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
    RUS
    0-1
    Stefanova, Antoaneta
    BUL
    2 Kashlinskaya, Alina
    RUS
    ½-½
    Saduakassova, Dinara
    KAZ
    3 Dzagnidze, Nana
    GEO
    0-1
    Shuvalova, Polina
    RUS
    4 Paehtz, Elisabeth
    GER
    ½-½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    Bracket 2
    5 Muzychuk, Mariya
    UKR
    ½-½
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    6 Batsiashvili, Nino
    GEO
    ½-½
    Gunina, Valentina
    RUS
    7 Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    ½-½
    Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat
    IRI
    8 Assaubayeva, Bibisara
    KAZ
    ½-½
    Lagno, Kateryna
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Magnus Carlsen (Norway)

    Antoaneta_Stefanova stopped the Russian top-seed
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    In the women’s competition, Aleksandra Goryachkina was beaten by former women’s champion Antoaneta Stefanova. After having built up a strong advantage the Russian inexplicably lost a piece to a simple pin. There was no idea on what Goryachkina could have been thinking, but the always classy Stefanova gave her comments.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    There was only one other decisive game with Natalia Shuvalova beating Nana Dzagnidze in a Sicilian Rossolimo. Black was getting squeezed before trying a piece sacrifice to get counterplay. The plan backfired and she tried another sacrifice to arrive at three pawns versus a rook, but after a few moves, gave up.

    Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran)

    Iran’s hopeful… Sarasadat Khademalsharieh
    Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  11. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 4)
    Bracket 1
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    1-1
    Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
    POL
    2 Dubov, Daniil
    RUS
    1-1
    Esipenko, Andrey
    RUS
    3 Ponkratov, Pavel
    RUS
    1-1
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    4 Piorun, Kacper
    CHN
    1½-½
    Sindarov, Javokhir
    USA
    Bracket 2
    5 Grischuk, Alexander
    RUS
    1-1
    Korobov, Anton
    UKR
    6 Idani, Pouya
    IRI
    ½-1½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    CHN
    7 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    2-0
    Xiong, Jeffery
    IND
    8 Durarbayli, Vasif
    AZE
    1-1
    Abdusattorov, Nodirbek
    UZB
    Bracket 3
    9 Kovalev, Vladislav
    FID
    0-2
    Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    10 Ivic, Velimir
    RUS
    1-1
    Andreikin, Dmitry
    RUS
    11 Harikrishna, Pentala
    IND
    ½-1½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    12 Brkic, Ante
    CRO
    ½-1½
    Martirosyan, Haik
    ARM
    Bracket 4
    13 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
    AZE
    1½-½
    Praggnanandhaa, Rameshbabu
    AZE
    14 Artemiev, Vladislav
    RUS
    1-1
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    15 Vitiugov, Nikita
    RUS
    1-1
    Svidler, Peter
    RUS
    16 Shankland, Sam
    USA
    1½-½
    Jumabayev, Rinat
    KAZ
    Official Brackets

    Round 4, Game 2
    Friday, 23 July 2021

    Carlsen misses clinching win, MVL and Vidit move on
    Goryachkina equalizes

    Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (India)

    The run of Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa has ended, but at only 15 years old, he will certainly be a force in the future. Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    While many of the top seeds have already been sent home, others have advanced. Magnus Carlsen is not yet in that number. The World Champion had a strong attack and it seemed that he was ready to punch his ticket for the next round. However, he lost the thread, botched the attack and had to cede a draw.

    MVL plays 26.Rac1! It is hard to believe that the game would last only six more moves when black resigned. Many amateurs would think the black queen would be better.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (MVL) outclassed Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in a short battle where the young phenom completely mishandled the Sicilian. After 24…Nd5 Pragg went for counterplay, but may have overlooked MVL sacrificing the queen. It was an amazing piece of ingenuity that only the very top players would envision. After the young Indian tried some desperate probes with the queen, the powerful d-pawn marched up the board to glory. Praggnanandhaa would have to resign the game and the match.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    One surprise of the round would be Amin Tabatabaei’s vanquishing Pentala Harikrishna. On ChessBase India, there was a hope that Harikrishna would be able to convert the extra pawn in the ending, but it would not come to pass. This left only one Indian remaining after Vidit Santosh won again against American hopeful Jeffery Xiong. The American tried to break in on the queenside, but white was able to break through first with a snappy 43.Rxe5+!

    Video by FIDE Chess

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 4)
    Bracket 1
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    1-1
    Stefanova, Antoaneta
    BUL
    2 Kashlinskaya, Alina
    RUS
    1-1
    Saduakassova, Dinara
    KAZ
    3 Dzagnidze, Nana
    GEO
    1-1
    Shuvalova, Polina
    RUS
    4 Paehtz, Elisabeth
    GER
    ½-1½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    Bracket 2
    5 Muzychuk, Mariya
    UKR
    ½-1½
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    6 Batsiashvili, Nino
    GEO
    ½-1½
    Gunina, Valentina
    RUS
    7 Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    1½-½
    Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat
    IRI
    8 Assaubayeva, Bibisara
    KAZ
    1-1
    Lagno, Kateryna
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Games (Open)

    In the women’s competition, Aleksandra Goryachkina leveled the score with a convincing win and moved into the tiebreaks. There are four tiebreaks (below) including a couple of unheralded players such as 17-year old Bibisara Assaubayeva. Her compatriot Dinara Saduakassova is also in the tiebreaks. No one is surprised that Alexandra Kosteniuk, Anna Muzychuk, Valentina Guinina, and Tan Zhongyi already advanced to the fifth round.

