2021 FIDE World Cup (Sochi, Russia)

World Cup 2021


Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President
Photo by Eric Rosen

Today is a big day for the chess world as 309 players (206 open, 103 women) from 93 federations have assembled in Sochi, Russia to compete in the World Cup tournament. This will be the first event involving all federations since the COVID scourge swept the globe in early 2020. In addition, the 2020 Chess Olympiad was canceled and will be hosted in Moscow next year.

After players migrated to online play for a year, there was a longing for the interactions that make chess such an interesting sport to watch. This tournament will last until August 6th and will include many of the top players including World Champion, Magnus Carlsen. The expanded format between diverse players will promise a few upsets and perhaps give rise to unknown talents. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich gave comments at the press conference.

The World Cup is one of the most significant events on the chess calendar and is very attractive for the spectators thanks to its knock-out formula. In order to minimize the organizational risks, we decided to unify the Open Section with the Women’s Section – all games will be played at the same time and place.

The top two finishers (apart from Carlsen) will earn a slot in the World Candidates tournament in 2022. The next six players will qualify for the FIDE Grand Prix 2022. This new format hopes to breathe new life into the professional tournament circuit which has featured the same combination of players for the past decade.

Each federation in the top 100 ranking had a chance to select one player to represent the country in the tournament. This gives the chess community to learn about national heroes who may not be well known. Elmer Prudente of Guam will be the lowest-ranking player, but discusses what it means to him.

Video by FIDE Chess

There were also wildcard nominees. Indian talents Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and Dommaraju Gukesh will join a strong contingent from the country. The world’s youngest Grandmaster Abhimanyu Mishra (USA) also received one of the selections and he will face Georgia’s Baadur Jobava.

In the women’s field, Russia will be defending home turf as they will have most of the top players in action. On the other hand, perennial favorite China only entered former champion Tan Zhongyi due to COVID travel restrictions from the governments. Humpy Koneru of India also nixed this event. The Muzychuk sisters (Anna and Mariya) will lead the Ukrainians and rising star Zhansaya Abdumalik will showcase some of the top talents in the women’s field. The complete list can be found below!


Participants

FIDE World Cup
FIDE Women’s World Cup

PRIZE DISTRIBUTION (OPEN)
Total (US$):
Round 1: 78 × 3,750=292,500
Round 2: 64 × 6,000=384,000
Round 3: 32 × 10,000=320,000
Round 4: 16 × 16,000=256,000
Round 5: 8 × 25,000=200,000
Round 6: 4 × 35,000=140,000
4th place: 50,000
3rd place: 60,000
Runner-up: 80,000
Winner: 110,000
Total (US$): 1,892,500


PRIZE DISTRIBUTION (WOMEN)
Total (US$):
Round 1: 39 × 3,750=146,250
Round 2: 32 × 5,000=160,000
Round 3: 16 × 6,750=108,000
Round 4: 8 × 9,500=76,000
Round 5: 4 × 14,000=56,000
4th place: 20,000
3rd place: 25,000
Runner-up: 35,000
Winner: 50,000
Total (US$): 676,250

MATCH DETAILS

Each of the matches will comprise of two game matches, plus tiebreaks, if necessary. The last standing after the previous rounds will enter the seventh round of four games, plus tiebreaks if necessary. Players receive 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 seconds per move starting from move one. If the score is tied the players then play two 25-minute + 10-second increment rapid games, then two 10+10 games, then two 5+3 and, finally, Armageddon, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4 but a draw qualifies Black for the next round.

Day 1 – 10.07.2021 – Arrivals
Day 2 – 11.07.2021 – Press conference (5 PM local time), Technical opening (6 PM local time)
Day 3 – 12.07.2021 – Round 1, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 4 – 13.07.2021 – Round 1, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 5 – 14.07.2021 – Round 1, Tie-break (3 PM local time)
Day 6 – 15.07.2021 – Round 2, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 7 – 16.07.2021 – Round 2, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 8 – 17.07.2021 – Round 2, Tie-break (3 PM local time)
Day 9 – 18.07.2021 – Round 3, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 10 – 19.07.2021 – Round 3, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 11 – 20.07.2021 – Round 3, Tie-break (3 PM local time)

Day 12 – 21.07.2021 – Free Day

Day 13 – 22.07.2021 – Round 4, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 14 – 23.07.2021 – Round 4, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 15 – 24.07.2021 – Round 4, Tie-break (3 PM local time)
Day 16 – 25.07.2021 – Round 5, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 17 – 26.07.2021 – Round 5, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 18 – 27.07.2021 – Round 5, Tie-break (3 PM local time)
Day 19 – 28.07.2021 – Round 6, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 20 – 29.07.2021 – Round 6, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 21 – 30.07.2021 – Round 6, Tie-break (3 PM local time)

Day 22 – 31.07.2021 – Free Day

Day 23 – 01.08.2021 – Round 7, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 24 – 02.08.2021 – Round 7, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 25 – 03.08.2021 – Round 7, Tie-break (3 PM local time)
Day 26 – 04.08.2021 – Final & Match for 3rd place, Game 1 (3 PM local time)
Day 27 – 05.08.2021 – Final & Match for 3rd place, Game 2 (3 PM local time)
Day 28 – 06.08.2021 – Final & Match for 3rd place, Tie-break & Closing Ceremony (3 PM local time)
Day 29 – 07.08.2021 – Media day
Day 30 – 08.08.2021 – Departures

World Cup Sponsors

Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021

32 Comments

  1. Round 1, Game 1
    Monday, 12 July 2021

    Sizzling start at the 2021 World Cup in Sochi!
    Chile’s Salinas uncorks brilliancy…
    Egypt’s Moaataz upsets Ushenina

    With 78 games today in the open, there were massive expectations as players from 93 federations kicked off the World Cup in Sochi, Russia. The top 50 seeds received byes, but the rest would entertain the chess world longing to see a variety of classical games.

    For the women, the top 25 received byes and will advance to the second round automatically. Aleksandra Goraychkina, a championship contender, is the top see who recently crossed the 2600 rating. She is only the 6th woman to ever achieve this.

