MVL Plays Très 'Bienne' In Biel

MVL Plays Très 'Bienne' In Biel

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

The Swiss town of Biel, home of the long-standing chess festival and grandmaster tournament of the same name, is on the German-French language divide. At least it was before today.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the top French player, won his final game today to clinch the 2015 crown. He's now won three titles in a row in Biel and four overall, so he also temporarily gets to "rename" the town. "Biel" is the German pronunciation; "Bienne" would be the winner's preference

After losing in round seven, he said he was "pissed" (a word that surely translates to many languages!) and then he went on to win the final three rounds to take first.

MVL recently called his 2013 win his best career performance in terms of quality of play. For this one, Vachier-Lagrave also got a little help from Poland.

He went into today tied with Polish number-one GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Both stood on 5.5/9 in the six-player double-round-robin. Although MVL played convincingly in beating last-placed GM Richard Rapport, he needed a series of missteps from the co-leader to win first place outright.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, feeling the stress of the last two weeks. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

First, let's start with what could have been for Wojtaszek. He won three straight from rounds 6-8 to take possesion of first with GM David Navara. Then MVL caught up to level in round nine by beating Navara, while Wojtaszek could only draw GM Pavel Eljanov. As it turns out, MVL's round 10 win was also his third straight (he was mired in fourth place after round seven!).

Chess is all about "timing". This is the watch MVL received at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, where he finished in the bottom half. It appears to be the same one he's wearing in the above picture, where he finished first. It's hard to see for certain!

Today, Wojtaszek's passed pawn on the seventh rank ran his advantage to about +9, yet he failed to convert. It wasn't just one miscue -- he made a series of inaccuracies that whittled the numerical assessment all the way to nil.

Analysis by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

Navara's decision making may have been influenced by the standings. Despite the round nine loss, he entered the day a half-point behind the leaders, so a win as Black and anything other than a win for Vachier-Lagrave would have netted the top Czech player at least a share of first.

It was all moot, as Vachier-Lagrave won without issue. The game was far less dramatic, and for him that was a good thing. Rapport's bid for counterplay with 15...d5 wasn't as effective as he would have liked (15...Ba6 was preferable). From there the champion won a pawn and converted seamlessly. Black couldn't contend with the duel threats of the passed pawn advancing and the weaknesses of f7.

Analysis by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

Rapport's loss ended a miserable event for him. He failed to win a single game and lost his final five rounds. His recent spiral continues -- after dropping 18 points at the Aeroflot Open and 21 at the World Team Championship, he shed enough points here (more than 20) to fall completely out of the world's top 100.


Quoth the raven, "nevermore" -- Rapport's Baltimore Ravens shirt portended his recent trend. He suffered his fifth straight loss and has surrendered more than 70 rating points since the beginning of the year. | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

The final game of the day, Eljanov-Adams, lasted the longest. Although the game would not affect the top of the standings, the two players were determined to be noticed!

White went all-out for an attack on both the e- and h-files with 45. e4?!, but the oldest player in the event was up to the challenge (Adams, 44, is older than Eljanov, the second oldest, by 12 years!). The Englishman surrounded his own king like a blanket, then waited for the tea to cool in White's buildup, which it did after Eljanov mistakenly allowed the liquidating sequence beginning with 50...Qxe5.


Pavel Eljanov's enterprising play could easily have ended his tournament on a high note | Photo Biel Chess Festival.

2015 Biel GM Tournament | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2731 2825 phpfCo1l0.png ½0 11 ½1 ½½ ½1 6.5/10
2 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2733 2788 ½1 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½1 6.0/10
3 Adams,Michael 2740 2751 00 ½½ phpfCo1l0.png 11 01 ½1 5.5/10 24.50
4 Navara,David 2724 2754 ½0 00 phpfCo1l0.png 11 5.5/10 23.00
5 Eljanov,Pavel 2723 2685 ½½ 10 phpfCo1l0.png ½1 4.5/10
6 Rapport,Richard 2671 2490 ½0 ½0 ½0 00 ½0 phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/10

The 48th Biel Chess Festival took place July 18-30 in Biel, Switzerland. The Grandmaster Tournament was a double-round-robin with six players. Games via TWIC  phpfCo1l0.png

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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