81 Players Knocked Out Of FIDE World Cup On Day 2

81 Players Knocked Out Of FIDE World Cup On Day 2


Peruvian IM Gianmarco Leiva survived a 136-move thriller to knock GM Anton Demchenko out of the 2023 FIDE World Cup, but that was a rare success for an underdog. The favorites hit back, including GM Velimir Ivic, who smoothly outplayed 14-year-old IM Ediz Gurel to force tiebreaks. 

There are 33 round-one tiebreaks in total, with the action beginning on Tuesday, August 1, at 7 a.m. ET / 13:00 CEST / 4:30 p.m IST.

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The World Cup career of 81 players who made the journey to Baku ended in game two, while 66 will fight it out in tiebreaks on Tuesday to stay in the tournament. Let’s take a look at how the second day’s action went. 

Open Section: Winning On Demand

If one thing defines the FIDE World Cup it’s the need to win games on demand which, sooner or later, everyone has to do if they want to stay in the event. It’s a difficult art, but sometimes you get a helping hand.

Panamanian IM Roberto Carlos Sanchez Alvarez probably had few hopes after losing the first game to 163-point-higher-rated GM Eltaj Safarli, but it turned out all he needed to do to win the return game and force tiebreaks was to play 1.d4 and wait 15 minutes! Safarli, a local Azerbaijan player, never turned up.

Some of the star players who lost on day one made it look almost as easy when their opponents showed up. GM Eduardo Iturrizaga had the especially difficult task of winning on demand with the black pieces, but he was better in under 10 moves against IM Ganzorig Amartuvshin and cruised to victory.

19-year-old Santiago Avila Pavas will now play tiebreaks against Ilia Smirin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Ilia Smirin avenged his day-one loss to Colombian GM Santiago Avila Pavas by finding an elegant checkmate with two knights, a bishop, and a pawn, after just 27 moves. 

GM Ferenc Berkes hit back against GM Pouria Darini, while there was also a comeback for the man who suffered the most dramatic loss of day one. GM Velimir Ivic played with admirable calm as he established a big space advantage against 14-year-old IM Ediz Gurel before smoothly outplaying his opponent.

The tie is far from over, however, as the action will now switch to rapid chess.

A tougher day two for Ediz Gurel, but he’s still in the tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Not all the favorites managed to hit back. 96th seed GM Denis Kadric lost a second game to 161st seed GM Pablo Salinas Herrera, who made it to round two for a second World Cup in a row.

Pablo Salinas now faces Amin Tabatabaei in round two. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

The biggest upset so far, however, saw Peru’s Leiva hold on for a 1.5-0.5 win over 249-point-higher-rated Demchenko. The Russian-born grandmaster, who now represents Slovenia, came incredibly close before conceding a 136-move draw. This was the critical position, after 121 moves.

Demchenko played 122.Nb6 only to find that after 122…Qf8+! his king no longer had anywhere to escape from checks. It turns out a move such as 122.Ra5 would have given the king a hiding space on a6, with a won position.

That wasn’t the longest must-win drama of the day, however, since 26-year-old Israeli GM Kobo Ori fought for 160 moves to try and get the win he needed to force tiebreaks against 24-year-old Austrian GM Valentin Dragnev. At one point the computer was counting down to checkmate, but it wasn’t to be, with a draw sending Ori out of the event.   

GM Rafael Leitao has annotated that epic game below.

In total, 24 matches in the open section are going to tiebreaks on Tuesday, including GM Levan Pantsulaia vs. GM Harsha Bharathakoti, the closest match-up in terms of rating. So far it’s seen the players exchange two thrilling wins and the stakes are high, since the winner will face world number-one GM Magnus Carlsen in Wednesday’s round two.

We already know that the number-two seed, GM Hikaru Nakamura, will face the current Indian Champion GM Karthik Venkataraman, who won a brutal game against U.S. veteran GM Gregory Kaidanov.

We were close to a U.S. clash of the generations between 63-year-old Kaidanov and 35-year-old Nakamura. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Women’s Section: Nine Matches Go To Tiebreaks

Eline Roebers progressed smoothly to round two. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

There was more success here for the underdogs who had won on the previous day. For instance, Canadian WGM Maili-Jade Ouellet may have benefited from an early blunder by higher-rated Chinese WGM Xiao Yiyi on day one, but she also dominated day two to win 2-0 and set up a clash with eight-time U.S. Women’s Champion GM Irina Krush.

WGM Qianyun Gong from Singapore also won 2:0, against the higher-rated Azerbaijani WGM Khanim Balajayeva, while Mongolian WGM Turmunkh Munkhzul completed a 1.5:0.5 win over Ukrainian IM Nataliya Buksa.

India’s Divya Deshmukh is another 17-year-old through to round two. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Another top player who almost bit the dust was 2377-rated Georgian IM Salome Melia. She had to win on demand against 2182-rated Brazilian WIM Kathie Goulart Librelato, and she did, but only after the last twist occurred on move 100.

That match is therefore one of nine in the women’s section to go to tiebreaks, which consist of two 25-minute games, followed, if needed, by two 10-minute games, then two five-minute games, and then a potentially unlimited sequence of single three-minute games, until one player wins.

Meanwhile the top seeds still have one more day to prepare to begin battle.

The 2023 FIDE World Cup and Women’s World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, are big knockout events that will determine six spots in the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournaments. The action begins July 30 and ends August 24, with a combined $2.5 million prize fund.

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