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World Cup 2019 pairings revealed, Vishy Anand gives the event a miss

by Sagar Shah - 11/08/2019

The pairings for the World Cup 2019 have been revealed. The 128 player knock out event provides nearly a month of action packed chess which will result in two finalists reaching the Candidates tournament in 2020. Surprisingly Vishy Anand has refrained from taking part in the event. We ask Vishy about this decision. As for other ten Indians, three of them - Harikrishna, Vidit and Adhiban will be facing lower rated opponents in round one, while Ganguly, Sethuraman, S.L. Narayanan, Abhijeet Gupta, Karthikeyan Murali, Nihal Sarin and Aravindh Chithambaram will all face opponents rated higher than them. Interesting pairings for Indians include Aravindh taking on English legend Michael Adams, Ganguly up against Russian upcoming talent Fedoseev and Nihal Sarin making his debut against Peruvian no.1 Cori Jorge. In this article we let you know about not just the first round pairings but also the future opponents of these ten Indians, if they progress to the second round and beyond. 

The pairings of World Cup 2019 have been revealed. Vishy Anand has decided to give the event a miss. Speaking to ChessBase India, Anand said, "I just thought I would play the Swiss instead." The FIDE Grand Swiss begins just a few days after the World Cup 2019 and Vishy deems it important to conserve his energy for the second event. Although there are two spots for the Candidates from the World Cup 2019 and just one from the FIDE Grand Swiss, the swiss format is slightly less unpredictable than the knock format of the World Cup and Vishy wants to be completely energized for that one.

The first half of the pairing for World Cup 2019

In the first quarter (left top) we see we have three players Harikrishna, Ganguly and Karthikeyan. For Harikrishna World Cup 2019, seems a lot like World Cup 2017! He played the same opponent Yuri Gonzalez Vidal in round 1 in Tbilisi and will play the same guy in Khanty Mansiysk. While Sethuraman right below him playing Ponomariov in 2017, this time it is Ganguly who is playing Fedoseev! Not the best pairings for Hari and Ganguly who are friends, but for Harikrishna this is overall a fine opportunity to reach the Candidates. Let's assume he beats Gonzalez and Ganguly/Fedoseev, he will be facing most probably Wojtaszek followed by Ding Liren! Not at all an easy quarter to be in. For Karthikeyan Murali who faced Vallejo Pons in 2017, this year too he has a higher rated opponent in the form of Inarkiev. If he wins this he will most probably face Bu Xiangzhi before taking on Grischuk.

The chances of friends Harikrishna and Ganguly fighting against each other at the World Cup 2019 are quite high in round 2 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vladimir Fedoseev is by no means an easy opponent, but with the recent successes Ganguly seems to be well placed to pull off an upset | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Karthikeyan Murali is up against a strong Russian GM Ernesto Inarkiev (2682) | Photo: Ernesto Inarkiev

Moving on top the top right quarter, we have Sethuraman who takes on Tamir Nabaty. Sethuraman who dismantled strong opponents like Ponomariov and Harikrishna in rounds 1 and 2 in 2017 surely has his chances agains the higher rated Nabaty. However, his next opponent is by no means an easy one - the young Polish no.1 Jan Krzysztof Duda. If he manages to beat him then he would faced Andreikin before taking on Anish Giri once again, the top seeded player in his quarter.

The young Israeli GM is rated 2673, but it seems like with Sethuraman's experience of this format, where he has always done well, the Indian might already be a favourite

15-year-old Nihal Sarin, who is making his World Cup debut has Cori Jorge as his opponent. If Nihal manages to beat the Peruvian no. 1 he will face the winner of Shankland versus Safarli. Although all opponents are higher rated than Nihal, the fact that he recently played a rapid match against Ivanchuk in Leon will surely help him to fight it out at the World Cup 2019.

The biggest quality of Nihal is that he grasps things quite quickly and hence the World Cup 2019 is going to be a great learning experience for him | Photo: Nihal Sarin

Here's the secon half of the pairings at the World Cup 2019

Vidit Gujrathi takes on Alan Pichot and Vidit is surely the favourite here. If Vidit manages to win this he will face the winner of Rakhmanov and Grandelius Nils. A victory against them would mean a third round encounter with the fourth seed of the event Wesley So. This one will be the real test for the Indian GM. If he manages to pull through this then he reaches the Quarter Finals. Not at all easy!

