Carlsen Wins Study-Like Endgame, Moves To 2/2 In Biel
Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave after the game. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Carlsen Wins Study-Like Endgame, Moves To 2/2 In Biel

| 30 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen is the only player on 2/2 at the Biel Chess Festival after beating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a double rook ending that, at the end, looked like an endgame study. Nico Georgiadis is on 0/2 as he lost to Peter Svidler.

"Rubinstein would have enjoyed the spectacle," noted our commentator Dejan Bojkov. He certainly enjoyed it as well, as did many chess fans around the world who were watching the game live.

In the second round in Biel, Carlsen and MVL showed their endgame skills in a truly magnificent fight that ended with an amazing dance of the black king and a nice, finishing touch with which Carlsen won by a single tempo.

Biel Chess Festival playing hall 2018

The playing hall was packed on Monday as the open tournaments have now started as well. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The world champ played the Pirc, as he does every now and then ("I just wanted to play something different") and MVL tried a rare line with Bc1-f4. "I thought I should try to get Magnus out of book somehow but it didn’t turn out so well."

The players quickly reached a complex endgame which, according to Peter Svidler, wasn't as comfortable for White as the typical French endgames from e.g. the Vacuum Cleaner variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 Qb6 12.Nb5 Qxd4 13.Nxd4).

The main difference is that MVL didn't have his pawn on f4 yet and spent quite a few tempi to arrange that. By then, Black already had the chance to trade his light-squared bishops when such endings are known to be pleasant for Black.

Things were still very much under control for White, although it got slightly unpleasant for MVL when he missed 29...Rc4! pinning his f4-pawn. “Otherwise it’s just equal,” said Carlsen.

Vachier-Lagrave Biel 2018

MVL got himself into an unpleasant double rook endgame. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

It got worse when the French GM refrained from putting his h-rook on f6, and at the first time control, Carlsen had reached a winning position.

However, he started playing inaccurately. MVL was fighting like a lion and it might have been a draw somewhere ("If there was a draw, the path was pretty narrow" - Carlsen), but eventually, after the second time control, Carlsen pulled it off nicely.

"At the end I just had to calculate that I gain two tempi on each rook," he said. 

Magnus Carlsen side face

An excellent endgame win for Carlsen. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Vachier-Lagrave called 54…Kb7 a great move. It's hard to explain it in words since it’s concrete: the king has to be able to go to c7 and attack the d6-rook. "At this point I was about to give up but then I saw there were some chances. Not even some chances, probably major chances," said Carlsen. "So I was a bit lucky, but that’s the way it is sometimes."


Vachier-Lagrave Carlsen Biel 2018

MVL resigns after 79 moves. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Peter Svidler vs Nico Georgiadis was a difficult game for both players, with the underdog putting up an excellent fight as Black, after White's opening wasn't very successful. "A tough game and the way I played the opening, I shouldn't have been anywhere near that game," Svidler said.

With 16...Nxd5 Georgiadis allowed the position to become sharper, and only there Svidler started to think he could be better. The game remained very tactical due to both kings being not 100 percent safe, and up till move 44 Georgiadis was close to the draw.

Georgiadis Svidler Biel 2018

Georgiadis resigns the game. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The encounter between David Navara and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was very interesting as well. The Azerbaijani grandmaster was on the verge of losing out of the opening, despite bringing home prep on the board and playing the first 17 moves super fast.

Navara suggested his opponent had "confused a variation in the opening." The Czech GM would have won the game with 23.Nf5 but whereas engines quickly jump to a +2 evaluation, it's not so easy to evaluate even by strong grandmasters.

Also in the endgame he was much better, but after Navara lost a tempo his winning chances were definitely gone.

Mamedyarov Biel 2018

Mamedyarov had to suffer vs Navara. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Biel 2018 | Round 2 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2842 3560 1 1 2.0/2
2 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2801 2824 ½ 1 1.5/2 0.25
3 Svidler,Peter 2753 2843 ½ 1 1.5/2 0.25
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2779 2607 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.75
5 Navara,David 2741 2631 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.75
6 Georgiadis,Nico 2526 1977 0 0 0.0/2

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

Earlier post:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from PeterDoggers
Praggnanandhaa Scores 1st Classical Win Vs. Carlsen, Leads In Norway

Praggnanandhaa Scores 1st Classical Win Vs. Carlsen, Leads In Norway

New Power Generation Shows Itself At Sharjah Masters

New Power Generation Shows Itself At Sharjah Masters