Biel Young Grandmasters has started

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BielThe Young Grandmasters tournament in Biel, Switzerland, has started today. World Junior Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is back where he won last year.

Report and analyses by IM Robert Ris

The Young Grandmasters Tournament is a single round-robin event with 10 players. It is being held from July 19 to 28. This year, the organizers decided to change the format from last year's edition, when 6 players battled it out in a double round-robin. Current titleholder and reigning World Junior Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is back in the town.

His main competitor can be expected to be Evgenij Tomashevsky, who is with 23(!) years the oldest participant. But clearly, the even younger top talents such as Anish Giri and Wesley So will no doubt think differently. With a FIDE Category 17 and an average elo of 2658, this invitation group is the main attraction of the 43rd edition of International Chess Festival in Biel.

Besides this main group, another strong Open is being held with a lot of titleholders, of whom the Russian GMs Alexander Riazantsev (2674) and Boris Grachev (2667) are topping the list of entries. This tournament will consist of 11 rounds and hence will last two days longer, until the 30th of July. Moreover, other activities such as 960 Chess and a Chess-Tennis competition are part of the agenda, which makes the festival one of the popular summer events among both professionals and chess tourists.

The first day of the Young Grandmasters started quite peacefully with two rather uneventful draws between Andreikin-Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Giri-Tomashevsky. In the former game White opted for a French Winawer with the rare 4.Nge2.

Andreikin soon started pushing his kingside pawns, but when Black subsequently castled queenside, he realized that his kingside aggression wouldn't yield him anything. After a mass of exchanges the players didn't see any perspective in the rook ending and hence decided to split the point on move 28.

In Giri-Tomashevsky, the veteran of the tournament deviated with 13...Na6 from a game Giri-Bitalzadeh, Hilversum 2009, where White easily took control over the c-file. Giri couldn't find anything concrete and after the accurate 17...Rfe8 and 18...Rac8 Black easily could take care of the only weakness in his camp on c7. Ten moves later a draw was agreed.

More spectacular was the encounter between Rodshtein and Negi. Against the Catalan Defence, the Indian chose his pet system with 4...dxc4, 5...c6 and 7...Be7 and pretty easily survived the opening when White omitted to play 15.dxe5! The consequences of the positional exchange sacrifice would have certainly offered him better chances for an advantage. A complicated middlegame arose and when Black decided to release the tension by exchanging pieces, the following happened.

26...Rxd4?? 26...Ne1+ will probably lead to a draw - see the game analysis.

27.Na3! Now Black is suddenly lost. He doesn't have time to cope with all his back rank problems.

27...Nd2 28.Ra2! Nf3 29.Rxd4 Nxd4 30.Rd2 and Black resigned in view of 30...Rc7 31.Rxd4!

In Vachier Lagrave-Caruana, the White player had more luck on his side. In an Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez with 5...Qd6, Black easily obtained equality after 16...f5! Black's dynamic resources proved to be more valuable than White's statical trumps. With 22.f4 White took some radical measures to defend his kingside, but soon the new Swiss resident found other ways to attack the weakened kingside. At the moment supreme, however, Caruana missed two excellent opportunities to decide the game in his favor. A few moves later, the following position was reached.

White now found a great defensive resource by means of 38.Re5! covering a lot of important squares around his king. Caruana disappointedly finished the game with a nice rook sacrifice which however only enabled him to give a perpetual check.

The last game of the day, Howell-So, saw a rather weird Exchange Variation of the Caro-Kann with 4.Bd3. During the live broadcasting, it took me some time before I recovered from the shock the Englishman delivered me by playing


Initially, I assumed some mistake had been made by the live relaying, but the dust in my eyes cleared when a little later, 19.h4 was executed as well. However, White's original idea was simply punished when So's heavy pieces entered on the queenside. With time scramble approaching, Howell committed the decisive mistake with 29.Re3? which was easily refuted by 29...Nc1! A rather simple win with Black for So, although we should hope Howell's creativy will bear its fruits in coming rounds!

Standings after Round 1:

1. Rodshtein, So 1 3. Tomashevshi, Giri, Andreikin, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, Vachier Lagrave, Caruana 9. Negi, Howell 0

Games start daily at 14.00 CET, except July 25, which is a rest day.

Biel Young Grandmasters Games round 1, analysed by Robert Ris

Game viewer by ChessTempo


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