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  12. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 4)
    Bracket 1
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    2½-1½
    Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
    POL
    2 Dubov, Daniil
    RUS
    2½-3½
    Esipenko, Andrey
    RUS
    3 Ponkratov, Pavel
    RUS
    1½-2½
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    4 Piorun, Kacper
    CHN
    1½-½
    Sindarov, Javokhir
    USA
    Bracket 2
    5 Grischuk, Alexander
    RUS
    2½-1½
    Korobov, Anton
    UKR
    6 Idani, Pouya
    IRI
    ½-1½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    CHN
    7 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    2-0
    Xiong, Jeffery
    IND
    8 Durarbayli, Vasif
    AZE
    4-2
    Abdusattorov, Nodirbek
    UZB
    Bracket 3
    9 Kovalev, Vladislav
    FID
    0-2
    Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    10 Ivic, Velimir
    RUS
    3-1
    Andreikin, Dmitry
    RUS
    11 Harikrishna, Pentala
    IND
    ½-1½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    12 Brkic, Ante
    CRO
    ½-1½
    Martirosyan, Haik
    ARM
    Bracket 4
    13 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
    AZE
    1½-½
    Praggnanandhaa, Rameshbabu
    AZE
    14 Artemiev, Vladislav
    RUS
    2½-3½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    15 Vitiugov, Nikita
    RUS
    1½-2½
    Svidler, Peter
    RUS
    16 Shankland, Sam
    USA
    1½-½
    Jumabayev, Rinat
    KAZ
    Official Brackets

    Round 4, TIEBREAKS
    Saturday, 24 July 2021

    Top seeds Carlsen, Goryachkina advance

    Magnus Carlsen advanced after dispatching Radoslaw Wojtaszek in a tough match. The clincher was clinic on positional play. The crunching 32.Bxh6! stole a pawn and the game went into a queen ending. What is so amazing is how opponents of Carlsen seem to be ground down in the types of positions, playing seemingly illogical moves. However, it is the relentless pressure that is a contributing factor to Carlsen winning these positions.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    One surprise may have been the exit of Daniil Dubov. His lost to young talent Andrey Esipenko is a breakthrough needed to affirm the future of Russian chess. With the exit of Nikita Vitiugov and Dmitri Andrekin, it appears that the other standing Russians are the wily veterans Peter Svidler (45), Alexander Grishcuk (37) Sergey Karjakin (31) and Vladimir Fedoseev (26).

    Andrey Esipenko (Russia)

    Andrey Esipenko (Russia)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    The 19-year old Esipenko, Vladislav Artemiev (23) and Dubov (25) seem to be the next generation of talent hoping to guide Russia back to prominence. Russians have not had a World Champion in over a decade and have not won an Olympiad in nearly two.

    One other sensation in the round was Vasif Durarbayli who beat an in-form Nodirbek Abdusattorov, but not before overcoming a beautiful mating combination in the first rapid. Despite this beautiful end, Abdusattorov became flustered after losing a piece on move 17. The Kazahk player continue on for another 30 moves before mating clouds started to loom overhead.

    The first ten-minute game, Abdusattorov had not recovered from the crushing loss and picked apart at the hands of the French Defense. In the final 10-minute game, the Kazakh player was literally pushed off the board in an embarassing loss.

    Durarbayli, a former student at Webster University, took issue with some Tweets doubting his abilities. His words were strong and sent a message.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Then chess24 offered a response…

    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
    RUS
    3-1
    Stefanova, Antoaneta
    BUL
    2 Kashlinskaya, Alina
    RUS
    4-2
    Saduakassova, Dinara
    KAZ
    3 Dzagnidze, Nana
    GEO
    2½-3½
    Shuvalova, Polina
    RUS
    4 Paehtz, Elisabeth
    GER
    ½-1½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    Bracket 2
    5 Muzychuk, Mariya
    UKR
    ½-1½
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    6 Batsiashvili, Nino
    GEO
    ½-1½
    Gunina, Valentina
    RUS
    7 Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    1½-½
    Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat
    IRI
    8 Assaubayeva, Bibisara
    KAZ
    1½-2½
    Lagno, Kateryna
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Aleksandra Goryachkina may not smile a lot, but she is definitely shining her light on the chessboard. The Russian #1 won both of her tiebreak games over Antoaneta Stefanova to advance to the last eight players.

    Aleksandra_Goryachkina (Russia)

    Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Goryachkina won both of her games in convincing fashion. In the first, pieces were exchanged starting at move 20, but then Stefanova overextended her position and she collapsed rather rapidly. The Russian picked her position apart by gobbling pawns. In the second, the Bulgarian needed a win and played aggressively, but all attempts to develop any initiative failed. The Russian played smoothly and won a nice ending. Her next opponent will be Dinara Saduakassova of Kazahkstan.

