2021 FIDE World Cup: Round #2

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…


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.

Games (Open)

Games (Women)

Video by FIDE Chess

Video by ChessBase India

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


  1. 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)

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    Video by ChessBase India

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

  2. Faces in the Crowd

    Photos by Anastasia Korolkova

    Some people drive in style…

    Magnus Carlsen arriving for his game. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    …while others keep it simple!

    Timur Gareyev arriving for his game. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Magnus Carlsen and Timur Gareyev show the different ways to get to the venue. 🙂

    Neuris Delgado vs. Niaz Murshed. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Neuris Delgado Ramirez beat Bangladesh’s Niaz Murshed (above), but was unable to advance against India’s Adhiban Baskaran.

    Two very close friends Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazahkstan) and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran) chat before the round. Photo by Anastasia Korolkova

    Two very close friends Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazahkstan) and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran) chat before the round.

  3. 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.


    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.

    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 Rameshbu 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)

    Games (Women)

    Video by FIDE Chess

    em>Video by ChessBase India

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button