57th Biel International Chess Festival: Two six-player Triathlons – including the GMT Masters with an average of over 2,700 Elo!

by clement

Paul Kohler, initiator of the chess triathlon formula and Festival Director for the past seven years, is still fine-tuning his system, which this year features two six-player events in the GMT Masters and GMT Challengers respectively:

It seems to me that with the introduction of a final phase without players who have nothing more to look forward to in the tournament, and which gives finalists the opportunity of a rematch with reversed color in 4-point matches, we’ve reached the pinnacle of sporting fairness in chess!

The GMT Masters will be highly competitive, as you can see:

  • Praggnanandhaa R (18 years old; 2747 EloIND): Qualified for Candidates Tournament which kicks off in April, Pragg’ is doing us the honor of coming to Biel to try and help India regain control of the Triathlon. After Vidit won the first edition in 2019, Harikrishna (2020 – 2nd), Nihal Sarin (2021 – 3rd), Gukesh (2022 – 3rd) and Erigaisi (2023 – 4th) have all failed to reach the top step of this original and demanding formula. The top seed in the GMT Masters 2024 should already have taken part in 2021, but her good showing in the World Cup prevented her from doing so at the last minute.
  • Vincent Keymer (19 years old; 2738 EloGER): The young German returns for the fifth consecutive time to try his luck in the Triathlon, including first place was up for grabs last year before he stumbled in the final round, when a draw would have been enough to take the crown from Le Quang Liem. We can expect the man who is – by far – the most experienced player in the triathlon formula to be in the running to become King of Biel in 2024. That would be the best response he could give to his in extremis eviction from the Grand Chess Tour 2024!
  • Liem Quang Le (32 years old; 2731 Elo(VIE): Since 2020, the 2013 world blitz champion has devoted himself almost exclusively to his coaching career in the USA and… to the Biel Chess Triathlon, of which he is president. winner of the last two editions. True to form, we won’t be seeing him in any face-to-face tournaments before the lakeside chess extravaganza – at most, he’ll be showing off the many facets of his talent in fast online tournaments. Will this strategy pay off once again? All the best for the only GMT Masters player to have been born in the last century!
  • Jakhovir Sindarov (18 years old; 2701 Elo(UZB): After Abdusattorov in 2019 and 2022, another young Uzbek champion had the opportunity to showcase his talent in the famous chess triathlon on the shores of Lake Biel. The 4th-youngest GM of all time (title obtained at the age of 12 years, 10 months and 5 days), he has, on the third chessboard, contributed to his country’s conquest of the world chess championship. gold medal at the Chess Olympiad in Chennai in 2022. Last year, he made a name for himself by eliminating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the 3rd round of the World Cup.
  • Haik Martirosyan (23 years old; 2681 Elo(ARM): Following in the footsteps of his famous compatriot Aronian, now with the US Federation, Martirosyan is now his country’s No. 1. Feared even by the very best in fast cadence, he can also shake them up in classic cadence, as he found out to his cost by Mamedyarov for example, eliminated in the 3rd round of the 2021 World Cup by the intrepid Armenian. It could be that the triathlon formula suits him particularly well!
  • Abhimanyu Mishra (15 years old; 2627 Elo(USA): At the age of 12 years, 4 months and 25 days, the American of Indian descent made headlines in July 2021 by becoming the youngest GM of all time. Introduced to chess before the age of three and long preserved from smartphones, this summer Mishra has a golden opportunity to take a giant step forward in his career if he can create the huge surprise of chessing his prestigious opponents in the GMT Masters!

Enthusiasts will have the chance to face him in Biel in the simultaneous match he will play on July 12, 2024. Register as soon as possible – places are limited!

