Carlsen, Nepo and Ju Wenjun to play at the FIDE World Cup

by ChessBase
6/13/2023 – The FIDE World Cup, a knock-out chess extravaganza held every two years, will celebrate its 10th edition in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 30 July to 24 August 2023. Many of the participants in the open and the women’s sections have confirmed their presence. Heading the open will be Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana, while the women’s event will have Humpy Koneru, Ju Wenjun and Aleksandra Goryachkina as the top seeds. The fields will be completed before June 30.

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Press release by the International Chess Federation

The event has seen its combined prize pool boosted to a whopping USD 2.5 million, the single largest one at any chess event in the world. 

The FIDE World Cup, a knock-out chess extravaganza held every two years, will celebrate its 10th edition in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 30 July to 24 August 2023. The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 29th and all the first round matches will be played on the 30th.

146 of the 206 participants in the World Cup 2023 in Baku, and 71 of the 103 Women’s World Cup participants, have already been confirmed. The field will be completed between June 15-30, at the conclusion of the Zonal tournaments and the period that eligible federations have been given to submit their nominations.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The list is headed once again by world number one Magnus Carlsen. Despite being a firm supporter of knock-out tournaments, a victory in the World Cup is one of the few titles still missing from Magnus’ impressive track record, and this is probably a strong incentive for the former World Champion. His best result so far was in Sochi 2021, where he impressed the fans with some spectacular games (like his two victories over Fedoseev), but he was knocked out in the semifinals by Jan-Krzysztof Duda, winner of the event.

The second seed will be no other than the runner-up in the two last World Championship matches and twice winner of the Candidates Tournament, Ian Nepomniachtchi. “Nepo” could only reach the fourth round in his last participation, in Khanty-Mansiysk 2019, where he was knocked out by Yu Yangyi, and decided to skip Sochi 2021 in order to focus on his preparation for the match in Dubai. 

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wesley So, and Maxime Vachier Lagrave are next on the list, followed by the two local stars, Teimur Radjabov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Radjabov won the World Cup in his last participation, Khanty-Mansiysk 2019. With the extra motivation of playing on home turf, he will surely be a very serious contender for the title.

The tenth seed is 17-year-old Gukesh Dommaraju of India, who leads the pack of up-and-coming young prodigies, in which we also find Nodirbek Abdusattorov (18 years old, 14th in the starting list), Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (17 years old, 25th seed), and Vincent Keymer (18 years old, 26th).

Humpy heads women’s line-up

The top-seeded in the Women’s World Cup will be Humpy Koneru of India. Despite losing some rating points during the past year, Koneru is still the number two player in the world rankings, only behind the semi-retired Hou Yifan and just one point ahead of the reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun.

Humpy Koneru

Humpy Koneru | Photo: Ismael Nieto

The participation of Ju Wenjun in the Women’s World Cup will be one of the highlights of the competition. It wasn’t clear if she would accept the challenge, and she is set to defend her title in the weeks before the World Cup, from July 5-25, against her countrywoman Lei Tingjie. It remains to be seen if Ju will arrive in Baku as the reigning World Champion or right after being dethroned, but either way and despite the foreseeable tiredness after the match, she will surely be one of the main contenders for victory.

Aleksandra Goryachkina, Kateryna Lagno, and the defending Women’s World Cup Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk, complete the top-5 seeds for the event. They are followed by Tan Zhongyi, Mariya Muzychuk, Harika Dronavalli, Nana Dzagnidze, and Anna Muzychuk. The highest-rated local player will be 22-year-old Gunay Mammadzada (pictured below).

Gunay Mammadzada

Gunay Mammadzada | Photo: Mark Livshitz

The World Cup is one of FIDE’s flagship competitions, and in recent editions, it has clearly become one of the most followed events in the chess calendar. This reflects FIDE’s efforts to expand the competition, increasing the variety of qualification paths and the number of represented countries (estimated at 50 for the 2023 edition) while drastically decreasing the number of wild cards. 

With 206 players in the open section, plus 103 in the Women’s competition, this event has seen its combined prize pool boosted to a whopping USD 2.5 million, the single largest one at any chess event in the world.

For many players, the World Cup is the first and only opportunity to enter the race for the World Championship crown, since the three top finishers in the event will advance to the next stage: the super exclusive Candidates Tournament. This means one more spot than in the previous edition, Sochi 2021, where only the finalists would qualify: in Baku, the winner of the match for 3rd/4th place will also get the coveted invitation for the Candidates, which adds some extra excitement to this already thrilling competition.

Lists of players confirmed as of June 12, 2023

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