Biel International Chess Festival underway

Biel International Chess Festival underway

| 6 | Chess Event Coverage


The 41st edition of the Biel International Chess Festival kicks off today in Switzerland and runs until 1 August.  This popular annual event consists - appropriately - of many 'Swiss System' tournaments of different categories:

  • Master (players rated >2000 Elo)
  • General (players rated <2050 Elo)
  • Rapid (25 mins per game)
  • Blitz (5 mins per game)
  • Youth (born 1988 or later)

There is also a simultaneous display today by the 24 year-old Russian GM Vladimir Belov (2561 Elo) and a even a Chess-Tennis competition (don't ask!).  However, the show-piece event is a 6-player double round-robin tournament featuring the top-seeded Magnus Carlsen (pictured).

The full line-up is:

 1  Magnus Carlsen   Norway  2775 
 2   Leinier Dominguez   Cuba  2708
 3  Evgeny Alekseev  Russia  2708
 4  Etienne Bacrot  France  2691
 5  Alexander Onischuk   USA  2670
 6  Yannick Pelletier  Switzerland   2569


The Norwegian wonder-kid Magnus Carlsen is the clear ratings favourite, and the current holder of the Biel title after beating Alexander Onischuk in a rapid playoff last year, but can he cope with the pressure of his 'favourite' status with all the others snapping at his heels?

Leinier Domiguez is a new recruit to the 2700+ club and will want to maintain the proud traditions of Cuban chess, having recently won the Capablanca Memorial tournament for the second time.  The 25 year-old's world ranking now matches his age and he will be a danger to everyone, including Carlsen, in his first outing at Biel.

The 23 year-old Evgeny Alekseev is one of the new generation of talented Russian players pushing their way to the top echelons of the sport.  His promise was confirmed when he won the ultra-strong Russian Chess Championship in 2006 and he will be also be keen to impress on his debut at Biel.

The former French chess prodigy Etienne Bacrot is now practically a veteran at 25 years of age and will hope to use his experience to his advantage.  He had a disappointing performance in the recent Grand Prix event in Baku, and will be looking to show his true strength here.

Alexander Onischuk will be carrying the flag for the USA in yet another high profile international event.  This will be his fifth time at Biel - can he go one better than last year and win the title?

Yannick Pelletier may live in France, but he stills plays under the Swiss flag and is the therefore the 'local boy' in the event.  He is the lowest ranked player in the competition but is a regular at Biel and always puts on a good show.

The official website is here and look out for news reports at!


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