Reports | July 25, 2012 19:12

Biel R3: Giri & Wang Hao win, Morozevich withdraws due to illness

Helped by excellent preparation, Anish Giri grabbed the lead with a win against Etienne Bacrot on Wednesday. Hikarua Nakamura buit up an advantage in a Polugaevsky Najdorf against Wang Hao but then missed a tactic and even lost. The biggest news from Biel today, however, was the withdrawal of Alexander Morozevich. See the official statement by the organizers below.

Anish Giri leads in Biel after three rounds | All photos © Biel Chess Festival

Event Biel Chess Festival | PGN
Dates July 23-August 2, 2012
Location Biel, Switzerland
System 6-player round robin
Players Carlsen, Nakamura, Morozevich, Wang Hao, Bacrot, Giri
Rate of play 40 moves in 100 minutes, then 20 moves in 50 minutes followed by 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with 30 seconds increment per move
Extra Three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. No draw offers before move 30.

The third round in Biel had an unusual start. When the chess fans tuned in at the live page of the tournament website no moves were made in Morozevich-Carlsen, and in fact the other two games didn't immediately start at 14:00 either. Then, a note above the live game viewer appeared, saying that "due to health reasons" the game Morozevich-Carlsen was postponed. Further information would follow and a few hours later this statement appeared on the tournament site's homepage: 

Morozevich withdraws

Due to health issues, Alexander Morozevich retired from the Biel Grandmaster Tournament after Round 2. He has been this Wednesday with the organisers of the Festival to a hospital, where a doctor confirmed, with a medical certificate, his unability to go on to play the competition. Alexander Morozevich will travel back to Moscow as soon as possible to recover. The length of his healing process is unknown.

After the approval of the players, the organisers could secure a substitute. GM Victor Bologan (Moldova, World No 20, 2732 Elo) takes the place of Alexander Morozevich. He arrived already in Biel. He starts the tournament from Round 3. His game against Magnus Carlsen, scheduled for Wednesday July 25th, will be held on Sunday 29th. Victor Bologan will play his first game on Thursday July 26th against Hikaru Nakamura.

The 3 points of the victories of Anish Giri and Etienne Bacrot, achieved against Alexander Morozevich, are kept. Victor Bologan acccepted to play with two games less.

Biel International Chess Festival
Organisation Committee

Alexander Morozevich Viktor Bologan

Morozevich's condition wasn't specified, but we were told that he might be missing the Olympiad as well. Therefore we can only hope that he'll recover soon, and wish him all the best.

It must be noted that it's not the first time that something like this happens to the Russian grandmaster. Shortly before the start of the 2004 Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, he had to withdraw as he caught a severe form of the flue. Veselin Topalov replaced him. Morozevich also withdrew from the 2010 Amber tournament in Nice, for private reasons, and was replaced by Alexander Grischuk.

Update: Morozevich also withdrew from the 1999 Dos Hermanas tournament due to illness and was replaced by Boris Gelfand, as was mentioned here.

Victor Bologan was asked to replace Morozevich, and accepted. He told us that he was in his summer house in Sevastopol,

so I had to "jump" from Crimea to Biel.

We may assume he started preparing right away, with his laptop in the airplane!

In the comments section people wonder why Leinier Dominguez, who would play originally instead of Magnus Carlsen, didn't substitute for Morozevich. We couldn't reach the organizers but it's safe to assume that he wasn't available. Besides, in an earlier note the organizers told us that 

We found a fair compromise with Leinier, who will be invited next year. The deal was solved in a nice way, even if it's not easy to do this.

Well, it's about time to look at the games of the third round that were actually played, because both of them were really interesting, also from a theoretical point of view.

Hikaru Nakamura, to start with, chose the legendary Polugaevsky variation of the Sicilian Najdorf in his game against Wang Hao. The theoretical status of the "Polu" hasn't been that great in recent years (some people believe that there's more than one refutation) so to play it at this level is another example of Nakamura's courage and fighting spirit.

It was funny to hear Wang Hao say that he had forgotten about "his preparation", while he played the most critical moves anyway! Nakamura's 15...Qc7!? (instead of the often played 15...Qxb2) was in fact Polugaevsky's own choice back in 1960 and now, more than half a century later, it will surely be looked at again...

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Video produced by Pascal Simon (Chessbase)

In the game between Anish Giri and Etienne Bacrot the players followed theory even longer – for 25 moves! Giri repeated the moves of his compatriot Loek van Wely, who played the same one month ago against... the same opponent.

