Februar 25, 2024

FIDE World Cup Round 5 Tiebreaks: Nepomniachtchi eliminated

Vidit Santos Gujrathi won both games in the second tiebreak, securing the last free spot in the quarter-finals of the Open. Salimova, Goryachkina and Muzuchyk are through to the semi-finals of the Women’s tournament

Vidit Santos Gujrathi has become the fourth Indian player (alongside Erigaisi, Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa) to qualify for the final eight in the Open. He eliminated Ian Nepomniachtchi, defeating him in the second round of the rapid. The two were fighting for the only remaining spot in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

In the Women’s World Cup, Salimova beat Shuvalova in both rapid tiebreak games, while Goryachkina and Muzuchyk had to go all the way to the Blitz to secure their sports in the semis.

The Open Tournament Highlights

Two-time World Champion Candidate Ian Nepomniachtchi is out of the World Cup after losing to Vidit Santos Gujrathi in the tiebreaks.

The two drew both of their classical games in round five. In the first rapid tiebreak, both games ended in a draw, with both sides playing evenly. However, in the second tiebreak, where each had 10 minutes, Nepomniachtchi faltered. First, he lost as White in the Neo-Catalan – making a blunder in the middlegame, recovering, and then again when opting to go to a rook and queen endgame. In the second game of the second tiebreak, in the Dutch Defence, Vidit – who was now leading the white pieces – was in control from the very beginning. Despite both sides making several imprecise moves, Vidit had the upper hand and won.

This was a third tiebreak in the World Cup for both players, but it seems that it left a bigger toll on the former World Champion Candidate, whose strength failed him today.

Vidit will be playing against Azerbaijan’s Nijat Abasov in the quarter-finals.

The Women’s Tournament Highlights

After making a comeback yesterday, Polina Shuvalova is out, having lost both games in the first rapid tiebreak to Bulgarian IM Nurgyul Salimova. Game one was crucial for Shuvalova: playing as Black, she was gifted a completely winning position in the endgame. Instead of converting it into victory, she made two consecutive blunders, dropping the victory in the first one and ending up losing after the second. In game two, Shuvalova allowed her king to get trapped in the middle and ended up defending a lost position but to no avail.

Aleksandra Goryachkina had a difficult task against Harika Dronavalli but managed to prevail. The two played three rounds of tiebreaks to decide who would move to the semi-finals in the Women’s event.

Goryachkina won the first tiebreak game today after Harika blundered a bishop in a drawn endgame. Goryachkina played as White in the second game and had a better position. However, she misplayed and allowed Dronavalli to dominate across the board.

Then followed two draws in the 10-minute rapid games, with Harika having a strong advantage in the second but dropping it and finishing with a draw.

It was time for the Blitz: In the first game Dronavalli misplayed in a rook and queen endgame and lost. In the second Blitz game, Goryachkina had a sizable advantage and no counterplay from her opponent but did not try too hard to convert, as a draw was enough to qualify for the semi-finals. She is taking on Tan Zhongyi in the semi-finals.

Elisabeth Paehtz and Anna Muzychuk were the last to finish after three stages of tiebreaks which saw the Ukrainian GM progress to the next stage.

In both rapid matches, Paehtz and Muzychuk exchanged heavy blows. In the second game of the second tiebreak, Paehtz had a lucky break: she completely misplayed in a winning position and transferred a strong advantage to White, who, in turn, misplayed and ended up losing. Interestingly, Black won all the rapid games.

In the Blitz Match, Muzychuk – a three-time world blitz champion among women – won the first game after Paehtz overlooked the only opponent’s threat in an overwhelming position. The second game ended in a draw.

Muzychuk will be playing Nurgyul Salimova in the semi-finals.

Round 6 starts on Tuesday, 15th of August, at 3 PM local time in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Here follows a closer look at some of the top games from round five tiebreaks:

Ian Nepomniachtchi was defeated by Vidit in both games of the second tiebreak. In game one, where he played as White, Nepomniachtchi was completely lost after blundering in the following position:

Black is already better, pressuring along the d-file and having more options to attack the white king. The most logical move for White was to move the queen to e2, but Nepomniachtchi went two squares too far.

