World Cup: Jumabayev stuns Caruana

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/20/2021 – Fabiano Caruana was surprisingly knocked out of the FIDE World Cup in round 3, as Kazakhstani GM Rinat Jumabayev beat him with the black pieces in a hard-fought game. Other upsets from the third round include Vasif Durarbayli knocking out David Navara and Amin Tabatabaei leaving Yu Yangyi out of contention. A total of 17 matches (in both sections) will be decided in Tuesday’s rapid and blitz playoffs. | Photo: Eric Rosen

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An action-packed day

Plenty of exciting games and unexpected results were seen on an eventful second day of action in round 3 of the FIDE World Cups. By far, the most shocking development was seen in the match between Fabiano Caruana and Rinat Jumabayev, as the Khazakhstani grandmaster beat the American star with black to move on to round 4.

Jumabayev’s rating of 2637 is 183 points lower than Caruana’s stratospheric 2820. After scoring a half point in the match’s pair of games, though, the American lost 9.4 rating points, which means he is now rated below the 2800-point mark in the live ratings list.

True to his style, Caruana played enterprising chess with the white pieces, pushing his central and kingside pawns out of the opening. Furthermore, on move 27, he decided to give up an exchange.


After 27.g5 Bxf1 28.Rxf1 Nfe8 29.Nxd5, White does have a scary initiative, but the black king’s position is not particularly vulnerable, and if Jumabayev manages to ward off his rival’s potential attack he will be up material and will have a better-coordinated army.

The engines gave Black a clear edge, but, of course, it was hard to find the precise path to victory against a calculator of Caruana’s calibre. Eventually, the world number 2 simplified into a sharp position with queen and knight against two rooks and a knight. 

Caruana got out of the woods, but then erred again, on the first move after the time control.


Black’s main threat is ...Nf4+, and White’s only adequate defensive move is 41.Qd2 (41.Ne2 fails to 41...Rf2 42.Qe3 Rgg2 and the rooks will wreak havoc along the second rank). Caruana did not find the correct defensive manoeuvre, as he went for 41.Qc4, pinning the f7-rook.

With plenty of time on the clock, Jumabayev found the strong 41...h5 and White’s knight will soon fall — the rooks and the knight threaten to create all sort of mating nets. There followed 42.Kg2 h4 43.Kh3 hxg3 44.hxg3 Kg7


The queen cannot defend by herself against the dangerously placed black pieces. The conversion was not at all trivial, but Jumabayev showed good technique and achieved a memorable 58-move victory.

Fabiano Caruana

Dealing with a tough position — Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Eric Rosen 

Another exciting tactical skirmish was seen in the game between Michal Krasenkow and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. Krasenkow, at 57, is the oldest player still in contention in Sochi (Kirill Georgiev, aged 55, was knocked out today). Pragg, on the other hand, is the second-youngest still playing (Javokhir Sindarov, who made it to round 4 already, is four months younger than the Indian).

Pragg had won the first classical game on Sunday, and had the upper hand in an incredibly sharp position in the rematch.


How in the world did the black king made it all the way to c4?!

At this point, the one winning move for Black — but a very convincing one at that — was 33...Qxh7, when White’s best response is 34.Be2+, although Black keeps everything under control with the cold-blooded 35...Kc5. The knights are excellent defenders!

However, instead of grabbing the pawn, Pragg blundered with 33...Nf4, and Krasenkow did not miss his chance, as he found 34.h8Q Qxh8 35.Re4


The black setup’s delicate balance has been broken. There followed 35...c5 36.Rxf4 Qxe5 37.Qxc2+, and Krasenkow needed seven more moves to score the win he needed to prolong the match against his teenage opponent.

Besides the sharp second game against Pragg, you can also go through Krasenkow’s remarkable win over Kirill Alekseenko from round 2 in the replayer below.


Michal Krasenkow, Praggnanandhaa

Michal Krasenkow could be Praggnanandhaa’s grandfather! | Photo: Eric Rosen 

Meanwhile, world champion Magnus Carlsen beat Aryan Tari, and is now the only player to have won all his games in Sochi.

Caruana was not the only rating favourite to be knocked out in round 3. Six other upsets were seen in the open section:

  • Kacper Piorun (POL, 2608) knocked out Jorden van Foreest (NED, 2701)
  • Javokhir Sindarov (UZB, 2558) knocked out Jorge Cori (PER, 2652)
  • Vasif Durarbayli (AZE, 2606) knocked out David Navara (CZE, 2697)
  • Velimir Ivic (SER, 2581) knocked out Matthias Bluebaum (GER, 2669)
  • Amin Tabatabaei (IRA, 2613) knocked out Yu Yangyi (CHN, 2705)
  • Ante Brkic (CRO, 2592) knocked out Saleh Salem (UAE, 2682)

Four other players — besides Krasenkow — managed to win on demand to take their matches to tiebreaks:

  • Pavel Ponkratov (RUS) beat Jakhongir Vakhidov (UZB)
  • Adhiban (IND) beat Vidit (IND)
  • Nils Grandelius (SWE) beat Jeffery Xiong (USA)
  • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) beat Haik Martirosyan (ARM)


‘The beast’ — Adhiban bounced back against Vidit | Photo: Eric Rosen 

All games - Round 3, Day 2


Replay all the games from the World Cup at

The results of round 3 in the women’s section were much more predictable, at least if we use ratings as the sole predictor. The one exception was Valentina Gunina (2436) knocking out Harika Dronavalli (2515), although the Russian has been a constant feature in top women’s tournaments for a number of years — she achieved her peak rating of 2548 in July 2015 and was rated as high as 2509 in November 2019.

The one comeback seen on Monday was achieved by Nana Dzagnidze, who defeated Carissa Yip with the black pieces in a must-win situation. Dzagnidze and Yip’s is one of four matches that will be decided in Tuesday’s playoffs. The remaining three confrontations:

  • Leya Garifullina vs Polina Shuvalova
  • Mariya Muzychuk vs Anna Ushenina
  • Bibisara Assaubayeva vs Bela Khotenashvili

Valentina Gunina

On to round 4 — Valentina Gunina | Photo: Eric Rosen

All games - Round 3, Day 2


Replay all the games from the Women’s World Cup at

A remarkable attack (analysed by GM Karsten Müller)

Georgian GM Nino Batsiashvili defeated Polish WGM Jolanta Zawadska with both colours to get a spot in round 4. In game 2, Batsiashvili made the most of her domination along the light squares to score a remarkable win — a beautiful move put an end to the game!


Zawadska resigned after 28...Qg2+ as her king will be mated in two moves: 29.Kxg2 Nf4+ 30.Kg1 Nh3#. White had made the crucial mistake 8 moves earlier, as GM Müller demonstrates in his annotations below.


FIDE World Cup 2021

The playing hall at the Gazprom Mountain Resort in Sochi | Photo: Eric Rosen  


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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