Somehow Bacrot's preparation wasn't working, because already two moves after they had left that previous game the Frenchman made a mistake.

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Video produced by Pascal Simon (Chessbase)

Games round 3

PGN file

Biel 2012 | Schedule & results

Round 1 23.07.12 14:00 CET   Round 6 28.07.12 14:00 CET
Carlsen ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura - Carlsen
Wang Hao 1-0 Bacrot   Bacrot - Wang Hao
Morozevich 0-1 Giri   Giri - Bologan
Round 2 24.07.12 14:00 CET   Round 7 30.07.12 14:00 CET
Nakamura ½-½ Giri   Giri - Nakamura
Bacrot 1-0 Morozevich   Bologan - Bacrot
Carlsen 1-0 Wang Hao   Wang Hao - Carlsen
Round 3 25.07.12 14:00 CET   Round 8 31.07.12 14:00 CET
Wang Hao 1-0 Nakamura   Nakamura - Wang Hao
Bologan 29.07 Carlsen   Carlsen - Bologan
Giri 1-0 Bacrot   Bacrot - Giri
Round 4 26.07.12 14:00 CET   Round 9 01.08.12 14:00 CET
Bologan - Nakamura   Bacrot - Nakamura
Giri - Wang Hao   Giri - Carlsen
Bacrot - Carlsen   Bologan - Wang Hao
Round 5 27.07.12 14:00 CET   Round 10 01.08.12 11:00 CET
Nakamura - Bacrot   Nakamura - Bologan
Carlsen - Giri   Wang Hao - Giri
Wang Hao - Bologan   Carlsen - Bacrot

Biel 2012 | Round 3 standings

# Name Rtg + = - Pts Perf
2 Giri,A 2696 2 1 0 7 (3) 3033
3 Wang Hao 2739 2 0 1 6 (3) 2896
1 Carlsen,M 2837 1 1 0 4 (2) 2949
4 Bacrot,E 2713 1 0 2 3 (3) 2615
5 Nakamura,H 2778 0 2 1 2 (3) 2637
6 Morozevich,A 2770 0 0 2 0 (2) 2447
7 Bologan,V 2732 0 0 0 0 (0) -

Biel 2012 | Round 3 standings (classical)


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.


columbo's picture

one thousand warm thoughts for you Alexander ... Wish you the best for your recovery ... bless you champion !

redivivo's picture

Morozevich has withdrawn from so many tournaments that one can't help but wonder about the reason. He has withdrawn from Biel before as well as Wijk and Amber and probably many more events I can't recall right now, but this is the first time he withdraws from a tournament that already started and not before it begins (if one doesn't count his taking a draw in the opening with white in a must win game against Grischuk in the World Cup). No one at any Russian chess message board has had any idea about what kind of illness it can be, but what is often said is that Moro can get in a very bad mood and lose interest if he starts badly.

columbo's picture

you can also wait for the medical statement before gossiping around !

redivivo's picture

He has withdrawn many times before and of course it leads to speculation. This time polarmis/mishanp writes:

"For what it's worth the mention of going to the hospital to get a certificate seems to be a heavy hint by the organisers that nothing was visibly wrong - which is a good thing, of course, on the whole."

columbo's picture

" nothing was visibly wrong " ?!?!?!?!?!?! Do you realize the absurdity of such statement ???

RealityCheck's picture

Bologan!? Ok. I remember In Dortmund he and Anand engaged in a battle that was nominated for game of the century. Awesome game!! But, why not ask, (re-invite) the Dominguez?

Anonymous's picture

because Dominguez is pissed perhaps?

Ed Dean's picture

Thanks for mentioning the game Anand-Bologan, Dortmund 2003. It's quite nice, and I didn't know it before.

RealityCheck's picture

@Ed Dean You're welcome. Quite nice indeed.

Septimus's picture

It is hard to resist speculation because of this:

..."where a doctor confirmed, with a medical certificate, his unability to go on to play the competition."

It seems like he falls apart after a few losses. He recently has had some family issues (ill mother?) so perhaps his mental constitution is not good to begin with. If I am not mistaken he dropped off the face of the earth a while ago.

Anyway, lets hope for the best and good luck to Moro. Say what you may about his temperament, the guy's gameplay is a treat for chess fans.

redivivo's picture

Moro is a great and exciting player, but I think organizers will think twice before they invite him after this. Maybe they also pointed out in the press release that "the length of his healing process is unknown" because it was something not enormously tangible.