Vidit Gujrathi's big test will come in round three against Wesley So. Last year Vidit lost his third round against Ding Liren and the Chinese GM eventually managed to qualify for the Candidates 2018! | Photo: Biel 2019

Aravindh faces the English number one Michael Adams in round one. While Mickey is surely a tough nut to crack, Aravindh has the age on his side and should be able to give the English GM a tough fight. If Aravindh manages to win this he would face another strong GM in the form of Tomashevsky! | Photo: London Chess Classic

After crossing 2700 Elo mark earlier this year the Beast hasn't really fired. World Cup is his chance! In round one he faces GM Eduardo Iturrizaga. While Adhiban is surely the favourite in this match-up, if he wins this he will face the strong Chinese GM Yu Yangyi | Photo: David Llada

S.L. Narayanan will take on Anton Guijarro. This is a well balanced match-up and the winner of it will most probably be up against the top Chinese GM Wei Yi. If Narayanan does win two matches and so does Adhiban, then they would clash in the third round.

20-year-old Narayanan S.L. makes his World Cup debut this year!| Photo: Sagar Shah

While the left quarter is filled with four Indian players, the right quarter has just one Indian - Abhijeet Gupta. Abhijeet is a resourceful GM and thrives under pressure situations. The World cup format is quite an ideal one for him. He will be facing the strong Ukrainian GM Anton Korobov in round one and if he does manage to win it, he will most likely be up against Le Quang Liem. For Abhijeet the Artemiev test awaits in round three if he wins the first two!

Mr. Commonwealth is sure to bring his lady luck along with thim to the tournament! Can he show his true power at the World Cup 2019?| Photo: Sagar Shah

Round 1 pairings
Harikrishna 2738 Yuri Gonzalez 2560
Vidit Gujrathi 2705 Alan Pichot 2596
Adhiban 2665 Eduardo Iturrizaga 2635
Surya Ganguly 2630 Vladimir Fedoseev 2671
Sethuraman 2630 Tamir Nabaty 2673
S.L. Narayanan 2618 Anton Guijarro 2678
Abhijeet Gupta 2616 Anton Korobov 2679
Karthikeyan Murali 2612 Ernesto Inarkiev 2682
Nihal Sarin 2610 Cori Jorge 2686
Aravindh Chithambaram 2607 Michael Adams 2690

How many Indians do you think will make it to round two of the World cup 2019? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Number of players from different countries at World Cup 2019

Russia 28
India 10
China  7
Azerbaijan 5
Armenia 4
Iran 4
Poland 4


The tournament is a 7-round knock-out event. The matches from round 1 to round 6 consist of two classical games with time control of 90 minutes per 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move. The finals will consist of four classical games. If the score is tied after the classical games, rapid and, if necessary, blitz tie breaks are played the next day. Two games are played with time control of 25 minutes per game plus 10 seconds increment. In the case of a tie, they are followed by two games with time control of 10 minutes per game plus 10 seconds increment. If the score is still tied, two blitz games follow (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment). Finally, a sudden death game is played. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the colour. White has 5 minutes per game and Black has 4 minutes, with an increment of 2 seconds per move starting from move 61. White needs a win to advance to the next round. The two top finishers who have not secured a qualification for the Candidates Tournament get a spot in that tournament.


Round 1: September 10th – September 12th
Round 2: September 13th – September 15th
Round 3: September 16th – September 18th
Rest day: September 19th
Round 4: September 20th – September 22nd
Round 5: September 23rd – September 25th
Round 6: September 26th – September 28th
Rest day: September 29th
Final and play-off for third place: September 30th – October 4th

Prize money (in US $):

Round 164 × 6,000384,000
Round 232 × 10,000320,000
Round 316 × 16,000256,000
Round 48 × 25,000200,000
Round 54 × 35,000140,000
4-th place50,00050,000
3-rd place60,00060,000

Total US$ - 1,600,000

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