Two wins in Biel

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The third round in Biel brought two decisive games again. Magnus Carlsen seized the sole lead by beating Etienne Bacrot, while Alexander Onischuk ground down Yannick Pelletier.

By Michael Schwerteck

Click here to download the games.

Carlsen - Bacrot:

As far as I'm concerned, this was a very strange game. In the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, Carlsen began the game rather hesitatingly. To my mind, Nf3-d2-b3 doesn't look too frightening; more aggressive plans include a4-a5. Then suddenly he changed tack with some sharp pawn advances, sacrificing a pawn in the process. However, this probably wasn't too convincing either. I have a sneaking suspicion that Magnus originally planned 24.Nxd5, only to realize that this would be met by 24...Qxg4! 25.Qxc4 Qf5+. Thus he had to enter some murky complications. And suddenly unbelievable things started to happen. Up to move 24, Bacrot had played well and reached a position that was certainly complicated, but at least equal. But what a horrible collapse then! I can only hope that there's nothing wrong with the Frenchman. How can he lose a good position so quickly? 25...Nxc5?! was the first dubious move, as the opening of the d-file only benefits White. And then why not 26...Na3+ 27.Kb2 d4 instead of 26...Na5?! ? And what on earth was 29...Rhe8?? about? I'm at a loss to explain all this. I do like Etienne Bacrot and hope he can quickly recover from this nightmare.

Onischuk - Pelletier:

I had already mentioned in my preview that Pelletier has a dreadful score against Onischuk. And sure enough, as could almost be expected, the Swiss suffered his fifth loss (in seven games) at the hands of this opponent. In German we have the term ?¢‚Ǩ?æAngstgegner?¢‚Ǩ?ì for this phenomenon. You don't even have to play too badly, but against a certain guy you nearly always end up losing, whatever you do. This game was quite typical. Pelletier spent a lot of time in the opening, showing that he didn't feel very confident. Then he tried to exchange as many pieces as possible, hoping to make a draw somehow. Then he got impatient and forced matters with 29...d3? instead of the calm 29...Rc8 (which looks quite equal to me). Onischuk didn't have to do anything special - he just played normal moves and capitalized on his opponent's mistakes. An interesting game from a pychological point of view.

Dominguez - Alekseev:

The players discussed a line of the ?¢‚Ǩ?æBerlin Wall?¢‚Ǩ?ì which I have played myself with Black a few times. The direct 11.g4 isn't thought to be very dangerous, as far as I know, and Dominguez didn't show anything special to change this assessment. By the way, the position after White's 16th has already been reached (partly by transposition) by Korneev, Leko, Karjakin and Sebag, but these accomplished ladies and gentlemen only scraped off two meagre half points out of four games with White! Perhaps this simply isn't the right way to break down the wall. In the game we're discussing, 20.Nf6+ was already an admission that White had nothing. The remainder of the game wasn't very interesting. By the way, I have already stopped counting the number of opposite-coloured bishop endings in this tournament.

Current standings: 1.Magnus Carlsen 2,5/3; 2.-3. Evgeny Alekseev and Alexander Onischuk 2/3; 4. Leinier Dominguez 1,5/3; 5.-6. Etienne Bacrot and Yannick Pelletier 0,5/3.

Pairings of the 4th round (on Thursday):

Onischuk - Carlsen Pelletier - Alekseev Dominguez - Bacrot
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