Kramnik and Carlsen have played tournaments with fever without withdrawing. If for example Carlsen would have withdrawn from Tal Memorial the time he finished second (and Kasparov wanted him to withdraw instead of playing with fever), I wonder if the press release from the organizers wouldn't just state the obvious, i.e. that Carlsen was too sick to play on. I don't think they would mention making him go to the doctor to get a certificate that stated that he actually couldn't play, and then point out that whatever he has it's impossible to say for how short or long time he will have it.

If this type of thing happened just once it would be another thing, but it isn't just all the earlier withdrawals, I also recall his missing a round in the Russian Superfinal because he still hadn't got out of bed at three o'clock in the afternoon. I certainly have nothing against Moro, but as long as nothing more concrete ever is said about all his withdrawals it will definitely hurt his chances to get invited to tournaments in the future.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen has lost games and said he had fever afterwards. That's not the same as playing a tournament with fever. Something which many players have done by the way.

MW's picture

Can you:

a) Provide links referencing where Carlsen is quoted as saying, after a loss, he had a fever.

b) And having done that, prove that Carlsen did not in fact actually have a fever?

Anonymous's picture

No I'm sorry, you're right.

redivivo's picture

"Carlsen has lost games and said he had fever afterwards. That's not the same as playing a tournament with fever."

Not true, as you know. Carlsen had to go to hospital to get medication during Bilbao 2008. He still finished second. As reported by not only Russian media he was also quite ill during Tal Memorial 2009, where he finished second (undefeated).

So he didn't lose games and blame it on fever, he played rather well and was confirmed as ill during the tournaments in question. Kasparov wanted him to withdraw from Tal Memorial, not because he wanted to blame lost games on a made up fever, but because (the undefeated) Carlsen actually was quite sick.

Thomas's picture

What makes you think that Moro turned ill (or - between the lines in some other comments - just simulates an illness) after his two losses? It's equally possible that he lost these games because he was already ill - the way he lost these games, particularly the first one against Giri, is otherwise hard to believe even for someone as unpredictable and unstable as Moro. If he was already ill before the tournament and knew about it, it might have been better to withdraw before the first round - but he possibly didn't because of his earlier history, something he himself isn't proud of.

I might disagree with mishanp (sometimes it happens): to me the organizer's statement that he went to the hospital is primarily an attempt to avoid, or a prophylactic defense against rumors which nonetheless circulate on the Internet. It could even be that Moro didn't want to withdraw, but doctors forced or at least strongly advised him to quit the tournament.

@redivivo: interesting that you considered Dominguez' withdrawal (your version of that story) to help Carlsen perfectly normal and OK, while you make a big fuzz about Moro's withdrawal which might slightly hurt Carlsen. As to why Dominguez doesn't re-enter the tournament: maybe he is now on holidays, doesn't check his email and switched off his mobile phone, so organizers can't reach him even if they try. To me this would be perfectly understandable.

redivivo's picture

"interesting that you considered Dominguez' withdrawal (your version of that story) to help Carlsen perfectly normal and OK, while you make a big fuzz about Moro's withdrawal which might slightly hurt Carlsen"

My version of the Dominguez withdrawal is that the only thing we know is that he hasn't said anything on the subject, and I definitely know as little as anyone else. If he withdrew to help someone I think it was the organizers more than Carlsen. In any case it's not like when Moro replaced Gashimov in Reggio Emilia against Gashimov's wishes and the latter complained loudly about being excluded from the event, if he was right or wrong is another thing (but I certainly don't think Moro did anything wrong in accepting Gashimov's spot).

Moro's withdrawal is more unusual, I don't recall any player quitting an ongoing top tournament for decades, and of course this creates some speculation when the player in question is the one that has withdrawn from more tournaments than anyone else. I don't think anyone has anything against Moro, but similar things have happened at so many occasions that it's natural to speculate on the subject. If Carlsen withdraws from five-six top tournaments without anyone knowing the reason this would also create discussion.

I recall several tournaments where Aronian, Carlsen and Kramnik have been visibly ill, and their condition has been commented a lot during the rounds. No one has noticed anything of the sort with Moro in Biel, but he may of course be much more ill than the players mentioned, something I hope he isn't.

Anonymous's picture

"without anyone knowing the reason"..But we know the reason. Doctors confirmed he is ill.
Yet still you speculate about other, less honorable reasons, but get mad when people speculate about Dominguez's withdrawal. Your hypocrisy is legendary.

redivivo's picture

"Doctors confirmed he is ill. Yet still you speculate about other, less honorable reasons, but get mad when people speculate about Dominguez's withdrawal. Your hypocrisy is legendary."