    Egypt’s Ayah Moaataz
    Photo by Egyptian Chess Federation

    Today’s biggest upset was Egypt’s Ayah Moaataz who brutally mated former women’s World Champion, Anna Ushenina. The Ukrainian won the women’s world championship, but has had shown periods of sluggishness and disinterest. In today’s chess, preparation has become so much more important and even a player outrated by 300-400 Elo can find the motivation. In the game against Moaataz, Ushenina failed to capitalize on an opening mistake after 15.axb5?? Bd5! winning material.

    Her text move 15…Nxc2 was still winning, but lost significant momentum after Moaataz complicated matters with 19.Rxb4!? Nevertheless, Ushenina was still better. Fast forward to Moaataz’s 34.Rd4? the evaluation ballooned to -6.29. Despite this evaluation and being a rook up, black’s weakness became an issue and Ushenina lost her sense of danger. After 38…Rbd7?? the Egyptian didn’t miss her chance and was mating after 39.Qg8+ Kg6 40.f5+ Kh5 40.Qh7! mating. Wonderful win for Moaataz!

    The Open section did not have much in the way of drama, but there was a close call in Nihal Sarin’s game. ChessBase India was covering the games and there was a dark mood in the chat. Arthur Ssegwanyi of Uganda had outplayed the Indian prodigy for 30 moves before he started shuffling his pieces around in an aimless way. His Rh1-h3-h1-a1 was puzzling. The Qc1-d2-c1-a3-a2 also lost a lot of time as black slowly mounted an attack on the g-file. The Ugandan IM had totally lost the thread on the position and after 48.Rb1 Nf7 49.Ke3?? Qh4! A disappointing result for Ssegwanyi.

    As far as the other games, most ended with the favorite coming out on top. There was one game that GM Nigel Short stated should be showered with gold coins and that was Pablo Salinas Herrera’s brilliant win. Daniel Naroditsky had fellow GMs Hou Yifan and Veselin Topalov on the chess.com broadcast as they seem astounded.

    As far as the African players, it was not a good day as only one player scored a victory and that player (Ahmed Adly) was winning his compatriot Abdelrahman Hesham. Here are the results of African players. GM Bassem Amin has a bye.

    Africans at World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021 (Sochi, Russia)
    Round #1, Game #1 (Open)
    1 IM Daniel Barrish
    RSA
    0-1
    GM Aryan Tari
    NOR
    2 GM Adham Fawzy
    EGY
    ½-½
    GM Evgeny Alekseev
    RUS
    3 GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan
    ARM
    1-0
    GM Bilel Bellahcene
    ALG
    4 FM Sergio Miguel
    ANG
    0-1
    GM Ivan Sarc
    CRO
    5 CM Chiletso Chipanga
    MAW
    0-1
    GM Adhiban Baskiran
    IND
    6 GM Vladislav Kovalev
    FID
    1-0
    IM Rodwell Makoto
    ZIM
    7 IM Olanrewaju Ajibola
    NGR
    0-1
    GM Alexey Sarana
    RUS
    8 IM Arthur Ssegwangyi
    UGA
    0-1
    GM Nihal Sarin
    IND
    9 GM Ahmed Adly
    EGY
    1-0
    GM Abdelrahman Hesham
    EGY
    10 GM Haik Martirosyan
    ARM
    1-0
    IM Chitumbo Mwali
    ZAM
    11 GM David Paravyan
    RUS
    1-0
    IM Mohamed Tissir
    MAR
    12 GM Alexander Motylev
    RUS
    1-0
    FM Abobker Mohamed Elarabi
    LBA
    Round #1, Game #1 (Women)
    1 IM Nataliya Buksa
    UKR
    0-1
    WIM Sabrina Latreche
    ALG
    2 GM Valentian Guinina
    RUS
    1-0
    WIM Jesse February
    RSA
    3 IM Almira Skripchenko
    FRA
    1-0
    WGM Shahenda Wafa
    EGY
    4 WGM Shrook Wafa
    EGY
    0-1
    IM Laura Unuk
    CRO
    5 WGM Amina Mezioud
    ALG
    1-0
    IM Iulija Omonova
    UZB
    Official Pairings

    Ahmed Adly (Egypt)

    Egypt’s GM Ahmed Adly
    Photo by Eric Rosen

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

  2. Round 1, Game 2
    Tuesday, 13 July 2021

    Most favorites go through!
    Zambia’s Chitumbo Mwali crushes GM…
    Algeria’s Latreche gets 400-point upset; Ushenina bounces back

    Chitumbo Mwali

    IM Chitumbo Mwali

    Zambia is one of the strongest chess federations in Africa. Its most famous son has to be Amon Simutowe, the country’s first Grandmaster. There are other talents dotting the chess landscape and several have competed creditably on the world’s largest stages. Zambia came in 47th in the 2010 Chess Olympiad despite being ranked 121st. IM Chitumbo Mwali carried this history along with the Zambian flag to Sochi and scored a historic victory to even his match.

    Mwali faced Armenian blitz specialist GM Haik Martirosyan in a must-win situation. In an English Opening, Mwali had an interesting setup that appeared to bear Sicilian qualities. The first 15 moves were unremarkable, but then a skirmish broke out after 18…c6 19.d4 cxb5 20.axb5 Qxb5. Tension on the queenside was released and it appeared that black’s a-pawn would be an important factor. It never moved again.

    In fact, Martirosyan begins to show some carelessness after 22…f5?! The Zambian seized on the moment with 23.Nd4! and the tide slowly began to shift. With the black king stuck in the middle of the board, the Armenian belted out 26…f4?! (diagram) and was under fire after 27.Nd6+ Bxd6 28.exd6.

    Mwali nearly threw away his advantage after the hasty 31.Rc7, but Martirosyan panicked with 31…Bd7. As time pressure crept up, black made a gross blunder with 33…Ne4?? 34.Re2! winning the knight. Black’s position further deteriorated and massive losses occurred. Historic result and Zambians were happy!

    Tiebreaks are looming and the Zambian will need to be ready.

    There were a few cases (besides Mwali) where a win was needed on demand. GM Bilel Bellahcene (Algeria), GM Abdelrahman Hesham (Egypt), along with GM Vadim Zvjaginsev (Russia) GM Niaz Murshed (Bangladesh), IM Basheer Al-Qudaimi (Iran), GM Juan Carlos Gonzalez Zamora (Mexico) successfully won “on demand” to force tiebreaks.

