Magnus Carlsen added another accolade to his already storied career by winning the World Cup. He overcame a wonderful performance by Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. “Pragg” defeated both Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana to qualify for the final and became the youngest player to have made a World Cup final. The 18-year-old also became one of the youngest to qualify for the Candidate’s tournament in the city of Toronto next April. While Carlsen has stated he will not participate in the Candidates, he can bask in his latest triumph. While the three drawn games did not have much content, here is his decisive game…
2023 World Cup
July 29th -August 25th, 2023
While Caruana showed his class in the tiebreaker (taking bronze), Nijat Abasov represented Azerbaijan with honor and class. His postgame interviews cast him in a great light and showed humility and respect for the game. It was wonderful to see him on stage. Azerbaijan did a great job in hosting the event and we saw the emergence of new stars and perhaps the changing of the guard. However, in his postgame interview, Caruana doesn’t believe that time has come quite just yet. In fact, his resilience in saving the match against Abasov showed the distinction in chess levels at the very top.
Video by FIDE Chess
What is the Main Story of the World Cup?
These tournaments had a bit of everything, but what was the main story? Was it Carlsen winning his first World Cup? Was it Abasov defending the Azeri flag with honor? Was it the four Indians making the quarterfinals? Was it Praggnanandhaa’s performance and upsetting top American players? In the women’s tournament, you had Ju Wenjun’s early exit and an outstanding performance of Nurgyul Salimova. The 20-year-old Bulgarian had one of the best Puzzle Rush exercises. Maurice Ashley gave it plaudits.
Don’t call her that New Girl! IM Nurgyul Salimova, a tactical beast with the claws of a tiger, takes down GM Anna Muzychuk and heads to the finals of the @FIDE World Cup to face top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina. Can you spot the brilliant finish by White in the 1st tiebreak game? pic.twitter.com/WARNqGcEtK— Maurice Ashley (@MauriceAshley) August 17, 2023
Solution: 22.Rxd5! exd5 and 23.Bb6!
In a nutshell, the tournament was a rousing success with many twists and turns. Many top guns were eliminated early on bringing forth stories like Abasov and Salimova, who both made deep runs. Not enough can be said about Pragg and of course his doting mother. He did not expect to be in the finals, but he traveled the toughest road in the tournament to get there. It was a major coup for Indian chess.
Magnus Carlsen gave a very interesting and candid interview after his World Cup win. He spoke on a range of topics. One of the more interesting admissions was his play in an online qualifying tournament during the tiebreaks against Pragg. He had a very principled idea behind playing as a way to get his mojo back since he had been suffering from food poisoning. He was also very candid about his lackluster play in classical chess and felt a need to show there was still a gap between him and his competitors.
However, there were moments in the tournament where he was shaky and came within a hair of being ousted by Vincent Keymer of Germany. Years from now Keymer will have bad memories of this moment…
Magnus Carlsen’s reaction to escaping 17…Nxe4!! pic.twitter.com/oMEifGqvoR— Olimpiu Di Luppi (@olimpiuurcan) August 10, 2023
During the Keymer match, he made some comments asking himself why he was playing “boring” classical chess. There is a pattern when Carlsen is not in a good mood he will express himself in very provocative ways. However, many took issue with this and even FIDE had to weigh in since it is the body’s job to sell chess to sponsors and to the world.
In the interview, he clarified that he is not trying to get FIDE to change the format, but for him, he would not participate in the current 14-game classical format. It appears that Carlsen is making a curtain call and has made no commitment toward ever playing in another World Cup. Again… this creates some brand erosion for chess since he stands as the leading player. Asked about the new generation he mentioned some names (not Alireza Firouzja) and stated that chess is in good hands. Very good interview!
Video by chess24
The Future of Chess
What is amazing is chess fans talking about the “changing of the guard,” but the top players are only in their 30s. With teenagers now breaching the very top levels, it may be that Carlsen and the rest of the elite will have to fend off this bunch of hungry young predators. It’s no wonder there is only one 2800 player. Foraging Elo points have fueled the rise of these young stars. There was a sobering tweet (yes we don’t call them x’s yet) that described the fateful life cycle of a lion. One day, even the mightiest lion shall perish and be devoured by predators.
Of course, Carlsen has expressed his boredom with classical chess, but it makes sense because there is a comfort in elite events where the same top players play each other tournament after tournament, year after year. With Pragg making the Candidates, this will be a big test but will also pave the way for the new generation. Other young stars will also be watching for weaknesses in the alpha lions. One day, the aging lions will begin to weaken and the hyenas will come. Is that time now?
? Magnus Carlsen is the winner of the 2023 FIDE World Cup! ?— International Chess Federation (@FIDE_chess) August 24, 2023
Magnus prevails against Praggnanandhaa in a thrilling tiebreak and adds one more prestigious trophy to his collection! Congratulations! ?
? Stev Bonhage #FIDEWorldCup pic.twitter.com/sUjBdgAb7a
Videos by FIDE Chess