The first day of the 2019 FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk saw four upsets as Radek Wojtaszek, Jorge Cori, Arkadij Naiditisch and Ruslan Ponomariov lost to lower rated opponents. Two-time winner Levon Aronian was the strongest player who was held to a draw. 


You can follow the games here as part of our live portal Chess.com/events. 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 Twitch.tv/Chessbrah. Each day play starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 12:00 (noon) CEST, 6 a.m. Eastern and 3 a.m. Pacific.

With a slight delay, the first round of the World Cup took off on Tuesday in a packed Ugra Chess Academy. It wasn’t easy to fit in the 128 players, but luckily for the organizers (and the winners in the first round!) half of the field will be gone by Friday.

As FIDE informed on the first day of play, there will be even more players in two years from now.

The delay was also caused by strict security measures: the players had to go through no less than three metal detectors in order to prevent them from having access to technological assistance during the game, such as their smartphone.

Players queue 2019 FIDE World Cup
Players, including the Chinese delegation, in a queue to enter the venue. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It’s a long trip to Khanty-Mansiysk for almost all participants, and some of them are definitely suffering from jetlag. One of them is the top seed Ding Liren, who came from the U.S. (after winning the Sinquefield Cup). At least he had the luxury of playing the lowest seed.

That is FM Shaun Press, who probably travelled the most of all participants: from attending an arbiters’ course in the Solomon Islands he flew to Brisbane, Dubai and Moscow before boarding his final airplane!

His initial reaction to Ding’s 9…h5!? in the Closed Sicilian was correct, but soon inaccuracies started to creep in.

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Shaun Press Ding Liren 2019 FIDE World Cup
Vasily Filipenko, President of the Ugra Chess Federation, and Konstantin Penchukov, Chairman of the city parliament, making the first ceremonial moves in Shaun Press vs. Ding Liren. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Ian Nepomniachtchi was one of the early winners, partly because he was playing super fast again. His game was attractive, but he did give his opponent a chance to complicate things in the opening:

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Ian Nepomniachtchi 2019 FIDE World Cup
A mean game by Ian Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Levon Aronian is the only player in history to have won two World Cups: the first one in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2005, and two years ago in Tbilisi. He needs to be a bit careful after he was much worse (possibly plain losing) against Essam El Gindy, the oldest player in the field:

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El Gindy Aronian 2019 FIDE World Cup
A not too impressive start for Aronian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Yes, winning won positions is one of the hardest things in chess. Another fan favorite, Chess.com Portugese’s Krikor Mekhitarian, had a +9 position that he couldn’t convert against Russian GM Dmitry Andreikin, World Cup finalist in 2013.

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Krikor Mekhitarian 2019 FIDE World Cup
Krikor Mekhitarian got incredibly close to a win. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The highest board that saw an upset was the game between Radek Wojtaszek and Johan-Sebastian Christiansen. The latter, a 21-year-old Norwegian grandmaster, is part of a new generation of grandmasters that benefitted from the “Magnus effect” in Norway. (Frode Urkedal is another one, who started with a draw against Nikita Vitiugov of Russia.)

Christiansen played an excellent game against the winner of the 2017 Isle of Man Masters, who was struggling to find a good plan in the middlegame. It can be difficult when all your pieces are already on good squares.

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Johan-Sebastian Christiansen 2019 FIDE World Cup
Excellent play from Johan-Sebastian Christiansen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Moving on to the next upset, there was the Indian prodigy, the 15-year-old Nihal Sarin (GM at 14 years, one month, and one day) beating a former prodigy, the 24-year-old Jorge Cori of Peru (GM at 14 years, 5 months and 15 days).

One of the FIDE President’s nominees, Nihal nicely outplayed his opponent in a middlegame with opposite-colored bishops:

Nihal Sarin 2019 FIDE World Cup
Nihal Sarin’s play reminded of some of Anatoly Karpov’s great games. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In the third upset of the day, 27-year-old German GM Niclas Huschenbeth beat the seasoned, Latvian-German-Azerbaijani grandmaster Arkadij Naditisch, in a remarkably one-sided game. White was probably better prepared in this somewhat topical endgame and got everything he wanted after Black’s 21st move.

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Niclas Huschenbeth 2019 FIDE World Cup
Niclas Huschenbeth left Arkadij Naiditsch without a chance. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In the board right next to them, another very experienced grandmaster was biting the dust against a younger opponent. 17-year-old Andrey Esipenko beat Ruslan Ponomariov, now 35 but still famous for becoming FIDE World Champion at 18 by winning a similar knockout tournament in 2002.

Esipenko kind of showed why everyone is playing the Advance Caro-Kann these days: the old main line is fine for Black.