25.Qg4?? After this, Black is dominating: 25…Qc6+ 26.Kg1 Nf5 27.Rf3 Rd4.

Vidit, however, went for 25…Nf5 which is strong enough but not decisive 26.Rf3 Qc6! 27.Ne5 Qa8 28.Kg1 

And now, instead of 28…Rd2! the Indian GM played 28…Rd4? allowing White to equalise with 29.Rf4!

Things were even in the next few moves, as White managed to escape Black’s pressure on the king. But then Nepomniachtchi again made a mistake, which opened a road to a dead end for him.

With the rooks being exchanged on f8 in the previous move, Nepomniachtchi should have tried to keep things steady and play 37.Nc3, to help protest his weak a2-pawn. Instead, he opted to simplify: 37.Nxd6? Qxd6 38.Qf3+ Ke7 39.Qc3 Kf7 40.Qf3+ Ke7 41.Qc3+ Kf7 42.Qf3+ Kg8! A bit of psychological play and adding some extra time (due to a 10-second bonification per move) by Vidit.

43.Rd1 Qf8 44.Qe3 Rxa2 45.g5 Qf5 46.Rd8+ Kh7 47.gxh6 Ra1+ 48.Kg2 Qg4+ Forcing the exchange of queens 49.Qd3 Qxg3+ 50.hxg3 Kxh6 

Black has a winning rook endgame which he executed confidently. 0-1, 60 moves

In the second game of the second tiebreak, Nepomniachtchi lost control from the opening and was weaker throughout, ending up losing.

A well-deserved success for Vidit.

Polina Shuvalova suffered a huge misfortune today, losing a winning endgame in their first rapid game of the tiebreaks agasint Nurgyul Salimova.

Playing as Black, Shuvalova found herself in the following position after several bad moves by White.

Black is clearly winning with 51…g2. Indeed, after 52.Rf7+ Ke5 53.Rxg7 Rc1+ 54.Ka2 g1Q this pawn costs White the rook. However, Shuvalova made two consecutive costly blunders.

51…Rc1+?? (letting a win slip away) 52.Ka2 g2?? (missing a draw that was still achievable after 52…g6)

53.Rf7+ 53.Kxe6 If 53…Ke5 54.e7 and White is winning, while in the line above Black promotes her pawn with check. 

54.Rxg7+ Kf6 55.Rxg2 and Salimova emerged with two extra pawns.

Polina resigned after 55…Rc2 56.Rg6+ Kf5 57.Bh7 Nd4 58.Ra6+ 1-0

In the game that followed, Shuvalova pushed too hard in a slightly better postion and it quickly backfired as she exposed her king to attacks. In the end, Polina had to trade her queen in for a rook and a minor piece but only to postpone the imminent defeat. 

The position below emerged in the first blitz game between Harika Dronavalli and Aleksandra Goryachkina. White misplayed and ended up losing a crucial point.

Black is more active but after the precise 30.Qb3! Rc2 31.Qxb7 Qf3 32.Rf1 White holds. Instead, Harika played 30.Ra3? allowing Black to respond with 30…Rc4, attacking two pawns simultaneously.

30.Rd3 Rxa4 and now came the fatal mistake.

32.Re3?? overlooking that Black can take on d4 and capture the queen with a check in case of 33.Rxe4. The only chance was 32.Qxa4 Qxd3, although the queen endgame down a pawn is no joy for White. 

Black soon won after 32…Rxd4 33.Qe1 Qc2 34.Kg2 Rb40-1, 43 moves

Elisabeth Paehtz lost an overwhelming position in the first blitz game against Anna Muzychuk, which turned out to be crucial for her fortune.

After precise 24…Re8! (25…h6! making a luft is also very strong) Anna would have continued an uphill battle with little chance of success as 25.Rxd5 fails to 25…Nxb2 26.Kxb2 Nxc3. Elisabeth, however, made a tragic mistake with 24…Qc6?? overlooking the only White’s threat! 

Anna captured the knight with 25.Qxe4 and Paehtz was lost. A piece down, she continued to play, but it was futile. 1-0, 38 moves

Text: Milan Dinic

Photo: Stev Bonhage, Anna Shtourman 

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