Ivanchuk and Vachier-Lagrave win in spectacular 8th round in Biel

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Biel 2009Alekseev and Gelfand sharpened the Biel record and drew in just 11 moves, but the other two games still made the 8th round in Biel the most spectacular thus far. Vachier-Lagrave defeated Morozevich with Black in an absolutely amazing game, but Ivanchuk also maintained his shared first place in the standings by beating Caruana.

The Biel Chess Festival takes place July 18 to 31 in Biel, Switzerland. The Grandmaster Tournament is a six-player round-robin with Gelfand (2755), Morozevich (2751), Alekseev (2714), Vachier-Lagrave (2703), Ivanchuk (2703) and Caruana (2670).

Round 8

All the attention in this eighth round went to the absolutely amazing game between Alexander Morozevich and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, which was eventually won by the young Frenchman, after he had survived a "-10 position". Morozevich had come up with a dangerous new idea in a hyper-sharp Najdorf (English Attack) and after locking the black king and rook on g8 and h8 with a pawn on g6, the mate was there, but not easy to find.

White could have won instantly with 26.Rxf8+! as all computers will immediately point out, but it's a difficult move and therefore calling 26.Rxa8? a blunder would be too much. It's very easy to make such a typical computer-check comment these days. Thirty years ago we would have never called it a blunder, but probably something along the lines of “a mistake in a highly complex situation”. I’m of the opinion that the engine’s evaluation switching from green to red, and from +10 to -2 or whatever, is the only reason why we (I’ve probably done the same every now and then) started calling such moves blunders. We shouldn’t.

Biel 2009

Vachier-Lagrave's 27...Rh7!? was the next, highly creative moment in this game, with which Black tried to activate, well, at least his knight. But White just left that rook en prise as this way it stayed out of the game, and the knight on f8 as well.

Just when White seemed to deliver a new blow on move 33, Vachier-Lagrave countered strongly and proved that it was a mistake. Another error on move 40 resulted in a lost position for Morozevich, but then the Russian on his turn had another last trick up his sleeve: just continue that strategy of leaving Rh7 and Nf8 where they are, because the rest of the board is just queens and opposite-coloured bishops!

However, White couldn't prevent the exchange of queens and then, like the finish of a good prison movie, Vachier-Lagrave found the only way to free his rook in the end. For this incredibly difficult game we've based our notes largely on Mikhail Golubev's in Chess Today and in return we're happy to mention once more that this daily PDF (+PGN) email newspaper is highly recommended!

Biel 2009

Caruana-Ivanchuk was not bad either. The ever-unpredictable Ukrainian went for the Pirc Defence this time and proved that his king was perfectly safe on d8. A difficult middlegame arose where Black's 24...g5 looked stronger than it was since 26.fxg5 Nf4+ 27.Kh1 Nxh3 28.Nge4 looks better for White. It looks like Caruana was tricked by his opponent just after that, and the Italian's liquidation to an ending was only postponing the inevitable.

Biel 2009Only with such interesting games in the same round it's possible to be indifferent about an 11-move draw between Alekseev and Gelfand. But it does leave a bad taste; the draw is part of chess, but the non-game isn't.

Games round 8

Click on the pairings at the top of the board to reveal a drop down list of all the games. More info on our new game viewer can be found here.

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Biel Chess Festival 2009 | GM Tournament | Round 8 Standings Biel 2009


Biel Chess Festival 2009 | Schedule & results Schedule and results Biel 2009



Photos courtesy of the Biel Chess Festival

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