Svidler, Carlsen Cruise to Victory; Roebers on Perfect Score

Svidler, Carlsen Cruise to Victory; Roebers on Perfect Score

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In a “grandmaster-only” round, GM Peter Svidler glided to victory over GM Jorden van Foreest, GM Magnus Carlsen displayed his incredible endgame skills, and GMs Daniele Vocaturo and Ivan Schitco pulled off wins against their higher-rated opponents in the third round of the 2023 FIDE World Cup.

Meanwhile, in the 2023 FIDE Women’s World Cup, wildcard IM Eline Roebers maintained a perfect score, while GM Aleksandra Goryachkina had a convincing victory, and defending champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk drew her game with the black pieces.

Game two of round three begins on Sunday, August 6, at 7 a.m. ET / 13:00 CEST / 4:30 p.m IST.

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Time trouble, tactics, and tiredness contributed to decisive games in both sections, and it is clear that viewers need not fear “grandmaster draws” becoming commonplace in the classical games as rating gaps close with each subsequent round. The first game of round three brought 10 decisive games in the Open section, while nearly half of the 16 games in the Women’s section ended with victories. 

Open Section: Top seeds unscathed, others not so lucky

The remaining top seeds were undefeated in the first game of round three, but few managed to win their games. As a result, most will need to win their next game if they wish to avoid Monday’s tiebreaks and net themselves a valuable extra rest day.

GM Wesley So at the board
So would likely welcome a break after tough round-two tiebreaks. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen’s matchup against fellow Norwegian GM Aryan Tari was a repeat of their round-three pairing in the 2021 FIDE World Cup, with one key difference: in his post-game interview, Carlsen remarked with a smile that in 2021 Tari was working closely with GM Anish Giri, making him a “natural enemy,” while this year Tari is a friend that Carlsen didn’t necessarily want to play against. 

Carlsen was nevertheless able to put his feelings aside, playing into an opening which he admitted wasn’t great, but which put pressure on Tari. Carlsen won an exchange for two pawns and worked his magic in an equal endgame to grind out a win as Tari battled under time pressure.


GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu showed impressive technique with the white pieces to take down GM David Navara, ending Navara’s undefeated classical streak that had run during the Czech GM’s two most recent tournaments.

GM Saleh A.R. Salem played a great attacking game against GM Bardiya Daneshvar, who knocked out GM Alexander Grischuk in round two. Salem sacrificed his knight on h6 to get a passed a-pawn and threats against his opponent’s king, and it wasn’t much longer until he brought home the full point.

GM Saleh Salem thinking
Salem’s contemplation paid off with a stunning victory. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Similar to Daneshvar, Singaporean GM Jingyao Tin knocked out a big name (GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov) in round two, and he looked to be doing well against GM Rasmus Svane in their first game. However, as time trouble set in, Tin’s advantage vanished, and Svane found a bishop sacrifice as both players’ clocks dipped under two minutes. Tin understandably missed a beautiful defense beginning with 35.Rd1 and went on to lose the game. Can you spot why 35…Bf5 is nothing to worry about?

In our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below, Svidler took down Van Foreest in a mere 27 moves. Both commentator GM Peter Leko and Svidler himself felt that Van Foreest just didn’t sense the danger.

In his post-match interview, a jovial Svidler shared his pre-game preparation, which mainly consisted of watching season four of Stranger Things. He said he plans to do the same thing on Sunday, since he feels preparation is hopeless against the younger generation of players whose preparation is impossible to predict.

We can, therefore, expect Van Foreest to perhaps outprepare Svidler, but the Dutch number-two will need to prove that his superior preparation is enough to get him a win with the white pieces and a shot at the fourth round—if he makes it through the tiebreaks.

Van Foreest at the board
Not all problems can be solved, as Van Foreest experienced on Saturday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Maghsoodloo Parham had a comeback victory, while Schitco continued his incredible run of luck by prevailing in an endgame where GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek‘s winning rook endgame went from good, to bad, to worse, and Schitco’s pawns proved too much for Wojtaszek’s rook.

