FIDE Chess World Cup: Xiong Sends Giri Home
Second seed Anish Giri (NED) was sent home by Jeffery Xiong (U.S.). Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Chess World Cup: Xiong Sends Giri Home

| 54 | Chess Event Coverage

The tiebreaks of the FIDE World Cup third round saw a major upset as the 31st seed Jeffery Xiong (U.S.) knocked out the second seed, Anish Giri (Netherlands). Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) managed to send home the higher-rated Vladislav Artemiev (Russia).

The losers in round three earned $16,000 whereas the following players, who start their round of 16 on Friday, are guaranteed of at least $25,000 each:

  • Ding Liren vs. Kirill Alekseenko
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Peter Svidler
  • Wesley So vs. Nikita Vitiugov
  • Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Yu Yangyi
  • Levon Aronian vs. Le Quang Liem
  • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Teimour Radjabov
  • Leinier Dominguez vs. Alexander Grischuk
  • Jeffery Xiong vs. Jan-Krzysztof Duda

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.

"I am still quite shocked by the result—especially because in the previous match I think I was very lucky to have passed," said Xiong.

It was a surprise that the 18-year-old U.S. grandmaster from Plano, Texas kicked the world number-four out of the tournament, but it wasn't undeserved. On a day with lots of incredibly sharp positions, Xiong was the slightly better calculator. 

In the first rapid game he actually missed an instructive win in an endgame:

Xiong Giri 2019 FIDE World Cup
Giri escaped with a draw in the first game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Xiong described the second rapid game as "absolutely wild" and it definitely was. In terms of the amount of tactics packed in one game, it was one of the most exciting battles of the whole tournament, even though it ended in a draw. 

Xiong: "I think we both had absolutely no idea what was going on."

The highlight was a stunningly beautiful possibility for Giri, revealed by the computer:

Here 28.Rd5!! wins. See Bojkov's annotations below on how this wins the black queen.

And so the players moved on to two 10+10 games, where in the first Giri got his big chance to take the lead. "I was completely lost out of the opening and very fortunate to survive," Xiong admitted.

Yet again things got out of control for both players:

Xiong Giri 2019 FIDE World Cup
Xiong had the strongest nerves in the end. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

A modest (or realistic) Xiong said he was "also lucky" in the last game which he won: "I was able to find some tricks and kind of found counterplay."

His choice of a Modern/Pirc setup was a smart one. A database check shows that Giri has had problems with it in two Speed Chess matches here on

Giri Chuchelov 2019 FIDE World Cup
Giri, possibly checking some openings with his second Vladimir Chuchelov in between games, but to no avail. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Xiong revealed his match strategy in his interview with FIDE: "Just try to make a mess out of every game and play some unusual opening to avoid his preparation."

Along with many Chinese fans, Giri is probably rooting for Ding now. If the Chinese top GM reaches the final (and thereby qualifies for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament directly), the rating spot for the candidates, as it stands now, goes to Giri. This will be decided on average rating over 12 months (Feb. 2019-Jan. 2020), and at the moment Giri is behind Ding and above MVL and Nepomniachtchi.

Ding Firouzja 2019 FIDE World Cup
The handshake in Ding-Firouzja symbolically tipped over the black king. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Ding's match with Alireza Firouzja was one to look forward to but it lasted only two rapid games, both won by the favorite. His win in the first was an impressive display of willpower, although it must be noted that at the very end both players erred:  

FIDE's interview with Ding.

Yu is the only other Chinese player left in the field, and could end up facing Ding in the semifinals. On Wednesday he defeated Wei Yi in the second rapid game from a slightly worse position:

Yu Yangyi Wei Yi 2019 FIDE World Cup
Wei Yi leaves the World Cup after losing to Yu Yangyi. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Svidler also needed just two rapid games to reach the next stage. The Russian GM defeated Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, who had knocked out Hikaru Nakamura the round before.

After a draw in the first, Svidler won as White in the second where Nisipeanu didn't want to repeat his 5...Ba5 Winawer French:

Svidler Nisipeanu 2019 FIDE World Cup
"World Cup gangster" Svidler is still in the tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The Vietnamese GM Le knocked out one of Russia's hopes in the tournament, Artemiev. Their only decisive game was the first 10+10 where Artemiev either completely misjudged the position or accidentally touched his rook because his queen sacrifice was not correct and not necessary:

FIDE's interview with Le.

No fewer than three tiebreak matches were still level after the 10+10 games: Vachier-Lagrave vs. Jakovenko, Nepomniachtchi vs. Tomashevsky and Dominguez vs. Wang. None of these reached the armageddon game, and in all three cases the favorite won—but it was close.

Early in the day, MVL seemed on the brink of elimination. Not only did he start with a loss, but Jakovenko played a truly excellent game here and was very close to drawing the next.

Jakovenko 2019 FIDE World Cup
An excellent start by Jakovenko in this tiebreak. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the second rapid game Jakovenko reached an opposite-colored-bishop endgame with rooks, which looked unpleasant but holdable. Whereas the Russian player is usually extremely solid in such situations, this time MVL managed to trick him based on a checkmate idea:

The players drew both their 10+10 games and then MVL hit in the first 5+3, and drew the next. Black's badly placed rook and slightly weak king were the two weaknesses that cost Jakovenko:

Vachier-Lagrave 2019 FIDE World Cup
After some scary moments, Vachier-Lagrave is still alive in Khanty. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nepomniachtchi and Tomashevsky started with two draws, and exchanged wins in the 10+10. After winning the first game as White, Nepomniachtchi decided the match with one of the prettiest moves of the day:

Nepomniachtchi 2019 FIDE World Cup
Nepomniachtchi faced stiff resistance from Evgeny "The Professor" Tomashevsky. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The last player to go through was Dominguez, who was down twice against Wang, but managed to win on demand in the 25- and the 10-minute games before he scored a win (and then a draw) in the 5+3. He decided to drag out this drawn rook endgame as long as possible, and eventually he was rewarded as Wang started to panic:

Wang Hao Dominguez 2019 FIDE World Cup
Wang Hao was playing well, but eventually Dominguez was the cooler of the two. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE World Cup | Round 3 Tiebreak 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 ½-½ 1-0 1-0 . . . . .
2 GM Giri - 31 GM Xiong ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ 0-1 . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave - 30 GM Jakovenko ½-½ ½-½ 1-0 0-1 ½-½ ½-½ 1-0 ½-½ .
5 GM Nepomniachtchi - 28 GM Tomashevsky ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ 1-0 0-1 1-0 1-0 .
8 GM Dominguez - 25 GM Wang Hao ½-½ ½-½ 0-1 1-0 0-1 1-0 1-0 ½-½ .
11 GM Artemiev - 22 GM Le ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ 0-1 ½-½ . . .
12 GM Yu Yangyi - 21 GM Wei Yi ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ 1-0 . . . . .
19 GM Svidler - 51 GM Nisipeanu ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ 1-0 . . . . .
Wednesday's games for download/replay:
Bracket: (Click on images for bigger version.)
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket
2019 FIDE World Cup bracket

(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.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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