Reports | July 22, 2012 14:10

Biel Chess Festival takes off with exhibition blitz tournament

Biel Chess Festival

Today the Biel Chess Festival starts with an exhibition blitz tournament, to celebrate the 45 years of the festival. It's a knockout with Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamaura, Alexander Morozevich, Wang Hao, Etienne Bacrot, Pentala Harikrishna, Yannick Pelletier and Alexandra Kosteniuk. The blitz started at 14:00 CET and you can follow it live here.

Here's a press release we received on July 6th about the chess festival in Biel:

Magnus Carlsen comes back to Biel

To celebrate its 45th anniversary, the Festival is pleased to announce that World Number 1 Magnus Carlsen, who has already won twice in Biel (2007 and 2011), will come back for the 2012 edition. The Norwegian will replace Leinier Dominguez Perez to take part on Sunday, July 22 in the 45th anniversary blitz tournament and from Monday, July 23, in the Grandmaster Tournament, which will be a category XXI  tournament (2756 Elo average) for the first time in its history.

This will be the strongest invitational tournament ever played in Biel and in Switzerland. With Magnus Carlsen (No. 1), Hikaru Nakamura (No. 7) and Alexander Morozevich (No. 9), three members of the Top-10 and four from the Top-15 will be competing, with Wang Hao’s (No. 15) first participation. Etienne Bacrot and Anish Giri will complete the line-up.

Name Fed Year Ranking Rating
Magnus Carlsen NOR 1990, 21 yo FIDE 1 2837
Hikaru Nakamura USA 1987, 25 yo FIDE 7 2778
Alexander Morozevich RUS 1977, 35 yo FIDE 9 2770
Wang Hao CHN 1989, 23 yo FIDE 15 2739
Etienne Bacrot FRA 1983, 29 yo FIDE 31 2713
Anish Giri NED 1994, 18 yo FIDE 49 2696

In an earlier announcement Leinier Dominguez was on the list and Magnus Carlsen was not, but later Carlsen replaced the Cuban grandmaster. Last year the Norwegian won the tournament with a round to spare.

The opening ceremony of the tournament was on Saturday, with a game between the players and Hans Altherr (President of the council of states) & Erich Fehr (Mayor of Biel) on a big chess set. | Photo Biel Chess Festival

The players of the main event: Alexander Morozevich, Hikaru Nakamura, Magnus Carlsen, Etienne Bacrot and Wang Hao. Anish Giri finished (and won) the Dutch Championship on Saturday and travels to Switzerland on Sunday. | Photo Biel Chess Festival

The Biel Chess Festival includes many side events, including a strong open with different sections, a rapid tournament, a blitz tournament, a youth tournament, a Chess960 tournament and more. You can find the official website here.

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.


Hagen's picture

What's strength? The top 6 at Dortmund had an average rating of 2752 and this year's edition was special with extra (weaker) players included.
Biel only has 6 players this year.

Hagen's picture

Besides, strength doesn't equal rating. For instance, French player Bacrot defeated Carlsen today in his mini match. The rating difference was a whopping 124 points in Carlsens favor. A lot more than the 42 point difference between Biel and Dortmund.

hansie's picture

Rating difference between Dortmund (Top 6) and Biel (All 6) is essentially the rating difference between Carlsen and Kramnik. If one removes these players, Dortmund (Top 5) is marginally stronger than Biel (Remaining 5).

Brian Wall's picture

Magnus can replace anybody at this stage of his career. Just point and click. Deleted.

Brian Wall's picture

Magnus can replace anybody at this stage of his career. Just point and click. Deleted.

Bert de Bruut's picture

Since this thread seems to be about making the boldest unproven assumptions, then take them as truths and base further strong assertions on them, I will here give my thought-up-view on how things have gone:

Given his empty schedule, Carlsen lets the organizers in Biel know he was available. The organizers contact Lenier Dominguez, who agrees to step back, in compensation for a sum that he was unlikely to ever going to win by participating. Enter Carlsen. Not being very proud of who things went, the organizers understandbly do not disclose the details of the events. And why would they, since everybody is happy, Dominguez included, except perhaps some of the other participants in the tournament, and certainly not some of the above commentators here, that seem to suffer from severe cases of Carlsenphobia.