    In the women’s competition, WIM Sabrina Latreche (Algeria), WGM Janelle Mae Frayna (Philippines), WIM Mai Narva (Estonia), IM Pauline Guichard (France), and of course GM Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) who was upset by Egypt’s Ayah Moaataz.

    IM Abdelrahman Hesham
    All photos by Paras Gudka

    The match of Hesham-Adly was important given that it was two opponents who knew each other very well. It was a Bogo-Indian where white sacrificed two pawns in the opening. After giving up tremendous time and space, black returned an exchange. Black placed sacrificed two pawns in hopes that the running c-pawn would net material.

    Hesham returned the exchange and ended up a remote passed b-pawn. He eventually drew black forces to the queenside and then raid the kingside where he got a remote passed h-pawn. Black’s lone rook stood no chance as the king was too far to help stop the advance of the pawn. These two must’ve played many times and while Adly is a heavily decorated Olympian, Hesham will be able to advance to the next round to face Romania’s Constantin Lupulescu.

    Bellahcene’s game is instructive against Hovhannes Gabuzyan… a Sicilian Maroczy Bind. Black was routed. The problem with higher-rated players is that they tend to lose a sense of danger believing that their strength will get them out of trouble. Maybe that works in online blitz, but not here.

    In the women’s section there were a couple of interesting tactics in the games involving African representatives. Sabrina Latreche had to win her game in order to keep the match going and Ayah Moaataz only had to secure a draw. These two positions arose. Find the winning moves.

    (diagram #1) Latreche-Buska after 22…Nc5
    (diagram #2) Ushenina-Mootaz after 37…Kg8

    In the first position, Latreche faced and Scheveningen Sicilian and sacrificed a couple of pawns for active play. Immediately after the sequence, black blundered with 22…Nc5?? after which 23.e5! wins a piece. In the second position, Ushenina found a nice tactic after 37…Kg8. An alert eye will spot 38.Rxf4! Nxf4 39.Qxd7 winning!

    Africans at World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021 (Sochi, Russia)
    Round #1, Game #2
    1 IM Daniel Barrish
    RSA
    0-2
    GM Aryan Tari
    NOR
    2 GM Adham Fawzy
    EGY
    1-1
    GM Evgeny Alekseev
    RUS
    3 GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan
    ARM
    1-1
    GM Bilel Bellahcene
    ALG
    4 FM Sergio Miguel
    ANG
    0-2
    GM Ivan Saric
    CRO
    5 CM Chiletso Chipanga
    MAW
    0-2
    GM Adhiban Baskiran
    IND
    6 GM Vladislav Kovalev
    FID
    2-0
    IM Rodwell Makoto
    ZIM
    7 IM Olanrewaju Ajibola
    NGR
    0-2
    GM Alexey Sarana
    RUS
    8 IM Arthur Ssegwangyi
    UGA
    ½-1½
    GM Nihal Sarin
    IND
    9 GM Ahmed Adly
    EGY
    1-1
    GM Abdelrahman Hesham
    EGY
    10 GM Haik Martirosyan
    ARM
    1-1
    IM Chitumbo Mwali
    ZAM
    11 GM David Paravyan
    RUS
    2-0
    IM Mohamed Tissir
    MAR
    12 GM Alexander Motylev
    RUS
    2-0
    FM Abobker Mohamed Elarabi
    LBA
    Round #1, Game #2 (Women)
    1 IM Nataliya Buksa
    UKR
    1-1
    WIM Sabrina Latreche
    ALG
    2 GM Valentina Guinina
    RUS
    2-0
    WIM Jesse February
    RSA
    3 IM Almira Skripchenko
    FRA
    1-1
    WGM Shahenda Wafa
    EGY
    4 WGM Shrook Wafa
    EGY
    0-2
    IM Laura Unuk
    CRO
    5 WGM Amina Mezioud
    ALG
    ½-1½
    IM Iulija Omonova
    UZB
    Pairings Tree

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  3. Round 1, TIEBREAKS
    Wednesday, 14 July 2021

    Major upsets… Abdelrahman Hesham and Ravi Haria advance!

    A couple of upsets today in the FIDE World Cup. The Egyptian derby between Ahmed Adly and Abdelrahman Hesham was hard-fought with tiebreaks beginning with the “underdog” pressing in the first tiebreak. Adly has a very unique style of play. Not necessarily a theoretician, he plays lines that are not well-analyzed and gets positions where tricks opponents into uncomfortable positions. He has a tendency to catch opponents off balance with his style and Hesham was well aware.

    The first tiebreak was a Bogo-Indian where white developed a massive space advantage. Adly was never able to completely equalize and after 26.Ndxc4 white was clearly on top. Fortunately, Adly was able to get out of his bind with only a pawn deficit… on the same side of the board. Nevertheless, Hesham was completely winning before he blundered with 58.f6?? and after 58…Re1+ 59.Kf5 gxf6 60.Nf7+ Kg7 and black had survived the worst. In a few moves, black had gotten a drawn position. Here was Hesham’s reaction…

    Adly-Hesham arrived at this position after 35.Qc4. Commentators were analyzing this critical position, but did not immediately spot the crushing 35…Rh2+!! leading to winning the queen or checkmate.

    Adly would not be so fortunate in the second tiebreak. Adly played another strange concoction and again got into trouble. He sacrificed the exchange, but had little compensation. After 29.Ra3, Hesham opted for 29…Rf8 instead of 29…Rh4. It turns out that his plan of Ra8-f8-f6-h6 was farsighted. They say that solving a combination is not the hard part… it is getting the position that is the hard part. After 35.Qc4, black had some choices that were analyzed. GMs Nigel Short and Evgeny Miroshnichenko were covering the match and here is their commentary. Both went “What’s that???” Initially astonished, but began to see the combination and were generous in their praise. A wonderful way to end the match! Watch the reaction below!

    After the first game on the 12th, Short beamed at England’s Ravi Haria win over the experienced Russian, Vadim Zvjaginsev. A 22-year old International Master with two GM norms, Haria lost the second game and would go to tiebreaks. Would experience prevail over youth? It wasn’t close. Youth prevailed this time.

