Grischuk, Lagno Exit World Cup As Nakamura, So Survive
Just 17 years old, Iranian GM Bardiya Daneshvar knocks former World Cup finalist Alexander Grischuk out of the 2023 World Cup. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

Grischuk, Lagno Exit World Cup As Nakamura, So Survive

| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

It was a bad day for the world's strongest chess couple as GMs Alexander Grischuk and Kateryna Lagno were both knocked out of the 2023 FIDE World Cup in round-two tiebreaks. Grischuk lost to 17-year-old Iranian GM Bardiya Daneshvar, while Women's fourth-seed Lagno was sent packing by Indian WGM Mary Ann Gomes

GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So flirted with disaster but joined fellow top GMs Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round three, which begins on Saturday, August 5, at 7 a.m. ET / 13:00 CEST / 4:30 p.m IST.

  How to watch the 2023 FIDE World Cup
You can watch the 2023 FIDE World Cup broadcast on Twitch and YouTube. You can also find all the details for the Open and Women's sections on our live events platform.

The broadcast was hosted by IM Tania Sachdev and GM Peter Leko

There were no less than 39 tiebreaks on Friday, 30 in the World Cup Open section and nine in the Women's. Once again most matches were decided in the first two games.

25-Minute Games: 28 Players Eliminated

"The top players just keep the games going, keep the match going, and eventually the quality will show," said Nakamura, and that was as good an explanation as any for why none of the top seeds in the Open tournament fell at this stage. Some eased through, with Giri and Vachier-Lagrave in no danger as they made a draw and a win to clinch their matches against GMs Arseniy Nesterov and Valentin Dragnev respectively. So and Nakamura achieved the same results, but they went through hell on the way to reaching round three.

Giri and his good friend Vidit are among the players through to round three. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Sixth-seed So couldn't have imagined his match against 123rd-seed GM Emre Can from Turkey could be so tough. The three-time U.S. champion found himself struggling with the white pieces in the first classical game, was very close to losing in the second, and then found the experience repeated in the first rapid tiebreak. 23.Nxa7! left So on the ropes.

For a long time things looked grim for Black, but So somehow found a way not just to hold on but to win.

These were the final stages.

That left So back in his comfort zone of needing only a draw in the second game, and after opening 1.b3 he successfully steered the game to a peaceful outcome.

Karthik-Nakamura was a lot closer than anyone could have suspected. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

Second-seeded Nakamura's match against Indian Champion GM Karthik Venkataraman was even more tense. It started with one of the longest rapid games you'll ever witness, as Nakamura regretted a missed chance and then didn't get a second opportunity in the over 100 moves that followed. 

Nakamura was impressed by his 2565-rated opponent.

"If he was 15 or 16, I would have said, I wouldn’t be surprised by the way he played, but he is 23... It’s very clear he’s underrated. His decision-making, especially in this first game today, when he had limited time, in a couple of spots he found the absolute best moves. It shows his intuition is very good and, at least as far as positional play goes, he’s very strong. I think he’ll easily cross 2600 very soon." 

Nakamura confessed that game left him "kind of tilted," and that spilled over into a poor start in the second game. Things got wild, and in the middle Karthik correctly chose not to acquiesce to a draw by repetition. For a fleeting moment the Indian champion was winning, but when he missed the chance, Nakamura hit back and managed to seal a round-three clash with Hungarian GM Benjamin Gledura.

That struggle is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below. 

Nakamura also recapped the day's action.

Some of the top women's stars also made it through tiebreaks smoothly. Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun pounced on a blunder to ease past IM Eva Repkova. Ju said she wasn't feeling tired after having time to recover from the recent match, adding, "I feel love and passion just to play chess!"

Can Ju add World Cup winner to her world championship title? Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

Defending Women's World Cup champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk bounced back after the surprise win for her opponent WIM Tianqi Yan the day before, while eight-time U.S. Women's Champion GM Irina Krush did the same, winning both 25-minute games against Canadian WGM Maili-Jade Ouellet. "I’m old enough to be her mum," said Krush, while explaining why they'd never met before.

Carissa Yip and Awonder Liang are both out of the World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Another U.S. star, IM Carissa Yip, saw her World Cup ended by GM Zhao Xue, but Yip came up with the best self-deprecating tweet of the day.