    Dinara Saduakassova (Kazahkstan)

    Dinara Saduakassova (Kazahkstan)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  13. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 5)
    Bracket 1
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    ½-½
    Esipenko, Andrey
    RUS
    2 Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    ½-½
    Piorun, Kacper
    POL
    Bracket 2
    3 Grischuk, Alexander
    RUS
    ½-½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    4 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    ½-½
    Durarbayli, Vasif
    AZE
    Bracket 3
    5 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    ½-½
    Ivic, Velimir
    RUS
    6 Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    0-1
    Martirosyan, Haik
    ARM
    Bracket 4
    7 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
    AZE
    ½-½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    8 Svidler, Peter
    RUS
    ½-½
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 5, Game 1
    Sunday, 25 July 2021

    Drawfeast in Game 1… only two decisive games

    As players get to the latter rounds, there is more caution and as a result, an increase in draws. There was only one decisive game in each section with Armenia’s Haik Martirosyan winning over Amin Tabatabaei and Alexandra Kosteniuk’s win over top-seed Aleksandra Gorayachkina.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    GM Samuel Shankland

    Tension is building in Sochi!
    GM Samuel Shankland (USA)
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 5)
    Bracket 1
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    ½-½
    Saduakassova, Dinara
    KAZ
    2 Dzagnidze, Nana
    GEO
    ½-½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    Bracket 2
    3 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    1-0
    Gunina, Valentina
    RUS
    4 Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    ½-½
    Lagno, Kateryna
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia)

    GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia)
    Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  14. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 5)
    Bracket 1
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    1-1
    Esipenko, Andrey
    RUS
    2 Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    1-1
    Piorun, Kacper
    POL
    Bracket 2
    3 Grischuk, Alexander
    RUS
    1-1
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    4 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    1½-½
    Durarbayli, Vasif
    AZE
    Bracket 3
    5 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    1-1
    Ivic, Velimir
    RUS
    6 Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    1-1
    Martirosyan, Haik
    ARM
    Bracket 4
    7 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
    AZE
    1-1
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    8 Svidler, Peter
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 5, Game 2
    Monday, 26 July 2021

    Shankland ousts Svidler… Vidit advances

    Samuel Shankland’s comments from a July interview were circulating on social media. He was quoted as saying that he was “a 2700 with no talent.” Whether it was deliberately “sandbagging” his talent or simply giving a critical self-assessment, his results may call this into question. Garry Kasparov who once stated, “hard work is a talent” would probably disagree.

    Shankland beat 8-time Russian champion Peter Svidler in a tactical skirmish. The final sequence is instructive.

    Vidit Gujrathi is the last Indian in the field and looks to make a push deep in the latter rounds. He beat an unsung hero in Vasif Durarbayli who took issue with those who unestimated his chances. Perhaps that will not happen going forward. Vidit played a position masterpiece essentially relegating the white bishop to the back rank and then prying it away from him. It was an impressive win, but a great run for the Azeri player.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 5)
    Bracket 1
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    1½-½
    Saduakassova, Dinara
    KAZ
    2 Dzagnidze, Nana
    GEO
    ½-½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    Bracket 2
    3 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    2-0
    Gunina, Valentina
    RUS
    4 Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    1½-½
    Lagno, Kateryna
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    As the tournament wears on tension thickens, indecision creeps in and mistakes happen. Aleksandra Goryachkina is seemingly unflappable in her demeanor. It’s sometimes hard tell whether she lost or just won a brilliancy. Yesterday she won when her opponent was the one who unraveled. Dinara Saduakassova ended up tossing an exchange after the Russian applied tremendous pressure.

    Alexandra Kosteniuk has to be the surprise of the tournament despite having been world champion from 2008-2010. Her win over the very tricky Valentina Guinina shows that sound positional play is crucial in the later rounds. Her win was a textbook example of dismantling a combative opponent.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Tan Zhongyi punched her ticket to the semifinal round winning against former finalist Kateryna Lagno. What is interesting was that Tan Zhongyi is the only Chinese player who made the tournament (due to COVID protocols), but she is still vying for the title.

    Anna Muzychuk and Nana Dzagnidze had a short draw an will go to tiebreaks.

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  15. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 5)
    Bracket 1
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    5-3
    Esipenko, Andrey
    RUS
    2 Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    4-2
    Piorun, Kacper
    POL
    Bracket 2
    3 Grischuk, Alexander
    RUS
    1½-2½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    4 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    1½-½
    Durarbayli, Vasif
    AZE
    Bracket 3
    5 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    3-1
    Ivic, Velimir
    RUS
    6 Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    2½-1½
    Martirosyan, Haik
    ARM
    Bracket 4
    7 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
    AZE
    2½-3½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    8 Svidler, Peter
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 5, TIEBREAKS
    Tuesday, 27 July 2021

    Carlsen holds off Esipenko, plays Bacrot next… Tabatabaei advances
    Anna Muzychuk joins semifinalists

    There were six tiebreakers in the open section with thrilling plots. Magnus Carlsen was in a gripping battle with 18-year old Andrey Esipenko who received praise for battling the World Champion in both classical, rapid and 10+10 blitz. Some touted the young Russian as a future contender, but the same has been said about Dmitri Andreikin and Vladislav Artemiev. It took the best effort for Carlsen to advance, but he will face Etienne Bacrot tomorrow.

