Reports | July 23, 2011 0:50

Carlsen beats Caruana in 4th round Biel

Shirov beats Caruana in third round BielMagnus Carlsen defeated Fabiano Caruana at the Biel Chess Festival on Friday. The Norwegian strengthened his lead to 4 points in the football scoring system. The games Alexei Shirov vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexander Morozevich vs Yannick Pelletier ended in draws.

General info

The 44th Biel Chess Festival takes place July 16-29 in Biel, Switzerland. The 'Grandmaster Tournament' is a six-player, double round robin with Caruana, Pelletier, Shirov, Carlsen, Morozevich and Vachier-Lagrave.The rate of play is 2 hours for 40 moves, then 1 hour for 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 61. The 'football' scoring system is in effect: three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. Besides, no draw offers are permitted before move 30. More info here.

Round 4

Obviously Magnus Carlsen is the big star in Biel this year, and it easily explains the coverage he got today at the tournament website, about how he spent his rest day.

tennisMagnus Carlsen has enjoyed a nice visit at the Swiss Tennis Center on Thursday 21st July. He could practice with Anastasia Vovk, Russian talent (18 yo) who belongs to the Swiss Tennis Academy, to improve his technique, under the supervision of national coach Rolf Bühler. Magnus Carlsen, who is a known Roger Federer admirer, admits that his style is more similar to Rafael Nadal.

There are some photos on the SwissTennis website about this.

Friday must have been quite a disturbing day for the 20-year-old Norwegian, who might not have heard about the terrible news from his home country before starting his game with Fabiano Caruana.

Update July 23, 2011 10:05 CET: at his blog, Carlsen wrote: "After the game today I heard about the horrible murderous double-attack on innocent people in and near Oslo this afternoon. Chess does not feel very important right now. I feel sorry for the victims and their families."

As our thoughts are with Norway today, here's what happened in that game.

Biel, 2011

diagram 8

19. Nd4!?
An interesting but also slightly risky exchange sac.
19... Bxf1 20. Kxf1 Nb6 21. Nxc6 Rfe8 22. a4!
Putting the opponent under more pressure.
22... Kf8!
Caruana reactes well to Carlsen's creative play.
23. a5 Nc4 24. Bc1 a6?!
With 24... f5! Black could have taken the upper hand, but it's a difficult, tactical line: 25. Bxf5 Rxe1+ 26. Kxe1 Ne5! 27. Nxe5 Re8! 28. f4 Bxe5 29. Kf2 Bd4+ 30. Kf3 Re1 31. Bd2 Rf1+ 32. Ke4 Bg1! with the better chances.
25. f4

diagram 9

Both players thought the game was over here, as White is trapping the knight on c4.
25... Re6?
With the wonderful tactic 25... Ne3+! (missed by both players) 26. Rxe3 (26. Bxe3 Rxe4) 26... Bxf4 the game goes on: 27. Rf3 Bxc1 28. Bd5 f6 29. Kf2 and it's tough to say who's better.
26. Bd5!
Winning on the spot - the knight on c4 is doomed.
26...Rf6 27. Re4 1-0

Alexei Shirov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave finished their game rather quickly. In a 6.h3 Najdorf the position at move 21 seemed full of possibilities, but apparently both players weren't so sure and decided to repeat moves. Alexander Morozevich got a small edge against Yannick Pelletier in a Rubinstein French, but a bishop ending was just drawn when Black could block all entry points for the opponent's king.

