FIDE World Cup R6.3: Karjakin, Goryachkina, Kosteniuk Through


Again coming back from a one-point deficit in the rapid, GM Sergey Karjakin eventually knocked GM Sam Shankland out of the FIDE World Cup on Friday. Karjakin will now play GM Vladimir Fedoseev, which means a Russian player is guaranteed for the final.

The women’s final will see two Russian players with the same first name as both GM Aleksandra Goryachkina and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk won their games, against GM Anna Muzychuk and GM Tan Zhongyi respectively.

“Don’t put Karjakin in a must-win situation,” joked someone on the internet after the second classical game of the FIDE World Cup quarterfinal. Shankland did that anyway (of course!) as he won the first rapid game on Friday, but he had to pay the price.

Karjakin is now the first chess player in history to reach the semifinals of a World Cup four times: he had done it before in 2007, 2009, and the year he won, 2015.

Karjakin giving his autograph to a fan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“I was very unhappy, not because I lost in the first rapid game today, but the position was very safe. I could make almost any move and the position would be very drawish, but somehow I managed to blunder,” said Karjakin when joining the Chess.com live broadcast. “I was very upset after this game. Fortunately, I managed to hold my nerves and to play more or less fine in the second game, and then it was good.”

Karjakin Shankland tiebreak FIDE World Cup
Karjakin and Shankland starting their tiebreak. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

For the second time in the match and the third time in this World Cup, Karjakin was in a must-win situation. And he survived again.

Shankland didn’t repeat the French, which he had used the other day, but returned to his more usual Sicilian. That didn’t mean there were no traces of GM Bobby Fischer this time: it became a Najdorf, and Karjakin chose 6.h3.

Shankland didn’t seem to be as prepared in that line as in other openings because his Dragon setup didn’t work so well, and out of the opening he had already lost a piece:

Karjakin Shankland tiebreak FIDE World Cup
Karjakin trapped the bishop on a2. Photo: Anastasiya Korolkova/FIDE.

Next on the program were two 10+10 games, where Karjakin got to play as White again in the first. Shankland repeated the line, but Karjakin was the first to deviate on move 10 with an interesting pawn sacrifice that his second GM Denis Khismatullin had found during the previous game.

“If the opponent doesn’t know it, it’s very difficult to play for Black,” said Karjakin.

Chess.com Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

This time it was Shankland who had to win, and there was enough reason to continue California dreaming when he got a much better endgame with major pieces. “I tried to play safe, but somehow I made some mistakes. It became very unpleasant, but fortunately, he blundered 28…Rd8 and after the rooks are [traded], it’s just a draw,” said Karjakin.

And a tremendous match came to an end, and one that saw only decisive games—similar to the famous World Cup final in 2015. Despite the bitter aftertaste of getting so close to a World Cup final, Shankland can have only positive feelings from this event.

He chose a quote from the final scene of Terminator 2 to reflect upon being “terminated” from the tournament:

Quarterfinals | Results








Fed Player Rtg Fed Player Rtg G1 G2 TB
GM Carlsen, Magnus 2847 GM Bacrot, Etienne 2678 1-0 1-0 .
GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757 GM Shankland, Sam 2709 0-1 1-0 3-1
GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2738 GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2726 ½-½ 1-0 .
GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2696 GM Tabatabaei, M. Amin 2613 ½-½ 1-0 .

FIDE World Cup 2021 results

The women’s tournament saw two decisive results, which means Saturday will be a rest day in both tournaments. Coincidentally, both winners—Goryachkina and Kosteniuk—missed quicker wins in otherwise well-played games where they went on to score the full point anyway.

First, it was Goryachkina who got a chance to win material in one of those lines that the computer spits out immediately but is hard to see. She kept the pressure on Muzychuk anyway and won a good game. Over 20 games, it was the first time ever that Goryachkina had managed to beat one of the Muzychuk sisters.

Goryachkina-Muzychuk Sochi 2021
Goryachkina-Muzychuk. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

Kosteniuk could have won a healthy pawn combined with a dominating position. Her own solution was nice as well: a positional exchange sacrifice with an ongoing initiative where Tan missed the most tenacious defense.

A “tired but happy” Kosteniuk said it was “an interesting game, but not so flawless, as I’ve heard.” She admitted that the exchange sacrifice was tempting but not necessary. “I tried to resist it for 10 minutes, but then I thought it’s worth a try.”

Alexandra Kosteniuk closeup
Alexandra Kosteniuk. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Kosteniuk noted that this was in her third consecutive Women’s World Cup semifinal, but with that, she included the old-style knockout women’s world championships. After she missed out on the finals in 2017 and 2018, she will now finally play her second final after the one in 2008 when she became world champion by beating a young GM Hou Yifan.

Tan has reached the two previous finals: in 2017 when she became world champion, and in 2018 when she lost to GM Ju Wenjun.

Kosteniuk live ratings World Cup
Together with five games from the French League, Kosteniuk, who is also Chess.com’s Director of Russian Content, wins almost 50 Elo points and is back over 2500. Image: 2700chess.

Alexandre Kosteniuk happy
Alexandre Kosteniuk was interviewed on the Chess.com live broadcast. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Semifinals | Results






Fed Player Rating

Fed Player Rating G1 G2 TB
GM Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2596 GM Muzychuk, Anna 2527 ½-½ 1-0 .
GM Tan, Zhongyi 2511 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472 ½-½ 0-1 .

FIDE Women's World Cup 2021 results
The FIDE World Cup takes place in the Galaxy Leisure Complex in Sochi, Russia, until August 6, 2021. Each round consists of two classical games and, if necessary, a rapid/blitz tiebreak on the third day. The open section began round two with 128 players and the women’s section, 64.


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