Mamedyarov Increases Lead In Biel As Carlsen Draws Again
Mamedyarov beat Navara in a long game. | Photo: Simon Bohnenblust / Biel International Chess Festival.

Mamedyarov Increases Lead In Biel As Carlsen Draws Again

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov increased his lead at the Biel Chess Festival to a full point after grinding down David Navara in a rook endgame. Magnus Carlsen was in trouble but held Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to a draw, whereas Nico Georgiadis suffered his sixth loss in seven rounds, this time to Peter Svidler

The Biel tournament has provided so many long and fighting games that Saturday can definitely be called a well-deserved rest day. On Sunday, luckily, nothing changed: All three games were very interesting again.

Biel group photo

After many days of sunshine, the weather gods were not so friendly on the rest day but the smiles were still there. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov moved to plus-four with a win against David Navara with the white pieces. The latter ended up with hanging pawns, and lost a pawn. Mamedyarov played the endgame rather well, except for one moment where he missed a quicker win.

The game took almost six hours, and in such cases the Biel organizers are not very strict with press conferences. The players were allowed to head straight to the restaurant.

Anna Rudolf and Danny King were about to wrap up when Navara joined them anyway. He really wanted to show some variations! King's semi-serious "Let me be clear: we want to go for dinner!" didn't stop the Czech grandmaster from analyzing the game for about nine minutes. A true chess lover.

Some of his lines have been included below:


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Biel 2018

Tournament leader Mamedyarov. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Magnus Carlsen has some catching up to do in the last three rounds, as he lost further ground. He wasn't exactly unhappy with his draw with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave though, as it was the Frenchman who had the better chances in the second half of the game.

It was a Najdorf, and it got interesting when MVL pushed his a-pawn one square further. "I tried a little experiment in the opening that was a little dubious but gave plenty of play," he said. 

A while later, Carlsen went for that pawn with Bb5-c6 and Ra1-a3-b3-b5. There was a bit of danger involved (as the game showed!) but it's hard not to go for it when you can combine it with the cute tactic 24.Qc2.

Carlsen: "After a while I just thought: stop being a pussy and go for it!"

Magnus Carlsen hand writing

Carlsen filling out his form before the game. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The queens were traded, and MVL seemed to be repeating with Ng5-f7-g5. Carlsen said he underestimated the knight going back, and taking the a-pawn was an oversight: "Basically I just missed that the d3-square existed, which is pretty unforgivable." 

The black rook sneaked into White's territory, and that could have been with devastating effect. Although he didn't know exactly why, Carlsen's intuition was correct: "Here I was terrified. It's coming apart."

Here's the key position, where Black could have won. It was pointed out to Georgiadis and Svidler, who didn't even immediately see the idea after hearing the winning move. You can try it, and if you manage to see the whole winning line, you're a pretty good tactician!

"I cannot blame myself for not seeing this computer win," Vachier-Lagrave said. His other, sensible line of defense was that the position he went for was promising as well, but Carlsen held it with careful play.

MVL summed it up nicely: "We got the unbalanced game we were both hoping to get, but at some point the unbalances were too big for us to navigate."

Carlsen vs Vachier-Lagrave Biel 2018

The handshake before the game. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The good news for Carlsen is that he's still facing Mamedyarov one more time. That's on Tuesday. The bad news is that Mamedyarov will have the white pieces.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Biel 2018

MVL missed a fantastic winning combination, but couldn't really be blamed for that. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Anish Giri pointed out that Carlsen's drawing percentage in 2018 is higher than his.

Nico Georgiadis played a game that kind of summarized his tournament so far. He showed courage, played for a win, definitely showed his talent... but still ended up with a loss. You kind of get the feeling that he might just win 30 Elo points in his very next tournament.

Nico Georgiadis Biel 2018

Georgiadis, sponsored by a driving school apparently! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

In the seventh round, the 22-year-old Swiss GM threw the kitchen sink at Peter Svidler, who was reminded of the days when he used to play like this as White:

"It reminded me of my younger years, because I haven’t really been doing this in ages. I’m not really a Najdorf player. I was thinking during the game: If I’m a Najdorf player, I’m a Najdorf player from the white side. I was enjoying Nico’s position much more than I was enjoying mine," said Svidler. 

Peter Svidler Biel 2018

Svidler: "It reminded me of my younger years." | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Biel 2018 | Round 7 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2801 2926 ½ ½ 1 ½1 11 5.5/7
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2842 2834 ½ ½ ½ 4.5/7
3 Svidler,Peter 2753 2763 ½ ½ ½0 ½ 11 4.0/7
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2779 2752 0 ½1 ½ 1 3.5/7
5 Navara,David 2741 2714 ½0 ½ ½ 1 3.0/7
6 Georgiadis,Nico 2526 2336 00 ½ 00 0 0 0.5/7


Games via TWIC.

Round-eight pairings (Monday): Svidler vs Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave vs Mamedyarov, Navara vs Georgiadis.

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 posts:

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