GM Leinier Dominguez Perez got a surprise victory as GM Gadir Guseinov misstepped with mere seconds remaining on his 40th move, and unfortunately for him the additional time gave him only a chance to contemplate his impending resignation.

Likely the biggest upset of the round was GM Daniil Dubov falling to GM Vocaturo, after Dubov declined a perpetual check and, in mutual time trouble, missed his opponent’s defense of 38…Qc8 which left Vocaturo a clean rook up. Dubov is now in a must-win situation with the black pieces in game two.

The final decisive game was also the last game of the round to finish, as the wild back-and-forth game between GM Amin Tabatabaei and GM Vincent Keymer reached a queen versus rook endgame. Keymer with the queen missed a quick win on move 73 in time trouble and took until move 97 to force his opponent’s resignation. Tabatabaei will face an uphill battle on Sunday playing a must-win game with the black pieces after this grueling game.

Tabatabaei and Keymer at the board
A tense game lasting five and a half hours. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Hikaru Nakamura played for a win by opting for the Benoni against GM Benjamin Gledura, and while the engine never strayed far from equality, Gledura had a more difficult position to play. His defensive efforts were rewarded with a draw, after Nakamura missed 24…Qc8—an oversight he explains in his recap video below.

GM Wesley So was surprised in the opening by GM Jules Moussard‘s “Evans Gambit-esque” 7.b4 in an anti-Berlin, but after declining the pawn sacrifice the game ended peacefully with a three-fold repetition. So has the white pieces in game two, where a win will keep him away from his kittens at home for at least a few days longer.

GM Arjun Erigaisi will be disappointed to let GM Vladimir Fedoseev escape with a draw, despite it being a respectable result given Fedoseev’s strong performance in previous World Cup events. In their game, Fedoseev misplayed the opening, but middlegame complications resulted in an endgame where Arjun had a rook, knight, and pawn for Black’s queen. He tried for nearly 30 moves to give Fedoseev a chance to slip, but in the end the players agreed to a draw after 66 moves.

GM Vidit was completely winning but let GM Bluebaum get away with a draw. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It’s hard to tell whether GM Vasyl Ivanchuk or GM Wei Yi will be happier with their draw. Out of the opening, as Naroditsky so eloquently put it: “[Ivanchuk’s] position sucks,” and the Ukrainian grandmaster looked to be in trouble. But as the game progressed, Wei burned through his time and spent six of his remaining seven minutes on 28…Rb2, a move that gave away much of his advantage.

With about a minute on his clock to Ivanchuk’s remaining hour, Wei was likely happy that he had reached the time control without any losing blunders but disappointed that when he finally had enough time to calculate deeply, his advantage was completely gone.

A player who will certainly not be happy with his draw is GM Fabiano Caruana who was struck by the commentator’s curse and squandered a completely winning position with the white pieces against GM Mustafa Yilmaz.

Giri drew his game, despite entering the endgame with a slightly better position. Fans were likely horrified by Giri’s move 71.Ke4—a huge blunder—but fortunately it was just a case of the DGT board incorrectly registering an additional final move as the players placed the kings in the center of the board to reflect the game result.

GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Teimour Radjabov drew their fairly quiet games, with Radjabov getting only a slight advantage with the white pieces, and Nepomniachtchi holding a draw with the black pieces against GM Rauf Mamedov.

GM Narayanan thinking at the board
GM Narayanan was unable to convert his advantage vs. Gukesh. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Dommaraju Gukesh was worse for much of his middlegame but managed a draw with the black pieces, while defending champion GM Jan-Krzystof Duda was unable to break through his opponent’s fortress and had to settle for a draw.

