FIDE World Cup 2017: Magnus Carlsen having fun in Tbilisi

by Sagar Shah
9/7/2017 – The first game of round two of the World Cup 2017 was a relatively sedate affair. We had seven decisive games out of 32. Magnus Carlsen outplayed Alexey Dreev with the black pieces. When asked whether he was happy with his decision of coming to the World Cup, he said, "For now I think it's a fun tournament!" However, the event was no longer fun for Vishy Anand who slumped to a shock defeat against Anton Kovalyov. We have analysis of many key encounters and video interviews. | Photos: Amruta Mokal

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Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


World Cup, Round 2

The clock read 2:58 p.m. and the playing hall looked unusually empty. Where is everyone, I asked myself. Surely so many players are not going to be late for the round. At that very moment it dawned on me that 64 players had been eliminated from the World Cup 2017. The playing hall will remain the same until the semi-finals, and the emptiness will keep growing as every round passes by.

Somehow things felt a bit relaxed today. It was not just with me, or the arbiters and the organizers but also with the players. Everyone seemed to have found their groove at the tournament. Beating one opponent and qualifying to the next round surely boosts your confidence levels.

Hou Yifan

The highest rated female player in the world, Hou Yifan, in good spirits before the game

Vladimir Fedoseev

Vladimir Fedoseev is surely liking it in Tbilisi — he lost his first game in round one, but since then has registered three wins!

Magnus Carlsen was up against Alexey Dreev. What made this encounter very interesting was the battle of two generations. Dreev was one of the best players in the world in the late 1990s and, according to Mark Dvoretsky, Dreev was the most talented player he had ever worked with. We all know Mangnus' strength and his abilities, but every once in a while when he faces an opponent he hasn't played to date (or he is playing him after many years), you start to feel maybe this is the guy who would give Magnus a run for his money. And then you are proved wrong, brutally wrong!


The Ragozin Defense

The Ragozin is being played by every top grandmaster in the world - it is time you also add it to your repertoire to get interesting and dynamic positions against 1. d4!
GM Alejandro Ramirez analyses every single move that White can play once the Ragozin is reached, but due to several transpositional possibilities he always emphasises strategic goals to keep in mind.

"As for now I will stick to my decision that it's a fun tournament!"

And you can see Magnus having a nice time as he strolls around in the tournament hall watching the games of other players and picking up some ideas for future rounds!

The biggest news of the day was Anand losing his game with the white pieces against Canadian grandmaster Anton Kovalyov. Anand had a pleasant position out of the opening but then went for a speculative piece sacrifice.


The sacrifice could have worked against someone who was not in his best form. As it turned out, Kovalyov played precise moves and did not buckle under pressure. He made sure that Anand got nothing out of his piece sacrifice and slowly converted his extra material. As of now, he is a favourite to qualify for round three.


Not many would have given Kovalyov a chance to beat the five-time World Champion, but he did so, and that too with the black pieces. 


Kovalyov explains his thought process after the game

It should be remembered that in World Cup 2015 Kovalyov had booked his return ticket after three days from the start of the event. But he beat Kasimdzhanov in round one, and then Mareco Sandro, before bowing out to Fabiano Caruana in round three.

While one former World Champion had a tough day at the office, the other one was in no mood to give any chances to his opponent. Vladimir Kramnik dominated the game right from the start and finished off his opponent Anton Demchenko with a flourish.

Vladimir Kramnik

Bg2 looks like a good move, but how about double fianchetto? 3.b3!



Levon Aronian gambled with a line that doesn't have a good reputation, but Hou Yifan couldn't take advantage.



Maxime Vachier-Lagrave scored a fine win over Boris Grachev

"Boris (Grachev) is a strong blitz player, hence I took this match very seriously"

David Navara

David Navara beat Ivan Cheparinov but was not happy with the quality of the game

A short chat with David Navara

Giri and Vidit

Anish Giri played a solid draw with the black pieces against Alexander Motylev, while his second, Vidit Gujrathi was much more successful beating Le Quang Liem with black.


Vidit speaks about his win over Le Quang Liem


The game between Adhiban and Nepomniachtchi was a crazy one which ended in a draw

Adhiban opened the game with 1.e4 and Nepo replied with the Sicilian Najdorf. Adhiban chose the sharpest variation of all with Bg5. When the Indian player played Bc4, Black went completely wrong with b5. The main move there was Qb6.


Adhiban speaks about this exciting game

Baadur Jobava on his game against Salgado and the opening choice against Yu Yangyi

Nakamura and Svidler

What do you think Nakamura and Svidler are discussing? Your inputs in the comments section are most welcome!

Decisive games:

There were in all seven decisive games. In five of them the higher rated players won, but there were two upsets Anton Kovalyov beat Viswanathan Anand and Vidit Gujrathi defeated Le Quang Liem.

Drawn encounters:

In all there were 25 drawn games:

Replay all the games:



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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