MVL Beats Svidler In Biel Match, Pushes Rating To 2819

MVL Beats Svidler In Biel Match, Pushes Rating To 2819

| 47 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave beat GM Peter Svidler 3-1 in the classical portion of their match at the Biel Chess Festival. In doing so, the French GM's rating will be 2819 on the August FIDE rating list.

All photos courtesy Biel Chess Festival.

After playing four rapid games on Sunday (as reported here), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Peter Svidler switched to classical chess, with games from Tuesday to Friday. Already leading 2.5-1.5, MVL won the second part of the match with an even bigger margin. Winning two and drawing two, he set the final score at 5.5-2.5.

Things started relatively quietly with Svidler avoiding the Najdorf in the first classical game. He played 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.0-0 a6 5.Bd3. Vachier-Lagrave had quite a bit of experience with this system, including a game from his GM Blitz Battle with Fabiano Caruana here on Nonetheless Svidler was successful with his preparation. "I failed to see the idea he had prepared at all. My position is probably not so bad, but I need to be really precise," admitted MVL.

Svidler commented, "It's something I had as a backup idea, if I don't find anything better to play. Frankly, going to the round, I wasn't sure what first move I will make." He added, "But this happens to me occasionally, it's not unusual."

The start of the first classical game. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

It was Vachier-Lagrave to open the score the next day. He is one of the last Mohicans, not only for playing the Berlin Ending, but also for going for the Marshall main lines in the Ruy Lopez. "I thought everything was analyzed to a draw," remarked commentator GM Danny King, and many fans were probably thinking the same. But Svidler said, "It's all a draw, but there's still some pressure left," which especially goes for the 12.d3 lines.

Typically in these positions, White gives back the pawn and goes for an endgame in which he has the bishop pair. With Black's slightly weakened queenside, White still has some room to play around without running much risk. In this game Black was really close to equalizing, but the little pawn push 26.b3! made all the difference.

Svidler still in good spirits, before undergoing the Spanish torture. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

The next game really showed that Svidler hasn't played chess for a while — his last classical event was the Russian Team Championship in May. He went for the Najdorf again, prepared something interesting, and built up an advantage that grew into a winning position. However, lacking enough time on the clock, he failed to deliver the knockout blow, and after further miscalculations, he even lost. A good sport, Svidler congratulated his opponent on the match win, humbly admitting that MVL had been the better player.


MVL decided the match in the third game. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

The last game was another draw, with more very deep Ruy Lopez theory. It was not the Marshall this time, but the Zaitsev, where only on move 25 did the game go out of book! Svidler regretted that he took on c4 there, and that he spent so little time on it. He was lucky to escape with a draw, because both players missed that right at the end there was still a way to continue playing for White.


The match was a welcome warm up to Sinquefield for Svidler. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

MVL-Svidler, Biel 2016 | Match Score

# Fed Name Rtg R1 R2 R3 R4 C1 C2 C3 C4 Score
1 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2798 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 5.5/8
2 Svidler,Peter 2759 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 2.5/8

This last game closed a "very interesting match with a lot of fighting chess," as MVL put it. The Frenchman has now won the main event of the Biel Chess Festival for the fifth time, and four times in a row; his other win was in 2009. Svidler won in 2000.

Combined with his win in Dortmund, Vachier-Lagrave earned 20.8 Elo points in July, which got him to 2818.8 in the live ratings. Only six players in history ever had a higher rating.

Source: 2700chess.

On Saturday, the players will participate in a blitz tournament, and then they'll soon jump on a plane to the U.S. They are expected to be in St. Louis a few days in advance of the Sinquefield Cup, to join some media activities. As reported by, Svidler is replacing Kramnik there. Svidler commented:

“I have to say that the organizers in St. Louis pulled off what I consider to be a minor miracle with the American visa. I applied here on the rest day, and it was because of the support I got from the American side. Just as a walk-in I would stand no chance of getting an American visa in Switzerland in one working day.”

Two more matches took place on the same stage in Biel, intended to give two local players some more experience. Dutch GM Benjamin Bok defeated IM Nico Georgiadis of Switzerland 5.5-2.5, and GM Francesco Rambaldi won 4.5-3.5 against IM Noel Studer, also of Switzerland.

Thanks to GM Danny King and Chessbase's Pascal Simon for providing excellent video reports from Biel, such as this one from the last day:

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