    In the first game, Haria simply squeezed the Russian to death until his position fell apart. In the second game, Zvjaginsev essayed 1.e4 e6 2.f4!? It transposed into a normal French, and the game was equal until they entered a rook ending. Having to play for a win, Zvjaginsev took his pawn advantage into the ending. In the end, he had to give up a draw and the match. He gave his impressions in a short interview.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Among the other African challengers playing a tiebreak, we have Chitumbo Mwali who upset the young Armenian in the second game of classical. They repeated the same line as in the game Mwali won, but Haik Martirosyan made some improvements. First, he went for 13…g5 to put immediate pressure on the Zambian. This strategy seemed to work because Mwali took on a defensive posture.

    With black’s attack raging, white had no defense against the g-file battery. The second game was a Modern Benoni that went wrong quickly and Mwali ended the game without much resistance. This game showed the difference in the levels of preparation. Nevertheless, Mwali beat a very strong player and despite his loss, he gained a lot from the experience. FIDE recognized this.

    He also gave his impressions of the match…

    Interview with Chitumbo Mwali (Zambia)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    GM Bilel Bellahcene of Algeria had a tough round of tiebreaks. In the first game with the black piece, engines had him as high as -5.71, but the trick in these high-level events is maintaining your form over extended periods. After getting the winning position, it appeared he would wrap up the point. Unfortunately, he blundered with 35…Qe6?? after which the simple 36.Rd8+ forces the bishop skewer off the diagonal.

    Both of the Cori siblings (Jorge and Deysi) moved onto the next round. It seems like they have been representing Peru for ages. Deysi once won an honor for being the youngest participant in the 2004 Chess Olympiad.

    11-year old Cori Tello Deysi Estela of Peru collects prize for the youngest participant. She scored a respectable 5-2 in a reserve role.

    Flashback: At the 2004 Olympiad in Calvia, Spain, 11-year old Deysi Estela Cori Tello of Peru collects prize for the youngest participant. She scored a respectable 5-2 in a reserve role. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    On the women’s side, there were no big upsets. Sabrina Letreche of Algeria was unable to break through after her instructive, “on-demand” win yesterday. Shahenda Wafa of Egypt played four tiebreak games trading wins in the rapid and losing both in the 10-minute blitz. The 2018 African women’s champion will return with a wealth of experience.

    Interview with WGM Shahenda Wafa

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Africans at World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021 (Sochi, Russia)
    Round #1, TIEBREAKS (Open)
    1 IM Daniel Barrish
    RSA
    0-2
    GM Aryan Tari
    NOR
    2 GM Adham Fawzy
    EGY
    1½-2½
    GM Evgeny Alekseev
    RUS
    3 GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan
    ARM
    3-1
    GM Bilel Bellahcene
    ALG
    4 FM Sergio Miguel
    ANG
    0-2
    GM Ivan Saric
    CRO
    5 CM Chiletso Chipanga
    MAW
    0-2
    GM Adhiban Baskiran
    IND
    6 GM Vladislav Kovalev
    FID
    2-0
    IM Rodwell Makoto
    ZIM
    7 IM Olanrewaju Ajibola
    NGR
    0-2
    GM Alexey Sarana
    RUS
    8 IM Arthur Ssegwangyi
    UGA
    ½-1½
    GM Nihal Sarin
    IND
    9 GM Ahmed Adly
    EGY
    1½-2½
    GM Abdelrahman Hesham
    EGY
    10 GM Haik Martirosyan
    ARM
    3-1
    IM Chitumbo Mwali
    ZAM
    11 GM David Paravyan
    RUS
    2-0
    IM Mohamed Tissir
    MAR
    12 GM Alexander Motylev
    RUS
    2-0
    FM Abobker Mohamed Elarabi
    LBA
    Round #1, TIEBREAKS (Women)
    1 IM Nataliya Buksa
    UKR
    2½-1½
    WIM Sabrina Latreche
    ALG
    2 GM Valentina Guinina
    RUS
    2-0
    WIM Jesse February
    RSA
    3 IM Almira Skripchenko
    FRA
    4-2
    WGM Shahenda Wafa
    EGY
    4 WGM Shrook Wafa
    EGY
    0-2
    IM Laura Unuk
    CRO
    5 WGM Amina Mezioud
    ALG
    ½-1½
    IM Iulija Omonova
    UZB
    Pairings Tree

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  4. Round 2, Game 1
    Thursday, 15 July 2021

    COVID strikes Indonesia… Susanto Megaranto retires match with Caruana
    Aronian withdraws due to tonsilitis, fever

    The lead story of the FIDE Grand Prix is players having to submit to COVID protocols. Indonesia Grandmaster Susanto Megaranto was on move 15 against an unmasked Fabiano Caruana when the arbiters informed him he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    GM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia)

    GM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia)
    Indonesia Indonesia Indonesia

    The test arrived late and the arbiters decided they had to whisk Megaranto away to protect the health of the players. Fortunately, he was wearing the recommended (but not required) face-covering. Caruana retired to his hotel room as a precaution. On the official website, it read,

    The FIDE World Cup organizers confirm that one of the players has tested positive for Covid-19. The result of this test was known while he was playing his second-round game.

    In line with the tournament’s public health and safety protocol, the player and has been asked to immediately leave the playing area, and his game declared a loss. The player in question was wearing a face mask during the game, and he has been placed in quarantine.

    His opponent, who was also requested to leave the playing hall immediately, will now undergo additional medical screenings, and will be tested again tomorrow as scheduled.

    There’s more…

    but…

    This is indeed a tragic development with four Asian players having to miss their chance at competing. Some suggested that Megaranto could have gotten a “false positive,” but the truth is that he missed an opportunity to compete against a high-caliber opponent. In a preceding case, Mikhail Antipov tested positive during the Russian Championship and had to retire.

    In another World Cup development, Levon Aronian had to resort to health and safety protocols after developing a fever not related to COVID. He will also withdraw. It is not known if the affliction is COVID-related. There is also no data on how many players had been vaccinated or whether the afflicted players were vaccinated.

    Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

    The incident ignited a firestorm of criticism from fans on social media. There was a question as to why Megaranto was not notified before the game. The exam arrived after the start of the round and thus interrupting the game became unavoidable.

    Have restrictions been eased too quickly? The other question dogging the organizers was the mask policy. With more than 200 men and women in the complex, the wide majority are not wearing face coverings of any sort. Some argue that there should’ve been a mandatory mask policy. All of a sudden, Abhimanyu Mishra’s full mask & shield don’t appear as ridiculous as some were saying.

    Abhimanyu Mishra came ready to fight… both his opponent and COVID. While he lost to Baadur Jobava, he was prepared to defeat COVID. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Onto the action…

    Despite today’s news, chess fans were excited to see the “big guns” at the board again. In the past year, there had been so much online activity that there was a bit of fatigue. After receiving the “Fair Play Svetozar Gligoric Trophy” sportsman award, Magnus Carlsen started the tournament in fine fashion.

    Video FIDE Chess

    Of course, Caruana got the walk-over, but most of the higher seeds won. India had massive success in the first round with all 12 competitors advancing to the second stage. One national player Adhiban Baskaran is known for his affable nature, but in this game against Neuris Delgado he showed his fangs.

    Video FIDE Chess

    Egypt’s Bassem Amin won a technical game against Hovhannes Gabuzyan of Armenia. If he closes tomorrow’s game with a win or draw, he will be the first from the African continent to advance to the third round. There is an apparent error in the game score as 35…Rb7?? hangs the rook outright. Nevertheless, the game was won in a few moves.

    The other remaining player in the Open Section was Abdelrahman Hesham who is paired with Romanian Constantin Lupulescu. Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be any of the magic from the previous match. In fact, Lupulescu got a winning advantage after 27.Rxb7! Qxb7 28.Bxd5. Black would be down a pawn and the pawn structure was in shambles. In the end, the black king would end up in a mating net.

    A beautiful game here by the Argentinian!

    IM Irine Sukandar
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    In the women’s even, Aleksandra Goryachkina won a nice game against the American player Gulrukbegim Tokhirjonova. Several Russian players, including Valentina Guinina won their first games as the strong Russian contingent look to make a long run in Sochi.

    Her opponent was Irine Sukandar of Indonesia. As mentioned earlier, Sukandar will not play her second game, so Guinina will advance. India’s Dronavali Harika will also have the same result with Medina Aulia of Indonesia. Again… neither of the women had a positive test.

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  5. Round 2, Game 2
    Friday, 16 July 2021

    Favorites advances, but 22 tiebreaks in Open Section on tap!
    Nine Russian women advance to Round 3

    With the news still buzzing over the COVID scares, the second game of the second round commenced. With the withdrawal of Levon Aronian and the forfeiture of Indonesian players, it will be interesting to see if additional measures will be in place going forward. It appears that masks will remain optional.

    In today’s matches, there was were very interesting encounters. Magnus Carlsen won impressively from an equal ending squeezing out a win against Sasa Martinovic. There was a marvel on how the World Champion managed to squeeze a win out of this. At the main website, they cited 53…Bh6? (53…Kd7 giving up the pawn is a draw even a pawn down), and 54…axb5? as the losing moves. “The computer holds the endgame with 54…Kd7 but it’s not easy at all for a human player,” it stated.” Even other players were amazed.

    Truly a symbol of resourceful and resilience by the World Champion!

    Bassem Amin closed out his match against Hovhannes Gabuzyan becoming the first African player to advance to round 3. In fact, he has a favorable bracket and will face the winner of Etienne Bacrot (France) and Ravi Haria (England). Haria had a major upset against Vadim Zvjaginsev. The other Egyptian Abdelrahman Hesham was in a must-win situation, but his 15.Rg5?! started a descent into trouble. The Romanian took everything and won in only 31 moves. It was a good run for Hesham

    One of the best games of the round was the game of the round saw Poland’s Michal Krasenkow scintillating win over Russia’s Kirill Alekseenko.

    Russia will field nine of the last 32 players in the women’s field led by top-seed Aleksandra Goraychkina. Ukraine and Georgia have three apiece.Alexandra Kosteniuk talked about advancing with a win over Peru’s Deysi Cori, online vs. OTB and the COVID situation.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  6. Round 2, TIEBREAKS
    Saturday, 17 July 2021

    Firouzja and Dominguez ousted!

    There were some very exciting tiebreak matches including one that went the distance. After the COVID crisis, there was news of floods pouring through western Germany and causing tremendous destruction. In fact, there were two Germans trying to get through to the next round and must’ve affected them, at least slightly.

    Ivan Cheparinov outlasted Germany’s Rasmus Svane in a match that went the distance. Cheparinov had to win on-demand twice before winning the final Armageddon game. Samuel Sevian also has to win on-demand and later won both 10-minute blitz games after drawing the rapids. Good result for the young American.

    Rasmus Svane vs. Ivan Cheparinov

    Svane and Cheparinov blitzing in Armageddon battle!
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Samuel Sevian

    GM Samuel Sevian (USA)
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    In a Latin American matchup, Jorge Cori of Peru also had a wild match with Sandro Mareco of Argentina. Five out of the six games played were decisive and brutally-contested. The only draw was the last. Lets take a look at the deciding encounter.

    GM Jorge Cori (Peru)

    GM Jorge Cori (Peru)
    Photo by Eric Rosen

    Danill Dubov got a tough fight from Dommoraju Gukesh, but the 15-year old Indian prodigy could not hold the match to equality. ChessBase India had been following the match closely and was hopeful when Gukesh held Dubov twice in classical. Dubov showed his class in the first rapid and then ended with a draw.

    Firouzja-Sindarov

    The changing face of chess… Alireza Firouzja vs. Javokhir Sindarov
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Many believe that Iranian-born Alireza Firouzja is a world championship contender. Most recently, he obtained French citizenship and this was his first tournament under the French flag. It did not end well. Some fans believe that France may not have been the best federation to develop his talent, but he will have opportunities since there is a strong environment in Europe.

    Firouzja was expected to go deep into the tournament, so this upset at the hands of the young Uzbekistani star Javokhir Sindarov will sting for awhile. Here is the decisive game where Sindarov just took all the pawns.