Thomas's picture

Actually I considered this possibility, but it's still strange in various ways. It would indicate that the organizers have too much money - last year they needed an extra sponsor to make Carlsen's participation possible, this year they can pay Carlsen AND compensate Dominguez? How many percent of Carlsen's appearance fee does it take to make Dominguez reasonably happy?

And I would still consider it inappropriate, possibly unethical if Carlsen contacts a tournament after the lineup is finalized. Also but not only because he could have filled his schedule gap just as easily, but less controversially by playing in Amsterdam.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

I agree that it is inappropriate if Carlsen contacted the organizers after the lineup if finalized. You cannot associate any other spin to it that the fact that Carlsen is using his status.

But it would be good to know...
Did Carlsen earlier get an invitation to Biel which he turned down? And did he call the organizers after Kings tournament was postponed/cancelled? Did Carlsen say something like "I dont want any appearance fee and just interested in playing a tournament"... in which chase the organizers might have had enough money to compensate Dominguez?

strana's picture

I completely agree with Thomas; poor Dominguez, who is a very strong player.
I believe it happens because Carsen is not a russian, ukrainian , from Asia.... . When someone from USA or west Europe appears, the organizers do everything to transform this new player in a chess star. He gets much more invitations. Take, for example, russian Dmitri Andreikin and ukrainian Illya Nyzhnyk. Andreikin ( who beat Carlsen 1,5 -0,5 in Astana ) almost never gets invitations, despite being extremely strong and a former world junior champion. The same for Nyzhnyk, who shined in the recently turkish league. And I could also mention Daniil Dubov, Vladislav Artemiev....
This situation remembers me a lot about the opinion people has about Fischer. Karpov was clearly stronger ( both in talent and in nerves control) , incomparblyl more succesful ( even at the same age Fischer quit, Tolya had won much more internationals tournaments, in fact in one year Karpov usually won more than Fischer in his life)l but people often say: "Fischer would crush Karpov very easily in 75 !! " Being an american or from west Europe can be really decisive to form opinions about others players and get invitations.

MJul's picture

Nyzhnyk es too young (15 y.o.). He's just starting and following the steps of every single chess player.

I don't know about Andreikin, but if organizers start to give invitations to every single russian/ukranian young great chess player, ther wouldn't be enough tournaments.

redivivo's picture

"the organizers do everything to transform this new player in a chess star. He gets much more invitations"

Carlsen's first invitation to a super tournament was Tal Memorial 2006 when he was 15 years old and rated 2698. Radjabov was invited to Corus 2003 when he was 2624, Linares 2003 when he was 2624, Dortmund 2003 when he was 2648, Linares 2004 when he was 2656, etc.

Karjakin was invited to Dortmund when he was 14 years old and 2580. Andreikin is 22 and has the same rating Carlsen had at 15. He was 18 when he crossed 2600. Artemiev is 2477, Dubov is 2569, Nyzhnyk is 2599.

So Carlsen didn't get lots of undeserved invitations considering that he was around 2700 when he got the first of them. His results were just so good that it was hard to avoid him when other players got their chances when they had a much lower rating.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen defenitely got a lot more invitations at a young age but it was partially his own achievement. He (or probably his dad or manager) made excellent use of the media and organizers couldn't go around him. More players should follow his example. But it can't be denied that being from other parts of the world is quite a disadvantage, generally speaking.

redivivo's picture

"Carlsen defenitely got a lot more invitations at a young age but it was partially his own achievement. He (or probably his dad or manager) made excellent use of the media and organizers couldn't go around him"

The talk about Carlsen being invited more than other young players because of media or hype etc is quite common, and also very easy to disprove. As already has been pointed out, Carlsen was 2698 (ranked #21 in the world, i.e. ahead of Ponomariov and Leko at the moment) when he first was invited to a top tournament. Radjabov had already played at least four top tournaments while rated 50-70 points lower.

Leko was well outside the top 100 when he played his first super tournaments in Wijk, Horgen and Dortmund. Just to pick a few of the other top tournaments he was invited to long before he got anywhere close to top 50: Dortmund 95, Belgrade 95, Groningen 95. Before he reached a top 30 position Leko had played maybe 15-20 super tournaments, Carlsen none.

