Aleksandra Goryachkina reaches the finals in the Women’s tournament after eliminating Tan Zhongyi. Carlsen, Caruana and Abasov all qualify for the Open semi-finals
Leinier Dominguez Perez was eliminated from the race, after losing to Fabiano Caruana. R Praggnanandhaa staged a comeback against Erigaisi, as the two will be the only pair in the Open going to the tiebreaks.
Both games in the Women’s tournament ended in a draw. After winning in the first game, Aleksandra Goryachkina eliminated the former World Champion Tan Zhongyi, while Anna Muzychuk and Nurgyul Salimova drew again and will have to play the tiebreaks.
The Open Tournament Highlights
Nijat Abasov was the first to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup, having defeated Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, checkmating him on move 44. The two split a point after a long and tense game yesterday. Today, the representative from Azerbaijan won with white pieces in the London System, taking the initiative as early as move 15 and then increasing the pressure until reaching a winning position by move 30.
Magnus Carlsen drew his second game with Gukesh D. In the Alapin line of the Sicilian, Carlsen (playing as White) got slightly more initiative after the opening. However, the Norwegian opted for a secure path – transitioning to an even endgame where he was a pawn down. A draw was enough for Carlsen to move to the semi-finals.
R Praggnanandhaa made an impressive comeback against compatriot Arjun Erigaisi with the black pieces following yesterday’s loss. In the second Alapin game of the day, the two entered an even endgame, although Black had an extra pawn. However, a couple of inaccuracies by Erigaisi were enough for Pragg to activate his king and pose some serious problems for White. Eventually, Black broke up in the centre and penetrated with his king to the kingside, with decisive effect.
Both sides ended up promoting a queen, but Black had three extra pawns, and White had none. Erigaisi tried to engineer a way to a perpetual check, but it was impossible. The game ended after Black promoted his second queen. The two will now have to play in the tiebreaks.
The final game to finish was between Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez Perez. After a heroic escape from a lost position as Black in yesterday’s game, today, playing as White, Caruana was clearly better than his opponent. In the Tarrasch, the two entered a typical position with an isolated pawn in which White had a slight edge and a chance to pressure his opponent without taking serious risks. Black maintained balance for a while but eventually cracked closer to the time control.
Fabiano won a pawn and slowly but surely converted it. This marks the end of the road for Dominguez Perez, who had a great tournament ousting several strong GMs, including the European champion, Alexey Sarana.
The Women’s Tournament Highlights
Former Women’s World Champion Tan Zhongyi is out after drawing with black pieces against Aleksandra Goryachkina. In the exchange line of the King’s Indian, Black managed to get some initiative but nothing substantial. Throughout the game, Goryachkina aimed to tame the position and keep it even, succeeding eventually. The former world champion now awaits to see who will be her opponent for third place, while Goryachkina becomes the first qualifier for the Women’s Grand Prix finals.
Nurgyul Salimova and Anna Muzychuk also drew. In the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Salimova (playing as Black) created some chances in an early endgame but quickly dropped them, and the two agreed to split a point after 41 moves. With two draws in both games, the two head for a tiebreak on Thursday.
The full results of today’s games can be found here: worldcup2023.fide.com/pairings.
Round six tiebreaks take place on Thursday, 17th of August, at 3 PM local time in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Here follows a closer look at some of the games played today:
Nijat Abasov is having a great tournament in his native Baku. The local star has so far eliminated the likes of Anish Giri and Peter Svidler, and has now added Vidit to the list of heavyweights he knocked out of the World Cup.
In today’s game, in the London system, Abasov started increasing the pressure from early on. Add to that some mistakes by Vidit, and the Azeri GM quickly got into a strong position.
This was the last moment in the game when the engine showed both sides to be equal. In the next several moves, White’s position gradually improved.
11…Ne5?! A dubious novelty by Vidit. 11…h6 or castle are considered as a better plan.
12.Nxe5 Qxe5 13.0-0 Bd7 14.e4 dxe4 15.Nxe4 Nd5?! 16.Rfe1 Bc6 17.Rad1 0-0-0? A very risky move as White is much better prepared for active operations. After 17…Nf4 18.Bb5! 0-0 19.Bxc6 White is clearly better but it was the best option for Black.