    Bacrot outclassed Poland’s Kacper Piorun, trading wins in the rapid and winning both blitz encounters. Bacrot staved off elimination winning with the Modern Defense, a rare occurrence at Grandmaster level. Piorun actually tried the Modern Defense in an attempt to equalize in the blitz portion. Canadian Grandmaster Duncan Suttles would be proud!

    Alexander Grischuk bowed out of the World Cup after a loss to Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland. This reduces the number of Russians left to two after three were eliminated (Grischuk, Esipenko and Peter Svidler) this round. In the decisive game, Duda slowly aimed his white pieces at the opposing king.

    It appeared that black was solid and after 41.g5?! black could have seized the initiative. Time pressure became a factor. Grischuk blundered after 59…Ke6?? (59…Kf8! holds) when 60.f7 Ke7 61.e6 followed by the king invasion. Such a wild game! Duda talks about the nervous nature of the game.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 5)
    Bracket 1
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    1½-½
    Saduakassova, Dinara
    KAZ
    2 Dzagnidze, Nana
    GEO
    1-3
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    Bracket 2
    3 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    2-0
    Gunina, Valentina
    RUS
    4 Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    1½-½
    Lagno, Kateryna
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    In the only tiebreak for the women, Anna Muzychuk is still on track to join her sister as the FIDE World Cup champion after ousting Nana Dzagnidze. In the final game, the game transformed from a Najdorf and then to a “Dragdorf” with 7…g6. The Georgian was mixing systems to trick the opponent but may have succeeded only in tricking herself. Muzychuk got a blistering attack. After nearly botching the attack, she finished the game with a sharp tactic. The second game saw Dzagnidze improvising in order to equalize, but she simply had no chances to push the match any longer. Muzychuk gave her thoughts on the match.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  16. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    1-0
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    2 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    ½-½
    Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    3 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    ½-½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    4 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    0-1
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 6, Game 1
    Wednesday, 28 July 2021

    Shankland’s mastery overwhelms Karjakin

    The story of the round was Samuel Shankland’s dismantling of the former championship candidate Sergey Karjakin. The Russian recently had his record broken for youngest Grandmaster in history and now is on the precipice of being eliminated from the World Cup. The loss he received at the hands of the American makes one wonder if his time has passed. The “Minister of Defense” had no such success in today’s battle against Shankland.

    This tournament is turning out to be a career performance for the 29-year old American. For those who may not be aware of his story, in analyzing the U.S. gold medal team, I wrote this about Shankland:

    Back in 2010, he threatened to quit chess due to the poor opportunities for GM norms in the U.S. After some soul-searching he came back and in 2011, he created a stir by defeating Peter Leko in the first round of the 2011 World Cup. He won the Samford Fellowship in 2013 and continued measured improvement. At the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, he scored 9/10 and earned a gold medal on board four.

    He also recently said that he is a “2700 with no talent.” If he has no talent, then it is quite an inspiration to hordes of untalented players out there. Seriously… when has an untalented player made such a deep run into the World Cup. In fact, if sheer hard work has been his recipe for success, then his effort was not wasted. He gives his thoughts!

    Video by FIDE Chess

    While Shankland had an instructive game, Magnus Carlsen dished out his own lesson. In a Ruy Lopez the game had tension until Etienne Bacrot belted out the risky 24.f4. His king would not find safety thereafter. As mentioned, the uncorked a queen sacrifice to beat Bacrot in their first game.

    Instead of clumsily explaining further, here is Carlsen during the press conference.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Both Vidit-Duda and Tabatabaei-Fedoseev were drawn. The only drama was this moment in post-mortem.

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    2 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    Official Brackets

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

  17. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    2-0
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    2 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    1½-½
    Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    3 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    1½-½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    4 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    1-1
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 6, Game 2
    Thursday, 29 July 2021

    Karjakin crashes through… forces tiebreak

    Sergey Karjakin may be known as the “Minister of Defense,” but with his back against the wall, he lashed out against Sam Shankland to even the score. The must-win situation featured a thrilling end leading to mate on the board. The game started as a French Defence with Karjakin opting for the King’s Indian Attack. This game typically features white building up a slow attack on the kingside and black blasting through on the queenside. The idea for black is to undermine the center by attacking on the wings. This game followed that script.

    In a King’s Indian Attack, Karjakin conjured up an attack before Shankland broke down the door with 27.Rxg7+!

