Wojtaszek Wins Biel, 1st Major OTB Tournament Since COVID-19 Lockdowns
Poland's Radoslaw Wojtaszek, the winner in Biel. Photo: Biel Chess Festival.

Wojtaszek Wins Biel, 1st Major OTB Tournament Since COVID-19 Lockdowns

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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16 | Chess Event Coverage

With a win in the final round on Wednesday, GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek secured victory at the Biel Chess Festival Chess Triathlon. The margin was small as the Polish grandmaster finished only half a point ahead of India's GM Pentala Harikrishna.

Wojtaszek won what was the first major chess tournament in the world to be played with games in-person again since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the rapid, blitz, and four rounds of standard chess in the past, three more rounds of standard chess were all that was left for the Biel Chess Triathlon since our last news report. That was on Sunday, when Wojtaszek was four points ahead of English GM Michael Adams while Harikrishna was three points behind him.

Monday's fifth round shook up the standings somewhat as Harikrishna beat Wojtaszek as Black. Note that a win in standard (classical) chess yielded four points, while a draw was worth only one and a half points.

Wojtaszek Harikrishna Biel 2020
Wojtaszek vs. Harikrishna. Photo: Biel Chess Festival.

With the four points he won, Harikrishna moved up to second place in the ranking, only three points behind Wojtaszek. Adams remained in third place, despite losing to GM David Anton.

The situation remained tense until the very last round as Wojtaszek drew his game with the German GM Vincent Keymer on Tuesday while both Adams and Harikrishna won their games. Adams first outplayed his 25 years younger opponent positionally and then tactically as he weaved a mating net around the white king:

Biel 2020 chess
The playing hall, with the amateurs playing at a safe distance from each other and the top grandmasters in the background. Photo: Biel Chess Festival.

Wojtaszek went into the last round leading with 33 points, followed by Harikrishna on 32,5 and Adams on 31,5. Anything could happen.

As it turned out, his loss to Harikrishna remained Wojtaszek's only loss in the whole tournament—out of 28 games in total, including rapid and blitz. The Polish number two won his last-round game against Studer and kept that tiny margin of half a point when Harikrishna won as well.

Wojtaszek Studer Biel 2020
After Dortmund (2017) and Isle of Man (2018), Wojtaszek won his third major tournament thanks to his last-round win vs. Studer. Photo: Biel Chess Festival.

Biel Chess Triathlon | Final Standings

# Fed Name Games Classical Rapid Blitz Total
1 GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek 28 14 12 11 37
2 GM Pentala Harikrishna 28 20.5 10 6 36.5
3 GM Michael Adams 28 16.5 8 11 35.5
4 GM Vincent Keymer 28 13.5 10 4.5 28
5 GM Arkadij Naiditsch 28 11 5 6.5 22.5
6 GM David Anton Guijarro 28 9.5 4 8.5 22
7 GM Romain Edouard 28 10 4 3.5 17.5
8 GM Noel Studer 28 7 3 5 15

It was good to see some over-the-board chess again in times of corona and the organizers, who had to face unprecedented challenges (the social distancing, the continuous disinfecting, etc.), are looking back fairly satisfied. From the press release:

"From an organizational point of view, the pandemic-related requirements led to various additional expenses, but as things stand today, it can be concluded that the measures taken have proved their worth and could serve as a model for other organizers around the world."

Harikrishna Adams Wojtaszek Biel 2020
The three main contenders must have enjoyed seeing one another face-to-face. Left-right: Harikrishna, Adams, Wojtaszek. Photo: Biel Chess Festival.

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