World Cup: So escapes, Tin and Sanal claim big scalps

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/4/2023 – Shocking results were seen on the fifth day of action at the FIDE World Cup in Baku. In the open, Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov were knocked out by players in the 2500-2600 rating band — Vahap Sanal and Tin Jingyao (pictured) respectively — while sixth seed Wesley So barely escaped with a draw to take his match against Emre Can to tiebreaks. In the women’s section, Yan Tianqi and Maili-Jade Ouellet surprisingly won on demand to even the score against Alexandra Kosteniuk and Irina Krush. | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

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Four players from the top 10 go to tiebreaks

Five of the ten highest-rated participants in the open section of the FIDE World Cup made it to round 3 on Thursday: Magnus Carlsen (2-0 over Levan Pantsulaia), Fabiano Caruana (2-0 over Mikheil Mchedlishvili), Ian Nepomniachtchi (1½-½ over Vugar Asadli), Teimour Radjabov (1½-½ over Viktor Erdos) and Dommaraju Gukesh (2-0 over Misratdin Iskandarov).

With his second consecutive win, Gukesh climbed to world number 9 in the live ratings list and surpassed Vishy Anand as the highest-rated Indian player at 17 years of age!

Out of the five remaining members of the tournament’s top 10, four will need to play tiebreaks on Friday, while local hero Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was shockingly knocked out of the competition by 2573-rated Singaporean GM Tin Jingyao (more on this upset below).

Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave could not beat their opponents in the classical phase of the match, but they were not in real trouble either — unlike Wesley So, who barely escaped with a draw against Turkish GM Emre Can.

White’s passer on the b-file, protected by a strong pair of bishops, was a headache for Black throughout the game. Here, however, Can erred by simplifying the position with 45.Rxd7 instead of further increasing the pressure with the strong 45.Bd6+, preparing to go Bd6-b4, blocking the black rook along the b-file.

After the text, there followed 45...Bxd7 46.b8Q Rxb8 47.Bxb8, and the setup with two bishops and a pawn against a bishop and two connected pawns turned out to be extremely difficult to convert tricky to convert with little time [Ed. Malcolm Pein noted that a blunder was needed for Can to miss the win — see annotated game below].

So, a magnificent technician, managed to escape with a 65-move draw in the end.

FIDE Chess World Cup 2023

A beautiful playing hall | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Upsets by Tin and Sanal

The ever-fearless Shakhriyar Mamedyarov entered a double-edged position while facing Tin Jingyao, a much lower-rated opponent — not the approach many top GMs employ in these situations, as trusting their superiority in rapid is often a safer bet.

Engines evaluate the following position as close to equal, but extreme precision is needed at every turn. A single mistake might end the game at once, and it was Shakh who faltered first.

Only the active 38.Qh6 keeps the balance here, while Mamedyarov’s 38.Ng3 fails to 38...Bd5. After 39.Qe2 Black can ignore the attack against his knight and play the sneaky 39...Rh4, creating deadly mating threats.

40.Qe5 prepares a discovered check along the dark-squared diagonal, but it is Black’s attack which comes first: Shakh resigned after 40...Nf4+, since 41.Kg1 Qc1+ is the start of a forced checkmating sequence.

Tin Jingyao, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Fabiano Caruana checking out the tense struggle between Tin Jingyao and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Nodirbek Abdusattorov, like Mamedyarov, steered away from a safety-first strategy. His decision to give up an exchange in the middlegame did not lead to a quick mate like in the aforementioned game, but it did give his opponent a lasting advantage once White’s initiative faded out.

Vahap Sanal, who came from playing eight decisive games in a row in round 1, quickly grabbed the sacrificed material with 35...Bxe6 36.fxe6 c3, and went on to demonstrate that White did not have enough compensation for the exchange. The Turkish GM will face either Eduardo Iturrizaga or Anton Korobov in the next round.

Vahap Sanal

Vahap Sanal | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

IM Robert Ris analyses Carlsen vs. Pantsulaia (1-0)

Round 2 games - Open

Replay games from all round at

Women’s: Yan and Ouellet upset Kosteniuk and Krush

Much like in the first round, nine matches will go to rapid and blitz tiebreaks in round 2 of the women’s section. Out of these nine, five saw one of the contenders bouncing back from a loss in the first game:

  • Yan Tianqi (China, 2277) evened the score with Alexandra Kosteniuk (Switzerland, 2532)
  • Maili-Jade Ouellet (Canada, 2201) evened the score with Irina Krush (USA, 2447)
  • Deysi Cori (Peru, 2369) evened the score with Meri Arabidze (Georgia, 2451)
  • Irina Bulmaga (Romania, 2416) evened the score with Mai Narva (Estonia, 2387)
  • Carissa Yip (USA, 2369) evened the score with Zhao Xue (China, 2457)

Maili-Jade Ouellet, Irina Krush

Maili-Jade Ouellet beat Irina Krush | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Already in a superior position, Irina Bulmaga found a nice tactical shot, making use of her strong bishop pair and excellently placed major pieces.

After 36...Rxf2, if White grabs the rook with 37.Kxf2 there is 37...Bc5+, when Narva would be forced to give up her queen. That continuation is still the strongest in the position, as the game’s 37...Qe4 actually worsened White’s situation. Bulmaga only needed four more moves to secure the win.

Irina Bulmaga

Irina Bulmaga | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Round 2 games - Women’s

Replay games from all round at

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.