    Karjakin made his intentions known after 16.g4 leading to a bit of apprehension for Shankland after 16…Qd8?! After playing more defensive moves, Karjakin belted out 22.g5! and the attack was already strong. Black not realizing the danger played 26…a3 and Karjakin played the scintillating. 27.Rxg7+! GM Nigel Short and IM Almira Skripchenko had analyzed this possibility beforehand and Karjakin obliged. After 27…Kxg7 28.Ng4! f5 29.exf6+ Qxf6 30.Nxf6 axb2, the game ended sportingly with 31.Qg5+ Kf7 32.h6! Ng6 and the final blow 33.Nh4. Mate on the board followed after 33…bxa1(Q) 34.Qxg6+ Ke7 35.Qg7+ Kd6 36.Qd7 mate. Great comeback win for the Russian.

    Magnus Carlsen wrapped up his match with a smooth win over Etienne Bacrot, who ended a nice run. The other two games were very interesting with Duda-Vidit being a tactical slugfest. Vidit began a sequence from move 16-24 giving up a piece for three pawns. Duda ended up sacrificing his knight for one of the pawns in order to advance his. The race was on, and while both players got a new queen. Duda had the first chance to deliver the crushing blow and ended up delivering mate before Vidit could use his new queen.

    One of the most thrilling games was Fedoseev-Tatatabaei. The game appeared headed for a draw when the Iranian fell for a tactic losing a piece. After 77…Rb3+ 78.Be5+! a very animated expression occurred.

    So what happened? After 78.Be5+! 78…Kc6 79.Ra6+ black resigned in lieu of 79…Kd7 80.Rxe6 winning. If 80…Kxe6 81.f5+ winning the rook and netting a piece.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    ½-½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    2 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    ½-½
    Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    Official Brackets

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  18. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    2-0
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    2 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    1½-½
    Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    3 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    1½-½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    4 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    1-1
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 6, Game 2
    Thursday, 29 July 2021

    Karjakin crashes through… forces tiebreak

    Sergey Karjakin may be known as the “Minister of Defense,” but with his back against the wall, he lashed out against Sam Shankland to even the score. The must-win situation featuring a thrilling end leading to mate on the board. The game started as a French Defence with Karjakin opting for the King’s Indian Attack. This game typically features white building up a slow attack on the kingside and black blasting through on the queenside. The idea for black is to undermine the center by attacking on the wings. This game followed that script.

    In a King’s Indian Attack, Karjakin conjured up an attack before Shankland broke down the door with 27.Rxg7+!

    Karjakin made his intentions known after 16.g4 leading to a bit of apprehension for Shankland after 16…Qd8?! After playing more defensive moves, Karjakin belted out 22.g5! and the attack was already strong. Black not realizing the danger played 26…a3 and Karjakin played the scintillating. 27.Rxg7+! GM Nigel Short and IM Almira Skripchenko had analyzed this possibility beforehand and Karjakin obliged. After 27…Kxg7 28.Ng4! f5 29.exf6+ Qxf6 30.Nxf6 axb2, the game ended sportingly with 31.Qg5+ Kf7 32.h6! Ng6 and the final blow 33.Nh4. Mate on the board followed after 33…bxa1(Q) 34.Qxg6+ Ke7 35.Qg7+ Kd6 36.Qd7 mate. Great comeback win for the Russian.

    Magnus Carlsen wrapped up his match with a smooth win over Etienne Bacrot, who ended a nice run. The other two games were very interesting with Duda-Vidit being a tactical slugfest. Vidit began a sequence from move 16-24 giving up a piece for three pawns. Duda ended up sacrificing his knight for one of the pawns in order to advance his. The race was on, and while both players got a new queen. Duda had the first chance to deliver the crushing blow and ended up delivering mate before Vidit could use his new queen.

    One of the most thrilling games was Fedoseev-Tatatabaei. The game appeared headed for a draw when the Iranian fell for a tactic losing a piece. After 77…Rb3+ 78.Be5+! a very animated expression occurred.

    So what happened? After 78.Be5+! 78…Kc6 79.Ra6+ black resigned in lieu of 79…Kd7 80.Rxe6 winning. If 80…Kxe6 81.f5+ winning the rook and netting a piece.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    ½-½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    2 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    ½-½
    Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    Official Brackets

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  19. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    1-0
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    2 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    ½-½
    Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    3 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    ½-½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    4 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    0-1
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 6, Game 1
    Wednesday, 28 July 2021

    Shankland’s mastery overwhelms Karjakin

    The story of the round was Samuel Shankland’s dismantling of the former championship candidate Sergey Karjakin. The Russian recently had his record broken for youngest Grandmaster in history and now is on the precipice of being eliminated from the FIDE World Cup. The loss he received at the hands of the American makes one wonder if his time has passed. The “Minister of Defense” had no such success in today’s battle against Shankland.

    This tournament is turning out to be a career performance for the 29-year old American. For those who may not be aware of his story, in analyzing the U.S. gold medal team, I wrote this about Shankland:

    Back in 2010, he threatened to quit chess due to the poor opportunities for GM norms in the U.S. After some soul-searching he came back and in 2011, he created a stir by defeating Peter Leko in the first round of the 2011 World Cup. He won the Samford Fellowship in 2013 and continued measured improvement. At the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, he scored 9/10 and earned a gold medal on board four.

