FIDE Chess World Cup: Nakamura Loses In Round With Special Endgames
Hikaru Nakamura started round two with a loss. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

FIDE Chess World Cup: Nakamura Loses In Round With Special Endgames

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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40 | Chess Event Coverage

Hikaru Nakamura started his second round at the FIDE World Cup with a loss and needs to beat Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu on Saturday to stay in the tournament. Spectacular attacks and special endgames were played in this round.

You can follow the games here as part of our live portal Chess.com/events. There is daily coverage by our Twitch partner, the Chessbrahs.

GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton are covering the tournament each day on their channel Twitch.tv/Chessbrah. Play starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 12:00 (noon) CEST, 6 a.m. Eastern and 3 a.m. Pacific.

With just 64 participants left in the playing hall, the fourth day in Khanty-Mansiysk started with a shocker. Hikaru Nakamura played his moves in the opening fast, but alarm bells started to ring around his 14th as the engines didn't like it at all. By then, his opponent Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu had sacrificed his queen.

Nakamura played quickly until 14...e5.

It must have been a mix-up in Nakamura's preparation because not just one but two moves promised White a clear advantage. After a 17-minute thought, the long-haired Romanian-German GM Nisipeanu chose what was the second line of the computer. Some Naka fans might have breathed a sigh of relief, but in fact this move turned out to be very strong as well. 

Nisipeanu. 2019 FIDE World Cup
Nisipeanu trying to remember his preparation. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Nakamura took 28 minutes on his reply and another 22 on the next, but eventually failed to hold the game as the position was just too easy for White.

"It's not a pleasant feeling when you sacrifice something and your opponent continues to play quickly. Of course, it doesn't look good, but then I thought, I had to trust my feelings," said Nisipeanu, who expects "to face a beast" for the return game.

The interview with Nisipeanu by FIDE.

One more upset in this round was the loss by 21st seed Wei Yi of China to 44th seed David Anton of Spain. Wei has a tough task on Saturday as he'll play with the black pieces. Anton had an impressive game as he basically outplayed his opponent in a Giuoco Pianissimo:

David Anton. 2019 FIDE World Cup
David Anton gave himself good chances to reach the third round. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

A potential upset was 42nd seed Luke McShane getting in trouble against 106th seed Daniil Yuffa in a rare endgame of two bishops versus a lone knight. For a long time this was considered to be a draw, but now with tablebases we know for sure that it's always winning for White. However, a checkmate or knight capture cannot be achieved in 50 moves against perfect defense.

Yuffa-McShane after 81.Bxh2. 

It has been seen quite a few times in tournament practice, for example in these grandmaster games:

  • Botvinnik-Tal, 1961 (Tal won)
  • Pinter-Bronstein, 1977 (draw)
  • Popovic-Korchnoi, 1984 (draw)
  • Timman-Speelman, 1992 (Timman won)
  • Oll-Gelfand, 1998 (draw)
  • Malakhov-Kuzubov, 2009 (Malakhov won) 

In earlier times, FIDE had included a few endgames in its regulations in which players could try for 75 moves instead of 50, but these exceptions no longer exist. (Earlier this year Magnus Carlsen himself, when unsure about this exception, asked an arbiter during a tournament game.)

Vladimir Malakhov's win versus Yuriy Kuzubov was all the more impressive as it was done in an era when games are not adjourned anymore. Jan Timman did have that luxury in 1992. In fact, he contacted a computer expert who had discussed this particular endgame with him eight years before and said the machine had made considerable progress. Note that some tablebases existed but were not easily available.

Timman's opponent Speelman nervously looked at the fax machine at the hotel in Linares that was spitting out 56(!) pages of analysis, as the story goes (in Dutch here). The next day Timman needed just 15 more moves to win.

Yuffa failed to do so:

Luke McShane  2019 FIDE World Cup
Luke McShane used the most tenacious setup (putting the knight on either b2, b7, g2 or g7) and claimed the draw after 51 moves. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Speaking of special endgames, what about a position with five knights on the board? That's not something you see every day, and it's very rare.

For something like this, Tim Krabbé is a good source. In his 1974 book Schaakcuriosa, he discusses the game Szabo-Ivkov, Belgrade 1964 where this also happened. If we look at grandmaster games, it only appears one more time—in Sargissian-Pantsulaia, Aeroflot open 2004.

Promoting to any other piece wouldn't have made sense because of a fork, so Anton Korobov underpromoted to a knight in a double-knight endgame, a good way of fighting Le Quang Liem's three pawns:

Anton Korobov 2019 FIDE World Cup
Anton Korobov must have enjoyed asking the arbiter for a third white knight. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The round was full of great attacking games as well. But before we go there, let's check the moment where the top seed of the tournament was briefly in danger.

Ding Liren was better out of the opening, but Sergei Movsesian is a tough cookie. After the perhaps somewhat overoptimistic 22.h4, the Armenian GM just took the pawn and gradually started to reduce White's compensation.

Movsesian allowed his opponent to force a repetition with a sacrifice, but he could have played a move that both attacked and defended against that idea.

Levon Aronian had a much better start than in the first round. Thanks to a Black win against Parham Maghsoodloo, the Armenian grandmaster is already close to reaching the third round.

Maghsoodloo can be a tricky player, especially in complicated positions, but in this one he stumbled:

Levon Aronian FIDE World Cup 2019
Two-time World Cup winner Levon Aronian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Indian prodigy Nihal Sarin is so far fully justifying his nomination by the FIDE president. He played a model game in the Breyer Ruy Lopez against Eltaj Safarli. The Azerbaijani GM probably was never so completely outplayed against a 15-year-old before. Total domination.

