20 Aug 2023
Anna Muzychuk defeated former Women’s World Champion Tan Zhongyi by 1.5:0.5 and took third place. In the Open, Magnus Carlsen qualified for his first-ever final in this competition
Anna Muzychuk has won third place in the Women’s World Cup after drawing in today’s game against former World Champion Tan Zhongyi. She scored in the first game, winning the match 1.5:0.5. In a post-game interview, Anna – with the Ukrainian flag on her shoulders, a gift from the Ukrainian ambassador to Azerbaijan – thanked everyone for their support and to those who helped and are helping her and her family who now live in Spain.
In the Women’s finals, Aleksandra Goryachkina had a lucky escape with a draw against Nurgyul Salimova, as the two head for the tiebreaks.
The former World Champion Magnus Carlsen has qualified for his first-ever final of the Open World Cup tournament after drawing as Black against Nijat Abasov of Azerbaijan. The Norwegian won in the first game, so a draw was enough. Carlsen’s biggest success at the World Cup so far was clinching third place in the 2021 event in Sochi. Now, he will fight for a chance to add the only missing jewel in his crown of tournament victories.
The second semi-final match, between R Praggnanandhaa and Fabiano Caruana, goes to the tiebreaks after another draw following a tense battle which lasted over four and a half hours.
The Women’s Tournament Highlights
In their second game of the match for third place, Anna Muzychuk (playing as Black) achieved a significant advantage as early as move 10. After White’s 22nd move, Black was on the brink of scoring a victory with a piece sacrifice which Muzychuk didn’t see. Throughout the game, Black had the initiative and was pushing, but the Ukrainian could not find the best moves to secure a victory. In the end, the two reached a drawn bishop endgame.
The longest game of the day was in the fight for first place between Nurgyul Salimova and Aleksandra Goryachkina. Playing as White, Salimova achieved a significantly better position against Goryachkina by move 33. By move 45, White was winning. Unfortunately for Salimova, she made several mistakes in the endgame, which was enough for Goryachkina to reach safety. Moreover, Aleksandra then tested Nurgyul in a rook and knight vs rook drawing endgame for quite a while before they agreed to split a point. The winner of the Women’s World Cup will be decided in the tiebreaks.
The Open Tournament Highlights
Magnus Carlsen only needed a draw to get through to the finals. To stay in the race, his opponent Nijat Abasov (the Azeri star who surprisingly reached the finals) needed to win in this game where he was playing as White. Abasov went for the London system – an opening which does not require detailed knowledge of many lines and which also allows White to achieve a solid position. In the first part of the game, White got a slight edge, but soon it was Black exerting some pressure on the opponent’s position.
As the situation started clearing in the centre, the two reached an equal endgame with two rooks and a bishop each, where neither side had a chance to make progress. After trading the rooks, Magnus gave up his bishop to end up with two runners on the Queenside, but White was just in time to hold, and a draw was agreed after all the pieces were exchanged on the board.
Despite losing this match, Nijat Abasov is still in the race, but he will be fighting for third place.
R Praggnandnandhaa and Fabiano Caruana drew again today. In the Catalan, White (Praggnanandhaa) made a mistake right after the opening, which allowed Black some chances, but Caruana decided not to take them. In a complicated game with plenty of manoeuvring and tactics, Black emerged slightly better, but Pragg held his ground with an accurate defence. In the end, the opponents advanced passers on the opposite wings, but after trading them, they realised it was time for a draw.
The tiebreaks will take place on Monday, 21st of August.
Here follows a closer look at some of the top games from the second day of the semi-finals of the Open and the finals in the Women’s World Cup:
Praggnanandhaa, playing with White, made an imprecision in the early stage of the game, allowing Black some chances that Caruana did not utilise.
White has just played 15.Na3? Taking on c6, followed by Rc1 and pressuring the weak pawns on the c-file, was the best option. Now, Black had a good chance to grab the initiative with 15…Nxd4 16.Bxb7 Rb8 17.Bxa6 e5! 18.Qe3 Ng4 with powerful pressure on both wings.
It seems that, however, Caruana either missed it or did not feel comfortable venturing down this line and went for 15…g5 16.Qe3 Qxd4 17.Qxd4 Nxd4 18.Bxb7 Ra7 19.Bg2 Rb8 20.Rd1 c5
Black was pressuring in the endgame, but Pragg demonstrated accuracy in defence and found the only move to hold his ground in the end.
It looks like White’s a4 is doomed, but Pragg found 34.Na1! With this paradoxical move in the corner, White was right in time to protect his queenside pawns. After 34…Nc5 (exchanging the knights would have been devastating for Black) 35.b3 Rb4 36.Ke3 f5, the position is even.
37.Kd2 f4 38.Kc3 Rb8 39.gxf4 gxf4 40.a5 Ne4+ 41.Kb2 f3 42.Nc2 43.f2 Rf1 e5 44.a6 Nc6 45.Nb4 Ra8 46.Rxf2 Nxa6 47.Nc6 and the two agreed to split a point. ½ - ½
Anna Muzychuk was significantly better in the second game against Tan Zhongyi. Despite finishing the game with a draw, that was enough for third place. It was a more than fair outcome, given how well Anna played today and in the first game against Tan.
After several imprecisions by Tan, Anna grabbed the initiative right in the opening and, by move 21, got a chance for a spectacular finish.
Black could have launched a devastating attack with 21…Bxc3 22.bxc3 Rab8 23.Qd4 Rb1+ 24.Kd2 Rb2+ and White’s position is desperate.
Instead, Muzychuk went for 22…Rae8 23.Ba6 Re4 24.Bg3 and now Black made a mistake with 24…Qe7 and the position was equal. Instead: 23...Bh6 24.Bxh4 Bxd2+ 25.Kxd2 Rxh4 would have maintained Black’s advantage.
In the subsequent play, Black continued to press, but Tan was holding. A draw was agreed on move 54. ½ - ½
In the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Aleksandra Goryachkina made several mistakes in the middlegame, lost a pawn entered a significantly weaker position as Black facing Nurgyul Salimova.
White is a pawn up, but Black can put up a stubborn resistance with 32…Bd6. However, after 32…Ba7 After 33.Be1 b3? 34.axb3 axb3 35.Bb4+ Kg8 White got the decisive advantage.
Several moves down the road, the two reached the following position:
White is dominating, although Black is threatening with checkmate in one. Nurgyul should have proceeded with 50.Rh7+. Indeed, after 50…Ng7 51.Kg1 White should convert her two extra pawns. Instead, from this point on, Salimova started faltering.
50.Ng3? Ndf4? A mistake by Goryachkina. 50…Nf2+ was better. 51.Re1 Rgd8
White was still winning with 52.Ne4 but Salimova dropped her advantage with 52.Rh7? Salimova is still better, but there is no clear win in sight. In the following moves, White made more imprecisions, allowing Goryachkina to save the game. ½ - ½
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
Women's event: handbook.fide.com/files/handbook/WWorldCup2023Regulations.pdf