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18-Year-Old Praggnanandhaa Knocks Nakamura Out Of World Cup
Praggnanandhaa clinches victory over Nakamura. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

18-Year-Old Praggnanandhaa Knocks Nakamura Out Of World Cup

Colin_McGourty
| 124 | Chess Event Coverage

World number-two GM Hikaru Nakamura is out of the 2023 FIDE World Cup after losing to GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu in round four tiebreaks. The event is also over for Women's World Champion GM Ju Wenjun after she missed a trick against GM Elisabeth Paehtz, while world number-one Magnus Carlsen beat GM Vincent Keymer to set up a last-16 clash against GM Vasyl Ivanchuk.  

In total 15 players were eliminated, and we're now down to just 16 players in the Open section and eight in the Women's.

Round five begins Saturday, August 12, 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 GM Daniel Naroditsky and GM Peter Leko

For most of the 30 players facing round four tiebreaks on Friday, the day was short, with only one match, GM Wang Hao vs. GM Rasmus Svane, going beyond the second tiebreak of two 10-minute games.

25-Minute Games: Nakamura, Ju Among 10 Players Eliminated

The tiebreaks had barely begun when our silicon friends began to suggest that something had gone badly wrong for the tournament's second-seed, Nakamura, against Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa. 

Sometimes relatively low-depth computer analysis can be misleading, but not in this case. Nakamura confessed afterward that by this point he "could effectively resign." He'd mixed up his preparation, and he covered all the gruesome details in his recap of the day's action.

Let's take a look at that key game. 

That game left Nakamura needing to win on demand with the black pieces, and though he went for it, playing the dubious Modern Defense with d6 and g6 that top grandmasters tend to play in such situations, he credited Praggnanandhaa for not giving him even "a glimmer of hope." The U.S. star had one regret.

Overall I’m not super-unhappy with losing the match. What I am very unhappy with is that in chess, when you lose a match, you want it to be in a situation where you get outplayed by your opponent. You want it to be you played an opening, your opponent played a great game, they find better moves than you, and you lose the game. But unfortunately for me, what this match came down to was the first game where I confused the move-order, Pragg played g5 in the right position, and I never really got into the game.

The young Indian star, meanwhile, deserved the congratulations he received from Carlsen.

Carlsen went to congratulate Praggnanandhaa while still playing his own match. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

The world number-one later revealed what he'd told the youngster:

My chess club, Offerspill, they have a camp right now for young talented players in Stockholm, Sweden, where Ramesh, Pragg’s coach, is the main coach, and one of my friends who attended the camp was saying yesterday that Ramesh is always telling us, be like Pragg, be like Pragg, so I just told Pragg, we all want to be like you today!

So I just told Pragg, we all want to be like you today!

—Magnus Carlsen

"This is one of my best days, for sure," said Praggnanandhaa, who was pleased with the quality of his play. 

The other player in the Open section to upset the odds and win in 25-minute games was GM Nijat Abasov, who continued his trail of destruction by adding GM Peter Svidler to a list of scalps that already included GMs Laurent Fressinet and Anish Giri. What was his secret? "No secret. Just to find good moves over the board and let’s hope for the best, and so far it works out."

Abasov knocked out 2011 World Cup winner Svidler. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Saleh Salem defeated GM Daniele Vocaturo 2-0, which was the same scoreline by which two-time world championship challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi overcame India's GM Nihal Sarin, though Nepomniachtchi admitted he'd ridden his luck in their first game. He noted: "It’s always a great feeling when you are winning undeservedly, it’s like the best feeling, getting something for free—playing badly, but winning!"

When it comes to gifts, however, little can beat the way GM Gukesh D reached round five. GM Andrey Esipenko played the disastrous 45...Bd7?? in an otherwise equal position.

46.Nf8+ simply won the bishop and the game.

Gukesh is good enough that you don't need to give him gifts. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

There were more upsets in the Women's section, where all five tiebreaks, and hence all the round-four matches, were over in the 25-minute games. 

