Biel R4: King David Marches To Sole Lead

Biel R4: King David Marches To Sole Lead

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

David Navara stole the show in round four of the Biel Chess Festival's Grandmaster Tournament with an amazing king walk. The Czech GM beat Radek Wojtaszek and leads alone. Mickey Adams lost again, this time to Pavel Eljanov.

This year's Biel tournament doesn't have a top-10 player but nonetheless it is turning into a really exciting chess event. It should be noted that one of the most thrilling games of the previous decade, Morozevich vs Vachier-Lagrave, was played on the same stage in 2009.

There must be something in the Swiss mountain spring water.

On Thursday it was David Navara who got spectators on the edge of their seats with a stunning king march. In a complex, queenless middlegame resulting from a Najdorf, the white king went from g1 all the way to h8. Even Radek Wojtaszek must have smiled there.

Danny King described it the best in his daily video (see below): “Imagine an army general leaping from the trenches, striding out over no-man's land, dodging enemy shells to find safety in an obscure corner of the battlefield. That's what David Navara did with his king.”

Navara's steel king, still on e1 here. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

Earlier this month we saw another king walk, but there the monarch was dragged into the mud and killed. Who would have thought that Wei Yi's masterpiece would be followed by another brilliancy, in less than a month's time?

A big part of it was preparation, as Navara explained afterward: “I analyzed the line earlier with a friend, but then I didn't consider Kf4 at all. Yesterday in the evening I looked at it with the computer and found that there was nothing more than a draw for Black. The lines were fairly complicated.”

Preparing something like this leads to some practical problems, said Navara: “When I informed my second, grandmaster Igor Stohl, that I was going to play this line, I was joking that I might be disqualified either for prearranging a draw or for playing with computer because it really looked so!

“Igor suggested that I should play quickly, that it was my preparation and that I wasn't playing with computer. I replied: well, maybe, but if it finishes in a quick draw I should on the contrary insist that I was playing by myself and it was no preparation!”

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

King David! | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

“It was just incredible, probably one of the most amazing games I've ever seen,” said Pavel Eljanov, who was one of the lucky grandmasters to be playing a game right next to Navara's board. Some others reacted on Twitter:

When asked whether he had ever played a game that looks anything like this, Navara duly replied: “Well, I did.” He mentioned the game Navara-Velicka from the 2010 Czech Championship, which was quite extraordinary as well. Indeed that's a game worth embedding here: 

Here's Danny King's interview with Navara:

Meanwhile, early leader Mickey Adams lost his second game in a row to fall back to minus one. It's quite rare for a 2700 GM to lose in an Exchange Slav as White. If we ignore rapid and blitz games, this only happened twice before: Wang Yue-Ma Qun, Chinese Championship 2013 and Li Chao-Shirov, Bundesliga 2014.

But his game with Pavel Eljanov wasn't a typical Exchange Slav; it became much more dynamic after Black got ...f7-f5 in. Adams was in fact playing an excellent game, and especially the trade of his king's bishop for the knight, followed by Qf1, Ne5 and f3 was very instructive.

Only when the English GM allowed his opponent's passed pawn to reach the seventh rank it became rather messy. Blocking it, on move 39, would have been safer, that's for sure.

“At some point my position was dangerous, I think,” said Eljanov. “I was lucky to [be able to] push my pawn on a2 just [in] time and after time trouble I'm not sure what is my position, but I think here I'm not at risk.”

Adams collapsed after having played quite a good game. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

Richard Rapport wasn't involved in the fun, for a change! After two Chigorins and a King's Gambit, he treated the opening much more quietly in his game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Yesterday I just managed to throw away a full point, then a half-point. (...) I was not really in the mood to keep up with this today,” said Rapport.

It was an Anti-Grünfeld where the queens left the board on move seven. MVL allowed a white pawn to march up to e6, and Rapport's 14.Ng1!? was a nice regrouping — the knight would be great on f4.

Rapport had some chances, then at some point MVL took over, but the balance was never really disturbed. 

“It's always OK to draw with Black, unless you really need a win,” said Vachier-Lagrave. 


A correct draw in Rapport vs Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

GM Danny King is providing daily round reports on his PowerPlayChess YouTube channel. Here's the report on the fourth round:

Thursday's fourth round will see Pavel Eljanov vs Richard Rapport, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs David Navara and Radoslaw Wojtaszek vs Michael Adams. The rounds start at 2 p.m. CET (8 a.m. New York, 5 a.m. Pacific) and can be watched live here or in the live server.

2015 Biel GM Tournament | Round 4 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Navara,David 2724 2907 phpfCo1l0.png 1 0 1 1 3.0/4
2 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2731 2805 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ ½ 2.5/4
3 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2733 2713 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 2.0/4
4 Adams,Michael 2740 2624 1 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 0 1.5/4 3.75
5 Rapport,Richard 2671 2644 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/4 3.00
6 Eljanov,Pavel 2723 2644 0 ½ 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/4 2.75


The 48th Biel Chess Festival takes place July 18-30 in Biel, Switzerland. The Grandmaster Tournament is a double-round-robin with six players. The rounds start at 2 p.m. CET (8 a.m. New York, 5 a.m. Pacific) and can be watched live here or in the live server. Games via TWIC  phpfCo1l0.png

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