    Firouzja-Sindarov

    GM Javokhir Sindarov (Uzbekistan)
    Photo by Eric Rosen

    Cuba’s Leinier Dominiguez also switched federations and is now representing the U.S. Perhaps things have not gone as expected with a devastating loss against Uzbek Jakhongir Vakhidov. Losing both games in the tiebreak rapid, Dominguez is still poised to represent the U.S. at the next Olympiad and compete in U.S. Championship, but of course, there is a tremendously talented Jeffery Xiong who is still improving.

    Another example of the “youth movement” saw India’s Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa beat Gabriel Sarggissian in both classical games. Nihal Sarin, also of India, eliminated Sanan Sjugirov with the decisive game being an impressive attack.

    In another set of tiebreaks going the distance, Georgian-born Spanish player Ana Matnadze lost a gripping battle with Belarussian player Olga Badelka. The emotions spilled out at the conclusion with Matnadze losing on time. Here are some photos to capture the final moments. Wow!

    Ana Matnadze in the last seconds of Armageddon against Olga Badelka (Belarus)

    Ana Matnadze (Spain) in the last seconds of Armageddon
    against Olga Badelka (Belarus)

    Ana Matnadze in the last seconds of Armageddon against Olga Badelka (Belarus)

    Ana Matnadze in the last seconds of Armageddon against Olga Badelka (Belarus)

    Ana Matnadze in the last seconds of Armageddon against Olga Badelka (Belarus)

    Matnadze get some consolation from
    International Arbiter Stephen Kisuze (Uganda)
    Photos by Eric Rosen

    Interview with Ana Matnadze
    (In Spanish)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    In other long tiebreakers, Pia Cramling beat Monika Socko 3½-2½, while Germany’s Elisabeth Paehtz had to go to blitz to beat Nurgyul Salimova of Hungary 4½-3½.

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  7. Round 3, Game 1
    Sunday, 18 July 2021

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov goes down… Carissa Yip scores big win!

    GM Bassem Amin (Egypt)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    There were some viewers who were clamoring for Bassem Amin’s game. While it may go unnoticed to most, Amin is an iconic figure in African and Egyptian chess. The only player from the continent having surpassed the 2700 mark, he is in the top 100 in the world. However, his games are hardly shown in the broadcasts. Perhaps as he advances more attention will be given to his games. His battle with Etienne Bacrot started off without fireworks, but fizzled into an equal ending. Tomorrow he will try to press with the white pieces.

    Bassem Amin (Egypt)

    Africa is watching. Namibian International Master Dante Beukes is reporting for Africa Chess Media. He stated this about Amin… “Bassem Amin is arguably the greatest African chess player of all time. He continues to raise the bar higher and higher for Africans. The 5-time African champion became the first player to reach the second round of the World Cup in 2015 and now he has done one better and reached the third round!” Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    One would think that as we advanced in the tournament, there would be more drawn games, but 19 of the 32 matches started with decisive games. Fifteen-year old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa beat Michal Krasenkow and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was upset by 21-year old Armenian Haik Martirosyan as we continue the theme of the “youth movement.”

    Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan)

    GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Speaking of the youth movement, it has been noted that Uzbekistan will be a definite force in the future with a young core Javokhir Sindarov (15), Nodirbek Abdusattorov (16), Shamsiddin Vokhidov (19), and Jahongir Vakhidov (26). Only Vokhidov has been eliminated. Uzbekistan certainly received motivation from the legacy of FIDE champion, Rustam Kasindzhanov and trainer, Rashid Ziatdinov. The future is bright.

    Vakhidov totally crushed his Russian opponent Pavel Ponkratov when resignation could’ve happened 20 moves earlier.

    There was an instructive name featuring yet another young Indian star, Nihal Sarin. He was playing the dangerous Dmitri Andreikin and got a lesson in how to play positional chess after starting with 1.b3 b6 2.e4 Bb7 3.Nc3. The rarely seen Owens Defense produced a very interesting result. In the final position, you will see the classic good/bad bishop battle.

    The story of the round may be Carissa Yip’s performance. In her seven games thus far she has won six games! She continued her good form beating the rating favorite Nana Dzagnidze in a highly complicated game. Take a look.

    Carissa Yip (USA)

    Carissa Yip (USA)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Alexandra Kosteniuk is playing a game against Pia Cramling. It is always interesting to see the clash against the generations. Sweden’s Cramling has been on the professional scene for decades and is still playing at a high level. In their game the Kosteniuk was able to saddle Cramling with a cramped position and this advantage the entire game. In the final position, Cramling had no moves. Regardless of the outcome of the match, Cramling continues to inspire.

    Pia Cramling (Sweden)

    GM Pia Cramling (Sweden)
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  8. Round 3, Game 2
    Monday, 19 July 2021

    Caruana ousted from World Cup… 13 tiebreaks on tap!
    Goryachkina, Lagno, Muzychuk move on… four tiebreak tomorrow

    Fabiano Caruana saw chances slipping away. Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Fabiano Caruana saw his chances slipping away.
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    The story of the round was the elimination of Fabiano Caruana, one of the pre-tournament favorites for the World Cup. He fell at the hands of Rinat Jumabayev, Kazakhstan’s top player. This was a Carlsbad Queen’s Gambit that involved an exchange sacrifice (27.g5!? Bxf1) for a kingside attack. While the engines preferred black’s position, it is hard for a human to main composure when pieces are bearing down on the king.

    It seemed as if the Kazakh player would fold, but he sacrificed his queen to ward off the attack. However, the American player blundered with 41.Qc4?? and had to give up a piece to avoid a mating net. Black’s two rooks and a knight were too much for Caruana’s queen and two connected pass pawns. The rooks coordinated to quickly gobble the pawns and Caruana resigned before being forced to give up the queen.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    With one of the “big guns” eliminated, the path to advance just got a bit less precarious. However, the “young guns” are still causing ripples in the field. Michal Krasenkow, who at 57 years old, is one of the older contestants was gripped in a battle with one of the youngest talents in Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. This game was covered by ChessBase India and host Sagar Shah could not contain his excitement at eh dizzying complications.

