Eljanov, Fedoseev, Harikrishna, Wei Yi Upset At World Cup

Eljanov, Fedoseev, Harikrishna, Wei Yi Upset At World Cup

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE World Cup took off today in Tbilisi, Georgia. Strong grandmasters such as Pavel Eljanov, Vladimir Fedoseev, Pentala Harikrishna and Wei Yi lost, and are in danger of early elimination. Among the players upsetting higher rated players today were two grandmasters from Cuba. 

The Hualing Hotels & Preference at dawn. | Photo: Emelianova.

It's a tournament that looks like a big open. A full hall with over a hundred players, multiple arbiters covering different sections, and participants of different levels.

At the same time, it's nothing like an open.

Each player will face each opponent for two or three days, and plays a maximum of seven different players. Each minimatch, it's all or nothing. On Wednesday half the field will suddenly be gone. Most of them will be the underdogs, but one or two favorites might slip early as well. Did they book a return flight? For what date?

From the 128 participants, only 126 players got to play today. GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, Ukrainian born but since 2015 playing for the USA, couldn't fly because he's applying for a Green Card in his new country. Therefore GM Alexander Onischuk (USA) could celebrate his 42nd birthday away from the chess board, having already qualified for round two.

2017 World Cup | Round 1, Day 1 Results

Fed Player Fed Player Classical Tiebreak Score
GM Carlsen, M (2827) FM Balogun, O (2255) 1-0
GM Dreev, A (2648) GM Bachmann, A (2634) 1-0
GM Fier, A (2569) GM Bacrot, E (2728) ½-½
GM Bu Xiangzhi (2714) GM Flores, Diego (2580) 1-0
GM Vakhidov, J (2518) GM Svidler, P (2756) 0-1
GM Amin, Bassem (2699) GM Erdos, Viktor (2619) ½-½
GM Wojtaszek, R (2739) GM El Debs, F (2533) 1-0
GM Zherebukh, Y (2621) GM Onischuk, A (2682) 0-1*
IM Khusenkhojaev, M (2455) GM Vachier-Lagrave, V (2804) ½-½
GM Grachev, B (2654) GM Melkumyan, H (2642) ½-½
GM Eljanov, P (2734) GM Lenderman, A (2565) 0-1
GM Tari, Aryan (2588) GM Howell, D (2701) ½-½
GM Grischuk, A (2788) GM El Gindy, E (2455) 1-0
GM Cori, Jorge (2648) GM Jones, G (2668) 1-0
GM Hjartarson (2539) GM Navara, David (2720) 0-1
GM Cheparinov (2695) GM Mastrovasilis (2573) 1-0
Dai, Changren (2422) GM Kramnik, V (2803) 0-1
GM Areshchenko (2645) GM Demchenko, A (2650) 1-0
GM Ivanchuk, V (2727) GM Kazhgaleyev (2570) ½-½
GM Pantsulaia (2593) GM Duda, J (2698) 0-1
GM Giri, Anish (2777) GM Dzagnidze, N (2519) 1-0
GM Xiong, J (2633) GM Motylev, A (2668) ½-½
GM Gonzalez Vidal (2547) GM Harikrishna (2741) 1-0
GM Ponomariov (2694) GM Sethuraman, SP (2617) ½-½
GM Aronian, L (2802) IM Cawdery, D (2449) 1-0
GM Piorun, K (2644) GM Hou Yifan (2670) ½-½
GM Sadorra, J (2574) GM Matlakov, M (2728) 0-1
GM Andreikin, D (2708) GM Goganov, A (2567) ½-½
IM Smirnov, A (2508) GM Karjakin, S (2780) ½-½
GM Dubov, Daniil (2666) GM Fridman, D (2625) ½-½
GM Radjabov, T (2742) GM Ziska, H (2545) ½-½
GM Bok, Benjamin (2620) GM Artemiev, V (2692) 0-1
IM Ruiz Castillo (2377) GM So, Wesley (2792) 0-1
GM Mareco, S (2649) GM Bluebaum, M (2633) ½-½
GM Vallejo Pons (2717) GM Karthikeyan (2574) 1-0
GM Antipov, M (2578) GM Tomashevsky (2710) ½-½
GM Nepomniachtc (2741) GM Palac, Mladen (2535) ½-½
GM Nguyen, N (2629) GM Adhiban, B (2670) ½-½
GM Pourramezana (2534) GM Yu Yangyi (2750) ½-½
GM Jobava, B (2702) GM Salgado Lopez (2627) ½-½
GM Nakamura, H (2781) GM Mollah Abdul (2454) 1-0
GM Bruzon Batista, L (2651) GM Anton Guijarro (2656) 1-0
GM Bacallao Alonso,Y (2573) GM Fedoseev, V (2731) 1-0
GM Inarkiev, E (2694) GM Mchedlishvili (2607) 1-0
IM Yeoh, Li Tian (2478) GM Anand, V (2794) 0-1
GM Akobian, V (2662) GM Kovalyov, A (2649) 0-1
GM Adams, M (2738) GM Batchuluun (2566) ½-½
GM Hovhannisyan (2594) GM Rodshtein, M (2695) ½-½
GM Caruana, F (2799) GM Solomon, K (2398) 1-0
GM Lenic, Luka (2646) GM Fressinet, L (2657) ½-½
GM Kulaots, K (2571) GM Vitiugov, N (2728) ½-½
GM Najer, E (2694) GM Aleksandrov (2580) 1-0
GM Sambuev, B (2529) GM Wei Yi (2748) 1-0
GM Rapport, R (2675) GM Cordova, E (2616) 1-0
GM Li Chao (2745) GM Krysa, L (2540) ½-½
GM Sevian, S (2610) GM Nisipeanu, L (2674) ½-½
IM Liu, Guanchu (2455) GM Mamedyarov (2797) 0-1
GM Kuzubov, Y (2688) GM Zhigalko, S (2642) ½-½
GM Gelfand, B (2737) GM Stupak, K (2579) 1-0
GM Sengupta, D (2589) GM Wang Hao (2701) ½-½
GM Ding Liren (2771) GM Haddouche, M (2487) 1-0
GM Kovalenko, I (2634) GM Kravtsiv, M (2670) 0-1
GM Kunin, Vitaly (2531) GM Le, Quang Liem (2739) ½-½
GM Vidit, S (2702) GM Delgado Ramirez, N (2614) ½-½

