Reports Jul 20, 2021 | 12:03 PMby Colin McGourty

FIDE World Cup 3.2: Caruana is out!

Fabiano Caruana is out of the FIDE World Cup after a shock loss to Kazakhstan’s Rinat Jumabayev. Fabi has dropped below Ding Liren on the live rating list, with Magnus Carlsen, who has now won all four games in Sochi, the only remaining member of the 2800 club. Yu Yangyi and Jorden van Foreest failed to mount comebacks, but Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Adhiban, Jeffery Xiong and Michal Krasenkow succeeded, with the 57-year-old winning a stunning game against 15-year-old Praggnanandhaa. Valentina Gunina knocking out Harika Dronavalli is the only upset so far in Round 3 of the women’s event.

Rinat Jumabayev pulled off the sensation of the event so far | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

You can replay all the games from Sochi with computer analysis here on chess24: Open | Women

And here’s the day’s live commentary from Loek van Wely and Laurent Fressinet.

Fabiano Caruana is knocked out

The one sensation on the second day of Round 3 of the FIDE World Cup was world no. 124 Rinat Jumabayev knocking out world no. 2 and second seed for the tournament, Fabiano Caruana. Fabi had been pressing with Black on the first day and had White on the second, and initially he seemed to be doing well. Rinat commented:

It was a tough game. It was very fighting from move 1, and it was a very difficult structure, the Carlsbad structure. He tried to attack my king and I tried to find counterplay in the centre or on the queenside, and at some moment I was in time trouble and he sacrificed a rook for my bishop, but luckily I found a very interesting defensive resource in the position and I think I had a good advantage.  

Rinat already had the initiative when he played 26…Ba6!


After 27.Rf2 Bc4 it’s Fabiano who would have to defend with White, and instead he went for 27.g5!?, inviting 27…Bxf1. Fabiano must then have been looking at 28.gxf6!, which seems to ensure at least equality, but only if you find and correctly evaluate 28…Bc4 29.Qh6! Ne8 30.Bxc4 dxc4 31.Nf5!


Instead after 10 minutes Fabi went for the straightforward 28.Rxf1?! and was simply an exchange down, though not for long! As Rinat continued:

On move 30 he offered a draw, but I thought I was already much better and I refused it, but in two moves I made a mistake and I almost lost the game. Fortunately for me I found a way to give my queen, but to keep my position. And after that I think it was about equal, or Fabiano even was better.

If Rinat had played 32…Nd6! he would have been completely winning, but after 32…Nf6? Fabi was able to pounce with 33.Nxf6+! Qxf6 34.fxg6 Qxg6


35.Bxf7+! was a fine blow — 35…Rxf7? loses because of the loose rook on b5, to 36.Qa8+! Ne8 37.Qxe8+ Kg7 38.Qxb5 — but after 35…Qxf7! 36.Rxf7 Rxf7 the game went on.

It was a dangerous position for White, but after Fabi made the time control the assumption was he’d collect himself, dig deep and navigate safely to tiebreaks — or perhaps more, if his opponent blundered. Instead, Fabiano was the latest player to make a blunder on move 41, just when you’ve relax after surviving a time scramble. 41.Qd2!, hitting the g5-rook, was an only move, but Fabi played 41.Qc4? — a move which was also suggested by Loek van Wely, as Laurent Fressinet reminded him!

The move allows Black to make an almost instant draw with 41…Nf4+, but Rinat had all the time he needed to spot that 41…h5! was vastly stronger. Now the threat of 42…Nf4+ doesn’t make a draw, but gives checkmate next move: 43.Kh4 Rg4#.

Fabiano played the sad computer-approved defence of 42.Kg2 h4 43.Kh3, giving up a piece, and you could still imagine him posing problems in the objectively lost position. It wasn’t easy, but when Rinat found 55…Rd3! it really was over.

“At this moment I totally realised that I’m winning, because it’s winning by force and I was happy”,  Rinat said afterwards, and the game continued just three more moves. 56.Qe1 (of course 56.Rxd3 runs into 56...Nf4+, winning the queen) Nf4+! 57.Kf2 Rgxg3 58.Qe4 Rg2+ and Fabiano resigned, since he’s going to have to give up his queen for a rook, and the other rook will deliver checkmate.

It had already been a tough World Cup for Fabiano, with his opponent testing positive for COVID-19 during their Round 2 game, and now his event has ended early and brutally. To rub it in, the loss meant Fabiano fell out of the 2800 club and even dipped below Ding Liren to world no. 3.

The one consolation is that for the next official list Fabi’s 2798.5 will be rounded up to 2799, and as the player to have played more games in July he’ll still be ranked no. 2 above Ding Liren. The World Cup loss, however, means Fabiano’s routes to the 2022 Candidates Tournament and a World Championship match have been reduced. With no rating spot this time round, he still has the Grand Swiss, but if that fails he’ll be forced to play the series of Grand Prix events in February-April next year.

