Caruana Through, Dominguez Perez and Nakamura Still Alive Halfway Through World Cup

Update: August 11, 2023: Nakamura was eliminated in the rapid tiebreaks, losing both games to Praggnanandhaa. After two draws in the rapid tiebreaks, Dominguez Perez defeated Wojtaszek to join Caruana in the fifth round. Look for annotations in next week's recap.

Following up on our earlier report on the first round of the 2023 FIDE World Cup and Women’s World Cup, the fourth round is heading into tiebreaks tomorrow, August 11.

At the time of writing, only one American has made it through to the fourth round, with two others being eliminated and two headed into tomorrow’s tiebreaks.

In the Women’s World Cup, no American women remain. Stay tuned for detailed reporting from WGM Katerina Nemcova tomorrow looking back on the highlights of GM Irina Krush and IM Carissa Yip’s tournament runs.


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Ray Robson met a familiar face (lurking in the background) in round four (courtesy Maria Emelianova/


Today, we will look at the games of the seven American players in the World Cup who made it into round two. Of them, two lost in the second round, while five made it to round four.


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The first American through! (courtesy Maria Emelianova/


The five players who made it past the first rest day earlier this week were GM Hikaru Nakamura (the overall second seed), GM Fabiano Caruana (the third seed), GM Wesley So (the sixth seed) GM Lenier Dominguez Perez (the eleventh seed), and GM Ray Robson (the 33rd seed).

The good news was that at least one of these players would make it to the fifth round, with Caruana and Robson paired in the first all-American match-up of the tournament. Caruana ultimately won the encounter 1½–½, winning an interesting Italian in the second classical game.



Caruana defeated Georgian GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili 2–0 in round two before having to down Turkish GM Mustafa Yilmaz in the rapid tiebreaks (winning the match 3–1). His technique against Mchedlishvili was particularly noteworthy:



The loss ended a nice run for Robson, who won his previous two rounds 1½–½ against Brazilian GM Alexandr Fier and Azerbaijan’s GM Abdulla Gadimbayli, respectively. Robson can be praised for his fighting spirit, settling every match in the classical portion. His energetic play was rewarded in this game in particular:



In the other decisive result from the classical portion of the fourth round, So was eliminated by Russian GM Alexey Sarana after losing the first game with the white pieces.


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Wesley So will be missed! (photo Maria Emelianova/


Something clearly went wrong in the opening for So, who ended up with passive pieces and missed the only chances to transform the position.



This result was particularly disappointing for So fans, as his previous rounds (against Turkish GM Emre Can and French GM Jules Moussard, respectively) both featured two draws in the classical portions.


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Lenier Dominguez Perez enters the rapid and blitz portion of the event for the first time tomorrow (courtesy Maria Emelianova/


In contrast to So's nail-biting approach, Dominguez Perez heads into his first tiebreaker of the event against Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek. His two previous rounds were compelling, first beating Polish GM Igor Janik 2–0 and then Azerbaijan’s Gadir Guseinov 1½–½ in a particularly tense time scramble:




Finally, last-minute addition (and newlywed!) Nakamura has been his usual fearsome self in tiebreakers. Despite being held to two draws in his second-round match against Indian GM Karthik Venkataraman, he nicely won the rapids to take the match 2½–1½.


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Newlywed Nakamura faces the most dangerous 18-year-old in tomorrow's tiebreaks (courtesy Stev Bonhage/FIDE)


His one classical win came in the second game against Hungarian GM Benjamin Gledura, and it is satisfying a victory as any:



Now, Nakamura heads back to the tiebreakers against Indian sensation GM R Praggnanandhaa. “Pragg” was unable to give himself a very special 18th birthday present today against Nakamura, but will look for any belated gifts tomorrow.


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That mating net really wasn't supposed to be there! (courtesy Maria Emelianova/


One player who many expected to be in the above discussion was Shankland, who lost in a most unfortunate fashion in the second round against Moldovan GM Ivan Schitco. For most of the game, Shankland was playing for two results, including well into the rook endgame. Then, with seven minutes left on his clock (to his opponent’s mere two minutes), he walked into a rather surprising mating net.



Unable to bounce back the next day, Shankland’s stay in Baku was unfortunately short-lived.

As for the only American player in round two who did not receive a bye in round one, GM Awonder Liang had an absolutely thrilling match against Yilmaz. The 4–2 loss was doubly disappointing as it deprived fans of a Caruana – Liang pairing, as well.


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Awonder Liang from a tense, thrilling tiebreaker in round two (courtesy Maria Emelianova/


Below are all four rapid games, which are delightfully tense, chaotic, and exemplify everything that is great about the early rounds of this event.






Round five begins Saturday, and play continues daily through the end of round six, when there will be a rest day on Friday, August 18 before the semi-finals. Play begins daily at 6:00 a.m. CDT, so set your alarms tomorrow for Dominguez Perez and Nakamura!

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