Of the 63 games, only 29 ended in draws. Some top grandmasters split the point with the black pieces hoping to score with White tomorrow, such as GM Sergey Karjakin (against IM Anton Smirnov, the youngest player in the field), GM Yu Yangyi (vs GM Amirreza Pourramezanali of Iran) and GM Le Quang Liem (vs GM Vitaly Kunin of Germany).


IM Anton Smirnov held World Cup title holder Karjakin to a draw. | Photo: Emelianova.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's draw offer was well timed as IM Muhammad Khusenkhojaev of Tajikistan was a rather healthy pawn up.


The beard is still there, but MVL's opening wasn't on par with his St. Louis performance. | Photo: Emelianova.

One of the quickest draws was seen in GM Teimour Radjabov vs GM Helgi Dam Ziska, the first Faroese to gain the GM title. Perhaps the Azeri player was worried about his opponent's theoretical knowledge in this specific position. Or did Radjabov feel more comfortable from the black side in "his" King's Indian? In any case, a 15-move draw was a better start than Ziska could have wished for.


A surprisingly early draw offer by Radjabov. | Photo: Emelianova.

Like Radjabov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Li Chao, Michael Adams and Vassily Ivanchuk dropped half points with the white pieces, and need to be careful tomorrow as Black.

In an even worse situation are GMs Wei Yi, Vladimir Fedoseev, Pentala Harikrishna and Pavel Eljanov. They lost to lower rated opponents and need to win on demand tomorrow. Eljanov has to do so with Black.

Especially Wei got crushed today, by Russian-born GM Bator Sambuev, who moved to Canada a decade ago. You might remember the name from the controversy at the Canadian Championship, from where he qualified for this World Cup.

