My name is Tatev Abrahamyan, and I will be the Director of Chess content for our community. Part of my role is to provide lessons, content and news updates for the ChessUp community. I am looking forward to helping you improve your game and serving as your connection to the chess world. Welcome to your weekly newsletter!
Chess News - FIDE World Cup
On August 5th, the most exhilarating yet rigorous tournament on the chess calendar - the World Cup - finally wrapped up in Sochi, Russia. Just to give you an idea of how exhausting this tournament is, the first round was played on July 12 and the tournament concluded on August 5th!
23-year-old Polish Grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda was crowned the winner after defeating Russian Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin 1.5 -.5 in the finals. World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who is yet to win this event, finished third. In the Women’s World Cup, former Women’s World Champion, many times Olympiad medalist Russian Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk cruised through the field
For those of you who are not familiar with tournament play, there are several formats to conduct a tournament. The most common one is the Swiss system, where there are a certain number of rounds, and every player plays all rounds regardless of the results. Swiss tournaments can accommodate a large number of players (sometimes hundreds in one section), as the players are paired against those who have a similar number of points as them. A round robin is a smaller event where everyone plays each other once; a double round robin is when everyone plays each other twice, once with the white pieces and once with the black pieces. A knockout format is a type of tournament where the loser of each match-up is immediately eliminated from the tournament.
The World Cup is the only knockout event we have as an official FIDE event. Chess players aren’t used to packing their bags and going home after a loss, which adds another layer of stress. The tournament is conducted in two game mini-matches. If the match ends in a tie, then the players enter a tiebreak where they play more games with faster time controls until a winner is determined. Kosteniuk showed a dominant performance by winning all her matches in the classical format and never playing a tiebreak. Duda, in comparison, played two tiebreaks, knocking out the World Champion in the semifinals.
Fun fact: our own Chess Ambassador GM Levon Aronian is the only player to win the World Cup twice, first time in 2005 then again in 2017.
The top two finishers in the World Cup and the Women’s World Cup qualified to the Candidates and the Women’s Candidates Tournament. The Candidates Tournaments are part of the World Championship cycle; the winner of the tournament earns the right to challenge the reigning World Champion in a match.
Top level chess has become more accessible to the general public thanks to the efforts by chess platforms to broadcast the games and provide commentary. We can now watch the best of the best battle it out on our screens from the comfort of our homes. The fans now have direct access to the rollercoaster of emotions that this particular tournament provides.
From Sochi to Kansas City
I myself played in Sochi, which marked my third appearance in this event. Previously, the Women’s World Cup was called the Women’s World Championship; the name changed but the format overall remained the same. After playing a warm up tournament in Philadelphia, I began the long trip to my biggest event of the year along with several other American players. After some misadventures due to COVID related travel restrictions, we finally arrived at the beautiful town of Sochi. Our hotel was located in Krasnaya Polyana - home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The scenic backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains, the food from various cuisines and the fresh air certainly helped with the transition and acclimation to the new time zone.
In the first match, I was paired against WGM Viktoria Radeva from Bulgaria. My 20-year-old opponent was well prepared in the opening phase of the game, but the tide turned in my favor as the game went on. After losing the first game with the black pieces, she was in a must win situation in the next game. I think we were both very nervous in this game as we spent too much time in the opening. At some point, I felt that I was the only one who had chances to win the game and offered my opponent a draw. She declined, and I went on to win the match with a 2-0 score.
In the next match, I was paired against one of the strongest women chess players, Ukrainian Grandmaster Anna Muzychuk. This was the match that sent me home packing as I lost both of my games. Anna went on to have a successful tournament and made it all the way to the semifinals.
After a short visit to my home country of Armenia, it was time for me to return to California to pack my bags and prepare for my move to Kansas City for my new job at ChessUp.
To give you a little preview of what content to look forward to in our app, try to find the move I played here to secure the win in my first game against WGM Viktoria Radeva at the World Cup.
White to play.
There are many ways to win for White, but I think you will enjoy my choice!
You can find the answer along with the link to the full game in the next issue of the newsletter. In the meantime, give us a follow on our social media channels for more chess content.