Februar 25, 2024

FIDE World Cup R6 Game 1: Goryachkina wins, Caruana makes a lucky escape

Carlsen and Erigaisi win in the open event. Goryachkina scores only victory in the women’s semis

Magnus Carlsen and Arjun Erigaisi started with a victory in the quarter-finals. Fabiano Caruana was on the brink of losing to compatriot Dominguez Perez but managed to save a draw. Vidit and Abasov drew after a lengthy endgame.

In the Women’s tournament, Aleksandra Goryachkina seized the initiative in the semifinals by defeating former World Champion Tan Zhongyi with the black pieces. Bulgaria’s Nurgyul Salimova managed to hold Anna Muzychuk to a draw as Black after playing precisely following a sharp opening line.

The Open Tournament Highlights

Magnus Carlsen was the first to finish his game, scoring a victory as Black against India’s Gukesh D. In the Queen Pawn Opening, the player from Chennai maintained an even position for a long time but then misplayed in the endgame. With each side having a rook and three pawns, Gukesh chose the wrong plan, allowing Carlsen to activate his king and pawns. With each check White gave, Carlsen was closer to the first rank. After 48 moves, Black’s placed his pawn on e2 and Gukesh resigned.

In an Indian derby, Arjun Erigaisi beat Praggnanandhaa with black pieces. The two sides were even throughout the game, but in the endgame stage – following a piece sacrifice by Erigaisi – Praggnanadhaa blundered, allowing Black to execute an attack on the white king and create conditions to promote his pawn, which was already on d3. The 18-year-old Praggnanandhaa resisted but had to resign in the end.

Fabiano Caruana found himself in trouble against compatriot Leinier Dominguez Perez. Following the Italian Game, the two sides were even until Black’s 34th move when – in a knight and rook endgame – Caruana made several imprecisions costing him two pawns.

However, Caruana was looking for the best ways to survive in the lost postion hoping for a miracle, and it happened: Dominguez blundered and allowed Black to activate his rook and knight in attacking the white king. A very lucky break for Caruana and a huge miss by Dominguez.

Vidit Santos Gujrathi and Nijat Abasov split a point in the Rossolimo Attack of the Sicilian, both sides played precisely. By move 25, the two have reached an endgame where each side had six pawns, a black-squared bishop and a rook. From that move onwards followed a complex and lengthy debate where each side tried to outmanoeuvre the other by moving the rook and the bishop around the board. White managed to get some chances but didn’t use them.

The Women’s Tournament Highlights

Aleksandra Goryachkina beat the former Women’s World Champion Tan Zhongyi with black pieces in the exchange line of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. After an imprecision by White, Goryachkina managed to get more initiative and press across the board. However, she dropped her advantage, and soon the position was even. Still transitioning to the endgame, Tan made another blunder which allowed Black to penetrate her second rank with a rook, ending up winning.

Nurgyul Salimova held Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk to a draw with black pieces, in their first encounter in the semifinals. The two played a sharp line in the Caro-Kann where White had slightly more activity at one point, but Black could counter. White managed to create a passer on the a-file, but Salimova was just in time to hold. On move 32, the two decided to split a point.

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

The second game of round six starts on Wednesday, 14th of August, at 3 PM local time in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Here follows a closer look at some of the games from today’s round:

Gukesh lost to Carlsen after completely misplaying an even rook endgame.

White (Gukesh) should have just proceeded with 35.c4, creating a passer on the queenside. Instead, he played 34.Ra2?? allowing Black the time to activate his king and push on.

Carlsen didn’t see the best move (34…Kd6) and instead went for 34…Rg5, but Black was still better. Now Gukesh made another blunder – 35.Ra7+ and his position became beyond repair. It was the start of a series of pointless checks which helped the black king and pawns to move towards the first rank. Thirteen moves down the road, the opponents reached the following position:

Since Black’s e-pawn will cost Black the rook, Gukesh reigned. 0-1

In another victory for Black, Arjun Erigaisi defeated compatriot Praggnanandhaa after Rameshbabu blundered in responding to a piece sacrifice.

35…Nxg3! 36.fxg3 d3 37.Bg2?? White needed to get his king out of the line of fire from the black queen with 37.Kh1 maintaining balance. 

37….Qb6+ 38.Kh2 Qf2! Now, Back is threatening checkmate and has the time to push his d-pawn further.

39.Rg1 Re2 40.Qe7 d2 41.Qf6+ Qxf6 42.exf6 Kxf6 43.Rf1+ Ke5 and the black king marches down the board to support his passer.

White is a piece up but completely paralysed.

Pragnanandhaa tried to find options with giving the bishop back, but the pawn endgame was hopeless for White. 0-1, 53 moves. 

Leinier Dominguez Perez was on the brink of defeating Fabiano Caruana with white pieces after Black made costly mistakes in an even endgame.

Caruana here made a serious mistake with seemingly logical 34…Rb6? (34…Ra6 was much better).

Now after 35.Nxd4 Ng6 36.Rc6! Black has no option but to avoid trade with 36…Rb7 37.Rxe6 and White emerged two pawns up and clearly better.

Dominguez made a few inaccuracies down the line and gave up one of his extra pawns but managed to hold his advantage until the move 54:

Here Leinier stumbled with 54.Ne2? White is still in command after 54.Ra6! with the idea of d6+ followed by Rd6. As played, Black got an opportunity to coordinate his pieces and pester Whites’ king.

54…Rh2 55.Ra6 Rh3 56.Kd4 Rd3+! 57.Kc5 Nd7 and now Black holds. Dominguez tried for another 14 moves but eventually had to settle for a draw. 1/2-1/2, 71 moves

A lucky save by Caruana.

Aleksandra Goryachkina defeated Tan Zhongyi as Black. The former world champion from China made several mistakes in the game.

The position is even. A natural move such as 18.Rc1 would have been OK, but, instead, Tan went for a seemingly active plan which saw her ending up passive: 18.Nf5? h5! 19.Rc1 g6 20.Ng3 and now Goryachkina made a mistake with 20….Qb8, when rerouting her knight to g7 would have lead to a huge edge for Black. The position was even again.

However, down the line, White made another series of mistakes.

In an even endgame, Tan again chose the wrong plan: 29.Nf4? (after natural 29.Rfd1 White has nothing to worry about) d4! 30.e4?? and after 30… Rc2 White’s position was beyond repair. Alexandra created a passer on the queenside and forced Tan’s capitulation. 0-1, 45 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