Morozevich beats Alekseev in exciting first round Biel

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Biel 2009 takes offIn a very exciting first round of Biel, Alexander Morozevich defeated his compatriot Evgeny Alekseev with White to grab an early lead as Vachier-Lagrave-Ivanchuk and Gelfand-Caruana both ended in a draw.

We've seen several new tournaments this year already, but the Biel Chess Festival, from July 18 to 31 in Biel, Switzerland is an old and famous event in the chess calendar. This year it's being organized for the 42nd time! The Grandmaster Tournament is a six-player round-robin (yes, another one) with Gelfand (2755), Morozevich (2751), Alekseev (2714), Vachier-Lagrave (2703), Ivanchuk (2703) and Caruana (2670).

Besides the main event there's a large number of side tournaments: a master tournament (11-round Swiss open for players >2000), a main yournament (9-round Swiss open for players <2050), a rapid tournament (a 9-round Swiss open on July 19th), a blitz tournament (a 13-round Swiss open on July 26th), a Chess960 tournament (a 7-round Swiss on July 18th) and some youth, simultaneous and even chess-tennis and chess-poker tournaments.

This year Biel's super-GM group is a nice mixture of experience and rising stars. Boris Gelfand, who is currently the world's number 7 in the live ratings, won the Biel Interzonal Tournament back in 1993 and he finished first in 2005 (together with Volokitin). Vassily Ivanchuk, back in the top 20 on the live list, already won in Biel back in '89. Alexander Morozevich was the winner in Biel in 2003, 2004 and 2006 while Evgeny Alekseev defends his title from last year. Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave might well clinch a title in the (near) future; for the latter it's the first time he participates in the top group in Biel.

Previous winners of the Grandmaster Tournament: 1977 Anthony Miles (ENG) 1979 Viktor Kortchnoi (SUI) 1980 Yehuda Grünfeld (ISR) 1981 Eric Lobron (GER); Vlastimil Hort (TCH) 1982 John Nunn (ENG); Florin Gheorghiu (ROM) 1983 Anthony Miles (ENG); John Nunn (ENG) 1984 Vlastimil Hort (TCH); Robert Hübner (GER) 1986 Lev Polugajevski (URS); Eric Lobron (GER) 1987 Boris Gulko (USA) 1988 Ivan Sokolov (YUG); Boris Gulko (USA) 1989 Vassily Ivantschuk (URS) 1990 Anatoly Karpov (URS) 1991 Alexej Shirov (LAT) 1992 Anatoly Karpov (RUS) 1994 Viktor Gavrikov (SUI) 1995 Alexej Dreev (RUS) 1996 Anatoly Karpov (RUS) 1997 Viswanathan Anand (IND) 1998 Mladen Palac (CRO) 1999 Jeroen Piket (NED) 2000 Peter Svidler (RUS) 2001 Viktor Kortchnoi (SUI) 2002 Ilya Smirin (ISR) 2003 Alexander Morozevich (RUS) 2004 Alexander Morozevich (RUS) 2005 Boris Gelfand (ISR); Andrei Volokitin (UKR) 2006 Alexander Morozevich (RUS) 2007 Magnus Carlsen (NOR) 2008 Evgeny Alekseev (RUS) 2009 ?

Round 1

If the first round is an example for the rest of the tournament then we're heading for a very exciting Biel 2009. All three games were highly interesting today and so the participants, varying from the 16-year-old Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave (18) to Gelfand and Ivanchuk (both 40), seem to be well matched for an animating event.

Morozevich, who always plays well in Biel, had a good start with a nice victory over Alekseev, showing that it's sometimes possible to go for a direct attack on the king in the ending as well. Black should have gone for the move ...h5 when it was possible: on move 27, when 28.f5 isn't dangerous because of 28...a5 29.Nc2 Rc8. When the white pawn arrived on f6, the Black king was doomed.

Right from the start Vachier-Lagrave went for Ivanchuk's throat in a Tarrasch French, and he did get quite far, but with a well-timed queen sacrifice (for knight, rook and pawn) the Ukrainian covered all important squares around his his king which was stuck in the centre.

As he picked number one at the drawing of lots, leader Morozevich has another White game tomorrow, against Gelfand. The youngsters face each other with Caruana playing the white pieces against Vachier-Lagrave and Ivanchuk has Black again, versus Alekseev.

Gelfand-Caruana

A clash of generations, and a great clash on the board: Gelfand-Caruana



Gelfand-Caruana was another draw, but what a draw! Like Morozevich, but this time just right after the opening with the queens still on, Gelfand started pushing his pawns on the kingside, keeping his king in the centre and even snatching a pawn on a7 - a true challenge for any chess teacher working with a puzzled student who saw the game today!

In what must have been a mutual timetrouble phase, Caruana defended nicely but couldn't prevent his opponent reaching a close to winning position. However, in the heat of the moment Gelfand decided that he had taken enough risks - he'll probably regret that he accepted Caruana's draw offer.

As he picked number one at the drawing of lots, leader Morozevich has White again tomorrow, versus Gelfand. The two youngsters meet each other with Caruana behind the white pieces against Vachier-Lagrave, while Ivanchuk is Black against Alekseev.

Game viewer

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Schedule and results Biel 2009

All photos courtesy of the tournament website, published with permission.

Links

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