World Cup: Duda knocks out Vidit

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/30/2021 – Jan-Krzysztof Duda will face Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals of the FIDE World Cup. The Polish grandmaster knocked out Vidit after the latter erred in a sharp endgame. Russian GMs Vladimir Fedoseev and Sergey Karjakin also won on Thursday — the former moved on to the semis, while the latter levelled the score in his match against Sam Shankland. In the women’s section, both semifinal encounters finished drawn. | Photo: Eric Rosen

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Decisive games

No draws were seen in the open section of the World Cup on Thursday. Etienne Bacrot and Sergey Karjakin needed to win to take their matches to tiebreaks — while Bacrot lost for a second day in a row against Magnus Carlsen, Karjakin managed to bounce back against Sam Shankland. In the meantime, Vladimir Fedoseev and Jan-Krzysztof Duda moved on to the semifinals thanks to wins over Amin Tabatabaei and Vidit Gujrathi.

Duda and Vidit played no fewer than 18 moves of theory out of a Spanish Opening.


Both Alexander Grischuk and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave reached this position with white earlier this year (in rapid and blitz events), and they both went for 18.cxb7. Duda, on the other hand, opted for 18.Qxf2, which had been tried by Adhiban back in 2013. Unlike Adhiban’s opponent, though, who played 18...Bc8 and castled next, Vidit played the sharper 18...Bxc6.

Not surprisingly, the contenders were well aware of what they were doing, as they only once thought for over 5 minutes until move 25, when they reached an endgame with rook, knight and three pawns against rook and six pawns.

The position was dynamically balanced, until Vidit faltered on move 34.


As GM Karsten Müller notes in his annotations below, after 34...Re2+, White is quicker in the pawn races following 35.Kh1 Rxb2 36.Nxa6 — Vidit needed to be more cautious and get rid of White’s a-pawn with 34...c5 35.Nxa6 Ra8 36.Nc6 Rxa5.

Queening half a tempo earlier was enough for Duda to score the all-important victory, despite being three pawns down.


GM Müller thus describes the situation: “White gives the first check and wins”.

Duda will get two rest days before facing Carlsen in the semifinals. Even if he loses that match, he will get a second chance at reaching the Candidates in the match for third place — in that case, Carlsen will be in the final and the second qualification spot will be given to the player finishing in third place.


Vidit Gujrathi

About to make a crucial decision — Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Anastasiia Korolkova

Karjakin bounces back

While Duda and Vidit played a nerve-wracking encounter, which was decided by a single tempo, certainly the most exciting game of the day was Karjakin vs Shankland. Only needing a draw, Shankland played the French Defence with black, to which his opponent reacted with the King’s Indian Attack.

Karjakin got the kind of imbalanced position — with attacking potential — that suits best a player in a must-win situation.


With his g and h-pawns already on the fourth and fifth ranks, the Russian played 18.Kh1, preparing to transfer his rook to g1.

Nine moves later, it was clear that he had chosen the correct path.


Shankland’s 26...a3 in the previous move was a fatal mistake — the American was already in trouble, but 26...f5 would have been the best defensive try. Karjakin found 27.Rxg7+, and Black has no way to defend against the ensuing attack (which started with 27...Kxg7 28.Ng4) as his pieces are far away from the action.

Eight moves later, Shankland allowed his opponent to show mate on the board, a rarely seen occurrence in grandmaster games. This is the only match that will be decided in Friday’s tiebreakers.


Sergey Karjakin

Back in business — Sergey Karjakin | Photo: Eric Rosen

Fedoseev and Carlsen go through

After beating Bacrot for a second day in a row, Carlsen told Michael Rahal, referring to the fact that he will get two rest days prior to the semifinals:

I desperately need them. I intend to go for a hike in the mountains, try to relax and be glad for two things: that I don’t have to play for a couple of days and, most of all, that I am still in the tournament.

The highest-rated player in the world — and by quite a margin — has gained 5.4 rating points so far in Sochi! The Norwegian has an 8/10 score (in classical games) against players rated 2548, 2639, 2691, 2716 and 2678.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Anastasiia Korolkova

Meanwhile, another player who has stood out for his remarkable performance in Sochi moved on to the semifinals: Fedoseev will face either Karjakin or Shankland in the next stage after knocking out Tabatabaei, who blundered horribly in a rook and bishop endgame.


77...Rxg3 loses to the simple 78.Be5+ Kc6 79.Ra6+. Tabatabaei resigned as there would have followed 79...Kd7 80.Rxe6 Kxe6 81.f5+ and White will grab the rook on g3.

The players’ reactions:


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Draws in the women’s section

After getting a rest day on Wednesday, the semifinalists of the women’s tournament played the first games of their matches. While a pretty balanced game ended in a 31-move draw in Tan Zhongyi vs Alexandra Kosteniuk, Anna Muzychuk got a positional advantage with the white pieces against Aleksandra Goryachkina.


Playing black, top seed Goryachkina defended her inferior position resourcefully until getting a half point in a completely equal rook endgame on move 46.

Anna Muzychuk, Aleksandra Goryachkina

Anna Muzychuk vs Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: Eric Rosen


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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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