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.
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.
#FIDEWorldCup 2021 will have 8 rounds, with 156 players in the first one. 78 winners of Round 1 + 50 top seeds will comprise the tree starting from Round 2.
As usual, both finalists will qualify to the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022.
— International Chess Federation (@FIDE_chess) September 10, 2019
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
FIDE World Cup | Round 1, Day 1 results
|12||GM||Yu Yangyi||–||117||GM||Ghaem Maghami||1-0||.||.|
|24||GM||Bu Xiangzhi||–||105||GM||Xu Xiangyu||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.