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Another former FIDE world champion did better. Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the winner of a similar event in 2004 in Tripoli (and these days mostly working as the second of Fabiano Caruana), defeated one of the few older players in the field, the Canadian-Russian GM Evgeny Bareev, who blundered a mate in four:

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Romanian GM Constantin Lupulescu must have had trouble sleeping after his loss. He had a winning position, but suddenly, and completely unnecessarily, allowed a mating attack.

As Chess.com Spanish’s Luis Fernández Siles pointed out, Igor Kovalenko must have been inspired by the famous game Short-Timman, Tilburg 1991.

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FIDE World Cup | Round 1, Day 1 results

Seed Fed Title Player Seed Fed Title Player G1 G2 TB
1 GM Ding Liren 128 FM Press 1-0 . .
2 GM Giri 127 FM Mohammad 1-0 . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave 126 IM Anwuli 1-0 . .
4 GM So 125 IM Duran 1-0 . .
5 GM Nepomniachtchi 124 Gan-Erdene 1-0 . .
6 GM Aronian 123 GM El Gindy ½-½ . .
7 GM Mamedyarov 122 IM Rakotomaharo 1-0 . .
8 GM Dominguez 121 GM Escobar 1-0 . .
9 GM Grischuk 120 IM Pultinevicius 1-0 . .
10 GM Radjabov 119 GM Zisk 1-0 . .
11 GM Artemiev 118 GM Iljiushenok ½-½ . .
12 GM Yu Yangyi 117 GM Ghaem Maghami 1-0 . .
13 GM Karjakin 116 GM Megaranto 1-0 . .
14 GM Nakamura 115 GM Bellahcene ½-½ . .
15 GM Andreikin 114 GM Mekhitarian ½-½ . .
16 GM Wojtaszek 113 GM Christiansen 0-1 . .
17 GM Harikrishna 112 GM Gonzalez  1-0 . .
18 GM Duda 111 GM Henriquez 1-0 . .
19 GM Svidler 110 GM Albornoz ½-½ . .
20 GM Vitiugov 109 GM Urkedal ½-½ . .
21 GM Wei Yi 108 GM Santos ½-½ . .
22 GM Le 107 GM Aleksandrov ½-½ . .
23 GM Navara 106 GM Yuffa ½-½ . .
24 GM Bu Xiangzhi 105 GM Xu Xiangyu ½-½ . .
25 GM Wang Hao 104 GM Pridorozhni ½-½ . .
26 GM Shankland 103 GM Safarli ½-½ . .
27 GM Matlakov 102 GM Abdusattorov ½-½ . .
28 GM Tomashevsky 101 GM Petrov ½-½ . .
29 GM Vidit 100 GM Pichot ½-½ . .
30 GM Jakovenko 99 GM Martinez 1-0 . .
31 GM Xiong 98 GM Lysyj 1-0 . .
32 GM Firouzja 97 GM Pashikian 1-0 . .
33 GM Dubov 96 GM Cordova 1-0 . .
34 GM Amin 95 GM Tabatabaei ½-½ . .
35 GM Jones 94 GM Flores 1-0 . .
36 GM Grandelius 93 GM Rakhmanov ½-½ . .
37 GM Adams 92 GM Aravindh ½-½ . .
38 GM Gelfand 91 GM Lu Shanglei ½-½ . .
39 GM Cori 90 GM Nihal 0-1 . .
40 GM Rodshtein 89 GM Bartel 1-0 . .
41 GM Inarkiev 88 GM Karthikeyan Mrali ½-½ . .
42 GM McShane 87 GM Delgado ½-½ . .
43 GM Korobov 86 GM Gupta ½-½ . .
44 GM Anton 85 GM Narayanan 1-0 . .
45 GM Naiditsch 84 GM Huschenbeth 0-1 . .
46 GM Ponomariov 83 GM Esipenko 0-1 . .
47 GM Nabaty 82 GM Sethuraman 1-0 . .
48 GM Fedoseev 81 GM Ganguly 1-0 . .
49 GM Alekseenko 80 GM Nguyen ½-½ . .
50 GM Berkes 79 GM Jumabayev ½-½ . .
51 GM Nisipeanu 78 GM Parligras ½-½ . .
52 GM Sevian 77 GM Tari 1-0 . .
53 GM Adhiban 76 GM Iturrizaga 1-0 . .
54 GM Cheparinov 75 GM Adly 1-0 . .
55 GM Sjugirov 74 GM Mareco ½-½ . .
56 GM Saric 73 GM Bok ½-½ . .
57 GM Piorun 72 GM Abasov ½-½ . .
58 GM Kasimdzhanov 71 GM Bareev 1-0 . .
59 GM Maghsoodloo 70 GM Chigaev 1-0 . .
60 GM Sarana 69 GM Predke ½-½ . .
61 GM Demchenko 68 GM Hovhannisyan 1-0 . .
62 GM Kovalenko 67 GM Lupulescu 1-0 . .
63 GM Gledura 66 GM Najer ½-½ . .
64 GM Movsesian 65 GM Oparin ½-½ . .

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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