On the road again, this time to Biel, Switzerland
Jet-setting St. Louis Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura has made his way to Biel, Switzerland, for the 45th annual Biel Chess Festival. Many strong chess tournaments take place in Europe each summer; and the Biel invitational, scheduled to begin July 23, is typically one of the strongest on the schedule. Recently, this event got quite a bit stronger than earlier anticipated after Cuban Grandmaster Leinier Dominguez Perez withdrew and was replaced by the world’s No. 1, Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.
This event will feature six players in a double round robin. This is the fairest system, as each player plays everyone else twice, once with white and once with black.
The addition of Carlsen makes this the strongest invitational tournament ever played in Biel, and Nakamura will have a tough fight if he hopes to win the event. He will be playing in several events over the next few months; and if he can post a few good results, he will easily break back into the top five in the world rankings and beyond.
The Biel Chess Festival is a great event, since it is more than just a simple chess tournament. There are many other side events, including blitz, rapid, youth and chess960 tournaments, as well as simultaneous exhibitions and more. The main open tournament always brings out a strong field and features more than 30 grandmasters already registered, including American GM Sam Shankland, with more to come.
The festival ends in August, and many of the participants in both the invitational and the open tournament will continue on to Istanbul, Turkey, for the Chess Olympiad. Nakamura will be board one for the U.S. team, and I will be one of the coaches.
Biel is actually the location of my last European tournament, all the way back in 1993! I remember my younger days when I had very few draws, and in that particular event I won six games, lost four and had only one draw.
Being a top chess player means lots of travel, and going to Switzerland in the summer is one of the nice perks of being a chess professional. To follow the games, results, pictures, and videos from the event, visit http://www.bielchessfestival.ch/en/home/.
Ben Finegold is the GM in residence at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.