Carlsen Tops Biel Field, Starting Sunday
Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Tops Biel Field, Starting Sunday

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

For the first time in six years, Magnus Carlsen is playing in Biel again. He tops the field and will compete with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Peter Svidler, David Navara and Nico Georgiadis.

The 51st Biel Chess Festival will take place July 22-August 1 in the Congress House in Biel, Switzerland. The main event is a six-player double round robin. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game with a 30-second increment starting from move one.

Biel 2018 | Participants

# Rank Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 1 Carlsen, Magnus 2842 1990
2 3 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2801 1985
3 8 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2779 1990
4 16 Svidler, Peter 2753 1976
5 20 Navara, David 2741 1985
6 699 Georgiadis, Nico 2526 1996

The Grand Chess Tour doesn't fit Magnus Carlsen's schedule this year, which gives him the opportunity to play some other tournaments. Those include the European Club Cup in the fall, and the Biel Chess Festival in the summer.

Carlsen played in Biel six times before: in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. He won twice, in 2007 and 2011. It will be his first tournament in two months, after finishing second behind Fabiano Caruana at Norway Chess.

One of the things he's been busy with (besides watching the FIFA World Cup!) is the activities connected to the launch of a new app for kids that bears his name.

After the cook-off in Norway, Carlsen was also quickly wearing "chef gear" again.As Tarjei Svensen informed us, Carlsen didn't really cook though; these were clothes of a Norwegian supermarket, where one of his friends works. They played in an informal "team talking chess" event.

No caption needed

A post shared by Magnus Carlsen (@magnus_carlsen) on

There's another 2800 player in the tournament: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Remarkably, the Azerbaijani grandmaster has never played in Biel before. He's one of two players who were at the chess board recently as participants of the Leuven and Paris Grand Chess Tour events.

The other is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the third seed. He played Biel eight times in consecutive years, between 2009 and 2016 (the last year was a match with Svidler). He won no less than five times.

When they meet, MVL might get a firm handshake from Carlsen and congratulations for France winning the FIFA World Cup.

Peter Svidler, MVL's opponent in 2016, is back as well. It will be his fourth time in the Swiss city, as he also played in 2000 and 2001. The Russian GM is reasonably warmed up after his rapid and blitz match with Yu Yangyi in June and the Gideon Japhet Memorial in July.

David Navara has played in Biel twice before, in 2015 and 2017. His recent events include the Shamkir tournament and some games in the French and Polish leagues. His last event was a rapid match with Pentala Harikrishna, in June in Prague.

Last seeded Nico Georgiadis is the atypical grandmaster in this field, being rated 200 Elo points lower than fifth seed Navara. However, for chess events it's very typical to give a local player the opportunity to play against world class players, and thus providing them with the necessary experience to make further progress.

Last year, when Hou Yifan won the tournament, Georgiadis did more than fine in his first appearance in the main event, scoring 5/9 and a 2705 performance rating.

The pairings for the first round are MVL-Svidler, Carlsen-Navara and Mamedyarov-Georgiadis.

The games will 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 will be providing daily commentary with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton which you can follow on and

The commentary team for the official website consists of GM Danny King and IM Anna Rudolf, which happens to be the same duo as at the Isle of Man tournament later this year. Good to have them warmed up a bit. 

As always, the Biel festival includes many more side events, including a strong open where the top seed is Ukrainian 2700-grandmaster Pavel Eljanov. All the info can be found on the official website.

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