World Cup: Carlsen and Arjun score with black

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/16/2023 – Magnus Carlsen and Arjun Erigaisi both won with black to take a 1-point lead in their quarterfinal matches against Dommaraju Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa, respectively. Leinier Dominguez got winning chances but failed to find precise continuations against Fabiano Caruana, while Vidit Gujrathi and Nijat Abasov signed a 109-move draw on Tuesday. In the women’s section, Aleksandra Goryachkina defeated Tan Zhongyi, also with black. | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

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A dream start

Magnus Carlsen and Arjun Erigaisi have excellent chances of reaching the semifinals in the open section of the FIDE World Cup after scoring wins with black against Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa on Tuesday. Needing to win on demand, the fighting Gukesh and Pragg are likely to go for lively variations right out of the opening in the rematches.

While Carlsen showed his well-known mastery in an endgame (more on that below), Arjun was stronger than his good friend Pragg once a tactical sequence led to an extremely sharp position. Arjun’s passed d-pawn gave him an all-important win that gets the 19-year-old closer to qualifying to his first-ever Candidates Tournament.

Arjun Erigaisi

Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Carlsen’s endgame technique

In an interesting, tense struggle, Carlsen got the upper hand early on despite playing black, as Gukesh’s strongest suit is not deep theoretical preparation. Carlsen ended up getting a superior rook endgame, and showcased his great technique to convert his advantage into a win.

GM Karsten Müller analysed the endgame!

Full-game analysis by IM Robert Ris

Quarterfinals’ games - Open

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Women’s: Goryachkina beats Tan

Aleksandra Goryachkina entered the Women’s World Cup as the second seed. The Russian grandmaster has already qualified to the next edition of the Candidates Tournament.

According to the FIDE regulations, unlike in the open section, if Goryachkina finishes among the top-3 in Baku, the spot in the Candidates will not be filled by the next best player in the World Cup, and instead will be decided by the January 2024 ratings list. Thus, Tan Zhongyi, Nurgyul Salimova and Anna Muzychuk are now fighting for two spots at the knockout event.

While Salimova held Muzychuk to a 32-move draw with black on Tuesday, Goryachkina managed to beat Tan with the black pieces.

Aleksandra Goryachkina

Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Semifinals’ games - Women’s

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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.