GM Wang Hao against GM David Howell ended in a draw, and the British grandmaster will be looking to strike with the black pieces in their second game to get revenge for the 2019 FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss where Wang deprived Howell of a spot in the Candidates by winning their last-round encounter.

Vocaturo and Dubov in front of other games and spectators
Dubov will be hoping to bounce back in game two. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Women’s Section: Decisive games and tough day at the office for Indian women

Dutch prodigy Roebers is the only player in either section with a full score from five games (Carlsen and Dominguez are also on full score, but both had byes in round one), and she is showing that she’s prepared to fight in every game. She played into a razor-sharp position and advanced her g-pawn up the board to g5 for a great position.

Eline Roebers at the board
A win despite saying she “didn’t play great” in game one. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After giving up a pawn for her attack, her advantage dwindled and she described her opponent’s 17…c5 as “annoying” and felt she might have been worse. However, she found a nice tactic that allowed her rook and queen to infiltrate Black’s position, and her opponent IM Klaudia Kulon resigned several moves later.

WGM Mary Ann Gomes, who knocked out GM Kateryna Lagno in the previous round, was unable to pull off another upset and is in a must-win situation with the black pieces against GM Nurgyul Salimova who is as-yet undefeated in the event. Similarly, the luck ran out for IM Vaishali R, who had achieved a comeback victory to progress to round three but was outplayed in an opposite-colored bishop endgame by GM Mariya Muzychuk.

The Indian women’s woes continued as Goryachkina took down WGM Divya Deshmukh without much difficulty, and although GM Humpy Koneru drew her game, she had a strategic edge in the middlegame and would have far preferred to head into her second game with the white pieces and a win under her belt.

Vaishali R at the board
No respite for Vaishali R in an opposite-color bishop ending. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

A round-four Muzychuk sister matchup was looking unlikely as GM Anna Muzychuk was suffering at the hands of GM Anna Ushenina, who played with an astounding 99.6 percent accuracy in the first 26 moves of the game. With an extra three pawns in a rook endgame, victory for Ushenina seemed all but guaranteed until she blundered into a drawn position with seconds left on her clock.

Muzychuk failed to capitalize on the mistake but was given a second chance as White advanced her h-pawn and forgot about perpetual check. A draw was the result, and Muzychuk will have the white pieces on Sunday to try to make Ushenina rue her endgame mistakes.

IM Medina Warda Aulia is in a great position having won with the black pieces against IM Alina Bivol, while GM Bela Khotenashvili won her game against IM Meri Arabidze in an all-Georgian matchup, proving her bishop was superior to Arabidze’s knight in the endgame.

GM Nino Batsiashvili‘s game against GM Xue Zhao afforded only a small advantage to the Georgian player until Xue made the mistake of opening up the h-file with 25. Nxg4, and a few moves later White resigned up a pawn, but with an engine evaluation of -8.6. As a result, Batsiashvili needs only a draw with the white pieces to progress to the final 16.

Alina Bivol at the board
A tough game for Bivol. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

A DGT transmission error in Kosteniuk’s game against IM Teodora Injac made it look like both players had lost their minds as queens and rooks were blundered, but once the error was corrected an incredibly balanced game was the result, with both players achieving above 98 percent accuracy. Kosteniuk will fancy her chances with the white pieces in the next game.

Reigning Women’s World Champion GM Ju Wenjun and eight-time U.S. Women’s Champion GM Irina Krush both drew their games with the black pieces, while GM Elisabeth Paehtz feels confident about her chances with the black pieces against IM Bibisara Assaubayeva after their first-game draw.

Injac at the board
Injac can be proud of her highly accurate game against the defending champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game two of round three is a must-win for 17 players in the Open and Women’s sections, while other players will be playing to avoid the tiebreaks without overextending in their currently-drawn matches. In two days, the fields will be halved again, and viewers can expect exciting chess as players fight to prolong their stay in Azerbaijan.

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 began July 30 and ends August 24, with a combined $2.5 million prize fund.


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