Playing as White, the 18-year-old Indian prodigy, R Praggnanandhaa, couldn’t obtain a significant advantage over the former World Champion Carlsen. Meanwhile, Fabiano Caruana suffered a surprising defeat against local player Nijat Abasov in the match for third place
Magnus Carlsen and R Praggnanandhaa split a point after a game which lasted 35 moves and around three hours.
In the Four Knights line of the English Opening, R Praggnanandhaa (as White) went for a sharp line, putting pressure on the queenside, but Carlsen responded with a counter-push in the centre and comfortably equalised. In an even position, with three Kingside pawns and a knight and a rook each, the two decided to call it a day.
In the aftermath of the game, Magnus Carlsen expressed his discomfort during the post-game interview, revealing that he was feeling unwell due to food poisoning. Despite his health setback, Carlsen’s performance on the board remained formidable.
In the match for third place, Fabiano Caruana suffered a defeat at the hands of Nijat Abasov, making a critical mistake in the final stage of the game. In the Catalan Opening, the position was even until move 16, when White (Abasov) started the ball rolling by doubling his rook along the g-file. Abasov then proceeded to organise an attack on the Black king’s fortress, but Caruana had sufficient defensive resources. Unfortunately for the American, he tripped up on move 23, immediately landing in an effectively lost position. Three moves later, he resigned.
An upsetting defeat for the former World Champion Candidate, who will have to win tomorrow’s game to reach the tiebreaks and fight for third place. Caruana will have a slight advantage tomorrow as he will be playing with the white pieces.
Here follows a closer look at today’s games:
Although intense, today’s game between Praggnanandhaa and Carlsen did not bring much excitement.
In the Four Knights Kingside Fianchetto of the English, Praggnanandhaa pressed on the queenside, but Magnus effectively defused the tension.
17…Bc6 With this move, Carlsen parried all the threats and steered into an equal endgame. In the line 18.Bxc6 bxc6 White can’t take the c6-pawn in view of 19…Rc8.
18.Qxd8 Rfd8 19.Bxc6 bxc6 White has a passer on the a-file, but Black has enough time and pieces to stop it from progressing, and he also has countering resources in the centre.
In the following moves, the a-pawn was exchanged for a black pawn in the centre, and the two reached the following position in which they decided to draw:
If one takes into account Carlsen’s claim that he wasn’t feeling well due to food poisoning, the willingness to go for a calm draw was understandable. ½ – ½
Fabiano Caruana defended well in the Catalan against Nijat Abasov, but a slip by the American allowed White to obtain a winning position.
White is preparing for an assault on the black king. The most straightforward move was to get the knight to e4, bringing it into the attack.
Abasov played 22.Qe3 (22.Ke4 and 22.Ne2 were much better options), which the engines consider as a mistake, suggesting that the position is now even.
Black should have responded with 22…f5!, aiming to numb White’s attack. Caruana went for 22…Nb6 and after 23.Be4 Black made a fatal blunder.
23…Qb4?? Leaving the f6-square undefended.
24.Bxh7 Kxh7 25.Ne4 Qe7 – the queen returned to defend, but now it’s too late. 26.f5!
Black resigned. There is no reasonable defence against 27.Nf6 followed by 28.Qxh6+ with checkmate to follow. 1-0
Text: Milan Dinic
Photo: Stev Bonhage 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