    This game exploded after the Indian prodigy sacrificed a rook with check (!) for what appeared to be a match-clinching draw. There were several inaccuracies by Krasenkow and it appeared he may even lose. Praggnanandhaa played 23…Bb7? which threw away his advantage. However, a draw would suffice. The game really showed the tension in the game as Krasenkow made more mistakes and after 30…Bg4 (-5.76), but Praggnanandhaa could not finish the job. After 33…Nf4?? 34.Re4! was now losing! Unbelievable game!

    Another exciting bout was between the two Indian national players, Vidit Santosh and Adhiban Baskaran. Vidit only needed a draw to close the match.

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    There were a lot of decisive results in the women’s competition resulting in only four tiebreaks. Carissa Yip only needed a draw to advance against the experienced Nana Dzagnidze. As we are seeing with the younger players, they don’t have stability in intense moments.

    Dzagnidze avoided Yip’s prep by playing 5…h6?! It was a tremendous risk, but it paid off because Yip became overanxious with 9.f5?! f5 10.Nf3 Nbd7 11.g4?! Yip clearly was not familiar with these structures and soon became overextended and center collapsed. Although a pawn up, her king was exposed with the heavy pieces on the board. In trying to protect the king, she lost her material advantage and soon came under a vicious attack. So she will play one of the four tiebreak matches.

    Yip-Dzagnidze
    Shuvalova-Garifullina
    Ushenina-Muzychuk,M
    Khotenashvili-Assaubayeva

    Another young player who may have flown under the radar is IM Bibisara Assaubayeva. She upset her compatriot Zhansaya Abdumalik and is seeking to advance. A child prodigy with several youth titles, she became infamously known as the target of cheating allegations that were later refuted and accuser suspended. One thing that is clear is this 17-year old girl has a tremendous future.

    IM Bibisara Assaubayeva. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    IM Bibisara Assaubayeva. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    IM Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kazakhstan)
    Photos by Anastasia Korolkova

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  9. Round 3, TIEBREAKS
    Tuesday, 20 July 2021

    “Big Guns” ousted from World Cup
    Assaubayeva gets the upset!

    Fabiano Caruana (2820), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2770), Anish Giri (2780), Evgeny Tomashevsky (2706), Yangyi Yu (2705), Bassem Amin (2703) and Jorden Van Foreest (2701) were bounced out of the World Cup in Round 3. The random nature of the World Cup and unpredictability is what makes it exciting to follow. Out of the 13 tiebreaks, only one went to Armageddon.

    Bassem Amin of Egypt was the lone African representative left in the field and he would face a seasoned veteran. Etienne Bacrot was once deemed a French child prodigy and one who was pegged to challenge Garry Kasparov’s reign. While he entered the 2700 ranks in 2004 and got to as high as 7th in the world, he never contested for the World Championship. He remains an active member of the national team.

    Etienne Bacrot (France) vs. Bassem Amin (Egypt)

    Bassem Amin in gripping battle against Etienne Bacrot
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    In the first game after 1.e4 c5, Amin trotted out with 3.g3!? and essayed his King’s Indian Attack setup. Some commentators noted Amin’s style and remarked that it is a bit too predictable. Bacrot sacrificed the exchange to secure the light squares around the white king, but it didn’t appear to be enough compensation.

    After 33.Bc5 (threatening Bf8!), white was completely winning. After 33…Kh8, Amin could still play Bf8, but opted for a less concrete route. However, Bacrot started drumming up counterplay, and Amin was forced to return the exchange and the game petered out after the Egyptian missed his winning chances.

    Bassem Amin (Egypt)

    Amin realizing that the win slipped away.
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    In the second game, Amin had the black pieces and played a Grunfeld with the bishop on f5. This is curious because the latest Benko Gambit theory also has the bishop going to f5 instead of Bxa6. Black fianchetto systems are always evolving. Amin sacrificed the e7-pawn to establish counterplay.

    At first glance, black’s piece play was impressive. However, in the complications, Amin attempted piece sacrifice in exchange for two connected pawns on the queenside. White ended up with N+N+B against R+B and there was simply no match… the knights trampled black’s position and the king ended up being in a mating net.

    So the last African player would be eliminated, but the new format certainly gave the continent a great opportunity to play strong competition. The experience and the scene at Sochi will inspire for years to come. Bassem Amin is Africa’s top player and his advancement to the third round is a historic building block for African players. There is no way to know where the next generational talent may come from, but it could very well be Africa!

    Bassem Amin (Egypt)

    The tournament ended in disappointment, but he inspired an entire continent.
    Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova

    Some of the big names who were sent home after the tiebreaks were Anish Giri who lost both rapid games to Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Giri was totally outclassed in both of the games and it makes one wonder when the young stars from Central Asia will take the place of some of the players at the top.

    GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (India)
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    The current professional circuit essentially has the same players playing each other in the tournament after tournament and it does not provide for practice against up and coming players. Fortunately, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave went through against the promising talent David Paravyan, but it took an Armageddon game to clinch the match. Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa won both rapid games against Michal Krasenkow. Both Vidit Santosh and Adhiban Baskaran of India faced off in the tiebreaks in a thrilling match. Instead of trying to describe it, Vidit gives his impressions.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    One player who has begun to catch the eye of fans is Iran’s Pouya Idani. He has beaten two strong Grandmasters and will face Jan-Krzysztof Duda. He toppled Evgeny Tomashevsky who blundered a pawn on move 12. Some of the commentators mentioned fatigue as being a factor. There will be 16 matches starting tomorrow and there will be some very interesting matchups.

