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Neutrality Ends in Biel

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Magnus Carlsen has his first clear lead in the Biel tournament after all three games of the sixth round finished decisively. Carlsen beat Pelletier for the second time, this time with black. Alekseev, who was tied for first at the start of the round, gave up Bacrot's second win in a row. This allowed Dominguez to take over second place with a win over Onischuk that dropped the American down to an even score. Carlsen is now on +3. Pelletier has a disastrous 0.5/6 with four rounds to play.

Onischuk gained the dubious honor of being the first elite player to lose R+N vs R in classical play since the famous loss by Judit Polgar against Kasparov at Dos Hermanas in 1996. That one is always trotted out to show that drawing this ending is not trivial. It's certainly not as tough as R+B vs R and it is almost always drawn at the GM level. There are a few blitz wins and a couple of losses on time in still-drawn positions, but before you say it's easy you should try to hold out for 50 moves against a skilled opponent. I won't say "against your computer" because many tablebase-using programs don't distinguish between drawn lines and are apt to throw away the extra knight because they see it's drawn anyway. A strong human can play it for tricks and traps. Dominguez showed more pluck than the only stronger Cuban chessplayer in history, Jose Raul Capablanca. In the spectacular 22nd game of the 1927 Alekhine-Capablanca WCh match the tiring Capa only played a dozen moves with the extra knight before agreeing the draw. This went uncommented by Alekhine, who only said it should have been drawn 20 moves earlier. (Earlier Alekhine had missed what would have been a crushing victory that would have put him up 5-2.) Onischuk missed a mate trap and had to resign, a bitter pill that I hope doesn't ruin what was shaping up to be a solid event for him.

Fortunately for the event, Carlsen doesn't have any more games against Pelletier. But even if no one catches the Norwegian, there is an another interesting race afoot. After his three wins in Biel Carlsen is just 1.5 Elo points behind Anand on the unofficial "live" rating list at 2796.5! No, it won't count for official bets on when Carlsen will becoming number one until it's published by FIDE in October, but it's still pretty cool. He turns 18 on November 30...


I'm betting he'll make it. (Don't draw out the tournament, pleaase. Go for it!)

From my earlier calculations:
2795 2794.1 2791.5 2790.6 2789.4 2788.5 2787.1

Carlsen needs 3/4 to finish the tournament with virtual rating above Anand (he would get 2802.1), but would be temporarily virtual number 1 before that by just going +1 from the next 1, 2 or 3 games (getting virtual ratings 2800.6, 2799.4 or 2798.5 respectively.)

So he has good chances to be temporary virtual number 1, but not such good chances to be virtual number 1 by the end of the tournament.

disgraceful for Onischuk, he plays sooo boring and now cant even hold that ending (at least Polgar was young and playing the greatest player in history). He has no excuse...is it too late to change the us rep to the Olympiad?

A Cuban beats an American on the 26th of July.

Don't miss Bacrot's nice piece sac against Alekseev that the latter mistakenly allowed. The elegant and quiet 35.Qd3! and suddenly Black is overwhelmed by threats.

Thanks for the KRNKR information: v interesting.

Is Carlsen crazy? Did he try to win that ending against Alekseev?

Was his loss a result of pressing too hard, or was he always lost and Alekseev just ground him down?

Carlsen pressed too hard against Alekseev and went to a difficult to predict endgame. However, it was easier to advance the black pawns. So I guess, it's about a bit of overconfidence. Carlsen could have won this endgame against a 2600, but Alekseev is pretty strong.

Great lesson for Carlsen. He will learn something out of it. Nothing to really worry about.

I just wanted to note that Carlsen has 2/2 against Pelletier (who is on 0.5/7 and is the puchbag), but just 2.5/5 against the rest.

Well even if Carlsen has not such a good tournament here (which he may if he finshes well- 3/3 he is still back over 2800 and would be celebrated!) he can not be expected to never drop his level- look how consistent he has been.

But his play this event has not been so good and he had got away with it so far plus taking advantage of Pelletier whom everyone beat.

What's wrong with you people? The constant gripe is about grandmaster draws, and now when someone actually plays out an ending, he's "overconfident" or "crazy"?!

Let's enjoy chess as sport - unclear, messy, thrilling competition between two human beings.

Ashish wrote: "Let's enjoy chess as sport."

I only enjoy chess as sport when Carlsen wins.

He crazy.

Magnus is probably too young to know of Fine's comment in his "Basic Chess Endings" that it was common knowledge at the Marshall Chess Club that Black passed pawns are faster than White ones.

It still applies today, Knallo. I suffered that experience a few years ago, playing White in Round One of the Marshall Chess Club in a Noteboom Variation QGD against Igor Sorkin.

trm- I am afraid that you lost your bet already with 2 rounds to go- he can not catch Anand now.

Chess is the worst for betting. Oh well, better fail trying than not try at all; no regrets. ;)

Any kind of betting is the worst. That is why they call it betting and not winning.

Any kind of betting is the worst. That is why they call it betting and not winning.

Any kind of betting is the worst. That is why they call it betting and not winning.

trying too hard to catch Anand may have cost Carlsen the Biel tournament, when he exchanged Qs to turn a draw into a loss.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 26, 2008 4:29 PM.

    Battle of Biel in Progress was the previous entry in this blog.

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