The FIDE World Cup is under way in Krasnaya Polyana, just inland from Sochi. This gigantic knockout is headlined by Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana and runs until August 8. The opening round featured 144 players bidding to make one of the 72 qualifying spots for the second round when the top seeds will join.

There were few upsets, but the highest-rated player to lose their opening game was Russian Grandmaster Vadim Zvjaginsev, who was outplayed in impressive fashion by Britain’s only player at the World Cup, IM Ravi Haria. To progress, Haria needed to draw the return or, if he lost, win the resulting speed tie-breaks.

R. Haria – V. Zvjaginsev
French Defence

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 a6 10.Qf2!? (A modern twist. 10.0-0-0 used to be normal) 10…Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bxd4 12.Qxd4 Qb6 13.Qxb6 Nxb6 14.Bd3 Bd7 15.Ne2! (The knight heads for its ideal square on d4. White is slightly better) 15…f6 16.Nd4 fxe5 17.fxe5 Ke7 18.Kd2 Be8 19.Rhf1 Bg6 20.Rf3 Raf8 21.Raf1

R. Haria – V. Zvjaginsev

21…Rxf3?! (A serious misjudgment. Black should be able to draw after 21…Nd7 22.Rxf8 Rxf8 23.Rxf8 Nxf8 24.Nf3) 22.gxf3! Nd7 23.f4 (White’s extra space and option of f4-f5 is very useful) 23…Rf8 24.Rf3 (24.Be2! followed by h4 leaves White in control) 24…Bxd3?! (24…Be4! should be OK) 25.cxd3 g6 26.Ke3 Rc8 27.Rh3 Nf8 28.Kd2! Rc7 29.Rg3 Ke8 30.Rg1 Ke7 31.b4! (Annexing extra space. Black is being outplayed) 31…Rc8 32.a4 Nd7 33.h4 Kf7 34.h5! gxh5 35.Rg5 h6 36.Rxh5 Kg6 37.Rh1 Nf8 38. Rg1+ Kf7 39.a5 Ng6 40.b5!

Opening a path for the knight or rook on the queenside.

Test Your Strength

R. Haria – V. Zvjaginsev Can Black Capture the Pawn?

Why can’t Black now capture on f4?

40…axb5 41.Nxb5 Kg7 42.Nd6 Ra8 (42…Rb8 43.f5 exf5 44.Nxf5+ Kh7 45.e6 is also very strong) 43.Nxb7 h5 44.Ke3 Kh6 45.Nc5 Ne7 (45…Rxa5 46.Nxe6 supplies connected passed pawns. The e6 pawn is lost anyhow) 46.Ra1 Nf5+ 47.Kf2 h4 48.a6 Ra7 49.Nxe6 Kh5 50.Kf3 h3 51.Rg1 Rxa6 (51…h2 52.Rh1 Nh4+ 53.Kg3 Nf5+ 54.Kf2 was the last try) 52.Ng7+! Nxg7 53.Rxg7 Ra3 54.Rh7+ Kg6 55.Rxh3 Rxd3+ 1-0 56.Kg4 followed by 57.f5+ is trivial or if 56…Rxh3 57.Kxh3 Kf5 58.Kg3 d4 59.Kf3.

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

40…Nxf4?? 41.Rf1 wins a piece.

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