The GMT Challengers also promises to be exciting, with the participation of:

  • Jonas Bjerre (19 years old; 2644 EloDEN): Second-best junior in Western Europe behind KeymerThe man who became GM in February 2020 and finished 3rd in the Tata Steel Challengers 2022 is nothing less than the number 1 seed in the GMT Challengers 2024! Perhaps he’ll be able to profit from the sound advice of his compatriot Peter Heine Nielsen, Magnus Carlsen’s second-in-command for many years, and thus follow in the footsteps of his glorious Scandinavian neighbor!
  • Alexander Donchenko (25 years old; 2631 EloGER): A regular at the Palais des Congrès – eleven MTO appearances since 2010! -The current German No. 3 made an appearance at the Accentus 960 in 2020, replacing Salem at short notice, who was stranded at the airport. He particularly shone in the 2019 Open des Maîtres, finishing joint second with Kamsky, behind Tabatabaei. In 2023, he won the Challengers de Wijk aan Zeequalifying for this year’s Dutch Masters. Let’s bet that the friendly Moscow native will be aiming to achieve the same feat at the GMT in the watchmaking city!
  • Saleh Salem (31 years old; 2629 Elo; UAE): Another Biel regular with eight appearances and one final victory in 2021 in the MTOthe world’s best Arab player returns to the Seeland for his second closed tournament, following on from the GMT in 2022. Notwithstanding his maturity in relation to his opponents in this year’s GMT Challengers, the jovial Emirati could well use the experience he has already acquired in triathlon to dominate the ardor of his young opponents.
  • Marc’Andria Maurizzi (16 years old; 2602 EloFRA): Although hampered by the covide affair, the native of the Isle of Beauty became, at the age of 14 years and 5 days, the youngest French GM of all time. Junior World Champion in 2023, he clearly intends to spoil the plans of the GMT Challengers favourites. In Bienne, we could be discovering a privateer who will emerge as the future Napoleon of chess and a prominent member of the GMT Masters!
  • Ihor Samunenkov (14 years old; 2544 Elo(UKR): GM since the beginning of January 2024 and the 41st player under the age of 15 to win this title, Samunenkov became U12 World Champion in 2021 (fast online tournament due to the covide affair) by beating, among others, Abhimanyu Mishra, the youngest GM of all time. The same year, he won the Ukrainian champion in fast cadence in all categories! It could be that the young champion will take advantage of the triathlon’s accelerated cadences to spring a surprise!
  • Vaishali Rameshbabu (22 years old; 2481 EloIND): The Indian GM, title obtained following her performance at the Qatar Open 2023, is the sister of GMT Masters #1 seedPraggnanandhaa, with whom she will be in Toronto in April, as they have each qualified for the Candidates Tournament in their respective categories, Vaishali securing her ticket by winning the Grand Swiss Feminine 2023 solo at 8½/11. So it could be that in July in Biel we’ll have one or two challengers for the world championships. at the end of the year!

After the Friday, July 12 kick-off with Abhimanyu Mishra’s simultaneous play, the official opening will take place the following day, immediately followed by the ACCENTUS 960, which will be used to decide between players who are still tied at the end of the Triathlon, the full program of which is shown below:


Arrival of participants

8pm: Welcome toast for all GMT players and officials


10:30 am: Technical Meeting and official photoshoot 11:30 am: Opening ceremony


14h: ACC Chess960


1pm: Quick tournament


Day off – Excursion


2pm: 1st round classical section


2pm: 2nd round classical section


2pm: Round 3 classical section


2pm: Round 4 classical section


2pm: 5th round classic section


2pm: Blitz tournament


Day off


2pm: 6th classic round (4th intermediate ranking against 1st and 3rd against 2nd, with color reversed from first round)


2pm: 7th classic round (3rd vs. 1st and 4th vs. 2nd, with color reversed from first round)


2pm: 8th classic round (2nd vs. 1st and 4th vs. 3rd, with color reversed from first round)


10:30: Closing ceremony followed by an aperitif.

Noon: Departure

For further information:

Tatjana Kraska Horvath, Secretary, office@bielchessfestival.ch, +41 32 589 68 68

Peter Bohnenblust, Chairman of the Organizing Committee: +41 76 405 80 87

Paul Kohler, Tournament Director: paul.kohler@bielchessfestival.ch


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