Mamedyarov Beats MVL, Catches Carlsen In Biel
Mamedyarov vs Vachier-Lagrave in round 3. | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel International Chess Festival.

Mamedyarov Beats MVL, Catches Carlsen In Biel

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round three of the Biel Chess Festival to catch Magnus Carlsen in first place. The world champion drew quickly with Peter SvidlerNico Georgiadis also lost his third game, to David Navara.

In what was the shortest round so far, all games had finished after three hours and 15 minutes. Oddly, the shortest game in terms of moves (the 26-move draw between Carlsen and Svidler) was the last to finish.

That was because the players spent quite a bit of time on their clock, calculating lots of fascinating variations. Svidler summarized how the players felt when leaving the playing hall: "We kind of agree on critical points and we also agreed that we were never sort of in control of it at any point, neither of us!"

Peter Svidler Biel 2018

Peter Svidler went for the Najdorf today. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

In the first round, the Russian GM had already hinted at not playing a specific line in the 6.d3 Ruy Lopez any longer. He avoided it radically, by not going for 1...e5 altogether!

"I didn’t really expect the Najdorf," said Carlsen. "It's not that I haven’t looked at it but I didn't look at it today."

1.e4 Carlsen Biel 2018

Carlsen, about to move his king's pawn but not expecting the Najdorf coming on the board. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Svidler, who successfully defended a career plus-one score against the world champion today, suggested that Carlsen and his team had already checked this specific variation for the Big Match with Caruana in November. Carlsen put up a big smile when hearing these words:

"When 6.Bg5 appeared on the board I thought maybe 2018 is not the year to bluff Najdorf against Magnus. He probably has had reasons to take a peek, at some point!

Move 15 was an exciting moment, when Carlsen put his bishop on b5 with a black pawn still on a6.

Carlsen-Svidler after 15.Bb5!?

It reminded of the Gothenburg variation (6...e6 6.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.fxg5 Nfd7 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Qh5+ Kf8 13.Bb5) although, as Anish Giri pointed out on Twitter, this theme also appeared in a recent game Dubov-Artemiev, Tbilisi 2017.

At first, Svidler wondered why he had to be afraid of it as he could just castle, but then he realized: “I'm always one tempo short of completely stabilizing,” he said.

Carlsen played a second piece sacrifice on move 17, and should have played a third on move 20: "The whole system is screaming out for 20.Bg5 but if you don’t see a mate..." Carlsen said.

After that, the fun was over and if anyone could play on in the end, it was Svidler. "At this point I had lost control so I was just trying to hang on," said Carlsen.

The two 2800 players in the field are topping the standings together as Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won a good game vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Once again, the Azerbaijani revealed impressive homework, which might still have been related to the hard work he did for the Candidates'.

It was an early g2-g4 in a line of the English that caught MVL off guard, but not because he hadn't looked at it: "I had a recollection of looking at g4 briefly but for some reason I didn't think it was dangerous," said MVL. "It’s a pity. I remember looking at this line but I couldn’t recall any of that today."

Vachier-Lagrave Biel 2018

Not having checked 7.g4 properly was the start of MVL's problems. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The Frenchman went for a forcing line anyway, but he had missed 14.Qe2 at the end of it, when White was clearly better. Then "one mistake led to another," as he said himself.

"It is very nice to play like this. I like the g4 idea. I prepared this variation very well; it’s easier for me to play than for Maxime," said Mamedyarov.


Mamedyarov Biel 2018

An excellent game by Mamedyarov, who improved his score with MVL to an impressive 6 to 1 in classical games. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

For Nico Georgiadis this tournament is mostly going to be a learning experience, but it was good to see during the post-mortem that he is keeping his spirits high: "Today the positive sign was that I was quite lost out of the opening and then I managed to come back, but unfortunately I was already short on time so I couldn’t find all the resources."

Nico Georgiadis Biel 2018

Nico Georgiadis. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

For the second time in the tournament, David Navara got to play a position with a queen against a rook and a minor piece. He admitted that he tends to play better on the side of the pieces, and indeed his play wasn't perfect today. In time trouble, Georgiadis was initially doing well, but then stumbled anyway.

In short, it was another very interesting game—Biel has been producing great chess so far.

Georgiadis Navara Biel 2018

Georgiadis resigning the game. | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust/Biel International Chess Festival.

Biel 2018 | Round 3 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2842 3037 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 3
2 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2801 2961 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 1.25
3 Svidler,Peter 2753 2836 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3
4 Navara,David 2741 2723 0 ½ 1 1.5/3
5 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2779 2520 0 0 ½ 0.5/3
6 Georgiadis,Nico 2526 1965 0 0 0 0.0/3

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:

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