All three games drawn in Biel

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Etienne BacrotThe second round in Biel was not quite as exciting as the first, but it wasn't too bad either. All three games were drawn, but they all had some interesting moments. So let's just have a look at them.

By Michael Schwerteck

(Download all the games here.)

Carlsen ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú Alekseev

Of course, the battle between the co-leaders was the most important game of the round. It started with a quiet line of the Queen's Indian. Curiously enough, it seems that Alekseev managed to play two novelties in a row. The first new move was 14.Qc2, but after 14...Qc7 a position arose which had already been seen a long time ago in the game Bondarevsky-Reshevsky, Leningrad/Moscow 1939, although a completely different move order had been played then. 15.e4 was another novelty instead of Bondarevsky's 16.Ng5 (yes, the old chaps had needed one more move to reach the same position). Unfortunately, this was already one of the most interesting aspects of the game. Carlsen initiated some complications with 20...d5, but they just lead to gradual exchanges. In the end, another opposite-coloured bishop ending was reached, but this time it was really dead-drawn.

Pelletier ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú Dominguez

Pelletier chose the relatively rare 13.Rxb7 in the Nf3/Rb1-Gr?ɬºnfeld, a line that Dominguez apparently wasn't very familar with. The Cuban spent quite a lot of time in the opening, but I'm not sure he found the ideal reaction. I for one like White's bishop pair and activity, while the a7-pawn has a long way to go. Pelletier found an interesting tactical sequence, starting with 22.Qd7, but 22.Bd5 didn't look ridiculous either, simply keeping up the pressure. Note that White can quickly drum up a brutal attack with f5 gxf5 Qh5, if Black does nothing. As the game went, an opposite-coloured bishop ending (again!) arose, which Dominguez managed to hold, despite being two pawns down, by setting up a blockade. I wonder whether any improvements for White can be found along the way. One idea is 27.Bc6 hxg5 28.Bxb7 Rb8 29.Bd5!? and the position might still be drawn, but who knows whether Magnus Carlsen wouldn't win it.

Bacrot ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú Onischuk

In the Closed Ruy Lopez, Onischuk chose a line which has had a dubious reputation since Topalov-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1995. 13.d5 ?¢‚Ǩ?æputs Black's setup to hard test?¢‚Ǩ?ì according to Khalifman. It seems that nobody told Onischuk about this, however. Instead of Beliavsky's 15...Nbc4?! (which basically blunders a pawn), he simply played 15...Qd7 (actually Rybka's first choice), after which Black's position looks sound enough. 16.Bxb6 is the kind of move that somehow looks ?¢‚Ǩ?æcritical?¢‚Ǩ?ì, but Bacrot didn't really get anywhere. Onischuk quite easily defended his doubled pawns and had a nice outpost on c4 for his knight. Perhaps Black could even have played for an advantage instead of accepting the draw by threefold repetition. It will be interesting to watch future developments in this opening variation.

Current standings: 1.-2. Magnus Carlsen and Evgeny Alekseev 1,5/2; 3.-4. Lenier Dominguez and Alexander Onischuk 1/2; 5.-6. Etienne Bacrot and Yannick Pelletier 0,5/2.
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