World Cup: Shankland and Vidit go through

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/27/2021 – In the open section of the World Cup, 2 players secured a spot in the quarterfinals on Monday, as Sam Shankland (pictured) and Vidit Gujrathi knocked out Peter Svidler and Vasif Durarbayli. Meanwhile, in the women’s tournament, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Tan Zhongyi and Alexandra Kosteniuk made it to the semifinals. | Photo: Eric Rosen

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Tabatabaei bounces back

Only 2 out of the 8 quarterfinalists in the open section of the World Cup will get to have a rest day on Tuesday, as 6 matches will be decided in Tuesday’s tiebreakers, including Magnus Carlsen vs Andrey Esipenko. The winners of the day were Sam Shankland, who defeated Peter Svidler with the white pieces, and Vidit Gujrathi, who got the better of Vasif Durarbayli with black after both missing a chance to win and barely saving a half point in game 1.

After knocking out Nikita Vitiugov, Svidler put some pressure on Shankland in his game with white and, in typical style, entered a sharp struggle in the rematch with the black pieces.

The game started with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6, and Shankland went for the direct 3.h4, which led to a line reminiscent of the Samisch Variation in the King’s Indian. Svidler temporarily sacrificed two pawns to create threats against the long-castled white king. Both players were showcasing their tactical prowess in the complex battle, until the Russian moved his queen to the wrong square on move 24.


24...Qb6 was the losing mistake, while 24...Qb5 would have kept the tense balance — a difference this slight can decide a game in such sharp struggles! The sequence that followed in the game shows why b6 was the wrong square for the queen: 25.Bh4 Rd4 (notice the threat of ...Rc4, winning the queen) 26.Nf6+ Kf8 27.Bf2


Had Black gone for 24...Qb5 in the first diagram, 27...Rc4 would have been possible at this point (of course, Shankland would not have entered this line), while now 27...Rc4 would fail due to the knight fork on d7!

Moreover, grabbing the knight with 27...Bxf6, as Svidler played, also wins for White. There followed 28.exf6, threatening mate on h8 with the rook, which means Black again does not get to play his rook to c4.


The game continued 28...Qxf6 29.Qxc5 Rd6 30.Qc8+ and Svidler resigned. It was a fine-looking victory for Shankland, who will face either Maxime Vachier-Lagrave or Sergey Karjakin in the next stage of the tournament.

Sam Shankland, Peter Svidler

Peter Svidler won the 2011 World Cup and was the runner-up in 2015 | Photo: Eric Rosen

A visibly relieved Vidit talked to Michael Rahal after knocking out Durarbayli, noting that he will very happily “take all the rest days I can get”, given how tiring the event is. The Indian star had missed a winning move in game 1 and was all but lost in an endgame later on — he did save the draw in the end. In game 2, Vidit got to completely nullify the activity of his opponent’s light-squared bishop.


Vidit noted that Durarbayli’s 20.h3 was perhaps not the most precise (the engines give 20.Qd2 and 20.Qg3 as better alternatives), since it allowed 20...c3, and White will need plenty of things to go his way if he wants to activate his bishop.

The 26-year-old Indian star, currently placed 20th in the live ratings list, was in the driver’s seat, and he did not fail in conversion, as he eventually grabbed the unfortunate bishop and won the game. 

Vidit will have a rest day before facing either Alexander Grischuk or Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the quarterfinals. Both he and Shankland qualified to the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix series (see the full regulations).

Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Eric Rosen

While Shankland and Vidit won to reach the quarterfinals, Amin Tabatabaei won to fight another day. The Iranian had lost game 1 against Haik Martirosyan and managed to bounce back by scoring a win from a slightly superior knight endgame.


As GM Karsten Müller explains in his annotations below, this position is drawn, although, of course, it is White who needs to be precise to hold the balance. Here Martirosyan erred with 58.Nxf3, since after 58...gxf3+ 59.Kd2 d3 the black king can invade via h3. The correct defence was 58.Nc4, and White has no way to break through.


Haik Martirosyan, Amin Tabatabaei

On to the tiebreaks — Haik Martirosyan and Amin Tabatabaei | Photo: Eric Rosen

FIDE Chess World Cup 2021

Source: Wikipedia | Click to enlarge

All games - Round 5


Replay all the games from the World Cup at

Kosteniuk and Tan in the Candidates

In the women’s section, only Nana Dzagnidze and Anna Muzychuk will return to the Gazprom Mountain Resort to face each other in the quarterfinals’ rapid and blitz tiebreakers, as 3 out of 4 semifinalists are already known in the women’s tournament.

Aleksandra Goryachkina, Tan Zhongyi and Alexandra Kosteniuk all won in the second game of round 5 to secure a spot in the semis. Tan and Kosteniuk thus qualified to the next edition of the Candidates Tournament — Goryachkina was already qualified as the 2020 World Championship challenger, so her reaching the semis means the remaining semifinalists get the 3 spots granted by the World Cup.

Tan knocked out none other than second seed Kateryna Lagno.


Here Black wins with 32...h3, as she decisively activates her rooks along the g and h-files after 33.Nxh3 Rh7 34.Nf4 Nf5 35.Ne2 Rh2+ 36.Kf1 Rgg2


Tan, who was the women’s world champion between 2017 and 2018, did not fail to convert this clearly winning position and moved on to the semifinals.

Tan Zhongyi, Kateryna Lagno

Tan Zhongyi and Kateryna Lagno | Photo: Eric Rosen

Goryachkina knocked out Kazakhstani IM Dinara Saduakassova, after the latter blundered the game away in one move.


22.Rc2 loses to the simple 22...Rxc2, due to 23.Qxc2 Qxf1+ 24.Kxf1 Ne3+, forking White’s king and queen.

Aleksandra Goryachkina

Top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: Eric Rosen

FIDE Chess World Cup 2021

Source: Wikipedia | Click to enlarge

All games - Round 5


Replay all the games from the Women’s World Cup at


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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