Asked about this by, Sambuev didn't want to discuss the incident while his tournament in Tbilisi was still running. About today's game he said that he had looked at a lot of games of his opponent, and managed to find a variation where he might be not as comfortable. That worked out beautifully.

Game of the Day by Dejan Bojkov

GM Pavel Eljanov's loss to GM Aleksandr Lenderman saw a huge blunder from the Ukrainian player which was especially surprising because Eljanov had used a combination based on a knight fork earlier in the game.

"I got very, very lucky obviously," was Lenderman's down-to-earth comment.

GM Dejan Bojkov pointed out another mistake that could have been a candidate for Blunder of the Day. IM Daniel Cawdery, one of the two participants from South Africa (together with GM Kenny Solomon), did quite well against Levon Aronian, but missed an important check that was quickly pointed out by GMs Yasser Seirawan and Eric Hansen in their commentary for the Chessbrahs (see futher info on this at the end of the article).



Aronian chatting with arbiter Ashot Vardapetyan, also from Armenia. | Photo: Emelianova.

Bojkov also gave us a Move of the Day, which was executed by a former World Cup winner. Interestingly, GM Vladimir Kramnik had played the Breyer Ruy Lopez instead of his regular Berlin. Strictly speaking he didn't have much as Black, but then slaughtered his opponent as soon as he committed a weakening move. 

In the absence of the country's number one player Leinier Dominguez, two other Cuban grandmasters delivered upsets today. For starters, GM Yusnel Bacallao Alonso defeated Russia's GM Vladimir Fedoseev who might regret playing for a win instead of allowing the move repetition.

An even bigger upset was Yuri Gonzalez Vidal's win vs GM Pentala Harikrishna. The latter went for the Petroff but right after the opening he went for a forced tactical sequence that was just good for White. Hari must have missed something, somewhere.


Harikrishna needs to win tomorrow, or else it's curtains. | Photo: Emelianova.

What about Magnus Carlsen, the first reigning world champion to participate in a modern-day World Cup? After FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos put his 1.e2-e4 on he board (FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov hasn't been seen in Tbilisi yet, suggesting a further fall out with other FIDE officials) Carlsen had no trouble outplaying Nigerian FM Oluwafemi Balogun. The latter's Zen-like composure helped him finding decent defensive moves, but it couldn't last forever:

Fabiano Caruana could finish his game with the aforementioned Solomon with a nice but easy tactic: 


Caruana chatting with chess photographer and technical wizzard Lennart Ootes. | Photo: Emelianova.

GM Ernesto Inarkiev's exchange sac vs one of the local heros was a bit harder to see, but very logical. The strategy of giving up bishops for knights earlier in the game worked out well:

Only two female players are participating. Hou Yifan is playing her fifth World Cup already but only got further than the first round once, two years ago in Baku. Today she drew with GM Kacper Piorun of Poland.

The other lady is local GM Nana Dzagnidze, who lost to Anish Giri. Dzagnidze probably missed White's tactical idea on move 16 because from there she was suffering. However, Giri also missed "many little things," as he said, but not enough to spoil the win.

"It's only fun to watch, said Giri about World Cups. "Playing is hard and nerve-wracking." And that's also the case for the top seed, said Giri. "Magnus has probably more pressure than anybody. People expect him to win, he expects himself to win. He hints that this is kind of a world championship to him as well, so, sort of his fake title is at stake here in a way. (...) But for the spectators it's great. I think next year Carlsen will just go home and spectate!"

Games from TWIC.

The World Cup takes place 3-27 September in Tbilisi, Georgia. Each round consists of two classical games (four in the final), and possibly a rapid & blitz tiebreak on the third day. The total prize fund is $1.6 million with the first prize of $120,000. Besides, the top two finishers will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament. relays the games at Besides, you can watch live commentary on provided by the Chessbrahs, which includes some of the best commentators of the planet: GM Eric Hansen, GM Robin van Kampen, GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Aman Hambleton.

Related 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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