Februar 25, 2024

FIDE World Cup Round 5 Game 2: Decisive outcomes and missed opportunities

All but one spot for the final eight in the Open has been decided after today’s round. Three out of four games in the Women’s tournament see one side drop a winning position

Magnus Carlsen eliminated Vasyl Ivanchuk with another victory today. Nijat Abasov and R Praggnanandhaa join Carlsen as a trio that progresses to the final eight with a 100 per cent score in round five. Caruana is also through, along with Dominguez, Erigaisi and Gukesh. Nepomniachtchi and Vidit will decide in tomorrow’s tiebreak who will take the last remaining place in the quarter-finals.

Tan Zhongyi is the only player to qualify for the semi-finals among the women, while the rest go to the tiebreaks. Three of the four games in the Women’s tournament today saw one side drop a winning position.

The Open Tournament Highlights

Vasyl Ivanchuk, the great chess wizard from Ukraine, finally broke. In his second game against Carlsen, he suffered another defeat, this time with the white pieces. Ivanchuk had his chances in the Anti-Marshall line of the Ruy Lopez but did not find a way to increase pressure, and after mutual inaccuracies, the opponents entered an even bishop endgame (with Carlsen having a runner on the b-file). The Ukrainian GM completely misplayed it blundering a pawn, and resigned two moves later.

Baku will definitely see a new World Cup champion as the winner of the previous edition, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, is also out. After a draw in the first game, he lost as White to Fabiano Caruana in an exciting game.

Ian Nepomniachtchi enters his third tiebreak of the World Cup as he drew again today against Vidit Santosh Gujrathi.

Azerbaijan’s Nijat Abasov is through, having defeated Saleh Salem in both games. Dominguez, Gukesh and Erigaisi are also through – they all drew their games, having won in the first duel.

Praggnanandhaa also advanced after a late win against Ferenc Berkes. The formidable Hungarian master had an excellent run at the World Cup. However, today he found himself in a difficult position on the black side of the French Defence. Playing actively on both flanks, Praggnanandhaa achieved a dominant position by move 24, before executing a nice combination that left him with a winning endgame.

The Women’s Tournament Highlights

While the Open tournament featured a lot of winning games, things were slightly different in the Women’s World Cup, with plenty of missed chances.

Elisabeth Paehtz and Anna Muzychuk drew once again today. Muzychuk had a clearly winning position in the endgame after a blunder by Paehtz but let it slip within two moves.

Harika Dronavalli and Aleksandra Goryachkina played the Berlin line of the Ruy Lopez, which ended in a rook endgame. The two spent a lot of time testing each other before deciding to call it a day. With two draws, the victor will be decided in the tiebreaks.

Polina Shuvalova made a comeback against Bulgaria’s Nurgyul Salimova. In a game which saw huge swings – with Salimova at one point winning – Shuvalova came out victorious after securing two passers for a knight, with rooks on the board.

Tan Zhongyi is through after securing a draw against Bella Khotenashvili. In an endgame with a pair of bishops and a pair of rooks on the board, Khotenashvili was on the brink of victory twice but misplayed both times.

The full results of today’s games can be found here: worldcup2023.fide.com/pairings.

The tiebreaks game of round five starts on Monday, 14th of August, at 3 PM local time in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Here follows a closer look at some of the top games of the second day of Roud 5:

Fabiano Caruana is in great shape, and he is showing it. He went to the tiebreaks only once so far (against Yilmaz in round three, beating him both times). Today, he defeated the 2021 World Cup winner, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, on the black side of Nimzo-Indian.

Black has a sizable edge, as his knights are much more active than the white bishops. Choosing between two evils, Duda took the “wrong” knight. He should have taken the one on c4, although after 20.Bxc4 dxc4 21.Qa3 Nf6 White’s position is no fun. 

Instead, Jan-Krzysztof played 20.Bxe4 but after 20…fxe4 21.fxe4 Rxf1 22.Rxf1 dxe4 Black’s c4-knight is dominating, and the queen is coming to d5 next.

23.Qc3 Kh7 24.Bf4 Qd5! X-raying the white king. White has no reasonable defence against a coordinated attack of Black’s pieces.

25.Kg3 Rf8 26.Qb4 Rf7 27.Rc1 g5! after this move White’s position falls apart.

28.Qxc4 gxf4+ 29.Kg2 f3+ 30.Kf1 Qd7 (30…Qxc4 was enough, but Fabiano wanted to finish the game with a direct attack) 31.d5 Re7. Now these two pawns will wreak havoc on White.

32.Qc5 Re5 33.Re1 Rxd5 34.Qc2 Qb5+! The end is near for White.