So it's easy to see that Carlsen didn't get more invitations because he had been hyped by media or managers or himself. He just didn't get any invitations at all, and then once he reached around #20 in the world it was difficult to keep avoiding him when much lower rated players had much more invitations. It naturally got even harder to avoid him when he continued playing great chess.

Thomas's picture

Maybe you have a point about supertournament invitations - could it be that he declined some because he thought they came too early? But regarding less prestigious round-robin invitations, let's compare Carlsen and Nyzhnyk:

In 2004/2005, Carlsen's rating went from 2484 to 2625. He played Corus C to qualify for Corus B, Sigeman (which we might discount as a local invitation), Essent (now Unive), Lausanne Young Masters twice and Biel(!). Plus two FIDE events (World championship and World Cup), where I don't know if he qualified or got a wildcard.

In 2011/2012 so far, Nyzhnyk's rating was between 2531 and 2610 (he's currently a bit down, Carlsen also had a setback at about the same age). He played Tata C to qualify for Tata B, that's basically it - two more rather weak round robin events on the Canary Islands and in Ukraine.

At least Wijk aan Zee gives chances to young rising stars, but you have to be lucky - as I just mentioned, Sjugirov was never invited.

redivivo's picture

"Maybe you have a point about supertournament invitations - could it be that he declined some because he thought they came too early?"

Maybe also that his rise was so fast, from #89 in January 2006 to #21 in October, when the invitations started to arrive. Leko must have the all time record regarding early invitations though, not just several super tournaments from before he was top 100, but also after that his rise was much slower and he continued to be invited year after year. He for example played Dortmund for the third year in a row in 1996, and even a year later he hadn't reached a top 30 position. This in a time when Dortmund was a very strong tournament. In 1994 eight of ten players were top 30, and Leko #130.

Thomas's picture

Maybe you don't like Leko - don't worry, you wouldn't be the only one on chess forums ... . All your Elo number crunching is correct but may not be the whole story. Leko reached the top20 at the age of 18, and the top 10 at the age of 19 - which is late compared to Carlsen, but not even late compared to Radjabov, Karjakin and Caruana. As a sidenote, it's also late compared to Kramnik who didn't benefit from very early invitations (but it may have been Russia's choice to "hide" and quietly develop his talent).

More importantly, Leko was/is rather unique within his mini-generation. He was born in 1979, from all players born between 1977 and 1981 only he and Morozevich (and arguably Kasimdzhanov and Movsesian) made it into the world top. In that respect, he is a bit comparable to Carlsen. Differences are that Leko became never #1, and that there are other very talented players born in 1990 - at least Karjakin, it remains to be seen if Nepomniachtchi, Vachier-Lagrave and (oppportunities needed) Andreikin stilll become stable top10 players.

As to his early Dortmund results: In 1994, it was a publicity stunt by the organizers to invite a 14-year old kid (done again in 2004 with Karjakin). In 1995, he justified his invitation finishing third behind Kramnik and Karpov, shared with Ivanchuk. In 1996 he finished at the bottom of the standing, and wasn't re-invited the next year. And from 1998 onwards he fit into the field.

Altogether, there are reasons behind Leko's "all time record". But of course management and connections (particularly to Dortmund) also played a role.

Anonymous's picture

I'm not sure why you think you disprove anything said.
The quote is about Carlsen at "a young age", and clearly that's not the time when one plays supertournaments.

Secondly, (selective) comparisons with players of earlier generations are meaningless. In order to actually prove something one should compare him to players of his own generation and ( at least at the time ) similar strength: guys like Karjakin, Nepomniachi and Lagrave. Not with Leko who was young a decade earlier, when the world economy was booming and when there were almost no other prodigies, certainly not in the West. One should also not compare ratings across time or switch between world rankings and ratingnumbers to manipulate the argument.

So the only thing "easy to see" is that your argument is enormously flawed.

Compared to his peers Carlsen got a lot more invitations, even at times when they had higher ratings.
And I am inclined to think that it's not any different when it comes to the supertournaments at a later age.