It's so far so good for Magnus Carlsen, though his stumble in the last World Cup came in the 3rd match he played | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

Magnus Carlsen doesn’t have any such problems, and in fact became the only player in either the Open or Women’s World Cup to have won all his classical games so far when he beat Aryan Tari again. It hadn’t been easy, as he mentioned:

I thought especially the first game was very, very tough. I was spending a lot of time and I was not getting anywhere, and it was really nervous for both of us I think in time pressure, and then fortunately he made a couple of mistakes there and I managed to win, and then I sort of calmed down. Today I just tried to play a game, since I feel that I haven’t played so much classical chess in a long time and I’m playing a World Championship match, so I need training. That’s why I wanted to play a serious game today, and I’m happy with the way it unfolded. I was never in danger and eventually I ground him down.

Life is good.

Magnus has now climbed to 2854.6, giving him a 55.6 points lead over Ding Liren on the live rating list, though as we noted in our article on Magnus Carlsen spending an unbroken 10 years as world no. 1, the gap has been wider.

NameFEDTime as no. 2Smallest gapBiggest gapFirst no. 2Last no. 2
Fabiano Caruana52 months371Oct 2014July 2021
Levon Aronian32 months1072Jan 2012Dec 2017
Vladimir Kramnik12 months1074Jan 2013Jul 2017
Viswanathan Anand10 months472Jul 2011Sep 2015
Wesley So5 months1220Mar 2017Aug 2017
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave3 months2344Aug 2016Sep 2017
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov3 months2934Feb 2018Apr 2018
Veselin Topalov2 months3147Nov 2015Dec 2015
Hikaru Nakamura1 month3434Oct 2015Oct 2015

The biggest was in October 2013, when Magnus was 74 points ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, with 2870 to Vladimir’s 2796. Note also that if Ding Liren did gain the no. 2 spot that would for his first time ever on an official list.

No way back

The only other player to score a 2:0 win in the Open section on Monday was Croatia’s Ante Brkic, who completed a whitewash of 90 points higher rated Salem Saleh. Hitting back on demand is tough, and 12 players who took the lead in Game 1 went on to qualify with a draw in the second game. 

Daniil Dubov didn't give Malakhov a chance. Afterwards he noted two rest days was a bit too much in their mountain resort: "the casino is also way too close, which is also dangerous, so we’ll see!" | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

Those were Daniil Dubov (vs. Vladimir Malakhov), Kacper Piorun (vs. Jorden van Foreest), Alexander Grischuk (vs. Alan Pichot), Anton Korobov (vs. Kirill Georgiev), Vladislav Kovalev (vs. Bobby Cheng), Vladimir Fedoseev (vs. Timur Gareev), Velimir Ivic (vs. Matthias Bluebaum), Dmitry Andreikin (vs. Nihal Sarin), Harikrishna (vs. Contantin Lupulescu), Amin Tabatabaei (vs. Yu Yang), Sergey Karjakin (vs. Grigoriy Oparin) and Nikita Vitiugov (vs. Alexei Shirov). 

As you can see, some top stars, headed by 2019 World Cup semi-finalist Yu Yangyi, have also left the event. In most cases, they never really got a chance to hit back. 

Comeback kings

Five players did make a comeback, however, with world no. 6 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov living to fight another day. He took the slow burn approach against Haik Martirosyan, exchanging queens on move 15 for a position where his bishop pair gave him some edge. He eventually won a pawn, but only converted a win in a rook ending on move 86.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov hit back against young Haik Martirosyan | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

Adhiban’s opening choice was controversial, but ultimately it worked to perfection against Vidit, with a structural advantage, converted into tactical chances and ultimately a winning opposite-coloured bishop endgame.

Adhiban-Vidit promises more tiebreak fun!

Nils Grandelius came within touching distance of sealing the deal after his epic 120-move victory over Jeffery Xiong the day before, but he grabbed his opponent’s extra pawn at just the wrong moment and walked into the sucker punch 31.Be5!, threatening mate on h8.

There was nothing to be done, and Nils resigned after 31…Bxe5+ 32.Qxe5. Xiong, who knocked Anish Giri and Jan-Krzysztof Duda out of the 2019 FIDE World Cup, will be a formidable opponent in the tiebreaks.

A crazy game ends with the winning scenario of more chess ahead in the tiebreak | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

Pavel Ponkratov hit back against Leinier Dominguez’s conqueror Jakhongir Vakhidov, but the game of the day was 57-year-old Michal Krasenkow’s remarkable comeback against 15-year-old Praggnanandhaa. The wild opening had been seen before, but Michal commented that it seemed neither of the players knew it.

The most spectacular position of the game was when Michal casually castled on move 25.