Illness is certainly an honourable reason and I don't think anyone means that he isn't ill in some way, it's just that it happens so much more often with Moro that one can't help but wonder about the exact reason. As Mig writes about Moro: "We can't ignore he's the only top player who does this regularly, if usually right before start".

This started already back in the 1990s, when Moro withdrew from Dos Hermanas (from Mig on Chess #114):

"World number five Alexander Morozevich of Russia has bowed out of the Dos Hermanas tournament at the last minute due to illness and will be replaced by Belorussian Boris Gelfand. This is a great disappointment to all of us who were eager to see the young Russian tested against the world's best after a year of amazing results. Expectations had been high so maybe nerves had an effect on the wispy lad's immune system? Whatever it is it seemed to come on fast because Morozevich had already arrived in Dos Hermanas!"

Kramnik had a very serious illness and never withdrew from any tournaments or got so ill that he couldn't play. With Moro everything is much more mysterious. All we know is that he often gets so ill that he can't play, and that this has happened since then 1990s on a regular basis.

igor's picture

you write
"Hikarua Nakamura buit up an advantage in a Polugaevsky Najdorf against Wang Hao but then missed a tactic and even lost"
I think this is a biased description

noyb's picture

Computer analysis proves otherwise -

Bastian's picture

When I saw the game I just thought that Wang Hao played incredibly creative, however, Nakamura did have the advantage later on...

bronkenstein's picture

His king was stuck in the center, exposed to potential tactics (that´s what he eventually died of) in a very complex position - I wouldn´t call such position advantageous OTB, anyway I would prefer white anyday, even if we accept that the machine was able to evaluate the position precisely.
Additionally, that was very small part of the game (4-5 moves only), I also wouldn´t use terms such as ´building up an advantage´ or center the story around Nakamura, reducing Wang Hao to some kind of spectator.

I can understand such approach - to some extent - in cases such as Carlsen - Hao of the previous round, where Wang´s very ambitious - and therefore risky - black strategy was totally neglected, he erred, lost the game and the story was ,deservedly, centered around MC. ´Counterexample´ could be Bacrot-Moro, most of the folks simply reduced Bacrot´s nice achievement to Moro´s final blunder.

redivivo's picture

"I can understand such approach - to some extent - in cases such as Carlsen - Hao of the previous round, where Wang´s very ambitious - and therefore risky - black strategy was totally neglected"

You don't think it's you who exaggerate how ambitious Wang was in that game? You said on Chessbomb that Wang was the one playing for the win and that you hoped he would decline Carlsen's draw offers. My impression of the game was rather that Wang misplayed the opening and from then on tried the best he could to defend and get a draw, while Carlsen was pressing throughout the game rather than hoping to get a draw.

Thomas's picture

On one hand, the short description of Wang Hao-Nakamura (eagerly waiting for the full report!) is objective and unbiased - Nakamura had an advantage (in engine terms) before the game turned around after a single bad move. But that's typical of sharp Sicilians. One example coming to my mind is Leko-Topalov from the first round of the San Luis WCh tournament: the advantage went back and forth even several times, and Topalov won in the end (before winning a few more games).

So on the other hand, I agree with bronkenstein that the description is arguably biased because it's written entirely from Nakamura's point of view. Would it have been the same if Nakamura had been playing white, or if the game had been Carlsen-Nakamura or Giri-Nakamura?

Yet another story is what Nakamura himself would have tweeted if he had the white pieces, it could be something like "wild game, we both made mistakes, in the end I won and that's all that matters". As he lost, he didn't nearly use the 160 available characters and just wrote "Pathetic.".

Thomas's picture

And the full report appeared just as I posted ... . 26.-Nd6 was obviously the decisive mistake, but I wonder about 26.-Bxe4 27.Nxe4 Qxe4 28.Bf3 Qf5 29.Qxf5 gxf5 30.Bc6 Ne5 31.Rxd7 Nxc6! 32.Rd6 Nb8 33.Rf3 - probably good for black, and I don't claim that my analysis is all correct, but is it "game over"?
For what it's worth, engines prefer pawn-grabbing with 26.-Nxb2, good if black gets away with it but maybe scary to play OTB.

bronkenstein's picture

+1 , stories are, naturally, built up around favorites =)

Bartleby's picture

Cool game by Wang Hao. I just clicked through it, in my old-fashioned way tried to follow which hanging piece couldn't be taken why, but got lost and confused. Is it sure it wasn't Nakamura who had White? Wang Hao seems to like tactical attacking chess, too. Anyhow, Black's 17..h6 must have been a loss of tempo since the kicked knight didn't move until move 30.

chesshire cat's picture

These "heavy hints" could equally probably mean the organizers respect his privacy, especially in medical matters - and correctly so. Until something more concrete comes out, that's what I'll assume, anyway. I don't think the wild rumours I've been seeing around the internet are appropriate.

zenta's picture

Bologan will win the tournement.

strana's picture

Thanks God it was not Carsen that crushed Nakamura´s position in such a tactical game. If so, people would be already saying that Carlsen would beat the young Smyslov, Capa, Karpov and Kasparov by 15 -0 in a simul and playing with black pieces.....