Nihal Sarin sponsor 2019 FIDE World Cup
Nihal Sarin sporting his new sponsor Akshayakapla, a Bengaluru-based manufacturer of organic milk. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played one of the very attractive games of the round. He didn't get much out of the opening, which is not surprising since Rustam Kasimdzhanov is one of the top opening experts in the world, but not castling against the Azerbaijani GM usually means asking for trouble.

As a modern-day Paul Morphy, Mamedyarov sacrificed on f7 to drag the enemy king into the center, and the rest of the attack was spiced up with more tactics.

Mamedyarov Kasimdzhanov 2019 FIDE World Cup
A 19th-century victory for Mamedyarov vs. Kasimdzhanov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Besides all the fireworks and remarkable endgames, there were also examples of pure technical chess, with the stronger players slowly outplaying their opponents based on willpower and technique. If you have the time and patience to look at such games, they can be very instructive.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won this way against Igor Kovalenko:

Vachier-Lagrave Kovalenko 2019 FIDE World Cup
Vachier-Lagrave vs. Kovalenko. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Sergey Karjakin also took his time to beat Sam Sevian:

Sergey Karjakin Sam Sevian 2019 FIDE World Cup
Levon Aronian and Anish Giri checking the Karjakin-Sevian game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Good results were scored by several underdogs who drew their first games as Black against opponents rated more than 100 points higher:

  • Alexander Grischuk vs. Benjamin Bok
  • Dmitry Andreikin vs. Rinat Jumabayev
  • Kirill Alekseenko vs. Johan-Sebastian Christiansen
  • Peter Svidler vs. Andrey Esipenko
  • Ernesto Inarkiev vs. Xu Yiangyu
  • Vidit Gujrathi vs. Aleksandr Rakhmanov

The "best" achievement here is by Christiansen, who came to the playing hall thinking he had the white pieces! He came totally unprepared to the game and later sent several tweets about it in a conversation with GM Jonathan Tisdall:

FIDE World Cup | Round 2, day 1 results

Seed Fed Title Player - Seed Fed Title Player G1 G2 TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 TB6 TB7
1 GM Ding Liren - 64 GM Movsesian ½-½ . . . . . . . .
2 GM Giri - 66 GM Najer ½-½ . . . . . . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave - 62 GM Kovalenko 1-0 . . . . . . . .
4 GM So - 61 GM Demchenko ½-½ . . . . . . . .
5 GM Nepomniachtchi - 69 GM Predke ½-½ . . . . . . . .
6 GM Aronian - 59 GM Maghsoodloo 1-0 . . . . . . . .
7 GM Mamedyarov - 58 GM Kasimdzhanov 1-0 . . . . . . . .
8 GM Dominguez - 72 GM Abasov ½-½ . . . . . . . .
9 GM Grischuk - 73 GM Bok ½-½ . . . . . . . .
10 GM Radjabov - 55 GM Sjugirov ½-½ . . . . . . . .
11 GM Artemiev - 54 GM Cheparinov 1-0 . . . . . . . .
12 GM Yu Yangyi - 53 GM Adhiban ½-½ . . . . . . . .
13 GM Karjakin - 52 GM Sevian 1-0 . . . . . . . .
14 GM Nakamura - 51 GM Nisipeanu 0-1 . . . . . . . .
15 GM Andreikin - 79 GM Jumabayev ½-½ . . . . . . . .
17 GM Harikrishna - 48 GM Fedoseev 1-0 . . . . . . . .
18 GM Duda - 47 GM Nabaty 1-0 . . . . . . . .
19 GM Svidler - 83 GM Esipenko Andey ½-½ . . . . . . . .
20 GM Vitiugov - 84 GM Huschenbeth ½-½ . . . . . . . .
21 GM Wei Yi - 44 GM Anton 0-1 . . . . . . . .
22 GM Le - 43 GM Korobov ½-½ . . . . . . . .
25 GM Wang Hao - 40 GM Rodshtein ½-½ . . . . . . . .
27 GM Matlakov - 38 GM Gelfand ½-½ . . . . . . . .
28 GM Tomashevsky - 92 GM Aravindh 1-0 . . . . . . . .
29 GM Vidit - 93 GM Rakhmanov ½-½ . . . . . . . .
30 GM Jakovenko - 35 GM Jones ½-½ . . . . . . . .
31 GM Xiong - 95 GM Tabatabaei ½-½ . . . . . . . .
32 GM Firouzja - 33 GM Dubov ½-½ . . . . . . . .
42 GM McShane - 106 GM Yuffa . . . . . . . .
41 GM Inarkiev - 105 GM Xu Xiangyu ½-½ . . . . . . . .
90 GM Nihal - 103 GM Safarli 1-0 . . . . . . . .
49 GM Aleksеenko - 113 GM Christiansen ½-½ . . . . . . . .

The FIDE World Cup takes place Sept. 9-Oct. 4 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Each round consists of two classical games and a tiebreak on the third day. The final consists of four classical games. Both finalists will qualify for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament. The total prize fund is $1.6 million (1.45 million euros). Sept. 19 and 29 are rest days. You can find more background info in our preview article.


Correction: An earlier version of this report erroneously stated that tablebases did not exist in 1992.


Previous reports:

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