With the d2-knight unpinned, 25…Bxe4 would now lose to the fork 26.Nxe4+. Krasenkow commented:

Later several times I thought that the game was over and I was winning and my opponent always found fantastic defence, especially when I castled, which he missed, of course. I thought it was over, but he really played excellently and found a fantastic defence.

Praggnanandhaa found the series of only moves 25…Qxd2! 26.Qxb7 Nd5! 27.h6 c3! 28.h7 Qh6 29.Qa7+ Kc4!


It turns out the black king is safe on c4 and objectively White has nothing better than taking a draw with 30.Qa2+ Kc5 31.Qa7+. Of course a draw was not what White needed, but 30.Bg4?! was a losing move after 30…c2! The game continued 31.Qa2+ Kb4 32.Qb2+ Kc4

Here 33.Re1! by Krasenkow was both the best move in the position and, ultimately, a trap! Praggnanandhaa could and should simply have taken the h7-pawn with 33…Qxh7!, but instead he played the losing 33…Nf4?, which ran into 34.h8=Q!

The problem for Pragg was that after 34…Qxh8 his queen was no longer defending the f4-knight or threatening to support the c-pawn queening. Michal played the winning 35.Re4!, hitting the f4-knight as well as threatening a mating attack by taking the d4-knight. After 35…c5 (stopping mate comes first!) 36.Rxf4 White was simply a rook up, with Michal showing his experience as he also found the simplest conversion.


39.Rxd4+! Qxd4 40.Bxe6+ Kc5 41.Qxd4+ Kxd4 and now White had an extra bishop with a trivial win. An incredible game!

Those five match-ups featuring comebacks will be joined by eight matches that ended with two draws, to make 13 tiebreaks in the Open section on Tuesday. Some were hard-fought, such as the 73-move Shankland-Areshchenko and Gelfand-Artemiev, but it largely felt that both players preferred to take the battle to tiebreaks. The rock paper scissors “handshake” will be hard to beat…

…while some questions remained.

Apart from Caruana-Jumabayev, meanwhile, there were another four matches in which one of the players won after a draw on Day 1. It was the end of the road for a star of previous World Cups, David Navara, who was ground down in a drawish looking knight endgame by Azerbaijan’s Vasif Durarbayli. Jan-Krzysztof Duda did the same to Sam Sevian in a rook endgame, while there were two impressive wins for rising stars.

Andrey Esipenko is looking very calm so far | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

19-year-old Andrey Esipenko seemed to come prepared with a new idea in the opening and beat Nijat Abasov with great ease, while 15-year-old Javokhir Sindarov followed up his win over Firouzja with a brilliant game against Jorge Cori. The 34 minutes spent on the pawn sacrifice 11.Qd2! were well-spent, while 14…f6 gave another chance to shine.


15.Qe2! (threatening Bc4+, winning the black queen) 15…Be6 16.Ba6! saw Jorge compelled to give up his queen with 16…Nxa6 17.Rxd4. In the endgame Jorge at least came close to establishing a fortress, but Javokhir broke through in style.


77.Qf6! Rxf6 78.Kxf6 Kh7 79.Kf7 and Black resigned, since it’s zugzwang. 79…Kh6 is met by 80.Kg8 and the only legal move is 80…g5, giving White a passed pawn.

Javokhir Sindarov marches on | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

Sindarov will play Piorun next, and remains on course for a quarterfinal against Magnus Carlsen.

Gunina makes it through, as Carissa Yip is taken to tiebreaks

Valentina Gunina knocked out Harika Dronavalli | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

The theme of the Women’s World Cup being much more predictable than the Open continued on Monday, with the only upset (on paper) in Round 3 being that Valentina Gunina knocked out Harika Dronavalli after holding a draw in the second game. It had looked as though Harika would hit back, but 35.Be4! was the way to defend the bishop while maintaining all White’s threats. 35.Qd7? was seized upon by Valentina.


35…Re7! 36.Qxc7 and the game fizzled out into a draw.

17-year-old Carissa Yip was the sensation of the first day of Round 3 for beating Nana Dzagnidze, but her sacrificial approach in the opening with White in the next game looked a bad idea when she only needed to draw.

It led to a position where Carissa had an extra pawn but a horribly exposed king. Nevertheless, there were chances to hold, with only the little move 30.h3? condemning her to defeat.


The problem? The pawn takes the square away from the white queen, so that now Nana could play 30…Rdd5! (threatening Rxf5), since after 31.Re8+ Kh7 White can no longer play 32.Qh3+ and give checkmate. Nana went on to win comfortably, so that Carissa faces her second tiebreak in Sochi.

16-year-old Leya Garifullina, who already beat Olga Girya, came close to knocking out Polina Shuvalova as well before the match went to tiebreaks | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

Don’t miss all the action starting from 14:00 CEST! Open | Women

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