Bloodshed In Biel 2018

With all eyes on the World Champion the Biel tournament is shaping up to be quite a brutal one.

After 3 rounds what I noticed is that Carlsen is playing much sharper and aggressive chess in Biel. In Round 1 he sacrificed a queen against Navara in order to keep the game going, though he knew he wasn’t risking much. In Round 2 he played the Pirc against Vachier, showing aggressive intentions even with Black against one of the world’s best players. In Round 3 he played the sharpest 6 Bg5 against Svidler’s Najdorf.

I see this as a preparation for the match in November – no matter what they say, both Carlsen and Caruana have their sights on the match and everything else fades in comparison. All the games they play until London are aimed at improving their chances in that match. Carlsen’s shift to more aggressive chess is an indication that perhaps he thinks that he won’t be able to overcome Caruana only by technical means. Be as it may, it’s great to see the Champion play open and attacking chess.

The inaccuracies permitted by Carlsen show that perhaps he is not 100% at ease in these sharp Najdorf positions, but then again it is an encouraging sign that the World Champion is looking for ways to expand his (already very wide) horizons.

Another player on fire in Biel is Mamedyarov. He destroyed Georgiadis in Round 1, escaped from a lost position against Navara in Round 2 and beat Vachier in Round 3 thanks to some original opening play.

Svidler is half a point behind the leaders thanks to a complex win against Georgiadis, while Vachier already lost 2 games and is in need of a quick come-back. With 0.5/3 he is only 1 point ahead of Anand on the live rating list as world’s number 10!

Navara is on 50% thanks to a win against Georgiadis (who sacrificed a queen for interesting positional compensation), while Nico is last will three losses, but I think he is still looking forward to all the remaining games, especially the one tomorrow against Carlsen!

It looks like the bloodshed in Biel with continue and that can only make me happy!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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