Praggnanandhaa Masterpiece As Carlsen & Co. Join World Cup

Praggnanandhaa Masterpiece As Carlsen & Co. Join World Cup


World top-five GMs Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, and Ian Nepomniachtchi all won, while Hikaru Nakamura was frustrated with a draw, as round two of the 2023 FIDE World Cup began. It was a good day for Indian chess, with GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu playing a candidate for game of the year, while GM Gukesh D entered the world top-10. 

Game two of round two begins on Thursday, August 3, at 7 a.m. ET / 13:00 CEST / 4:30 p.m IST.

   How to watch the 2023 FIDE World Cup

The prospects for fighting chess on day four of the 2023 FIDE World Cup were boosted when we learned that commentator Leko keeps a samurai sword on hand.

It wasn’t all swashbuckling action, with 42 draws, many of them at around the minimum allowed 30-move mark, in the Open section, compared to 22 decisive games. That was reversed in the Women’s event, where there were just 13 draws, and 19 wins, but in any case, with so many games there was no shortage of brilliant wins and tragic losses. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Carlsen & Co. Enter The Fray

Ju Wenjun looked a hundred times more relaxed than during the world championship match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Round two of the World Cup is where things really heat up, with the top-50 seeds in the Open section and the top-25 in the Women’s playing their first games. While Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun and women’s number-two seed GM Aleksandra Goryachkina decided to delay hostilities until another day, making draws in 16 and 24 moves respectively, the top-four seeds in the Open event all came to fight. For three of them it worked to perfection.

Carlsen and Nakamura are seeded to meet in the final. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

Caruana’s game against Georgian GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili looked the smoothest on the surface, with the U.S. number-one apparently much better prepared and achieving total dominance with the black pieces. 

The final position after 39…Bd3.

He confirmed that appearances weren’t deceptive: “I think it was a pretty clean game and I was never in any danger.”

He explained that his aim was to play with only calculated risk, since he felt his downfall in previous World Cups was to risk too much in an event where one mistake can easily be fatal.

Nepomniachtchi quipped about the approach of his Azerbaijani GM opponent Vugar Asadli: “I think he wanted to surprise me in the Petroff, because I can’t recall him playing the Petroff before, but I’ve played the Petroff once or twice, so I had a few ideas.”

Nepomniachtchi navigated the complications better. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nepomniachtchi played the opening in two world championship matches, and although the game was messy he was always playing faster and more confidently in the chaos before he emerged victorious. 

Carlsen confessed he didn’t feel in top form before the event, but his first game against Georgian GM Levan Pantsulaia also went well:

“I felt a little bit rusty going in, but the game went like it often does: I was slightly worse, then equal, then slightly better, then winning, and it all happened kind of gradually.”

Carlsen grabbed a pawn in the middlegame, partly based on a concealed tactic that he later got to demonstrate on the board. 

Defending Champion GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and GM Leinier Dominguez were among the favorites to score convincing wins, but some players struggled.

GM Peter Svidler was among the players to score impressive wins in round two. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Wesley So perhaps had his reputation to thank for Turkish GM Emre Can conceding a draw rather than pushing for more in a superior endgame, while world number-two Nakamura was frustrated in a 63-move game against GM Karthik Venkataraman.

Nakamura was on a number of occasions close to a win, but the reigning Indian champion kept finding only moves to hold on.

The game was played out until bare kings on move 63, with Nakamura clearly frustrated.

He could only tip his hat to his opponent, and while he called it “not the greatest result,” he added:

“I tried to put pressure, my opponent found some good moves, and it is what it is. At the end of the day, as I’ve said many times, if you play a good game and your opponent finds the best moves, chess is a draw, and in this case my opponent was able to find those best moves.”

The best games of the day, however, were played by some of the younger players in Baku. 

Masterpieces And Brilliancies 

Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa has “finally” crossed the 2700 rating barrier at the age of 17, and he climbed to 2711.1 with an awesome game against 2019 French Champion GM Maxime Lagarde. To sacrifice a piece, Praggnanandhaa had to have foreseen the amazing “quiet” move 15…e3!

It’s the Game of the Day, if not the Game of the Year, and has been annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below. 

That’s not to say there was no competition, with 15th World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand pointing to another game as also being “an absolute masterpiece”. He was referring to the win by Chinese GM Wei Yi over Brazilian GM Luis Paulo Supi.

There were also moments of brilliance. For instance, the shocking 48…Be4!! from Norwegian GM Aryan Tari.

After GM Thai Dai Van Nguyen accepted the sacrifice Tari went on to get powerful central pawns that won the day and make him the favorite to face a likely all-Norwegian clash with Carlsen in round three.

Aryan Tari is on a collision course with Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Another close battle was decided when French GM Jules Moussard spotted he could grab a pawn due to a beautiful checkmating pattern.

Chess Tragedies

Chess is a cruel mistress. For two days, GM Velimir Ivic had been riding high, winning three games in a row to reach round two, where he faced the same player he beat in the same round in 2021, GM Francisco Vallejo Pons. Then, for around 33 moves, everything went perfectly, with Ivic building up an ideal attacking position. Soon after, however, things went horribly wrong.

In the Women’s section, French IM Pauline Guichard went from completely winning, to drawing, to getting mated by IM Vaishali Rameshbabu in the space of half a dozen moves. 

Both of those losses were the kind of thing that can easily happen in complicated double-edged positions, but the most painful chess moment befell former U.S. Champion GM Sam Shankland.

A day to forget for Shankland, though he still has a chance to hit back. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

He overlooked checkmate in a rook endgame where he was trying to squeeze out a win against 200-point-lower-rated Moldovan GM Ivan Schitco.


The focus at the World Cup is usually on upsets, but apart from that disaster for Shankland—or Tari being one point lower-rated than his opponent—there were no upset wins at all in the Open section.

There was far more volatility in the Women’s section, including two clear surprises. IM Sara Khadem, representing Spain for the first time, was outplayed by 133-point-lower-rated Indonesian IM Medina Warda Aulia. Khadem wasn’t letting the loss dampen her spirits!

Another notable upset win saw IM Alina Bivol sacrifice her queen in a nice finish against higher-rated Azerbaijani IM Gunay Mammadzada. Things were missed in the time scramble!

Afterward, Bivol explained that she was “really well-prepared” for the sacrificial opening she played in the game.

Gukesh Enters Top 10

A 153-move, 6.5-hour win by GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac over IM Pablo Ismael Acosta was one of the most memorable feats of the day, but the standout milestone was 17-year-old Gukesh entering the Top 10.

Gukesh, who recently became the youngest player in history to cross 2750, is now on the brink of ending Anand’s 37-year reign as Indian number-one.

Gukesh is in the top-10 and almost the Indian number-one, but his sights will be set higher. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

What might hold him back is that he only needs a draw on Thursday to progress to round three of the FIDE World Cup, while the 41 players who lost in game one must now win on demand to force tiebreaks. 

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.

Previous Coverage


Source link

Tinggalkan Balasan