Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Arjun Make History For India

Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Arjun Make History For India


Three Indian players—GMs Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, Dommaraju Gukesh, and Arjun Erigaisi—will play in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIDE World Cup after scoring 1.5/2 in their respective round-five matches on Sunday.

The trio will be joined by GMs Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Leinier Dominguez, and Nijat Abasov, who all achieved match wins. Only the clash between GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Vidit Gujrathi will be decided in tiebreaks.

In the Women’s section, IM Polina Shuvalova won on demand against IM Nurgyul Salimova, and just three matches are unresolved heading into tiebreaks. GM Tan Zhongyi progressed to the semifinals after a draw.

The fifth-round tiebreaks will commence on Monday, August 14, at 7 a.m. ET / 13:00 CEST / 4:30 p.m. IST.

How to watch the 2023 FIDE World Cup

The live broadcast was hosted by GM Simon Williams and IM Jovanka Houska.

Open Section: Carlsen Eliminates Ivanchuk, Indian GMs Steal Limelight

The theme of decisive games continued into the second game of round five, and four of the eight skirmishes ended with winners. Of all the players remaining, the second-lowest seed Abasov seemed to have the easiest time claiming his quarterfinal spot as he defeated GM Saleh Salem for the second game in a row.

The hometown hero Abasov has enjoyed stunning form in Baku. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While the Emirati number-one would have been pleased with the three-result position he was able to conjure, Salem was unable to deal with the pressure of playing for a win on demand and made several ruinous mistakes.

Abasov’s tournament has gone from strength to strength and, though he will once again be the underdog in his round-six clash with the winner of Nepomniachtchi-Vidit, victories over GMs Anish Giri, Peter Svidler, and Laurent Fressinet make him a serious threat to whomever he ends up facing.

Carlsen was the other player to secure a 2/2 score in round five, a result that ended the run of the World Cup’s oldest participant, Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian legend blitzed out the first 20 moves of the Ruy Lopez: Morphy Defense, Wing Attack but slipped up with 22.Nf1 which coincidentally, was also his longest think of the game.

Frustration sets in for Ivanchuk after Carlsen declines a draw. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Ever the initiative vacuum, Carlsen maneuvered his pieces into positions where trading was inevitable, and he quickly found himself up by a pawn and heading toward an opposite-colored bishop ending. The most intriguing moment of the game came when Ivanchuk offered Carlsen a draw after 31.Bc1!, which Carlsen declined. Naturally, a draw would have seen him progress without risk, but the former world champion summed things up after the match, stating: “I am not normally known for being merciful.”

While Ivanchuk could have played on and likely held Carlsen to a draw, the former world number-two instead chose to resign and hasten his exit. When probed about his thoughts on playing against Gukesh in the quarterfinals, Carlsen said:

“We’re in the quarters so you sort of expect to be playing the very top guys. The way he’s playing now, Gukesh is one of them. I haven’t seen his game today, but it’s obviously likely (to be a draw). Obviously, I’m happy to still be in the tournament.”

One of the less surprising success stories at the World Cup has been the run of the much-hyped phenom Praggnanandhaa. The Chennai native put on an absolute masterclass against tournament longshot GM Ferenc Berkes in a French Defense gone bad and sealed a quarterfinal berth against his countryman Arjun.

Berkes’ tournament comes to an end after an exquisite exhibition by Praggnanandhaa. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After running out of queenside pawn breaks, Berkes could only sit and wait for Praggnanandhaa’s plans to unfold. The result never looked in doubt as the Indian GM unleashed a few tactical flurries, augmented by a string of brilliant moves. The clash is worthy to be our Game of the Day, which has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao.

Caruana was the other victor on Sunday, and his win with the black pieces over GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda seemed to come as a surprise as he later claimed: “I didn’t expect to win with Black.” A tussle in the Nimzo-Indian Defense was on the menu for the world numbers three and 20. By move six, four pawns in the center indicated that a melee was about to take place.