I also think it's pretty obvious that Carlsen markets himself much better than most other players, at least starting from somewhere in 2004 (books, papers) till now (fashion, billboards). There's no shame in that.
But sometimes it almost seems that Carlsen fans too want to create the myth of him being disadvantaged and neglected, having no invitations and no trainers, when the opposite was the case.

Bert de Bruut's picture

You may not like it, but Carlsen has lived up to the expectations, as he is now the undisputed nr. 1. So what is the point of persistently whining and ranting about the fact that organizers in the past have rightly judged his potential and put their trust in him, and also that they are understandebly still eager to enlist him for their tournaments?

Anonymous's picture

If you'd read from the start you would see that the lack of invites of other promising players was only mentioned on a side note to the discussion about why it could happen that Dominguez was thrown out. The only ones whining and ranting about that difference in invitations are the ones who deny that it's a fact. Which brings us to the point of continuing this discussion: the truth.

Anonymous's picture

You may not like it or find it childish; but being number 1 now proves little for that matter. Chess is also about experience and who knows where a Nepomniachi would have been if he had gotten some invites at 14 or so.

strana's picture

Do you think that Carlsen would have received all those invitations if he was a 14, 15 year old russian, chinese,indian, etc?? A player from West Europe, USA, is a novelty, he has more oportunities to improve his rating. That is the key question. Dubov´s real playing strenght is around 2650+, Artemiev, at 14, would be clearly a 2550 - 2600 if he was a "western" ( look at his performance in the recent russian semi-finals, for example). Nyzhnyk had a 2750 performance in Turkey last week. Yes, Carsen had the competence to stablish himself among the chess elite, but not Western players do not get their chances to do the same when they are U 20 , U18, only in some cases ( Radja, Kariakin).

Thomas's picture

I generally agree, but it isn't all about western Europe and the USA but about geographic diversity in general, and being the best from your country/region and/or age group. Incidentally, Dominguez himself benefited from such 'habits' a few years ago: he got many invitations when he was the best 'pure' North American player (many organizers would, right or wrong, consider Kamsky half-Soviet, and at the time Nakamura was a rising star who had quit rising). At the same time, Wang Yue played everywhere - now Wang Hao plays this role, with no invitations for Ding Liren.

Indian players are all in the shadow of Anand, even if several ones (Negi, Sasikiran, Harikrishna, Ganguly) got Wijk aan Zee B invitations, probably because the sponsor has connections to India.

"Soviet" players - too bad that there is so much local competition. Another one worthy of at least second-tier invitations (e.g. Corus B) already a few years ago would have been Sjugirov.

I guess Radjabov got his invitations in 2003 because he was by far the best "young junior". On the respective rating lists, only Ponomariov, Grischuk and Bacrot (born in 1983) were ahead of Radjabov born in 1987. Second one born in 1987 was a certain Farhad Tahirov also from Azerbaijan - never heard of him and he's now inactive.

MJul's picture

From a cuban web:

I just can think that Leinier withdrew for some reason. A desicion by the organizers to withdrae him, to enter Carlsen would be so unethical that it's not worth of commenting.

"I did't read anywhere that Leinier withdraw by himself, actually the official Biel web site just says that Carlsen will replace Dominguez but doesn't say the reason. Something must have happened, because apparently the norweigan showed a great intrest in playing and the organizers maybe moved some contacts to "open a hole", but this can't be done without the consent of one of the players. That means, if Leinier was confirmed -as I believe he was- then wouldn't be possible to get him out, also, been other lower level players.

Let's wait for a Leinier statement, because this would be an excellent taining before the Olympics (he doesn't play an official game since Capablanca Memoriam and also for the first part of the Grand Prix in London."

Previous post referes to Dominguez previous participations in Biel, and abot Dominguez been beter that Bacrot and Giri now at days.)


After hist withdraw from Biel GM Leinier Dominguez (...) schudle just noticeably extended:
Olympics (27 August - 10 September)
Grand Prix:
-London (20 September – 3 October)
-Tashkent (21 November – 5 December).
-Madrid (22 May – 4 June)
-París (18 September – 2 October)

Mike van Rooyen's picture

Just to change the subject...Poor old Morozevich.
He is such a troubled soul. You can see it in the photograph and his interviews. Brilliant player but seems an unhappy fellow.Wonder what his problem is?


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