    He also recently said that he is a “2700 with no talent.” If he has no talent, then it is quite an inspiration to hordes of untalented players out there. Seriously… when has an untalented player made such a deep run into the World Cup. In fact, if sheer hard work has been his recipe for success, then his effort was not wasted. He gives his thoughts!

    Video by FIDE Chess

    While Shankland had an instructive game, Magnus Carlsen dished out his own lesson. In a Ruy Lopez the game had tension until Etienne Bacrot belted out the risky 24.f4. His king would not find safety thereafter. As mentioned, the uncorked a queen sacrifice to beat Bacrot in their first game.

    Instead of clumsily explaining further, here is Carlsen during the press conference.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Both Vidit-Duda and Tabatabaei-Fedoseev were drawn. The only drama was this moment in post-mortem.

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    2 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    Official Brackets

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

  20. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    2-0
    Bacrot, Etienne
    FRA
    2 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    1½-½
    Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi
    IND
    3 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    1½-½
    Tabatabaei, Amin
    IRI
    4 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    4-2
    Shankland, Sam
    USA
    Official Brackets

    Round 6, TIEBREAKS (Open), Game 2 (Women)
    Friday, 30 July 2021

    Karjakin moves on… All-Russian Final (Goryachkina-Kosteniuk)

    Shankland snapped off the pawn with 39.Bxc6! The idea being that after 39…bxc6 40.a5 Nc5 41.a6! the knight can’t stop one of the pawns from queening.

    After being crushed by Sam Shankland in the first rapid game, Sergey Karjakin scored a second must-win. The first rapid game came out of an English-turned Catalan. White had a slight advantage and after trading queens entered a favorable bishop vs. knight ending. Almost immediately, Karjakin blundered with 37…Qxd6?? After 38.exd6 Ne6, Shankland belted out 39.Bxc6! winning a pawn since the knight cannot contain both white passed pawns. After that, it was a clean conversion.

    Karjakin would be faced with the unenviable task of having to win on demand. Facing the Najdorf, Karjakin opted for 6.h3!? and the game switched to a classical setup, then to some type of a Dragonish Sicilian. After 11.f4 it was apparent that black was going to be under some serious pressure if he didn’t react. Surely enough, Shankland erred with 11… Qa5? when 12.f5 gives white a strong initiative.

    After 12…Bxa2, many fans thought about Fischer’s Bxh2 move against Spassky trapping the bishop. Shankland lost a total sense of danger by casually castling and then facing 12…Nd5! he ended up losing a piece. The rest was academic. For the second time, Karjakin had to be the “Minister of Offense” instead of defense.

    Sergey Karjkin (Russia). Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova.

    Sergey Karjkin battles in a must-win situation.
    Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova.

    For the blitz portion, Shankland would try black again and this time would repeat the line from the previous game, but played 8…Nxd4 and the game was queenless a few moves later. Shankland tried a rook lift with 17…Ra6 which was refuted after 18.Bf1 Rc6 19.Bb5. In just a few moves, Shankland “rover” experiment would fail miserably and Karjakin finished the game neatly by weaving a mating net.

    So Shankland would need a must-win and this time went for the English. Needing a win, he got a playable position and in fact, Karjakin was in serious trouble. Fast forward to 22…Qxb7 23.Qxe5 black’s kingside was in shambles. However, Shankland missed his chance to keep the edge by playing 28.Qc1 instead of 28.Qd2! with a sizable advantage. After 28.Qc1 black equalized easily, but having to play for a win, Shankland made a couple of errors and ended up losing the second blitz game as well.

    Agony of defeat. Sam Shankland after losing to Sergey Karjkin. Photo by Eric Rosen.

    Agony of defeat. Sam Shankland after losing to Sergey Karjkin. Photo by Eric Rosen.

    Sam Shankland after losing to Sergey Karjakin
    Photos by IM Eric Rosen

    It was a good tournament for Shankland as he met and even exceeded expectations. Karjakin has been a championship challenger and with another win against compatriot Vladimir Fedoseev will qualify for the Candidates tournament.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    1½-½
    Muzychuk, Anna
    UKR
    2 Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    1½-½
    Tan, Zhongyi
    CHN
    Official Brackets

    Alexandra Kosteniuk has a chance to become a candidate for the world championship years after winning the crown in 2008. Since then Hou Yifan rose and then faded, but now a new breed of talent has come on the scene with Aleksandra Goryachkina leading the pack and a number of players from Asia.

    Unfortunately, none of the interview questions have been about her resiliency across generations of play. How has she managed to keep up? Some years ago, she was in the shoes of Goryachkina and now she will be playing her in the final.

    In her second game against former world champion Tan Zhongyi, she faced the Petroff and essayed 6.d3!? and 7.d4. If one saw this online, they’d think it was a mouse slip. Kosteniuk explained the situation and the psychology behind her play.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Aleksandra Goryachkina. Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova.

    Russia’s Aleksandra Goryachkinaintensity has served her well.
    Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova

    Goryachkina crushed Anna Muzychuk in a Grunfeld, but it was the transition to the ending that was instructive. Black slowly ran out of steam as white’s pieces continued to squeeze the life out of black. By the end, white was in zugzwang. The Russian’s interview is not appearing on the FIDE website in English, but here it is in Russian.

