World Cup Highlights - Part 2

by Joshua Doknjas
8/7/2021 – The 2021 FIDE World Cup concluded on August 5 with Jan-Krzysztof Duda defeating Sergey Karjakin by a score of 1½-½ in the finals. Joshua Doknjas takes a look at five interesting games from the second half of the event, focussing on the performances of the two finalists. | Photo: Eric Rosen

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In Part 1 of the World Cup highlights, FM Doknjas looked at remarkable games by Daniil Dubov, Magnus Carlsen, Velimir Ivic and M. Amin Tabatabaei.

Six Decisive Games

Sergey Karjakin and Sam Shankland played one of the most exciting matches of the event, with all 6 games ending decisively. In the first classical game, Shankland outplayed Karjakin in a balanced endgame and successfully converted his advantage. The following game saw Karjakin play for a win by avoiding well-known theoretical pathways and employ the King’s Indian Attack in an attempt to reach a complicated middlegame.


After Karjakin won on demand, the match entered tiebreaks, where Shankland won the first rapid game and put Karjakin in another must-win situation. The second and third rapid games are discussed below.


Sam Shankland

Sam Shankland | Photo: Eric Rosen

Duda’s Path to Victory

In the second half of the event, Duda defeated Grischuk, Vidit, Carlsen, and Karjakin on his path to tournament victory. Duda described his game with Vidit as the game of his life, allowing him to reach a semi-final match with Carlsen and have good qualification chances for the Candidates. The two players entered a fashionable and concrete variation of the Ruy Lopez which had been prepared thoroughly by both of them. Although the arising endgame should be perfectly fine for Black, Vidit never managed to fully equalize and Duda found several deep ideas to win the game.


Duda faced his biggest challenge in the semi-finals against Carlsen. After three tense games, Duda broke the deadlock by winning with the Black pieces out of a relatively quiet 3.Bb5+ Sicilian. Carlsen tried to create chances by gaining space on the kingside, but his weaknesses on the queenside were too much of a liability. 


The final match against Karjakin was won very convincingly by Duda. In the first classical game, Karjakin had the White pieces but seemed to have mixed up his move order in the opening and decided to force a draw. The second classical game saw Duda seize the initiative immediately and create unbearable pressure in an endgame. 


Jan-Krzysztof Duda

World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda | Photo: Anastasiia Korolkova


Joshua Doknjas is a FIDE Master from Canada and the author of two books on the Sicilian Najdorf and Ruy Lopez. He enjoys teaching, following, and writing about chess. Joshua is especially interested in the role of engines during opening preparation and understanding how AI has influenced modern chess.


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