29 July 2021

Three FIDE World Cup Semi-Finalists Defined

Both women's semifinal games were drawn.

July 29, in Krasnaya Polyana, there finished the return quarterfinal games of the FIDE Open World Cup and the first semifinals games of the women's FIDE World Cup.

Magnus Carlsen (Norway), who needed only a draw in game two to win the match with Etienne Bacrot (France), would not go into hot theoretical battles in the Sicilian Defense. The champion opted for a calm line with approximately equal position arising on the board. In an attempt to fight for victory, the Frenchman captured the central pawn, which proved poisoned. He had to part with the exchange, but his compensation was obviously insufficient. Bacrot recognized his defeat on move 39. 

Sergey Karjakin of Russia was in a must-win situation against Sam Shankland (USA) and went for the King's Indian opening as White. White launched an offensive against the opponent’s king in the middlegame, and Black advanced his pawns on the queenside.  Karjakin opened up the g-file, creating serious threats against the black king on move 22. Shankland could have put up a more stubborn defense, but opted for the pawn offensive. The Russian reacted with a spectacular rook sacrifice, breaking down the opponent's defenses and making it impossible for Black to escape. The match score has leveled and the battle shifts to the tie-breaker. Sam Shankland is White in game one. 

Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) vs. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (India) was Ruy Lopez, which transposed into an endgame almost immediately with White’s knight facing Black’s three pawns. The Indian GM did not act in the best way, allowing White to regroup his forces to advantage. Supported by a rook and a knight, Duda's dangerous passed pawn eventually sealed the fate of the game.   

Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia) vs. M. Amin Tabatabaei (Iran) was the last to finish. White was pressing slightly in a calm position and the game smoothly transposed into the rooks and opposite-colored bishops ending. A draw seemed not far off, but the Russian persisted and his opponent started committing inaccuracies. Apparently, fatigue began to take its toll as Tabatabaei made a bad blunder and gave up almost immediately.


In the women's tournament, Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) mishandled the opening as Black against Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine). In a search of counterplay, the Russian sacrificed a pawn, but her position remained extremely difficult. However, White hesitated slightly in the endgame and allowed Black to consolidate her position. Muzychuk overlooked a petite combination, and it was equal again. A draw was agreed on move 46.

Tan Zhongyi (China) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia) had a close position with pawn chains out of the Reti opening. White gained space advantage and a pair of bishops, but her pawn structure was compromised. There were practically no opportunities for a breakthrough with none of the pawns exchanged, and the opponents agreed to a draw.

The Open World Cup quarterfinal tie-breaker and women's semifinal return games are scheduled on July 30. 


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Photos by Eteri Kublashvili