FIDE Chess World Cup: Karjakin, Harikrishna In Trouble
Svidler and Jakovenko checking out their compatriots Vitiugov and Karjakin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Chess World Cup: Karjakin, Harikrishna In Trouble

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

Sergey Karjakin and Pentala Harikrishna are in danger of getting eliminated from the FIDE World Cup after starting the third round with a loss against Nikita Vitiugov and Kirill Alekseenko respectively. The return games are played on Tuesday.

You can follow the games here as part of our live portal 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 Play starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 12:00 (noon) CEST, 6 a.m. Eastern and 3 a.m. Pacific.

The top 13 seeds are still in the competition after six days of play, but the World Cup might lose the 13th seed Karjakin today. However, the Russian grandmaster cannot be written off just yet.

In 2015, Karjakin defeated Peter Svidler in the World Cup final after being 2-0 down in the classical games, and then also in the rapid. If it wasn't for that other nickname, the Minister of Defense (which Karjakin earned during his title match with Magnus Carlsen in 2016), the sobriquet "comeback kid" might have stuck longer.

The reason for his loss, against compatriot Vitiugov, was something we rarely see Karjakin do: committing a one-move blunder. Despite thinking for five minutes, the bishop check must have been completely off the radar. If Black doesn't give up his queen, it's mate in five:

Sergey Karjakin 2019 FIDE World Cup
Sergey Karjakin, now in a must-win situation. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Another Russian top player was in trouble as well, but only briefly. For most of the game Alexander Grischuk was just outplaying giant-killer Xu Xiangyi, but a big mistake in time trouble turned the evaluation upside down.

With about a minute left on the clock, the Chinese player failed to spot the win and then it went downhill for him again, with Grischuk finding a neat tactic himself to finish off.

Grischuk played the nice move 37...Bxe5! here.

Grischuk 2019 FIDE World Cup
"It was a huge fight. A crazy game," Grischuk started his post-game interview. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk showing his win to Alex Yermolinsky for the FIDE broadcast.

Besides Karjakin, the other upset of the day was Harikrishna losing to Alekseenko. The 22-year-old grandmaster from St. Petersburg hasn't scored any prominent results in his career just yet (besides winning the Chigorin Memorial in his own city three times), but reaching the fourth round would be something special.

In hindsight, it seems Black's problems started when he allowed White's a4-a5 in the opening. After that, Alekseenko played a superb game (18.d5!, 19.c4!, 23.Nb3!) and left the world number-19 without a chance.

Kirill Alekseenko 2019 FIDE World Cup
An impressive win for Kirill Alekseenko. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Jan-Krzysztof Duda has had an excellent start so far, scoring 4.5/5 in his classical games. Together with four games in the Polish league, that gave him a win of 18 Elo points and now the Polish grandmaster is in back the world's top 20.

On Monday he beat Dmitry Andreikin in their first classical game, and from a difficult middlegame position. Duda admitted he wanted to make a draw after 15.Ng3 Nxg3 16.fxg3 "because only Black can be better in this pawn structure," but when his opponent allowed g4-g5 he got chances.

Duda Andreikin 2019 FIDE World Cup
Svidler watching Duda vs. Andreikin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It's not exactly clear where it went really wrong for Andreikin, but Duda's 37th move was nasty, and easy to miss.

FIDE's interview with Duda.

Azerbaijan's top GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov both started with a win and if they manage to pull through, they will meet each other in the next round. That would be the second compatriot in a row for Mamedyarov, who used the Philidor defense to beat Eltaj Safarli on Monday.

Black won a pawn, and seemed to be winning the rook endgame smoothly, but in the final position it was rather early for Safarli to resign—it seems that the position isn't lost just yet.

Eltaj Safarli 2019 FIDE World Cup
Did Eltaj Safarli resign in a drawn rook endgame? Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In a Caro-Kann, Radjabov showed a better understanding than Daniil Yuffa, the man who had knocked out David Navara and Luke McShane. At the end, Black was just blown away.

"I don't really know if it really went smoothly but it seemed that I always controlled my position," Radjabov said, before suggesting that he'll be leaving the World Cup soon.

"It’s just interesting for me to play but I am not thinking much about my chess recently," Radjabov said, "so I don’t stick to my schedule that I had previously, this professional schedule. I am just enjoying chess in general and also, following people I used to play with, they are leaving just so I am also kind of considering from time to time if I still have to play, or waiting for some other bad results where I could finally say bye-bye."

FIDE's interview with Radjabov.

Wesley So, the fourth seed of the tournament, seems in excellent shape, and he showed it in his game with Vidit Gujrathi. If you look at the rook endgame reached on move 28 you'd expect it to end in a draw pretty soon, but the American grandmaster demonstrated the value of rook activity beautifully, and won 65 moves later:

Wesley So 2019 FIDE World Cup
Splendid endgame technique from Wesley So. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE World Cup | Round 3, Day 1 Results

Seed Fed Title Player - Seed Fed Title Player G1 G2 TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 TB6 TB7
1 GM Ding Liren - 32 GM Firouzja ½-½ . . . . . . . .
2 GM Giri - 31 GM Xiong ½-½ . . . . . . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave - 30 GM Jakovenko ½-½ . . . . . . . .
4 GM So - 29 GM Vidit 1-0 . . . . . . . .
5 GM Nepomniachtchi - 28 GM Tomashevsky ½-½ . . . . . . . .
6 GM Aronian - 27 GM Matlakov ½-½ . . . . . . . .
7 GM Mamedyarov - 58 GM Safarli 1-0 . . . . . . . .
8 GM Dominguez - 25 GM Wang Hao ½-½ . . . . . . . .
9 GM Grischuk - 105 GM Xu Xiangyu 1-0 . . . . . . . .
10 GM Radjabov - 106 GM Yuffa 1-0 . . . . . . . .
11 GM Artemiev - 22 GM Le ½-½ . . . . . . . .
12 GM Yu Yangyi - 21 GM Wei Yi ½-½ . . . . . . . .
13 GM Karjakin - 20 GM Vitiugov 0-1 . . . . . . . .
15 GM Andreikin - 18 GM Duda 0-1 . . . . . . . .
17 GM Harikrishna - 49 GM Alekseenko 0-1 . . . . . . . .
19 GM Svidler - 51 GM Nisipeanu ½-½ . . . . . . . .
All games for download/replay
Bracket: (Click on images for bigger version.)

(Click on images for bigger version.)

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.

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