The Biel Super GM is wide-open. The six-player double round-robin is unbalanced with a field of Magnus Carlsen (Elo 2842), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2801), Maxime Vachier Lagrave (2779), Peter Svidler (2753), David Navarra (2741) and Nico Georgiadis (2526). Unsurprisingly, Georgiadis is being targeted.
After five rounds, Carlsen and Shakh (3.5 each) lead, with Svidler (3), Navarra (2.5), MVL (2) and Georgiadis (0.5). However Georgiadis’ sole draw came against Carlsen who he shocked with an exchange sacrifice. Carlsen started with two wins versus MVL and Navarra. The former was a Carlsen classic in an apparently drawn rook ending. The latter involved a long-term exchange of Carlsen’s queen for Rook+ Kt + pawn, followed by slowly outplaying Navarra. The world champion has a knack for finding super gear when the chips are down, so the second half could be exciting.
The Dortmund GM concluded with Ian Nepomniachtchi winning with a 2872 performance. He scored 5 in the eight player round robin. Vlad Kovalev, Jan Krzysztof Duda, and Anish Giri (all 4) tied for second-fourth while Vlad Kramnik (3) came in with a minus score.
The 43-year-old’s determination to play interesting chess is leading to some odd results. I guess it’s hard for a former world champion to find motivation and this is how he’s keeping himself interested. Remember, Kramnik was a caveman until age 17 (!), when he was ordered to throttle back while representing the Soviet Union at his first Olympiad.
The Kramnik-Nepo encounter when the younger Russian GM beat the senior pro was probably the decisive encounter though Nepo’s most attractive win was his last round thrashing of Georg Meier. However, Nepo admitted he had luck on his side, scrambling draws against Duda and Kovalev.
The Diagram, Black to Play (White: Nepomniachtchi Vs Black: Georg Meier, Dortmund 2018) is a critical point in the game. Both kings are exposed. How should black defend against the threat of Qxh6?
19.— Kg7? [ Not this way though it looks natural to hold f6. The only defence is 19.—Kh7! 20.g4 b5! 21. g5 Bf4! 22. Qxf4 bxc4 23. Qh4 Qd2! 24. Be2 Rb8 holds while 20. g4 b5! 21. gxf5 bxc4 22. f6+ cxd3 23. Qe4+ Kh8 24. Qe3 is a draw.
White broke through with 20.g4! f4 [One difference. 20.—b5? 21. gxf5 bxc4 22. f6+ wins. The other problem is, the g-file opens up] 21.Rg1! Bd7 [White must avoid 22.g5 h5] 22.Qh5! Rh8 23.g5 hxg5 24.Qxg5+ Kf8 25.Qf6! Rxh2 [ Or 25. —Rg8 26 Rxg8+ Kxg8 27. Ke2 f3+ 28. Ke3] 26.Rg7 Be8 27.Bh7! (1-0). There’s lot of pieces hanging but 27.— Qxc4+ 28. Kf1 Rxh7 29. Rxh7 and 27. — Rh1 28. Kg2 Bf3+ 29. f3 Bxf3+ 30. Kxf3 Rh3 31. Ke4 Re3+ 32. Nxe3 are convincing.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player