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  21. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (SEMIFINALS)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    ½-½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    2 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    ½-½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Semifinals (Open), Finals (Women), Game 1
    Sunday, 1 August 2021

    Semifinal games drawn… Kosteniuk breaks through in opener

    Magnus Carlsen is looking to get to the final despite having no need to claim a Candidates spot. Jan-Krzysztof Duda is seeking a breakthrough result and has played inspired chess thus far. The first game was a bit tense, but neither side ever got enough pull on the position before the ensuing rook ending was drawn.

    The other semifinal game was a Russian derby with Vladimir Fedoseev playing white against Sergey Karjakin. This game was almost perfectly played with the evaluation showing equality throughout the 69 moves. It doesn’t mean the game was dull as there were many twists and turns in the rook ending. In fact, Fedoseev thought that these endings can sometimes be won.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (SEMIFINALS)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    0-1
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    An intergenerational battle occurred today when top-seed Aleksandra Goryachkina faced former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk in the finals of the Women’s World Cup. The game ended in a textbook fashion but began in the ever-popular Catalan with Goryachkin’s white pieces getting an early advantage in space. Kosteniuk sacrificed a pawn in the middlegame for the two bishops and a passed c-pawn.

    Final Position after 63…Ra6. White will lose the bishop.

    A skirmish ensued when Goryachkina sacrificed a pawn for a kingside attack. Kosteniuk remained unflappable as she allowed a discovered attack on her king realizing that her king was adequately sheltered after 40…Kg6. When the smoke cleared, it was white whose king was dangerously exposed. However, black was unable to find the most accurate moves and the game went into a tricky ending.

    With the game heading for a draw, Goryachkina found herself on the bad side of a rook versus bishop ending. The ending is drawn in many positions, but the white king was already in a bad position. Battling nerves and fatigue, Kosteniuk was able to find the winning formation. She gave her impressions of the game.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    In the third-place battle, Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk played a complicated game, but ended with a perpetual check. Interestingly enough, the game mirrored the Fedoseev-Karjakin game for the first 12 moves when Tan Zhongyi opted for 13.Bxf6 instead of Fedoseev’s 13.Nb5. Tan’s attempt seemed to release to the tension too early.

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  22. Agony of defeat. Sam Shankland after losing to Sergey Karjkin. Photo by Eric Rosen.

    The intriguing Aleksandra Goryachkina will need to fight back.
    Photo by IM Eric Rosen

    Tan Zhongyi is the only player who has worn the mask each day without fail. Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova

    Tan Zhongyi is the only player who has worn the mask each day without fail. Photo by Anastasiia Korolkova

  23. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (SEMIFINALS)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    1-1
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    2 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Semifinals (Open), Finals (Women), Game 2
    Monday, 2 August 2021

    Kosteniuk wins World Cup! Karjakin advances to finals.

    This was a great day for host Russia as Alexandra Kosteniuk won the World Cup after defeating compatriot Aleksandra Goryachkina in an inspiring way. Kosteniuk won the world championship in 2008 and will advance to the Candidates tournament for the right to play Ju Wenjun, the current world champion. Sergey Karjakin stated in the post-match interview that he wanted the right to play Magnus Carlsen, either in the World Cup final or in a World Championship rematch. To two faced each other in 2017 with Carlsen winning in tiebreaks.

    They went into the Zaitsev variation and Karjakin mentioned that he played a game in a similar line during a blitz game when he was 11. The opponent… Gata Kamsky. He mentioned that he won the game quickly. This wasn’t a quick when, but impressive. Karjakin’s 24.e6! was bone in the throat of Fedoseev as the e5-square would allow both the knight (f3) and bishop (f4) access to the dark squares. Karjakin plonked the knight on e5 and then g6. Feeling the position slip away, Fedoseev tried the speculative 27…Nxf2!? The reason was to upset the flow of white’s attack. It didn’t work and soon white had steamrolling pawns going up the board. Black had seen enough.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (ROUND 6)
    1 Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Kosteniuk wins the World Cup! Now 37 years old, Alexandra Kosteniuk is taking another shot at the world crown. It’s been twelve years since she became the world champion and many thought players such as Aleksandra Goryachkina, Valentina Guinina and Olga Girya where the new challengers. Kateryna Lagno immigrated from Ukraine to Russia to add more competition. Nevertheless, she outlasted them all and qualified for the Candidates tournament. She lost a championship match to Zhu Chen 20 years ago and now is a possible challenger to Ju Wenjun.

    In the second game of the match, Goryachkina trotted out the French Defense which is a sign that she wanted an unbalanced game. After 11…gxf6, the strategy seemed to be a poor winning attempt as Goryachkina offered trading several pieces and even a queen trade. In her desperation, the younger Aleksandra ended up with a losing position, but Alexandra gracefully offered a draw.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    In the third-place battle, Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk played a Petroff, with white playing 10.Nh4!? Commentators were saying that this was a novelty. There was a lot of probing with the white minor pieces, but it seemed like a waste of time and black ended up with the upper hand. Tan missed her chance with 39…cxb4! creating an entry route for the black king to invade the queenside. After 39…c4 the position was closed and white had fewer weaknesses to deal with. The game petered to a draw.

