An excellent tournament turned into a brilliant tournament for Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who today beat Magnus Carlsen for the first time in a decade and won the Biel Chess Festival with a round to spare.
For the last time Mamedyarov beat Carlsen in a classical game, we have to go all the way back to the Baku FIDE Grand Prix tournament in 2008, won by Carlsen, Wang Yue and the late Vugar Gashimov.
Ever since, Mamedyarov was Carlsen’s “client” (or “bunny”, as GM Ian Rogers called it!), like Hikaru Nakamura was too, for several years. But things have changed.
Rogers was discussing it with GM Danny King in the live broadcast of the ninth round. Their explanation was that, whereas Carlsen’s openings were never his strongest suit, his talent and hard work at the board made him a dominating player anyway.
But in recent years, many of his colleagues have adapted in areas where Carlsen used to excel. Now, “the technique[s] of others have improved to cope with the Carlsen pressure,” as Rogers put it.
As a result, Carlsen isn’t winning tournaments with high margins anymore, and he also doesn’t win as many tournaments anymore. After today, Biel is out of reach as well.
Another impressive game by Mamedyarov. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.
“Magnus played very risky. He wanted to win, and he didn’t want a draw,” said Mamedyarov. He admitted that Black was (more than) fine out of the opening, thanks to the excellent 8…d5. After that, White would really like to have his pawn on e2, instead of e3. “I think White has to look for equality there,” said Carlsen.
Black could have equalized with 14…Ne5, but also after 14…Nb4 he was still solid. Asked where things went wrong, Carlsen started with: “First of all I would like to congratulate Shakhriyar on a wonderful tournament victory.”
Then he explained: “It’s only later that a combination of many, many oversights on my part and very precise play on his part that he managed to get something. Nevertheless, I thought I had drawing chances right at the end but I just made two blunders in a row and that was it.”
Many oversights on Carlsen’s part today. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.
With a plus-one score, Carlsen is now tied for second place with Peter Svidler, who drew with David Navara. The Russian GM explained his strategy in the endgame as steering the game as much as possible into a Grünfeld structure (mostly, the two-vs-one on the queenside) because as a life-long Grünfeld player, he understands that!
That reminded Navara of a joke, which he recited:
What does a mathematician do when the house is on fire? He starts filling a bucket and throws water over the fire.
What does a mathematician do when there is no fire? He starts a fire, because he knows how to solve this problem.
Navara’s special sense of humor is hard not to like! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.
Nico Georgiadis can be satisfied with his “grandmaster draw” vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Although he made an oversight in the opening, Black’s edge in the endgame was only minimal.
“The position wasn’t very easy for me to play for a win, but at the same time it was quite interesting,” said MVL. The Frenchman thought he had some chances in the endgame, but then Georgiadis played a few very accurate moves.
Biel 2018 | Round 9 Standings
Games via TWIC.
Round-10 pairings (Wednesday): Svidler vs Mamedyarov, Carlsen vs Georgiadis, Vachier-Lagrave vs Navara. Wednesday’s games start two hours earlier, at 12 p.m. central European time (3 a.m. Pacific, 6 a.m. Eastern).
You can follow them in Live Chess. The Chessbrahs are providing daily commentary with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton, which you can follow on Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/Chessbrah.