World Cup: Twelve players bounce back

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/14/2021 – Day 2 of the first round at the World Cup and Women’s World Cup in Sochi saw 12 players winning on demand to take their matches to tiebreakers. Those are not the only confrontations that are to be decided in rapid and blitz chess, though, as 16 other matches finished with both games drawn. | Photo: Eric Rosen

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Comebacks, upsets

Some of the higher-rated players that lost their first games in the World Cup managed to level the score by beating their opponents on demand. In the open section, that is what Russian GM Vadim Zvjaginsev did against English IM Ravi Haria, while in the women’s section, former French champion Pauline Guichard and former women’s world champion Anna Ushenina made it into the playoffs despite losing their first games.

Remarkably, more matches saw the higher-rated player failing to advance to the next round in the classical portion despite winning the first game. In the open:

  • Bilel Bellahcene (ALG, 2499) bounced back against Hovhannes Gabuzyan (ARM, 2590)
  • Niaz Murshed (BAN, 2404) traded wins with Neuris Delgado (PAR, 2622)
  • In an all-Egyptian matchup, Abdelrahman Hesham (2397) won on demand against Ahmed Adly (2625)
  • Basheer Al Qudaimi (YEM, 2435) bounced back against Amin Tabatabaei (IRA, 2613)
  • Chitumbo Mwali (ZAM, 2281) traded wins with Haik Martirosyan (ARM, 2648)
  • Juan Gonzalez (MEX, 2540) won on demand against Krikor Mekhitarian (BRA, 2554)

Mwali Chitumbo

Mwali Chitumbo from Zambia | Photo: Anastasiia Korolkova

In the women’s section:

  • Janelle Mae Frayna (PHI, 2179) bounced back against Thanh Trang Hoang (HUN, 2404)
  • Sabrina Latreche (ALG, 2076) traded wins with Nataliya Buksa (UKR, 2413)
  • Mai Narva (EST, 2276) won on demand against Gulnar Mammadova (AZE, 2382)

Jesse February

South African WIM Jesse February almost scored a comeback against Russian GM Valentina Gunina | Photo: Eric Rosen

Endgame analyses

GM Karsten Müller sent two endgames with instructive annotations, one from each section. Croatian GM Ante Brkic defeated Colombian GM Sergio Barrientos in both their games. In  the first one, he did it with the black pieces from an ending which required precise defensive technique by the white player.


Our in-house specialist shows why 47.Kf2 was the correct defence, and not Barrientos’ 47.Kf3, which might seem to be the most natural continuation.

In Bibisara Assaubayeva (KAZ) vs. Yerisbel Miranda (CUB), the Kazakhstani only needed a draw in the second game, but she could have won both encounters had she made the most of her rival’s mistakes in a rook endgame.


Select an entry from the list to switch between games


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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