Those results all went with rating, but we got two big shocks. Women's fourth seed and former world championship finalist, Lagno is out of the 2023 event, after losing to 226-point-lower-rated Gomes from India.

Perhaps a career-best win for Mary Ann Gomes. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

Their match had seen three draws before Lagno made a fateful one-move blunder. She later got some chances to survive, but it wasn't to be.

That wasn't the only shock, as seventh-seed GM Nana Dzagnidze fell to the 58th seed, IM Klaudia Kulon from Poland. That clash saw two wild games of attack and counterattack that could easily have gone either way before Kulon emerged the 1.5-0.5 winner. 

10-Minute Games: Six Players Eliminated

The Women's action wrapped up early, with the last match remaining, IM Irina Bulmaga vs. IM Mai Narva, ending in the victory of Narva. Bulmaga had bounced back twice but fell just short of bouncing back a third time to prolong the match.

Once again the longest Women's tiebreak was in the 10-minute games. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

In the Open section GM Rauf Mamedov overcame GM Alexandr Predke, GM Mustafa Yilmaz beat GM Awonder Liang, and GM David Navara defeated GM Niclas Huschenbeth despite losing the first game of the day after missing a chance to play a beautiful shot. 39.Qe4? should have been an unfortunate choice.

The 12-time Czech champion nevertheless bounced back to win the next three games and book a clash against Indian prodigy GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu in round three.

This was also the point when the great Ukrainian GM Vasyl Ivanchuk, who had made four draws, sprang to life to win both games against Chilean GM Cristobal Henriquez Villagra

The most dramatic route to round three at this stage, however, was that of another Indian GM, Arjun Erigaisi, who after five draws was able to finish with a beautiful queen sacrifice against GM Sergei Azarov.

Just 10 players remained. 

5-Minute Games: Three Players Eliminated

The World Cup field is halved every three days, so scenes such as this will soon be a thing of the past. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

A single win in eight games was enough for GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi to get past GM Dimitrios Mastrovasilis, GM Jonas Buhl Bjerre blundered an instant draw in a must-win game against GM Gadir Guseinov, and former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov won a wild clash against German GM Dmitrij Kollars.

In the first game there was a fleeting chance for Kollars to turn the tables on move 45, but when he missed it he was doomed.

An attempted comeback didn't go entirely to plan, as Kollars was lost with the white pieces in 10 moves, and resigned on move 14.

3-Minute Games: Two Players Eliminated

Two matches went all the way to three-minute games, with GMs Alexander Donchenko and Mateusz Bartel trading utterly convincing wins with the white pieces until Donchenko had the good fortune to get White in the first sudden-death game.

Daneshvar matched Grischuk all the way. Photo: Maria Emelianov/

The most dramatic clash of the day, however, saw seventh-seed and three-time world blitz champion GM Alexander Grischuk lose to a new 17-year-old hope from Iran, GM Bardiya Daneshvar

The match was an absolute thriller. Daneshvar needed to win on demand twice, while in the penultimate game, he tortured Grischuk up to move 163 in the famously difficult-to-defend rook and bishop vs. rook endgame.

In what became the final game, Grischuk had the white pieces and soon got every chance to win the match and progress to round three. Move 42 was the moment on which the outcome of the game turned.

Our photographer, WFM Maria Emelianova, explains that Daneshvar didn't realize it was sudden death and thought he still had to make a draw in the next game against Grischuk. Hence no elation at a potentially career-defining win!

Later, however, Daneshvar got to celebrate with the other Iranian-born players in Baku.

Parham Maghsoodloo recognizes a rival for the Iranian number-one spot. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Daneshvar now faces GM Saleh Salem in round three. Here are some of the notable matchups to watch (all remaining players in the Open section are grandmasters):

We're down to 32 matches in the Open and 16 in the Women's; the action is only set to heat up from here.

The 2023 FIDE World Cup and Women's World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, are big knockout events that will determine six spots in the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournaments. The action begins July 30 and ends August 24 with a combined $2.5 million prize fund.

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Colin McGourty

Colin McGourty led news at Chess24 from its launch until it merged with a decade later. An amateur player, he got into chess writing when he set up the website Chess in Translation after previously studying Slavic languages and literature in St. Andrews, Odesa, Oxford, and Krakow.

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