    Pairings
    GM Carlsen, Magnus 2847 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2687
    GM Dubov, Daniil 2714 GM Esipenko, Andrey 2716
    GM Ponkratov, Pavel 2627 GM Bacrot, Etienne 2678
    GM Piorun, Kacper 2608 GM Sindarov, Javokhir 2558
    GM Grischuk, Alexander 2776 GM Korobov, Anton 2683
    GM Idani, Pouya 2614 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2729
    GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2726 GM Xiong, Jeffery 2709
    GM Durarbayli, Vasif 2606 GM Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 2634
    GM Kovalev, Vladislav 2637 GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2696
    GM Ivic, Velimir 2581 GM Andreikin, Dmitry 2724
    GM Harikrishna, Pentala 2730 GM Tabatabaei, Amin 2613
    GM Brkic, Ante 2592 GM Martirosyan, Haik M. 2648
    GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2760 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2608
    GM Artemiev, Vladislav 2704 GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757
    GM Vitiugov, Nikita 2724 GM Svidler, Peter 2714
    GM Shankland, Sam 2709 GM Jumabayev, Rinat 2637

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    There were only four tie-break games in the women’s section and half of the players were under 20. Carissa Yip was unable to find her rhythm in the rapid and her more experienced opponent, Nana Dzagnidze. In the first rapid she played a rather dubious opening with 6.f4 (against the Caro-Kann) and later missed a tactical shot with 16…Bxc2! White’s pieces seemed misplaced and there were simply too many weaknesses. Yip dropped another pawn and then another. She resigned before being mated.

    In the second game, she tried an ambitious pawn storm, but that effort was thwarted. To avoid a three-fold repetition, she had to sacrifice the exchange, but there was no hope in this game. She was already two pawns down when she lost a piece. Dzagnidze returned the piece to simplify and started pushing her passed pawns to glory. There were no drawing tricks and the 14-year old American ended her run in Sochi with a hard-fought match. Dzagnidze was gracious in the interview comparing Yip’s style to Valentina Guinina.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Mariya Muzychuk won the Women’s World Championship in 2015. Which of the Muzychuk sisters will make the final this time? Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    The longest tiebreak match was between the two Ukrainians Mariya Muzychuk and Anna Ushenina, two former world champions. Ushenina blundered in a drawn rook ending in the first but won the second game convincingly with checkmate on the board.

    Ushenina won the first 10+10 game to be countered by Muzychuk win in a wild game. In the first 5+5 game, Muzychuk took advantage of Ushenina’s poor handling of the Sicilian and was completely winning after 20 moves. In the last blitz game, Muzychuk equalized despite Ushenina’s attempt to complicate the game. Both Muzychuks (Anna & Mariya) will advance to the round of 16. They are also in different brackets, so it is possible for them to meet in the final!

    Pairings
    GM Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2596 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 2470
    IM Kashlinskaya, Alina 2494 IM Saduakassova, Dinara 2500
    GM Dzagnidze, Nana 2524 IM Shuvalova, Polina 2489
    IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 2456 GM Muzychuk, Anna 2535
    GM Muzychuk, Mariya 2544 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472
    GM Batsiashvili, Nino 2491 GM Gunina, Valentina 2436
    GM Tan, Zhongyi 2511 IM Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat 2494
    IM Assaubayeva, Bibisara 2389 GM Lagno, Kateryna 2558

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

    Critical Links: official site, YouTube, Twitter #FIDEWorldCup2021, Results

  10. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 4)
    Bracket 1
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    ½-½
    Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
    POL
    2 Dubov, Daniil
    RUS
    ½-½
    Esipenko, Andrey
    RUS
    3 Ponkratov, Pavel
    RUS
    0-1
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    4 Piorun, Kacper
    POL
    1-0
    Sindarov, Javokhir
    USA
    Bracket 2
    5 Grischuk, Alexander
    RUS
    ½-½
    Korobov, Anton
    UKR
    6 Idani, Pouya
    IRI
    ½-½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    7 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    1-0
    Xiong, Jeffery
    IND
    8 Durarbayli, Vasif
    AZE
    1-0
    Abdusattorov, Nodirbek
    UZB
    Bracket 3
    9 Kovalev, Vladislav
    FID
    0-1
    Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    10 Ivic, Velimir
    RUS
    ½-½
    Andreikin, Dmitry
    RUS
    11 Harikrishna, Pentala
    IND
    0-1
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    12 Brkic, Ante
    CRO
    0-1
    Martirosyan, Haik M
    ARM
    Bracket 4
    13 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
    AZE
    ½-½
    Praggnanandhaa, Rameshbabu
    AZE
    14 Artemiev, Vladislav
    RUS
    ½-½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    15 Vitiugov, Nikita
    RUS
    ½-½
    Svidler, Peter
    RUS
    16 Shankland, Sam
    USA
    1-0
    Jumabayev, Rinat
    KAZ
    Official Brackets

    Round 4, Game 1
    Thursday, 22 July 2021

    Bloodbath in Round of 16… 50% decisive games
    Goryachkina finally loses!

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway)

    GM Magnus Carlsen was unable to break through
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Wow! What action we had in round 4 of the FIDE World Cup in Sochi Russia. Several of the top players have been ousted, but today’s action was bloody indeed. Exactly 8/16 games were decisive with Magnus Carlsen being held by Radoslaw Wojtaszek in an interesting game. The Polish player sacrificed his queen to stave off an attack.

    Video FIDE Chess

    Daniil Dubov was fortunate enough to get a draw in his game win Andrey Esipenko after being down 4.94 in evaluation. Dubov liquidated and Esipenko was unable to make use of his rook against the knight. Etienne Bacrot put on a powerful performance bringing on some of his magic from the past.

    In other decisive games, Vidit Santosh dispatched American phenom Jeffery Xiong who blundered with a dubious piece sacrifice. Amin Tabatabaei toppled Indian Olympian Pentala Harikrishna continuing his fantastic run in this World Cup. Tabatabaei upset Yu Yangyi and is poised to take down another 2700.

    Commentator Nigel Short had difficulties pronouncing the Iranian name, but after the World Cup, everyone will know. Tabatabaei described his victory in the post-game interview.

    Video FIDE Chess

    Haik Martirosyan is coming off of a big win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and continued the onslaught beating Ante Brkic. Sam Shankland kept the Americans in the hunt with a win over Rinat Jumabayev, who overpressed in a drawn position. The Kazakh player upset Fabiano Caruana and Shankland would like to defend the stars and stripes and advance to the next round.

    It’s been a long time since Shankland’s first World Cup in 2011 when one commentator obviously didn’t know who he was. She asked innocently and incredulously, “How did you see all of this?” At that time he was an obscure 2600 GM, but now has become 2700 fixture on the medal-winning Olympiad team.

    Video FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 4)
    Bracket 1
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra