Carlsen Steals Show With Queen Sacrifice As Biel Begins
Magnus Carlsen with Anna Rudolf after his win. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Carlsen Steals Show With Queen Sacrifice As Biel Begins

46 | Chess Event Coverage

In the first round of the Biel Chess Festival, Magnus Carlsen stole the show with a long-term positional queen sacrifice vs David Navara. The other winner was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who beat Nico Georgiadis in typical style.

The concept of giving up the queen always sounds a bit magical. To do without the most powerful piece on the board is counter-intuitive because, a queen down, you're not supposed to win, are you?

If you can win back lots of material or give checkmate right away, it ain't so special. In fact, you could even argue whether it's a sacrifice in such a case, but that's a question for philosophers. But what if the game just goes on?

The long-term, positional queen sacrifice is rare, so when a top grandmaster goes for it, it's exciting. It's what Magnus Carlsen did vs David Navara in Sunday's first round in Biel.

Carlsen Navara Biel 2018

Magnus Carlsen vs David Navara with, in the background, the playing hall where many more chess events will take place in the coming days. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The world champ got a rook, a knight and a pawn for her majesty, and active play—exactly the value of a queen. He said, matter-of-factly:

"I thought I wasn't risking much. I wasn't very optimistic either. There are still serious drawing tendencies but it keeps the game going and without a humongous amount of risk, which was really what I wanted."

Except for move 20, Carlsen didn't really get a chance for more than a draw before the time control. Navara's 31...Nc4 seemed to be forcing the draw, but with 32.Rd7! Carlsen could still continue the game a bit more.

Navara played well until move 48, when he blundered his h-pawn (although it might still be a draw there!). He said: "It was a tough game and Magnus is a stronger player so he won. I mean, he kept his high level also after the first time control whereas I didn't."

David Navara  Biel 2018

David Navara was humble as always. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Carlsen thought the endgame with RN vs Q was equal: "I thought it was just a draw. I expected the scoresheets to be signed at any minute. I thought David just missed something there. That's really it; I had no business winning this game. I was just worse."


Carlsen Navara Biel 2018

The post-mortem of Carlsen-Navara. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's English with Nc3, Nf3 and e3, Nico Georgiadis tried the subtle 4...a6 which was first played by the famous Soviet trainer Alexander Tolush and later by e.g. Vishy Anand. 

The Swiss GM was rather unfortunate to walk straight into excellent home preparation by Mamedyarov, which started with the new move 8.Rc1.

"I didn't expect this at all," Georgiadis admitted. "I thought it was not so bad, but when I realized that all the moves do not work..."

Biel Chess Festival playing hall 2018

Biel always has a nice and spacious podium for the top grandmasters. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

With powerful moves, Mamedyarov demonstrated both the strength of his bishop pair and the weakness of Black's queenside pawns.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Biel 2018

A great game by Mamedyarov to start with. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Peter Svidler continued their theoretical discussion in the 6.d3 Ruy Lopez. Svidler had played it nine times before as Black, including earlier this month in Jerusalem, and the last time against MVL was last year at the Sinquefield Cup.

"I am much happier about what I did today than about what I did in St. Louis when we played this line for the first time," said Svidler. "But I'm still not entirely sure why I'm subjecting myself to this all the time!"

Svidler isn't planning to play it again: "I doesn't really feel like I am enjoying it very much!" "Once you get a liking to a line, it's difficult to get rid of it," Vachier-Lagrave said.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Peter Svidler Biel 2018

After their match in 2016, MVL and Svidler met right away in the first round. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Biel 2018 | Round 1 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2842 3541 1 1.0/1 0
2 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2801 3326 1 1.0/1 0
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2779 2753 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
4 Svidler,Peter 2753 2779 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
5 Navara,David 2741 2042 0 0.0/1 0
6 Georgiadis,Nico 2526 2001 0 0.0/1 0

Games via TWIC.

The games start every day at 2 p.m. central European time (5 a.m. Pacific, 8 a.m. Eastern). You can follow them in Live Chess. The Chessbrahs are providing daily commentary with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton which you can follow on and

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