B L's picture

This is a stupid comment. Carlsen really has nothing to prove aside from win the WC.

He has an impeccable record against most of the top 45.

In fact, I can't think of anyone that has a + score against him.

Climb back into your rabbit hole.

Anonymous's picture

We know your comment is stupid BL. No need to state the obvious.

RG's picture

Anand has a big + score against Carlsen in classical chess however I don't know how much of that lead was racked up when he was a little tyke.

Bardamu's picture

Giri has a plusscore against Carlsen... :P

Let's see if he can keep it this tournament.

Hortensius's picture

Great game by Giri

Anthony Migchels's picture

Moro is one of those people in which both sides of the spectrum live gloriously. Not easy for the guy being the habitat.

A few years back NIC created the title 'How Wang Hao Won'.
They did this wonderful player a disservice with that..........

Anthony Migchels's picture

Moro is one of those people in which both sides of the spectrum live gloriously. Not easy for the guy being the habitat.

A few years back NIC created the title 'How Wang Hao Won'.
They did this wonderful player a disservice with that..........

S3's picture

Poor Moro. But why such an elaborate explanation for his withdrawal and completely nothing at all on the withdrawal of Dominguez?

Schrödinger'sCat's picture

Dominguez, did not request to withdrawal. The organizers bumped him when they found Carlsen
was available.

MJul's picture

Dominguez didn't say anything about it neither.

Maybe he didn't want make the reason known.

Alex's picture

Get well soon Morozevich. Your fans around the world believe in you! Hope you can play at the Olympiad.

Liew's picture

I also hope he will play at olympiad. Get well.

valg321's picture

there's a possibility that he knew he was getting sick, thinking to tough it out, but finally realising that it's to much to bear and play world class chess at the same time.
Claiming that other players have played thru fever proves absolutely nothing, and i don't think you can blame him for this, unless you want to.

Geof Strayer's picture

It's probably more likely that his illness is the reason for his results than the other way around. The healthy Moro has been playing fantastic chess lately.

I too hope he recovers in time to play at the Olympiad.

bronkenstein's picture

+1, it is very possible that Moro played first 2 rounds struggling with his illness (since one can´t just walk out of the tournament, rumors aside),but the majority of speculations here goes the other way...Get well soon Moro!

Anonymous's picture

"majority" ?? Only quantitatively, all thanks to redivivo.

redivivo's picture

"'majority' ?? Only quantitatively, all thanks to redivivo."

I certainly have never claimed that Moro is perfectly fine, so to say that most of my posts state or imply that nothing is wrong with him is of course not true.

What I do think is that it is natural to be curious after this has happened so many times before. In Biel 2007 he was replaced by Radjabov, in 2012 by Bologan, in Amber 2010 by Grischuk, in Dos Hermanas 1999 by Gelfand, in Wijk 2004 by Topalov, and there are probably several more examples over the last dozen years that I don't remember right now.

No one would accuse polarmis/mishanp of being anti-Russian in his reports, and his descriptions sound like this:

"Morozevich’s withdrawal may of course be due to purely health issues, although he has complained in the past about the pressures of round-robin tournaments when things start to go badly"

and means in an article published today that if the withdrawal

"was connected with the Muscovite's health or with some other reasons is something that for now we can only guess at"

Given these descriptions I'd say that my posts are much less speculative, and I wouldn't state that we only can guess if Moro's withdrawal was related to his health. All this posted on the whychess site, together with interviews with Russian players and trainers speaking about being worried about what would happen already before Moro withdrew, saying that things could get even worse.

noyb's picture

I imagine five losses out of six was a hard pill for Moro to swallow (lost three of last four at Tal Mem. and first two at Biel). Doesn't Moro have history of collapses and hard times recovering? And who wouldn't?

Schrödinger's Cat's picture

It might be fund to see him play a match with Ivanchuk to see who would collapse first! (I'm sure Ivanchuk would win though).


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