2019 FIDE Chess World Cup: Four upsets on Day 1

2019 FIDE Chess World Championship Four upsets on Day 1

Four unexpected results occurred on the opening day of the 2019 FIDE Chess World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, as lower-rated opponents defeated Radek Wojtaszek, Jorge Cori, Arkadij Naiditsch, and Ruslan Ponomariov. Levon Aronian, a two-time champion, was the most powerful player who was held to a draw.

As a component of our live portal Chess.com/events, you may follow the games here. The Chessbrahs, one of our Twitch partners, provides daily coverage.

On their channel Twitch.tv/Chessbrah, GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen, and Aman Hambleton provide daily coverage of the competition. The play begins at three o’clock local time, which is noon CEST, six o’clock Eastern, and three o’clock Pacific.

The World Cup’s first round began on Tuesday in a jam-packed Ugra Chess Academy with a small delay. The 128 players were difficult to fit, but fortunately for the organizers (and the first-round victors!) half of the field will be eliminated by Friday.

There will be even more players in two years, as FIDE predicted on the first day of play.

The players had to pass through no less than three metal detectors in order to avoid having access to technology during the game, such as their iPhones, which added to the delay.

Almost all of the participants are traveling a considerable distance to Khanty-Mansiysk, and some of them undoubtedly have jet lag. One of them is Ding Liren, the top seed from the United States (after winning the Sinquefield Cup). He at least had the convenience of taking on the lowest seed.

FM Shaun Press, who most likely traveled the most among the participants, journeyed from the Solomon Islands to Brisbane, Dubai, and Moscow before boarding his last flight.

His original interpretation of Ding’s 9…h5!? in the Closed Sicilian was accurate, but errors eventually crept in.

One of the early wins was Ian Nepomniachtchi, in part because he was playing really rapidly once more.

Only Levon Aronian has ever won two World Cups, the first in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2005 and the second in Tbilisi two years ago.

Yes, one of the most challenging aspects of chess is winning won positions. Another fan favorite, Portuguese-speaking Chess.com player Krikor Mekhitarian, lost a +9 position to 2013 World Cup finalist and Russian GM Dmitry Andreikin.

The game between Radek Wojtaszek and Johan-Sebastian Christiansen was the highest board that had an upset. The latter, a grandmaster from Norway who is 21 years old, is a member of a recent generation of grandmasters who benefited from the “Magnus effect” in that country. (Another one is Frode Urkedal, who opened by drawing with Russian Nikita Vitiugov.)

Christiansen outplayed the 2018 Isle of Man Masters champion, who was having trouble coming up with a solid middlegame strategy. When all of your pieces are already on good squares, it can be challenging.

The next shocker was an Indian prodigy, 15-year-old Nihal Sarin (GM at 14 years, 1 month, and 1 day), defeating a former prodigy, Peruvian Jorge Cori, 24, in a match.

Nihal, a candidate for FIDE president, expertly outplayed his rival in a middlegame involving bishops of diametrically opposed colors:

In the third surprise of the day, the veteran Latvian-German-Azerbaijani grandmaster Arkadij Naditisch was defeated by the 27-year-old German GM Niclas Huschenbeth. In this rather timely endgame, White was undoubtedly better prepared, and after Black’s 21st move, he had everything he needed.

Another extremely seasoned grandmaster was losing to a younger opponent in the board directly next to them. Andrey Esipenko, then 17 years old, defeated Ruslan Ponomariov, then 35 years old but still well-known for winning a similar knockout event in 2002 and becoming the FIDE world champion at the age of 18.

Esipenko essentially demonstrated why everyone is currently playing the Advance Caro-Kann: For Black, the original main line is suitable.

The FIDE World Cup is held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, from September 9 to October 4. Two traditional games make up each round, and the third day is used to break ties. There are four traditional games in the championship. Both winners will be eligible to compete in the 2020 Candidates’ Tournament. There is a $1.6 million prize pool overall (1.45 million euros). Rest days are on September 19 and 29.

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