57th International Chess Festival Biel: Two Triathlons with six players – including the GMT Masters with an over 2700 Elo average

With an Elo average of over 2700, this year’s Grandmasters Tournament is even stronger than last year! It is also giving birth to its little brother, the Challenger Tournament. These two major events will be held in the Biel now traditional form of a chess triathlon. Six players will take part in each of these tournaments, including the two siblings who have qualified for the Candidates Tournaments! The most crucial innovation in the Triathlon is that after the round robins in classical, rapid, and blitz games, the four best players play each other again in the classical time control with reversed colors, which guarantees even more spectacle without sacrificing sportiness: The winner will undoubtedly be the most deserving player, as his immediate rivals can't complain that they played against him with black or that they came up against the players at the bottom of the rankings too early in the tournament!

Paul Kohler, initiator of the Chess Triathlon and Festival Director for seven years, continues to fine-tune his system with this year twice six players invited in the GMT Masters and the GMT Challengers: "I think that by introducing a final phase without players who have nothing more to expect in the tournament, and giving the finalists the opportunity for a rematch with reversed colors in the 4-point matches, we are reaching the pinnacle of sporting fairness in chess."

As you can read, the GMT Masters will feature a top-class line-up:

  • Praggnanandhaa R (18 years; 2747 Elo; IND): Pragg', who qualified for the Candidates Tournament starting in April, does us the honor of coming to Biel in an attempt to bring India back to the top 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) failed to rise to the highest level of this original competition. The top seed in the 2024 GMT Masters should have taken part already in 2021, but his excellent performance in the World Cup prevented him from doing so at the last moment.


  • Vincent Keymer (19 years old; 2738 Elo; GER): The young German is back for the fifth time in a row to try his luck in the Triathlon, where he was in first place just before the end of last year before stumbling in the final round when a draw would have been enough to take the title 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 again this year to become King of Biel. That would be the best response he could give to his in-extremis eviction from the 2024 Grand Chess Tour!


  • 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 has been the winner for the last two years. As usual, you won't see him in any face-to-face tournaments before the Chess Festival beside the lake of Biel – at most, he hints at the many facets of his talent in online rapid tournaments. Will this strategy pay off again? That's all we wish for the only GMT Masters player born in the last century!


  • Jakhovir Sindarov (18 years old; 2701 Elo; UZB): After Abdusattorov in 2019 and 2022, another young Uzbek grandmaster has the opportunity to showcase his talent in the famous chess triathlon at the Lake of Biel. As the fourth youngest GM of all time (he was awarded the title at 12 years, 10 months, and 5 days), he helped his country win the gold medal at the 2022 Chess Olympiad in Chennai on the third board. Last year, he drew attention to himself when he defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the third round of the World Cup.


  • Haik Martirosyan (23 years; 2681 Elo; ARM): Following in the footsteps of his famous compatriot Aronian, who has since moved to the US Federation, Martirosyan is now his country's number 1. Feared even by the best in rapid and blitz time controls, he also knows how to unsettle them in classical, as Mamedyarov found out, for example, when he lost to the fearless Armenian in the 3rd round of the 2021 World Cup. So it could be that the triathlon formula suits him particularly well!?


  • Abhimanyu Mishra (15 years; 2627 Elo; USA): At 12 years, 4 months, and 25 days, the American of Indian descent made headlines in July 2021 when he became the youngest GM of all time. Mishra, who started playing chess before age three and was kept away from smartphones for a long time, has a great opportunity this summer to take a big step in his career if he pulls off the big surprise of checkmating his prestigious opponents at the GMT Masters!

Amateurs will have the opportunity to play against Mishra in Biel when he will give the simul on July 12, 2024. Register as soon as possible – the number of places is limited!

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

  • Jonas Bjerre (19 years old; 2644 Elo; DEN): The second-best Western European junior behind Keymer, who became GM in February 2020 and finished third in the 2022 Tata Steel Challengers, is the number 1 seed for the 2024 GMT Challengers. Perhaps he can benefit from the tips of his compatriot Peter Heine Nielsen, Magnus Carlsen's first second for years, and thus follow in the footsteps of his famous Scandinavian neighbor!


  • Alexander Donchenko (25 years; 2631 Elo; GER): He is a regular at the Congress Centre Biel – he has taken part in the MTO eleven times since 2010! The current German no. 3 also appeared in Accentus 960 in 2020, when he stepped in at short notice for Salem, who was stranded in an airport. He particularly shone at the 2019 Master Open Tournament when he and Kamsky finished joint second behind Tabatabaei. In 2023, he won the Challengers in Wijk aan Zee and qualified for this year's Dutch Masters. We can assume that the likable Moscow-born player will aim for a similar performance in the GMT of the watch city!


  • Saleh Salem (31; 2629 Elo; UAE): The world's best Arab player returns to Biel after eight appearances and a victory in the 2021 MTO to play his second closed tournament after the 2022 GMT. Regardless of his maturity compared to his opponents at this year's GMT Challengers, the jovial Emirati could use his previous Triathlon experience to overcome the ardor of his young opponents.


  • Marc'Andria Maurizzi (16 years; 2602 Elo; FRA): Despite being slowed down by the corona episode, Maurizzi, who was born on the Isle of Beauty, has become the youngest French GM ever at 14 years and 5 days. As World Junior Champion in 2023, he clearly intends to tighten up the plans of the GMT Challengers favorites. In Biel, we could discover a buccaneer who will make his mark 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, making him the 41st player under the age of 15 to achieve this title, Samunenkov became the 2021 U12 World Champion (online rapid tournament due to the corona) by beating, among others, Abhimanyu Mishra, the youngest GM of all time. The same year he won the title of Ukrainian Champion in Rapid all categories! So it could be that the young champion will use the faster time controls of the Triathlon to spring a surprise!


  • Vaishali Rameshbabu (22 years; 2481 Elo; IND): The Indian GM, who won the title based on her performance in the 2023 Qatar Open, is the sister of #1 seed GMT Masters player Praggnanandhaa, with whom she'll be in Toronto in April, as both are qualified for the Candidates Tournament in their respective categories, with Vaishali getting her ticket by winning the 2023 Women Grand Swiss solo with 8½/11. So it could be that we have a challenger or two in Biel in July for the World Championships, which will take place at the end of the year!

After Abhimanyu Mishra's simultaneous performance on Friday, July 12, the official opening will take place the next day. It will be followed by the ACCENTUS 960, which will decide between the tied players at the end of the triathlon.

Here is the plan for the GMT & Challenger Triathlons:



8 pm: Toast with all players and officials


10.30 am: Technical Meeting with official photoshoot 11.30 am: Opening Ceremony


2 pm: ACC Chess960


1 pm: Rapid               


Rest day – Excursion with lunch


2 pm: Classical 1


2 pm: Classical 2


2 pm: Classical 3


2 pm: Classical 4


2 pm: Classical 5        


2 pm: Blitz


Rest day


2 pm: Classical 6 (4th of ranking after 21-Jul-24 against 1st and 3rd against 2nd with reversed colors from the round robin)


2 pm: Classical 7 (3rd of ranking after 21-Jul-24 against 1st and 4th against 2nd with reversed colors from the round robin)


2 pm: Classical 8 (2nd of ranking after 21-Jul-24 against 1st and 4th against 3rd with reversed colors from the round robin)


10.30 am: Closing Ceremony with aperitif to follow.

noon: Departure


For more information:

Tatjana Kraska Horvath, Frontdesk/backoffice, office@bielchessfestival.ch, +41 32 589 68 68

Peter Bohnenblust, President of the Organizational Committee: +41 76 405 80 87

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

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