The world’s number-one chess grandmaster, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, faced stiff competition in Biel, Switzerland on Tuesday, as he squared off against the Azerbaijani chess star Shahriyar Mamedyarov at the Biel International Chess Festival (BICF).
Mamedyarov beat Carlsen for the first time in a decade, since his last win over Carlsen in the Baku FIDE Grand Prix tournament in 2008. With his win this week in Switzerland, Mamedyarov became the first Azerbaijani to win the first BICF ACCENTUS Grandmaster Tournament title in the chess history of Azerbaijan, as well as brought the trophy back to the Caspian after ten years.
"Magnus played very risky,” Mamedyarov said according to Chess.com. “He wanted to win, and he didn’t want a draw.”
"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,” Carlsen said in a post-game interview. “Nevertheless, I thought I had drawing chances right at the end but I just made two blunders in a row and that was it.
Mamedyarov scored seven points in nine matches to secure an early win in the tournament, pushing Carlsen down to second place, with five points. Peter Svidler from Russia currently stands at number three, also with five points.
Carlsen will be playing against the Swiss grandmaster Nico Georgiadis in the final game, while Svidler will be looking for chances face-to-face with Mamedyarov from Azerbaijan. The third tie will be played between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from France and the Czech Republic’s David Navara. Six grandmasters in total are attending the BICF ACCENTUS Grandmaster Tournament.
The 33 year old mega-brain from Azerbaijan is currently the world’s third-best chess grandmaster among 100 players, according to this month’s rankings by the World Chess Federation, or Federation Internationale des Echecs. Carlsen is still the best in his class globally. The American grandmaster Fabiana Caruana comes in at number two.
The Biel International Chess Festival is an annual chess tournament that takes place in Biel, Switzerland. It consists of two versions – the Grandmaster Tournament, held with the round-robin system; and the Master Open Tournament, held using the Swiss system. The Grandmaster Tournament has been taking place since 1977.
Caspian chess grandmasters have won the tournament eight times before Mamedyarov’s victory this week, with the first win in 1992 by Russia’s world-renowned Anatoly Karpov and the last triumph in 2008 by Evgeny Alekseev, also from Russia.