Reports | July 19, 2011 14:04

Carlsen starts with a win in Biel

Three draws in first round BielOn Monday the 'Accentus Grandmaster Tournament' of the Biel Chess Festival started. In the first round Magnus Carlsen defeated Yannick Pelletier on the black side of a Grünfeld. Alexei Shirov and Alexander Morozevich split the point in an interesting French while Fabiano Caruana and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave drew a Najdorf middlegame with opposite-coloured bishops.

General info

The 44th Biel Chess Festival takes place July 16-29 in Biel, Switzerland. As always the festival contains many different tournaments, including a strong open which lasts 11 rounds, but also a rapid and a blitz tournament, a Chess960 event, youth events and simuls.

The top attraction is simply called 'Grandmaster Tournament'. It's a six-player, double round robin with Fabiano Caruana from Italy, Yannick Pelletier from Switzerland, Alexei Shirov from Latvia, Magnus Carlsen from Norway, Alexander Morozevich from Russia and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from France.

The participants in Biel

Interestingly, this year the top group is sponsored by Accentus, an umbrella foundation based in Zurich and devoted solely to charitable purposes. It supports and encourages social, charitable, ecological, cultural, and other philanthropic projects, as can be read on their website.

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 organizers chose to use the 'football' scoring system: three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. Besides, no draw offers are permitted before move 30.

For most chess fans the participation of Magnus Carlsen will be of most interest, The 20-year-old Norwegian has good memories of Biel: in 2005, at 14 years old, he played his first ever GM tournament and in 2007, at 16, he won the 40th anniversary edition. As the organizers revealed in a press release a while back, ‘support of a private sponsor’ was needed to get Carlsen back to Switzerland.

Another very interesting name is Alexander Morozevich, who has barely played chess in the last year or so. However, recently the former world's number two won the Russian Championship Higher League so who knows what he's going to do in Switzerland...

In the first round the top seed and the last seed met each other: Carlsen beat Pelletier with the black pieces in a Grünfeld Defence. In a complicated middle game Black ended up with an extra pawn, but a slightly worse king's position. Carlsen managed to reach a queen endgame with two passed pawns, but needed run his king all the way to the other end of the board to win this.

Biel R1: Pelletier vs Carlsen

Morozevich played his favourite Classical French but Shirov said that he didn't expect this particular variation. It has been quite popular recently, and over the board Shirov wasn't able to change what seems to be the currently theoretical verdict: that Black is doing OK.

Biel R1: Shirov vs Morozevich

The game between Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave also ended in a draw. The young Italian, who recently won a strong tournament in India, missed a big opportunity to start this tournament with a victory too. On move 40 Caruana missed the deadly blow Qf7, and a move later he was probably still winning. A narrow escape for the Frenchman.

Biel R1: Caruana-Vachier

Games round 1

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Videos by Chessbase

Biel 2011 | Schedule & results

Biel 2011 | Round 1 Standings (Classical)

Biel 2011 | Round 1 Standings (Football)
# Name Fed ELO Points
1. Magnus Carlsen NOR 2815 3
2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2722 1
3-5. Alexei Shirov ESP 2714 1
3-5. Fabiano Caruana ITA 2711 1
3-5. Alexander Morozevich RUS 2694 1
6. Yannick Pelletier SUI 2590 0

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.


realitycheck's picture

One would think this tournament shd be an easy peal for the player who's nearest rival has a 100 point rating deficit. One down. Four to go.

Bert de Bruut's picture

His avarage lead of 135 point means that Carlsen is expected to score close to 70%, what could be translated as "One down. Three to go." :)

johnxy's picture

Carlsen can boost his Elo to the maximum possible as none could pose him a real challenge except Morozevich. All the players are at least 100 Elo points lesser than him.

Bobby Fiske's picture

At this high level, all players can easily lose to each other, including MC of course. Nothing is given in a game between super-GMs. A slight loss of concentration, a surprising opening novelty or an unsound attack can easily cost them a full point.

Will Magnus reach +4 in Biel? -I am not sure. I guess its a 50/50 possibility.

columbo's picture

When you have Caruana and Vachier lagrave in the field, my guess is that Carlsen wants to show them who is the King of chess, so i bet for a +4 ... Also, he needs to put pressure on Giri who is playing Dortmund ... It's a very important July for them both

giuong tang's picture

It is not easy for Carlsen to achieve + 4 in a field of Moro, Shirov, Lagrave. And Cuarana is very potential. No insult, but my thought is that Pelletier is not up to the others' level. So the win is very good but real challenges lie ahead

ebutaljib's picture

Carlsen needs to put pressure on someone? LOL He is the number 1 on rating list. All other have to put pressure on him, not the other way around. Number one is not chasing lower ranked player, it's the number 1 who is being chased by everyone.

columbo's picture

i would rather think the other way around ... Fisher put pressure on everybody, dont you think ? well carlsen has to do the same

Septimus's picture

I don't think Carlsen is up there with Anand, but that is mainly due to lack of experience. In my book, Anand's achievements are simply staggering when compared to Carlsen.

I'm not saying Carlsen is overrated or hyped up, just saying that he still has a long way to go.

MJul's picture


It's funny how some people forget that Carlsen is 20 and Anand is 41, and how logical this makes the "Anand > Carlsen" equation (taking care of their achievements, game styles, etc.)