In subsequented play the opponents made some inaccuracies but Nijat was more precise.
26.b5! With this move White started a direct attack on the black king.
26…Be8 27.a4 Kc8 28.Nb3 f6 29.a5 Qd1 30.Qb4 b6?
The last error by Vidit led him to a completely lost position. 30…e5 or 30…Qd8 even offered more chances to hold, but now…
31.axb6 axb6 32.c5 bxc5 33.Qxc5+ Kb8 Now the black king is at the mercy of White.
34.Qb6 Kc8 35.Qxe6 Bd7 36.Qc4+ Kd8 37.b6Qd6 38.Qg8+ Ke7 39.b7 Be8
And now Abasov found a wonderful finishing sequence: 40.Bb5! Qd1+ 41.Kh2 Qd6+ 42.g3 Bf7 43.b8=Q Bxg8 44.Qxe8# 1-0
Pragnanandhaa defeated Arjun Erigaisi with black pieces. In the Alapin, Arjun tried to force an even endgame and chose a plan which ended up costing him a point.
The position is even. However, White has to demonstrate accuracy. The best way to proceed was 28.Kf1
28.a4? After this natural but wrong move Black regrouped and started posing serious problem for White. 28…Be5 29.Kf1 Bd6 30.Ke2 e5 31.Kd3 Ke6 32.Rb7 Kd5 33.f3 c5 34.a5 Rf8? A mistake by Prag. He should have played 34…g5 and started his push on the kingside.
35.a6 Ra8 36.Kc3 g5! Black admitted his mistake and returned to the correct plan.
37.Kd3 h5 38.Kc3?
The last chance for White was 38.g3 keeping control over the e4-square.
38…e4! Now the black king penetrates to the kingside and it is all over for White. In the pawn race the opponents promoted queens simultaneously but it was poor consolation for Arjun.
Black has three pawns and a not so exposed king. Erigaisi tried to fight, but there was no point and he had to resign on move 75, when Black promoted his second queen. 0-1
Fabiano Caruana is through after outplaying compatriot Leinier Dominguez Perez in the Tarrasch. The position was largely even until move 38 when Black made a critical mistake.
Black is a pawn up and has a 2:1 advantage on the queenside, but White’s queen and bishop are more active and making more threats. In the above position, Black should have played his queen to c2 – to protect the g6 knight and hold open the b1-h7 diagonal and c-file for a quick defencive rerouting. However, he played a casual move – 38…b5.
39.h4! and Black’s position became beyond repair. After 39…Qd1 40.Qa8+ Kh7 41.Qxa5 White picked up a pawn. Fabiano was gradually increasing pressure on his opponent but offered him a chance at some point.
Here Caruana made a mistake. He should have proceeded with 54.Qe4 or 54.Qf3+, instead he played a weaker move – 54.Bb4. White was still better, but he dropped a considerable proportion of his advantage.
54…Nd5 55.Qf8+ Ke6 56.Qg8+ Ke5 57.Bd2 Kd4 58.Qh7 Qe7 59.Kg1 b4??
The key blunder by Black. Now after 60.b3 Qe5 61.Qc2 White is winning.
White ended up creating a runner on the b-file, which he then traded off for Black’s h-pawn, ending with two connected kingside pawns up and winning:
Dominguez Perez continued to resist, hoping for a miracle akin to the one that Caruana had pulled off the day before, in a similarly hopeless position, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Aleksandra Goryachkna eliminated the former World Champion Tan Zhongyi by holding her to a draw in their second game (having defeated her in the first).
This is the point in the game where Tan had the most initiative, but it was nothing substantial. After 20…Ng5 21.f3! Rh8 22.Ke2 h4 23.g4! White made sure to neutralise any chances for Black to make some progress and made sure the game was calm and stable.
By move 37, Goryachkina had slightly more initiative but, preferred to play it safe and secure a draw.
The two called it a day in the following – somewhat unusual – position:
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