35.Kf2 Qb6+ 36.Kf1 Rd4 37.Kf2 Qa6+ 38.Kg1 Qd6 39.Kf1 Rd1 40.Qe3 Qd3+ 41.Kf2 (after 41.Qxd3 Rxe1+ 42.Kxe1 exd3 White inevitably runs in zugzwang) Rd2+ 43.Kg3 f2

In this position, the 2021 World Cup winner finally threw in the towel. 0-1

Praggnanandhaa ended Ferenc Berkes’ ambitions in the World Cup today, scoring a spectacular victory. The Hungarian was in a difficult spot after the opening. 

Pragg, who is much better, has just pushed g2-g4. For better or worse, Ferenc should have retreated his knight to e7, although his position is not to be envied. 

24….Nxh4? This capture fails to a nice combination by the young Indian. 25.Nxh4 Qxh4 26.Bxc4! bxc4 27.Rxc6! Rxc6 28.Ra8+ Kd7 29.Qf3 f5 30.b5 Rc8

31.Nxd5! A sacrifice Black cannot accept as it leads to checkmate. 

31…Qxg4+ 32.Qxg4 fxg4 33.Nb6+ Kc7 34.Nxc8 Kb7 35.Ra6 Kc8 36.Rxe6 and White’s passers are much faster. 1-0, 48 moves.  

Nurgyul Salimova (playing as Black) had a chance to qualify for the next stage directly. She had a dominant position against Polina Shuvalova but ended up spoiling it. Both sides exchanged critical mistakes in this see-saw game, but Salimova did it one time too many.

Salimova has a knight for two pawns, but White’s pawns have still not advanced far, and Black is holding everything. White just played 33.h3, and the best option was 33…hxg4 (or 33…a1Q+ straight away with the same idea) 34.hxg4 a1Q+ 35.Rxa1 Rxa1 36.Kxa1 Nh5! picking up White’s pawns. However…

33…Ke7?? 34.Ra1, and now it’s even – White collected the a-pawn and pushed his two queenside runners. The tension culminated a few moves down the road as the opponents exchanged serious mistakes changing the evaluation completely. 

Nurgyul should have inserted 41…Rc1+ and only after that pushed her g-pawn, although it is not that obvious. Instead, she played 41…g5 immediately, and White was winning. Polina returned the favour just a couple of moves later – 42.b6! g4

White should have placed her king on c2 (b2), to prevent Black from getting her rook on b1 or play b6-b7 straight away, but…

43.Ra2? Rc1 44.Kb4 


Black could have held a draw with 44…Rb1! 45.Ka5 Ng7! 46.c6 Nf5, whereas after 44…g3?? 45.Kb5! Rb1+ 46.Kc6 White’s king penetrated to c6 to support the passers. Down the line, Shuvalova won, making it to the tiebreaks. 1-0, 55 moves. 

Anna Muzychuk missed a chance to qualify for the semi-finals after dropping a victory.

The position is even, but here Paehtz made a fatal error – instead of playing 31.f7 to tie the black king to the pawn, she went 40.Kh5?? and gave up her biggest hope.

40…Kxf6 41.Kxh5 a4! h4

Black should have simply continued with 43…b4! and eventually promoted one of the pawns by forcing the white bishop out of the a2-g8 diagonal and then distracting it. Indeed after 44.Bxa4 bxa3 45.Bb3 Bf5! 46.Ba2 Be6 47.Bb1 Bf7!! White runs in zugzwang: if 48.h5, then 48…Bg8! while 48.Kh7 fails to 48…Bg6+! 49.Bxg6 a2

Muzychuk now blundered with 43…Ke7 and White to save her neck with 33.Bc6.

Now, the position is even as the plan with b4 and bxa3 doesn’t work – White can put her bishop on d5. ½-½, 54 moves. 

Text: Milan Dinic

Photo: Stev Bonhage, Anna Shtourman and Maria Emelianova (chess.com)

About the event

The FIDE World Cup 2023 is taking place from 29 July to 25 August 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

In the Open tournament, 206 players were eligible to take part and 103 in the Women’s event.

There will be eight rounds in the Open and seven in the Women’s tournament. Each round will be played under a knock-out system, consisting of a 2-game match. In the case of a tie, the players will play a rapid and, if necessary, a blitz tiebreak until the winner is determined.

The winners of the top three places in both sections will qualify for the 2024 Candidates tournament.

In both events, the time control for each game is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 1.

The prize fund for the entire event is 2.5 million US Dollars, with $1,834,000 in the Open and $676,250 in the Women’s tournament. The 2023 FIDE World Cup has the largest prize fund for any chess tournament ever played.

More information about the event: worldcup2023.fide.com/


Open tournament: handbook.fide.com/files/handbook/WorldCup2023Regulations.pdf 

Women’s event: handbook.fide.com/files/handbook/WWorldCup2023Regulations.pdf

Schedule: worldcup2023.fide.com/schedule