Round 4 Results: Women

Fed Player Rating Fed Player Rating G1 G2 TB
GM Ju Wenjun 2564 - GM Elisabeth Paehtz 2471 ½-½ ½-½ 0.5-1.5
GM Anna Muzychuk 2504 - GM Mariya Muzychuk 2511 ½-½ ½-½ 1.5-0.5
IM Teodora Injac 2415 - IM Polina Shuvalova 2496 ½-½ 0-1 .
IM Medina Warda Aulia 2409 - IM Nurgyul Salimova 2355 ½-½ ½-½ 0.5-1.5
GM Humpy Koneru 2553 - GM Bella Khotenashvili 2475 0-1 1-0 0-2
WGM Zhu Jiner 2498 - GM Tan Zhongyi 2523 ½-½ 0-1 .
IM Eline Roebers 2419 - GM Harika Dronavalli 2500 ½-½ ½-½ 0.5-1.5
GM Nino Batsiashvili 2474 - GM Aleksandra Goryachkina 2557 ½-½ 0-1 .

The stand-out result was Paehtz going further than she ever has in the World Cup or World Championship by defeating the top seed and women's world champion Ju.

Women's top seed Ju is out of the World Cup. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

A relatively quick draw in the first game was followed by Paehtz catching her illustrious opponent out in the opening.

Paehtz afterward felt her opponent's play could be put down to general fatigue:

If you play a world championship match for almost one month it takes a lot of energy. Honestly, in her place I wouldn’t have been here, because I think it’s quite a lot, and she’s also past 30, so it’s not that easy anymore.

Paehtz will now play GM Anna Muzychuk, who said of her win over her sister, "I would be much happier if this win wasn’t against Mariya."

Anna won the battle of the Muzychuk sisters. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The chances for the remaining eight women were boosted by the fall of another favorite, third-seed GM Humpy Koneru, who this time was unable to bounce back after a loss to GM Bela Khotenashvili.

In the remaining matches, IM Nurgyul Salimova overcame IM Medina Warda Aulia, while GM Harika Dronavalli ended the brilliant run of 17-year-old IM Eline Roebers. Both those matches could easily have gone either way.

Harika ended Roebers' World Cup, though the Dutch youngster will undoubtedly be back. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

All Games - Open and Women's Round 4 tiebreaks: 25-minute games

10-Minute Games: Carlsen, Ivanchuk To Meet As 4 Players Eliminated

Carlsen vs. Ivanchuk is a round-five match-up that no one would have been surprised to see a decade or more ago. To get it in 2023, with the Ukrainian genius now 54 years old, is a treat few could have expected coming into the World Cup.

Ivanchuk kept calm as he defeated Sanal. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

What's also curious is that both players qualified for the clash in a similar fashion—dominating their tiebreaks, but struggling to deliver the killer blow. Just like Carlsen, Ivanchuk had a winning advantage in two of the first three draws he made, before finally grabbing the win in the final game. That encounter with Turkish GM Vahap Sanal is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Carlsen played much faster than his young German opponent Keymer, but despite getting a winning position in the first game he couldn't overcome stiff resistance. Then he described what happened in the second.

I fell asleep at the wheel at some point! It should have been an easy conversion. First of all, I missed this trick early in the game with Qf5, which would have won on the spot. I saw it immediately after I made the move. Why couldn’t I just take two seconds to play Qf5 and the match would have been over? That was a bit annoying.

Let's take a look at the game from that point, since it's rare to see the world number-one miss so many opportunities, however tricky they were.

Carlsen commented:

Nerves were definitely plaguing me today. I didn’t at any point feel particularly like I was going to lose the match, but as long as the match is going, then you’re still naturally nervous, because there’s always this tension—one mistake and you could be out.

The final game was complex and messy, but the five-time world champion got the job done and, despite suffering a scare, is through to round five. 

Another player to need a comeback was the reigning champion, Polish GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, whose loss of a wild game at the start of the tiebreaks to Iranian GM Parham Maghsoodloo, was his first loss in the World Cup in four years.

