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THE ANNUAL Biel Chess Festival is under way in the city - Bienne in French - in the west of Switzerland. As always there are many gradated sections, up to the top group which this time is a six-player double-rounder, from 19 to 30 July.

Clashing as it does with the Fide world championship in Las Vegas, this naturally consists of "refugees" from that event. But such is the random nature of the system of zonal tournaments that selected the final 100 in Las Vegas, that the top seed in Biel is the powerful Ukrainian Alexander Onischuk, who is currently rated 2,657, while the six together average 2,594 (category 14) - which would be about half-way up in Vegas.

Viktor Bologan from Moldavia started well with the impressive win below, and after a further victory the next day against the German Dimitrij Bunzmann he was already the sole leader. Bologan was set back on his heels, though, when the Israeli Boris Avrukh ground him down in round 3 and after a further round Avrukh led on 3/4 ahead of Bologan and Piket 2.5, Onischuk 2 and Pelletier and Bunzmann 1.

Few grandmasters entirely trust 2 ...Nc6 - the subject of an enthusiastic book by the American IM Georgi Orlov last year (The Black Knights' Tango, BT Batsford, pounds 12.99) - though Alex Yermolinsky used it to good effect against Kasparov himself in the penultimate round of the Erevan Olympiad in 1996. However, Kasaprov did win in the end.

As played, they transposed instead to something similar to the "Milner Barry" Variation of the 4 Qc2 Nimzo - 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Nc6. Pelletier reacted aggressively with 15 Be2, and 16 0-0-0 - 15 Bf1, for example, was less pugnacious; and the game became quite unclear after 16 ...b5.

17 cxb5 was sensible, since 17 dxc6 b4 18 axb4 axb4 19 Bxb4 Nxc6 20 Ba3 Nd4 gives Black abundant play; and 20 g4 was one possible improvement. The position looks about equal at the start of the ending after 27 ...Nxb7, but White's transfer of his rook to b5 was wrong - 29 Bd2, for example, looked much better. After his king got safely centralised to e6 Bologan had the advantage which quickly assumed massive proportions.

White: Yannick Pelletier

Black: Viktor Bologan

Nimzo-Indian 4 Qc2

1 d4 Nf6

2 c4 Nc6!?

3 Nf3 e6

4 Nc3 Bb4

5 Qc2 0-0

6 Bd2 d6

7 a3 Bxc3

8 Bxc3 Qe7

9 e3 a5

10 Bd3 e5

11 d5 Nb8

12 Nd2 c6

13 e4 Nh5

14 g3 Bh3

15 Be2 Nf6

16 0-0-0 b5

17 cxb5 cxd5

18 exd5 Bg2

19 Rhe1 Bxd5

20 Bf3 Nbd7

21 Ne4 Bxe4

22 Bxe4 Nxe4

23 Qxe4 Nc5

24 Qd5 Rfd8

25 Kb1 Kh8

26 Rc1 Qb7

27 Qxb7 Nxb7

28 Red1 f6

29 Rd5 Kg8

30 b6 Rdc8

31 a4 Kf7

32 Rb5 Ke6

33 b4 axb4

34 Rxb4 Rcb8

35 Kc2 Ra6

36 Ra1 Rba8

37 Kb3 Kd7

38 Bd2 Nc5+

39 Kc4 Kc6

40 Be3 d5+

41 Kc3 d4+