Games round 4

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Video by Chessbase

Biel 2011 | Schedule & results
Round 1 18.07.11 14:00 CET Round 6 25.07.11 14:00 CET
Caruana ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave Vachier-Lagrave - Caruana
Pelletier 0-1 Carlsen Carlsen - Pelletier
Shirov ½-½ Morozevich Morozevich - Shirov
Round 2 19.07.11 14:00 CET Round 7 26.07.11 14:00 CET
Vachier-Lagrave 0-1 Morozevich Morozevich - Vachier-Lagrave
Carlsen 1-0 Shirov Shirov - Carlsen
Caruana ½-½ Pelletier Pelletier - Caruana
Round 3 20.07.11 14:00 CET Round 8 27.07.11 14:00 CET
Pelletier ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave Vachier-Lagrave - Pelletier
Shirov 1-0 Caruana Caruana - Shirov
Morozevich ½-½ Carlsen Carlsen - Morozevich
Round 4 22.07.11 14:00 CET Round 9 28.07.11 14:00 CET
Shirov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave Carlsen - Vachier-Lagrave
Morozevich ½-½ Pelletier Morozevich - Caruana
Carlsen 1-0 Caruana Shirov - Pelletier
Round 5 23.07.11 14:00 CET Round 10 29.07.11 11:00 CET
Vachier-Lagrave - Carlsen Vachier-Lagrave - Shirov
Caruana - Morozevich Pelletier - Morozevich
Pelletier - Shirov Caruana - Carlsen

Biel 2011 | Round 4 Standings (Classical)

Biel 2011 | Round 4 Standings (Football)

# Name Fed Elo Points
1. Magnus Carlsen NOR 2815 10
2. Alexander Morozevich RUS 2694 6
3. Alexei Shirov ESP 2714 5
4-5. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2722 3
4-5. Yannick Pelletier SUI 2590 3
6. Fabiano Caruana ITA 2711 2

Photos © Biel Chess Festival


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


RM's picture

What a blunder by Caruana, Re6... (Ne3)
Might have cost him a full point!

Michel83's picture

Caruana DID blunder the game in one move, didn't he? I'd say it cost him half a point, not a full one, but why all the thumbs down for "RM"? He pointed out a fact, he didn't say Carlsen played badly or Caruana is a patzer (I suppose the thumbs down come from the fans of one or the other). I find the "thumbs"-thing pretty amusing mostly, but here it's baffling me.

I find it scary how people treat "their" player like a religion that has to be praised and worshipped only. Get a grip, guys.

...and I say that as somebody who thinks Carlsen is a great player and Caruana is a very promising talent (how much? Time will tell).
But this fanatism is bizarre (although I find "anti"-player fanatism, people who bash a player non-stop publically, as bizarre).

Or maybe it's just the Internet-mechanisms. Strange place...

Harish Srinivasan's picture

The thumbs down are more for the abrupt blurting of blunder in one. The game was very tense and the Caruana could not continue to find accurate moves under pressure. If you look at Carlsen's move . eg. a4 etc. it constantly posed problems to Caruana. With this if you take into account the clock situation Caruana was, then you will not call Re6 a blunder but rather that it was a great positional play by Carlsen sacking the exchange and pushing his queen side pawns. Damn these computers which make people call out "blunder" and "missed obvious win" with such ease.

gg's picture

"why all the thumbs down for “RM”? He pointed out a fact"

I'm a big Carlsen fan (but didn't give RM thumbs down), but maybe some think it's exaggerated (and not a fact) that Re6 may have cost Caruana a full point. With best play no engine gives Caruana an advantage after Ne3 instead even if they see the best line as equal. Caruana had very little time left and I doubt he would have found it easier than Carlsen to play the best moves. I'd give the latter slightly bigger winning chances.

So I don't think it's a question of "scary how people treat “their” player like a religion that has to be praised and worshipped only" but just disagreement about the factuality of the whole point thing. And maybe also reducing the whole game, with a very imaginative exchange sacrifice, to an implied "Caruana would have won if he hadn't blundered"

RM's picture

I'm actually a Carlsen fan. Really, he's a refreshing player. I like his style, he thinks with more than variations but seems to also try to "feel" the perception of the opponents. Almost like "reading" a poker player.

If you're in a game, these are the types of escapes you're looking for.
Re6 loses obviously, so I can not understand how Caruana decided to go for this variation.

Agreed, Ne3 is not so easy to see. But it's not a Kasparov-Topalov type of deep variation. There are so few pieces remaining in this position that the calculation seemed rather straightforward, also because every other variation fails.