Duda is the last remaining former winner in the World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Could Duda do what he hadn't had to do in Sochi in 2021 and come back on demand? The answer was a resounding yes, helped by his opponent mixing up the opening of the second game, and then Duda landed a killer blow by managing to win the first 10-minute game. The way Maghsoodloo resigned indicated how tough it was to take.

The final game was played on to bare kings on move 93, but Maghsoodloo failed to get the win he needed, so it's Duda who goes on to face GM Fabiano Caruana.

The remaining match to end in 10-minute games was the clash between two extremely solid players, GMs Leinier Dominguez and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. It was every bit as hard-fought as could be expected, but the higher-rated Dominguez, seconded in Baku by renowned coach GM Vladimir Chuchelov, sealed victory with a win after five draws. 

All Games - Open and Women's Round 4 tiebreaks: 10-minute games

3-Minute Games: Wang Ousts Svane 

That left only Wang vs. Svane, which continued not just to five-minute games, but then to the sudden-death three-minute stage. Eight games in a row were drawn, though that didn't tell the whole story, and in fact near the end there were some remarkable moments. 

For a chess player who's retired multiple times, Wang is still a very tough opponent. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Svane had been on top in the 10-minute section, but in the five-minute blitz his Chinese opponent twice got a surprise chance to clinch the match. In both cases the players seemed to have decided they were making another draw, so that crucial details were missed. Wang had the kind of chance that cost GM Alexander Grischuk his place in the tournament, with 41.Qg8!, instead of checking with 41.Qf8+, simply a win.

You can't take the e3-knight or it's mate-in-two.

Then in the next game, the Chinese star twice missed a chance to win a pawn endgame his opponent had played with reckless carelessness.

Wang just had to push the little guy to g3 and it was a win, but he captured on h3 instead. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

On another day those missed chances would have been punished, but not this day, as Wang nevertheless pounced on one last mistake in a rook endgame to win the ninth and final game and clinch his spot in round five.

Svane-Wang Round 4 tiebreaks: 5- and 3-minute games

That wrapped up the round.

Round 4 Results: Open

Fed Player Rtg - Fed Player Rtg G1 G2 TB
GM Vincent Keymer 2690 - GM Magnus Carlsen 2835 1-0 0-1 1.5-2.5
GM Vasyl Ivanchuk 2667 - GM Vahap Sanal 2585 ½-½ ½-½ 2.5-1.5
GM Wang Hao 2709 - GM Rasmus Svane 2625 ½-½ ½-½ 4-3
GM Gukesh D 2744 - GM Andrey Esipenko 2683 ½-½ ½-½ 1.5-0.5
GM Peter Svidler 2688 - GM Nijat Abasov 2632 ½-½ ½-½ 0.5-1.5
GM Saleh Salem 2661 - GM Daniele Vocaturo 2609 ½-½ ½-½ 2-0
GM Vidit Gujrathi 2719 - GM Etienne Bacrot 2662 1-0 ½-½ .
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi 2779 - GM Nihal Sarin 2688 ½-½ ½-½ 2-0
GM Ray Robson 2689 - GM Fabiano Caruana 2782 ½-½ 0-1 .
GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2732 - GM Parham Maghsoodloo 2719 ½-½ ½-½ 2.5-1.5
GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2676 - GM Leinier Dominguez 2739 ½-½ ½-½ 1.5-2.5
GM Wesley So 2769 - GM Alexey Sarana 2685 0-1 ½-½ .
GM Nils Grandelius 2684 - GM Jaime Santos 2656 1-0 ½-½ .
GM Javokhir Sindarov 2659 - GM Arjun Erigaisi 2710 ½-½ 0-1 .
GM Ferenc Berkes 2615 - GM Ruslan Ponomariov 2664 1-0 ½-½ .
GM Hikaru Nakamura 2787 - GM Praggnanandhaa R 2690 ½-½ ½-½ 0-2

The finish line is now in sight for the players, with the stakes growing ever higher.

The 16 players in the Open section are now fighting for a spot in the quarterfinals, while the eight players in the Women's section are already fighting for semi-final places.

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.

Previous Coverage

Colin_McGourty
Colin McGourty

Colin McGourty led news at Chess24 from its launch until it merged with Chess.com 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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