Biel: three decisive games

ArnieChipmunk
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Magnus CarlsenAll three games were decisive in the 6th round of Biel today. Carlsen beat Pelletier and the statisticians will probably start calculating again to see if he has finally overtaken Anand on the virtual rating list.

By Arne Moll

Click here to download all games, and here to replay the games of the 6th round.

Opening lovers will certainly make a mental note of the percentage of 1.d4 games so far in this tournament: 65%. Today was no exception: all three white players opened their games with the Queen's pawn.

Onischuk-Dominguez

Dominguez played another Grunfeld-Indian, just as he did against Pelletier in the second round. Onischuk chose the Russian system with 5.Qb3, and after 7...a6 he followed up with the slightly off-beat move 11.e5 (the more common 11.0-0 was actually played by Onischuk last year against Svidler). According to my database, 13.Rd1 was the first new move, 13.a4 having been played (without success) by Ivan Sokolov in 1994. However, Black's extra center pawn looked slightly more useful than White's passed h-pawn after the exchange of queens. Subsequently, the exchange of white-squared bishops definitely worked out fine for Black. He was already slightly better after move 26. Black's position got definitely more active and it must have been tough for White from a practical point of view. And, of course, b2 was a 'little corpse' as we say in Dutch. Onischuk defended well and reached a completely drawn KRN vs KR endgame, which Dominguez played on extremely long. Onischuk must have been in time trouble, because he blundered horribly on move 88 (almost any other move draws easily) and sadly lost the game. Somehow, I can't help feeling that on this kind of level, these endgames simply should be declared a draw after just a couple of obligatory moves.

Bacrot-Alekseev

To be honest I didn't understand what Bacrot was doing in this game, until he suddenly won! It looks like he voluntarily sacced his c-pawn after a Catalan opening, but probably he miscalculated since he never got it back. Incidentally, my computer recommends 16.e4!? as a better way of getting compensation for the pawn. Bacrot tried hard to make something of it, and he definitely succeeded, since Black messed up horribly after move 30. Instead of 30...Ra8, the simple 33...Rxd6 looks simple and strong. In the game, after 34.Rxc6! Bacrot took his chance and went for a winning attack sacrificing his bishop. Suddenly, his pawns on d6 and a7 were absolutely unstoppable. A very strange game indeed, at least for me.

Pelletier-Carlsen

This game was a clash of two Queen's Indian players. Incidentally, I know almost nothing about this opening so I have to rely entirely on my database. Recently, Carlsen has been playing 5...b5 against the b2-b3 line, but now he chose the classical Bb4+ as he played several times against Loek van Wely. Carlsen deviated from his older games with the relatively rare move 7...d5. On top level, Kramnik has played this once (in 2001), and also Grischuk has experimented with it. Carlsen deviated from known paths with the natural 14...Bb4 aiming to place his queen on the nice square f8. I have never seen this manoeuvre and it looks very elegant - but perhaps that's just because I know who played it. The machine condemns 27.Qb6 and recommends 27.Rc1 with an equal game. However, I think Black has a nice game in any case. In the game, White's pieces on the king's side got terribly messed up and Carlsen profited nicely. On move 36, Carlsen showed that he is still a mortal, since he could have won immediately with 36...Rc8! with the point that 37.Qa3 fails to 37...Rxe2+! winning in all lines. Carlsen chose a more human continuation and won in a couple of moves anyway. Things look grim indeed for Pelletier, and Carlsen may be human, but his play is definitely supernatural. He leads by a point and looks to be easy cruising towards yet another tournament victory.

Standings after round 6:

1. Carlsen, Magnus 4?Ǭ? 2. Dominguez Perez, Leinier 4 3. Alekseev, Evgeny 3?Ǭ? 4. Onischuk, Alexander 3 5. Bacrot, Etienne 2?Ǭ? 6. Pelletier, Yannick ?Ǭ?
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