But, been honest: when I remember that Carlsen is 20 watching his games, it's a little bit shocking think how much he can improve from now.

Saji Soman's picture

you said the true

danny1's picture

carlsen needs to put pressure on giri? lol why?

columbo's picture


1 Giri won his match against carlsen at Tata ( i know there was a blunder, but still ... )

2 Giri is 1994 while carlsen is 1990 and he is right now the only YOUNG player who can become real soon a danger for his crown ...

christos (greece)'s picture

Carlsen's aim probably is to be the no 1 player in the world, not the no 1 YOUNG player in the world.
So every player who plays top level chess would be a threat to him, regardless of his age, and there are more dangerous players than Giri currently.

danny1's picture

and the fact that he's over 100 points lower rated doesn't come into this?

Rama G's picture

Of course MC is a big favorite to win this tournament. How many tournaments does MC have to win until he has the confidence to compete for the world crown? Is he waiting for Anand to get too old? I hope he participates in the next cycle because he has the talent to be a great champion.

Also, he doesn't even need to wait for the next cycle. According to FIDE anyone rated over 2700 can challenge directly if they can find a sponsor willing to put up a suitable prize fund (I think the minimum is $2 million usd). There are plenty of sponsors who would love to see MC in a world championship match. However right now I still think that Anand would be a favorite to successfully defend the first challenge from MC.

karban's picture

How many tournaments he has to win to prove that he has nothing to prove? In this format candidates his chances are only very slightly higher than other so I don't wonder that he prefers play in tournaments not thinking about championship. Also I don't see strong correlation between him and Giri in dortmund at least at the moment.

ebutaljib's picture

I've been out of chess for a couple of weeks.

When did FIDE reinstated a "+2700 rating and 2 milion USD" rule again?

Rama G's picture

ebutaljib, I didn't know they got rid of it. I thought they only change the WC rules once every two years.

ebutaljib's picture

There was only a short period of time when a "+2700 rating and a 1 milion USD" rule was in effect, but that was back in 2006. They got rid of it after toiletgate when Kramnik didn't want to play against Topalov again. So that was 4 years ago that they abolished it.

There has never been any such rule before or since then. So when you said, I thought that FIDE cooked something up in last two weeks.

Deep Mikey's picture

@Peter: 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw in Biel!

Paul V's picture

Fantastic first round report chessvibes.
You guys really put in an effort on this story!

Al F's picture

Again this stupid scoring system :-(

In chess a draw is a natural result and it's just plain obvious that a player scoring 65% through +3 =7 (16 stupid points) should do better than someone scoring 60% through +6 -4 (18 stupid points).

+3 should always be better than +2, I'll say it again: to have plus 2 beat plus three is always stupid.

karban's picture

In 10-rounds tournament it is less probably that +3 loss to +2 but still if it is a price for taking higher risk in a game for players I accept it. It doesn't mean that you have to play draw ending, it is simply in your interest not to go for that ending. It is better for me than draw ban which is also artifical.

Generally I like the situation which we have now: some tournament use this scoring some not. Who said that all must be tha same. It's only adds colour to this sport.

Al F's picture

This system of points encourage risky play as a +3 performance might win the tournament even in front of someone scoring +4:

+4 =6 (7 or 18 points) vs +4 -1 =5 (6.5 or 17 points) vs +5 -2 = 3 (6.5 or 18 points) vs +6 -3 =1 (6.5 or 19 points)

Even if I like risky play I think it the higher percentage should win - always

karban's picture

I don't think so - I can't imagine if in football (even more objectively drawish and often more boring game than chess) would be chess 0-0,5-1 scoring, I suspect that 2 out 3 matches would finish in a draw. So it is matter of tradition how you count points. You can go even more far and count only wins and someone can say it is the best system.

ebutaljib's picture

Everything has been tried before - especially at the beginning of tournament play.

First tournaments were played in KO style (1851 London, 1857 New York, 1858 Birmingham) where you needed a certain number of wins to progress to the next round. Draws didn't count.

Then in London 1862 the first round robin tournament took place. Draws did not count and drawn games were replayed until someone won. This dragged on thetournament and many players had to leave before tournament was concluded. Many games were left unplayed.

In Paris 1867 double round robin tournament both players received 0 points for a draw! So making a draw or losing was the same. Only wins counted.

Baden-Baden 1870 was the first double-round robin tournament that had the "traditional" scoring 1-1/2-0 without needing to replay the drawn games.

Vienna 1873 had an interesting system - each participant played a "best of 3" match against every participant and the match winner received 1 point, loser got 0 points. In case there was no match winner (match ended 1.5-1.5) they both got 1/2 point.

In London 1883 a drawn game was replayed. In case of another draw it was replayed again. The result of third game would count whatever the result.

After that they practiacally exclusively used the "traditional" scoring system without replaying the draws.

However Monte Carlo 1901 and 1902 had an interesting scoring system. If you won the (1st) game you scored 1 point. If you lost (1st game) you got 0 points. In case of a draw the game was replayed. If you won the 2nd game you got 3/4 of the point, if you lost the 2nd game you got 1/4 of a point. If the 2nd game was also drawn, both players received 1/2 point.

After that I don't know of any experimenting with the scoring system until Bilbao 2007 with 3-1-0 system.

Bob's picture

I am looking forward to Carlsen vs Vachier-Lagrave, I have a feeling that will be good. :-)

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