World Cup: Daneshvar knocks out Grischuk, Naka wins thrilling match

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/5/2023 – Top grandmasters continue to be left out of contention at the FIDE World Cup in Baku. In the open, Alexander Grischuk and David Anton were knocked out by Bardiya Daneshvar and Abdulla Gadimbayli in Friday’s tiebreaks. Among the women, Mary Ann Gomes defeated Kateryna Lagno, while Klaudia Kulon got the better of Nana Dzagnidze. | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

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Naka struggles but makes it through

All four grandmasters from the event’s top 10 that reached the tiebreak stage in round 2 won their matches on Friday. While Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave did not have much trouble beating their lower-rated opponents, US stars Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So at times were in real danger of being knocked out of the competition.

After surviving in the second classical game against Emre Can, So again got in trouble in the tiebreak’s first rapid encounter. However, not only did he manage to restore the balance in that game, but he went on to score a full point after outplaying his Turkish rival in a tricky position with queens and bishops of opposite colours.

As for Nakamura, three fighting draws against Karthik Venkataraman (two in classical and one in rapid) were followed by a close shave — in a complex position, the Indian GM failed to find a tricky queen move that would have given him a considerable advantage.

Karthik played the natural-looking, forward-moving 40.Qb6, which allowed Nakamura to regroup with 40...Ne8. Instead, 40.Qa1 was the way to get an edge with White, threatening to infiltrate via a8. Finding such retreating manoeuvres is never easy though!

After the text, Black was not winning, but soon after the ever-resourceful Nakamura did make the most of a mistake by his opponent. A 50-move win gave the second seed a ticket to the next round, where he is set to face Hungarian GM Benjamin Gledura.

Karthik Venkataraman, Hikaru Nakamura

Karhtik Venkataraman proved to be a tough opponent for the formidable Hikaru Nakamura | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Shockers by Daneshvar and Gadimbayli

Azerbaijani star Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was knocked out of contention after losing on Thursday, but his countryman Abdulla Gadimbayli gave local fans reason to celebrate in the tiebreaks. The 16th highest-rated player from the transcontinental country knocked out Spanish GM David Anton by a 2½-1½ despite a 208 rating difference. Gadimbayli will face Ray Robson in the next round.

In an even more surprising development, Iranian GM Bardiya Daneshvar eliminated 12th seed Alexander Grischuk in what turned out to be one of the two matches in the round that lasted nine games. The contenders traded wins with white in the 25-minute and the 10-minute games; two draws in the 5-minute encounters followed, which meant that the next player to win a single 3-minute game (with 2-second increments) would advance to the next round.

Grischuk got white first and gained an edge in an open position with queen and bishop against queen and knight. The biggest chance he missed was seen on move 42, when another tricky queen manoeuvre (like in Karthik’s case) would have given him a major advantage.

42.Qf8 both threatens a sneaky mate from h8 and defends the f-pawn — but since Black is attacking both the bishop on d5 and the f2-pawn, Grischuk went for the logical 42.Bg2, letting the chance slip away and, more importantly, giving Black the upper hand.

A couple more mistakes by the time-trouble addict allowed his Iranian opponent to gain the right to face Salem Saleh in the next round.

Bardiya Daneshvar

Bardiya Daneshvar | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Arjun’s queen sacrifice (analysis by IM Robert Ris)

In a hard-fought match against Sergei Azarov, only Arjun Erigaisi’s win in the fourth game of the tiebreaks broke the deadlock after five consecutive draws — and the Indian prodigy ended the game in style.

The good-looking 23.Qxf5+ prompted Azarov’s resignation, since 23...Kxf5 fails to 24.Bd3#. Well-known coach and author Robert Ris analysed the game on his YouTube channel.

Round 2 games - Open

Replay games from all round at

Women’s: Gomes and Kulon upset Lagno and Dzagnidze

Two players from the top 10 in the women’s section were eliminated in the second round’s tiebreaks. Fourth seed Kateryna Lagno, who reached the quarterfinals in the previous edition, was defeated by Mary Ann Gomes from India, while seventh seed Nana Dzagnidze was knocked out by Klaudia Kulon from Poland.

Similarly to the first round’s tiebreaks, out of the nine matches that were decided in rapid and blitz (also nine matches were played last Tuesday), only one reached the second pair of tiebreakers — i.e. the 10+10 slow-rapid round.

While Pauline Guichard won the longest match in the first round, Mai Narva was the one getting the last victory of the day in the second. Narva knocked out Irina Bulmaga after winning the match by a 2½-1½ score.

Women’s world champion Ju Wenjun and defending champion Alexandra Kosteniuk both made it through after the first pair of rapid tiebreakers.

Klaudia Kulon, Nana Dzagnidze

Klaudia Kulon drew with black and then won with white to take down Georgian star Nana Dzagnidze | Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

Irina Bulmaga

Irina Bulmaga entered the tiebreaks after bouncing back in the second classical game of the round | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Mai Narva, Irina Bulmaga

Another great shot from the match between Mai Narva and Irina Bulmaga, the longest of the day in the women’s section | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

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.