World Cup: Ediz Gurel, aged 14, scores brilliant upset

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/31/2023 – The tenth edition of the much-anticipated FIDE World Cup kicked off on Sunday in Baku. The 50 top seeds in the open and the 25 top seeds in the women’s section received byes and will join the fray on Wednesday. The remaining 234 contenders (156 in the open and 78 in the women’s) played their first classical encounters, though. There was no lack of surprises on the first day of action, with 14-year-old Ediz Gurel from Turkey (the youngest participant in the open) stunning Velimir Ivic in brilliant style. | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

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No lack of surprises

We can look ahead to three and a half weeks of tense, enjoyable chess battles as the FIDE World Cup has started at the Marriott Hotel Boulevard in Baku, Azerbaijan. For a second time, a women’s knockout event will run concurrently with the now traditional open competition.

The open sees 206 players, including world number one Magnus Carlsen, fighting for three spots in the next edition of the Candidates. In the women’s section, 103 contenders, including world champion Ju Wenjun, fight for the same three prizes (in the Women’s Candidates, of course). The top 50 seeds in the open and the 25 top seeds in the women’s received a bye and will join the fray in Wednesday’s second round.

As usual, opening day saw a number of imbalanced pairings (rating-wise) and a few of those favouring the underdog. We list below the most surprising results in both sections (200+ rating difference for draws and 100+ rating difference for wins).

Open section

  • Gianmarco Leiva (2374) beat Anton Demchenko (2623)
  • Pouria Darini (2412) beat Ferenc Berkes (2615)
  • Ganzorig Amartuvshin (2407) beat Eduardo Iturrizaga (2601)
  • Pablo Salinas (2468) beat Denis Kadric (2601)
  • Dante Beukes (2180) drew Ivan Saric (2657)
  • Haruna Nsubuga (2223) drew Jules Moussard (2654)
  • Leonel Figueredo (2345) drew Vasif Durarbayli (2631)
  • Kareim Wageih (2369) drew Markus Ragger (2624)
  • Jun Hyeok Lee (2378) drew Frederik Svane (2618)

Women’s section

  • Qianyun Gong (2223) beat Khanim Balajayeva (2368)
  • Turmunkh Munkhzul (2226) beat Nataliya Buksa (2365)
  • Kathie Librelato (2182) beat Salome Melia (2377)
  • Mailie-Jade Ouellet (2201) beat Yiyi Xiao (2372)
  • Julia Alboredo (2208) beat Deysi Cori (2369)

Mailie-Jade Ouellet

Mailie-Jade Ouellet from Canada | Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

Gurel steals the show

The youngest participant in the open section kicked off the event with a remarkable win. Turkish IM Ediz Gurel, aged 14, defeated Velimir Ivic, rated 90 points higher than him, in a 28-move game which featured a familiar bishop sacrifice.

As Gurel explained afterwards, Ivic apparently was not as prepared for this line as he was. When the youngster felt that something had gone wrong for his opponent (21...Bxc5 was wrong, while the difficult-to-find 21...d3 was the only defence), he looked for the kill and noticed that 22.Bxh7+ is winning.

There followed 22...Kxh7 23.Qh5+ Kg8 24.Qh6 g6 25.Ne4 Be7 26.Rf3 Bf5

Before entering the whole sequence, Gurel needed to foresee that here 27.Rxf5 is winning for White due to Ne4-f6+ next. After 27...Ra6 28.Rf3, Ivic decided to call it a day.

Game analysis by Robert Ris

FIDE Chess World Cup 2023

The playing hall in Baku | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Round 1 games - Open

Eline Roebers

Dutch star Eline Roebers, aged 17, was the highest-rated player in the women’s section on opening day — she kicked off the event with a win | Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

Teodora Injac

Teodora Injac (Serbia) defeated Nurai Sovetbekova (Kyrgystan) | Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

Round 1 games - Women’s

Full schedule | Pairings and results

All games with computer analysis: Open | Women’s


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.