Firmly back at number two in the world, Caruana has his eyes on the prize. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the middlegame, Duda played the innocuous 18.Be3?, and Caruana sensed the opportunity to begin pressing. Hoping that “bravery would be rewarded,” the American capitalized on Duda’s 19.f3? with 19…Nc4!, an intermezzo that left the defending champion fumbling to hold on to his stake in the center.

An all-American face-off with Dominguez awaits Caruana in the quarterfinals after the former drew comfortably in round five. As Olympiad teammates, the pair are intimately familiar with each other’s styles and have a long history. In his post-game interview, Caruana mentioned that he actually defeated Dominguez in rapid tiebreaks in his first-ever World Cup in 2009.

Draws by Arjun and Gukesh against GMs Nils Grandelius and Wang Hao, respectively, confirmed three Indian players’ spots in the quarterfinals for the first time in World Cup history. Carlsen was quick to highlight that all three Indian players were part of the 2023 Global Chess League’s SG Alpine Warrior franchise, alongside himself and Women’s World Cup hopeful GM Elisabeth Paehtz.

The SG Alpine Warriors were a stacked team in the 2023 Global Chess League. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While Arjun and Praggnanandhaa’s pairings will ensure Indian representation in the semifinals, the main event in round six must be considered Gukesh-Carlsen. Many have touted Gukesh as a future world number-one, and this will mark his greatest test yet. Should the Indian virtuoso oust his Norwegian opponent, these claims will undoubtedly gain more validity.

Unusually, just one matchup hangs in the balance heading into Monday’s rapid tiebreaks, Nepomniachtchi-Vidit. While neither player showed any signs of weakness in the classical portion, the two will be feeling extra motivation to win their tiebreak as the victor will go on to play the tournament’s lowest remaining seed.

A familiar look of surprise from Nepomniachtchi. What was unsurprising is the flawless game by both players. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Round 5 Results: Open

Patriotism must be pushed aside for Indian and U.S. fans in the quarterfinals. Image: Chess24/YouTube.

 All Games: Open Round 5.2

Women’s Section: Shuvalova Hits Back As Tan Progresses

After three and a half hours of play, all four of the Women’s semifinal games were still in progress, and the shortest game of the day was 54 moves! Needing to win on demand to keep her dreams of winning the World Cup alive, Shuvalova opted to play the Vienna Game: Falkbeer, Stanley Variation and sought to create pandemonium.

Shuvalova’s and Salimova’s polar-opposite playing styles made for an exciting match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The gamble paid off. After White castled queenside and Black chose not to castle with 12.Kf8!, it became likely that a decisive result would occur. Following a queenside pawn storm, Salimova found herself in a winning position according to engine evaluation; however, clarity was far, far away. Having burned all but seven minutes of her time navigating the opening, the Bulgarian soon faltered and let Shuvalova’s passed pawns charge up the board until it was clear that promotion was unstoppable.

About the game, Shuvalova said: “It was a very tough game, very sharp from the beginning” but make no mistake, the chaos was intentional. After Salimova claimed to enjoy “quiet” positions in the wake of her game-one win, Shuvalova will undoubtedly try to keep things tumultuous in the tiebreak.

With the black pieces, Tan was able to ward off GM Bela Khotenashvili and claim her spot in the semifinal but not before a dicey moment transpired in the middlegame that could have seen Khotenashvili equalize the scores had she found a winning idea in the same colored bishop and rook ending.

Tan is not the only player who was helped by a stroke of luck… in the game between Paehtz and GM Anna Muzychuk, the former made an inexplicable endgame blunder. However, Black was unable to find the special combination that would have seen Paehtz crash out of the Cup.

Meanwhile, GMs Harika Dronavalli and Aleksandra Goryachkina drew again, this time playing with well over 99 percent accuracy in a 60-move Berlin Defense. Goryachkina is the slight rating favorite in both rapid and blitz, although Dronavalli has been a brick wall in the World Cup thus far.

Round 5 Results: Women

Tan is the only player able to win in the classical portion. Image: Chess24/YouTube.

All Games: Women’s Round 5.2

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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