Yesterday was round 8 in Biel. Here's a shot of the playing hall:
The stage has the Elite Section of six, and the huge video screen broadcasts their boards. The other sections play in the long rows of tables.
Even though the rest day was only two rounds ago, it seems a distant memory. Hanging out with the other American players, there is constant talk of chess chess chess. Also, I have not prepared for my chess games this much in a loooooong time, so it's an unusual feeling. Study, study, study. It's fun, it's tiring, it's weird...
Funny thing, 20 minutes before the round, e.g. 5 minutes before I should leave my room, I quickly checked what my opponent plays as white against the King's Indian Defense, and found that he had several times played the exact line that I had been planning to play. Oooops! Should have checked that sooner. So I decided in the last five minutes to play a different line, but somehow I could only find one game in the database with it, which made me wonder if it was even a line?? I did not feel very confident with this prep, and then when the game started, the King's Indian came, and I played the line, and he blitzed out his answers, showing that it was a variation that he had studied. So I lost at least half an hour compared to him in the opening, getting into the game and being careful to understand what was going on.
Nevertheless, I would say he made his decisions kind of flippantly, and without much calculation, and I had the upper hand all game. In fact I spent several hours sure I was going to win, and when he played Nf3 and I suddenly realized the game was a draw, I was mightily disappointed. Here is the game, it should be enjoyable to you:
Meanwhile, in the Elite Section there was a rarity: an all-decisive day. I was very sad to see Vachier lose to Morozevich. Caruana ground down Pelletier who has made a good showing against the high-rated opposition thus far. And Carlsen has completely gotten over his loss against Vachier from a couple days ago, winning confidently with black against Shirov. They use "football scoring" of 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw. Morozevich is still mathematically within easy reach to catch him (16 v. 13), but Carlsen is in such form, I am pretty sure he will take the tournament.
Now it is Wednesday morning, and later today I'll be trying to reverse my slide with the black pieces against Spanish GM Alsina Leal.