Magnus deserves credit for pushing it. He walks the line of equality, but manages to push his opponents over the edge. However, after Ne3, black has the best practical chances being up an exchange and being able to free his pieces. I think it's actually Carlsen that would need to play very precisely in this position, to hold equality.

How was the game very tense? It is a typical way of playing this position. What was refreshing, was sacking the exchange to gain even more space. This allowed Carlsen to push Caruana over the edge, by making him commit that error. That is part of Magnus' strength. His opponents however, will learn to cope with this side of his play and in the long term, they will catch up (at least with this part of his creativity).

All I wanted to point out, was that this victory is not so much earned by Carlsen, rather than thrown away by the Italian. I'm sure he will be angry with himself for choosing Re6, illustrated by his resignation two moves later. The pressure of playing Carlsen is also an important factor, I think.

Thumbs up or down - I really don't care.

Michel83's picture

Haha, 15 people didn't like my comment- it's like a psychological game, I like it! ;)

Anyway...I don't care about the "thumbs" either, I was just interested in what was wrong with his comment, people just clicked but didn't comment themselves.
@ Harish and gg

Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. I definitely prefer it to my (probably too pessimist) interpretation.
However I do think that with any other player than Carlsen the "thumbs down" wouldn't have happened in that big number...and as said, I do like him.

Ach, anyway. Not that it matters. Back to chess. : )

Topafan's picture

I actually agree with RM's assessment. Caruana played like a patzer more than Carlsen played like god in that game. Then again some people regard Carlsen as a god so either way they will take insult.

The Golden Knight's picture

New ratingrecord for Carlsen. 2828,4! Watch out Kasparov!

columbo's picture

A thought for Magnus and his country !!!

lefier's picture

Correction: 2750+ players.

lefier's picture

Caruana was not mentally prepared for the quality-sac, and did not manage to play it cool afterwards. Star-striken is perhaps the word.
Cold tactics by Carlsen, by the way. But he would probably play otherwise against the 2550+ players.

Mike's picture

I play 2/4 Blitz Chess at better than this. Rating inflation goes on.


columbo's picture

your comment looks like your picure ... you are 1000 % congratulations !

Csaba's picture

Carlsen post match stuff online now.

Bobby Fiske's picture

10 thumbs-up for this!

Bobby Fiske's picture

10 thumbs-up for this!

Csaba's picture

by the way, what's up with this Swiss guy saying that Kasparov played the Scotch, "especially" in the match against Short? Looks like he tried it twice (out of 10 White games), and scored two draws. He scored 1.5/2 against Karpov in their 1990 match.

Ches Fan's picture

Magnus's magnum play. It is not just like Kasparov, but like Fischer!
Beating Caruana like that under any circumstance is phenomenal. As a pure chess fan, I think Magnus Carlsen is magnificent, matched currently in ability only by Aronian and the World Champion himself, until a head-to-head tournament decides conclusively proves who is the best among these three equals. Till then, it has to be the official World Chess champion, Anand. But again, what a magnificent run Magnus show in all chess tournaments.

leo's picture

any basketball player can make a free throw, but not all can with pressure and so on. Same with Gm's, all can play good chess, but if you can force him into pressure tense positions and you force a blunder then it is as good as a clean win . People love to take credit away from the victor lately because computers recommend this move or that move, but these are humans playing not computers. Last time i checked blunders are part of chess, so magnus is excelling in using all aspects of chess knowledge to get a victory.

Caissa's picture

What I learn from this game is that Carlsen can play and win the game even if an exchange down against a +2700 player :)

Janis Nisii's picture

I don't think the emphasis on how Magnus spent the rest day is only due to his big star status. I think it has a lot to do with the fact he wanted to play tennis. I guess tennis is quite popular in Switzerland because of Roger Federer. Perhaps it wouldn't have been the same if he wanted to play, say, rugby.

Topafan's picture

It is difficult for Caruana going into this game with Carlsen considering that he lost to Shirov, who has a terrible record against Carlsen. Carlsen must be playing with contempt +100...

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