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  24. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (SEMIFINALS)
    1 Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    1½-2½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    2 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    Official Brackets

    Semifinals (Open), 3rd Place (Women)
    Tuesday, 3 August 2021

    Carlsen ousted! Duda faces Karjakin in Final!

    Magnus Carlsen came into this tournament looking for his first World Cup victory. he will have to wait a little longer. It is clear from this World Cup that the new generation has made a statement. The World Champion had this to say…

    Maybe everyone was expecting Carlsen to waltz through the field. Even during the commentary, bias crept in when there was talk about him holding a completely lost position. There just had to be a way, right? Unfortunately, Carlsen faltered badly in this game. The situation was worsened by time pressure. Both players can be seen with less than half a minute on the clock.

    After Carlsen’s 62.Bc1?? Duda was able to attack both sides of the board. It was too much for the champion to handle.

    This position is instructive. White has just played 62.Bc1?? when 62.Bd4 was still equal. After Carlsen’s blunder, Duda used zugzwang maneuvers as the white bishop was tied to the defense of his own pawns. Finally, Duda had to deploy his king into the battle. Carlsen could no longer defend both the kingside pawns, nor stop the black king from invading. While commentators were unsure, the position was already -6. Duda was on his way, and Carlsen would crash out.

    This has to be the biggest win of Duda’s career, breaking Carlsen’s 125-game winning streak. A qualification to the Candidate’s tournament and a chance to play on the biggest stage. This win will also carry psychological weight, knowing that he can defeat the world champion in a match.

    Magnus Carlsen after falling to Duda. Photo by Eric Rosen.

    Marcus Carlsen saw his tournament come to an end.
    Photos by David Llada

    It certainly is a game-changer with the rise of a new generation of players seen during this tournament. In the following interview, he talks about his win, but there was no talk about the impact of this win on his career and his ideas about the Candidates tournament. Certainly, it is an exciting time for the Polish player, and he will go on to face an experienced match player in Karjakin.

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    For the third-place bronze medal, Tan Zhongyi took advantage of erratic play by Anna Muzychuk, who seemed to be completely out of sorts in the tiebreaks. Her play was exceedingly reckless in the first game. She tried a very crude attack on the black king, sacrificing several pawns but getting zero compensation. The black king was well-protected behind three passed pawns and Muzychuk had to resign.

    In the second game, Muzychuk played the Albin Countergambit with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5!? 3.dxe5 Ne7?! but almost immediately made a mistake. Her 6…b5 was a serious positional mistake, and Tan later exploited it with the snappy 12.Qxa7! With black completely winning and only needing a draw to clinch the match, the Chinese player allowed a three-fold repetition.

    Videos by FIDE Chess

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

  25. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (FINALS, 3rd Place)
    1 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    ½-½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    2 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    0-1
    Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    Official Brackets

    Finals (Open, 3rd place), Game 1
    Wednesday, 4 August 2021

    Karjakin-Duda are “Quick Draw McGraw”… Carlsen bashes Fedoseev

    Both Sergey Karjakin and Jan-Krystof Duda seem content for a “feeling out” process, but there are only two games. Both were following a game from the Tata Steel featuring Magnus Carlsen and Duda. Karjakin had prepped for that game, but got an unexpected response from Duda. He decided to bail out when he found himself out of prep after 17 moves. It was disappointing, but both may be content with going to tiebreaks. Here was the reaction from the third-place participants.

    After an inventive exchange sacrifice, black pieces are swarming while white’s queen helplessly watches the invasion.

    Yes, the Fedoseev-Carlsen game would be far more interesting. The game started out as a King’s Indian, but the Russian went 3.h4!? Despite this shock, the fans were in for another, 16…f4!? 17.Bxf4 Bd7 18.Nd1 Rxf4! This exchange sacrifice would have as compensation control of the dark squares. The black bishop bore into the kingside while after 25…b5!? the black queen broke down the door on the queenside.

    The white queen was hemmed in (g1, g2, h1) looking on helplessly. In the diagrammed position, black is all over white like a cheap suit. By the time white could give the exchange back, black had gotten a tight grip on the position. All Fedoseev could do is shuffle his pieces around on a few squares. He resigned in a miserable position. In the interview, he discussed the game and also the loss to Duda. Very revealing!

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

  26. 2021 World Chess Cup
    July 12th-August 6th, 2021
    (Sochi, Russia)
    MATCH PAIRINGS (FINALS, 3rd Place)
    1 Karjakin, Sergey
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Duda, Jan-Krzysztof
    POL
    2 Fedoseev, Vladimir
    RUS
    0-2
    Carlsen, Magnus
    NOR
    Official Brackets

    Finals (Open, 3rd place), Game 2
    Thursday, 4 August 2021

    Jan-Krzysztof Duda wins World Cup!

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Games (Open)

    Video by FIDE Chess

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

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