The battle lines have been drawn. White has the bishop pair and easier development, while Black has pawn weaknesses to attack. Judging by how the game went, I'd say that White's position is easier to play, but there is nothing objectively wrong with Black's choice of strategy.


This position requires the deepest analysis. It is easy to understand the material balance - Black has won a pawn. However, to my eyes, it seems very difficult for Black to consolidate the pawn. The engines remain unconvinced with their 0.00 evaluation, but they often suffer from the horizon effect - the inability to see a good move 4-5 moves into a variation. Black needs at least three moves to fully mobilize his pieces, and it is not apparent where they stand best. This is the reason why I personally don't prefer grabbing pawns and defending - it requires a lot of stamina and a nerveless psyche! Against a well-prepared and (theoretically) stronger player like Vidit, Bogner had better choices at his disposal!


Black spent two moves dilly-dallying with his knights, making his position all the more vulnerable. Here the best way to defend was 18...♛a4! (18...h6!? is another interesting option) intending to exchange pieces. Instead, 18...ed3+? gives White a winning advantage. This goes to show how difficult defending positions in practice is!


Bogner might have not realized that his position is close to hopeless, otherwise he would have gluttonously grabbed a second pawn with 19...♞xf2! inviting Vidit to be precise. Instead, 19...b4? is a blunder, losing almost immediately after 20.xb4! xb4 21.g4! b6 22.h6!


This strike is reminiscent of Anand-Lautier at Biel Credit Suisse 1997. Vidit further opens up the position, aiming to improve his pieces with tempo. Black's position is disastrous.


Vidit played 30.c4?! forcing resignation. However, 30.♘f5! is a better way to do it, forcing mate in 3.


Vidit is one win away from the title. How well he has played! | Photo : Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Cori 1-0 Shankland

Perhaps Sam's only regret this tournament. After the bad luck in the 14th Blitz game yesterday, he still possessed realistic chances of catching Vidit. However, after this loss, he is under enormous pressure - he needs to win two in two and hope Vidit scores just one point from the remaining two games to get sole first. Credit to Jorge Cori, who has slowly grown into this tournament. He played this game fantastically well, and finished it off without allowing realistic chances to Black. Here are a few critical moments:

Will this loss be costly for Shankland? | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival


12...g5 was a novelty from Sam, aiming to keep the kingside closed. Here instead of castling queenside and allowing ♞g6-h4, Cori had the disruptive 13.h4!, with the key point being that 13...♞xg4 14.cxd5! wins back the pawn favourably.


18.fxe4! played by White, was a superb exchange sacrifice. With no open files for Black's rooks, he has no way to exploit his material advantage. Cori correctly assessed that Black's king is in severe danger, and his decision paid off, as Shankland soon erred.


Shankland had to counter punch here - 20...b5! with a worse but fighting position. Instead, 20...h5? was just a one move trick and after 21.f3! Cori was winning.


Note how the extra exchange is lying useless on a8? White is effectively a piece up!


It seems better to immediately take on f7 — 28.♘xf7 with the point that 28...♛xa3 is bad in lieu of 29.♘h6+ ♚f8 30.♘e2! and Black's shelter is torn apart. Cori played 28.c5!? and was still winning, but this 28.♘xf7 is a finesse that ensures lesser counterplay. Thereafter, White steadily traded pieces and fought off counterplay to win.


Cori is slowly closing in on the landmark 2700 rating — his live rating is currently at 2688.6 | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Abdusattorov 1-0 Georgiadis

Nodirbek is making a living out of winning lost positions! Today he was outplayed in a Ruy Lopez middlegame, and found himself staring down the barrel in a hopeless endgame. Just as it seemed to be a straightforward win for Nico, he started committing mistakes, and after further twists and turns lost painfully:

Things are not going as planned for Nico this year | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival


58...c5! is the most accurate way to win, shutting off the bishop from the kingside. Black wins on a canter after 59.g5 f3+! 60.♔g3 f2. The game move 58...e3? throws away most of the advantage and allows White back into the game after 59.f3!. The reason for this is that Black can't effectively control the light squares he just relinquished with e4-e3. Even 58...f3+! was better!


This was the last chance saloon for Nico. He played 88...f3? in the game and lost after 89.xc5! as his king was too far from the c-pawn. Instead, 88...b3! was the only way to draw, keeping his king flexible. The key thing to note is that after 89.♗xc5?? is now impossible due to 89...b2! which wins immediately. White has to give back the piece with 89.♖xa3! ♜e1 90.♖xb3 ♜xg1 91.♖b5. Seems similar to the game, doesn't it? The key difference is the placement of the king — now after 91...♚f5! Black's king is close enough and he draws! After 92.♖xc5+ ♜e6 we reach the following diagram:


The Black king is cut off by just one file, which is insufficient to win.


Will Caissa smile on Georgiadis in the last two rounds? | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Maghsoodloo 1-0 Leko

This was a game which stayed on course for a boring draw for a long time, till a couple of mistakes from Leko skyrocketed the evaluation for White:


Maghsoodloo returned to his happy hunting ground with 1.f3, and in reply Leko chose the symmetrical double-fianchetto English.


These sorts of endgames are irritatingly difficult for Black. He lacks space, and White can try all sorts of plans to try to cause havoc.


Here it is not hard to gauge that White has made progress — h5 is now a serious weakness. Leko however found the right sequence of moves to defend, and nearly neutralized White's pressure.


Black has made some progress. It is true that White has a passed pawn, but the fact is that it is hard to support. Here Leko had to go 55...♜d2!, removing a pair of rooks and making it easy to endlessly check the White king. After 56.♖c1 ♜b2 White has no way to make progress. Instead, 55...d6? was a serious mistake.


This was the best opportunity for Black to reduce the game to a dead draw - 59...♛xh5! and White has to watch out for ♜d1 in some variations. Instead, Leko's move 59...fxe4? was inadequate, and after 60.c5+ White won easily.


After a rough patch, the last two days of chess have gone well for Parham | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel Chess Festival

Here are the overall standings after round 5:

Rank Name Games Classic Rapid Blitz Total
1 GM Santosh Vidit 26 11 8 11 30
2 GM Sam Shankland 26 7 9 10 26
3 GM Parham Maghsoodloo 26 6 10 9.5 23.5
4 GM Jorge Cori 26 8 7 7 22
5 GM Peter Leko 26 5 10 6.5 21.5
6 GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov 26 8 5 8 21
7 GM Nico Georgiadis 26 3 6 2 11
8 GM Sebastian Bogner 26 5 3 2 10

It's Vidit's tournament to lose now. Can the Indian No.3 seal his win tomorrow?

Classical tournament standings


All 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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