FIDE World Cup Finals: Carlsen Wins Masterpiece
Magnus Carlsen beat Vladimir Fedoseev on Wednesday. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

FIDE World Cup Finals: Carlsen Wins Masterpiece

| 71 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen bounced back forcefully from his lost FIDE World Cup semifinal. The world champion played a masterpiece with the black pieces on Wednesday and defeated GM Vladimir Fedoseev in the first game of the match for third place. The final of the World Cup started with a very quick draw between GM Sergey Karjakin and GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

How to watch?
The games of the FIDE World Cup can be found here: Open | Women. provides daily commentary on and with GM Hou Yifan, GM Ben Finegold, IM Danny Rensch, GM Robert Hess, GM Viswanathan Anand, and other guests.

In a FIDE World Cup that started bigger than ever, initially 206 players had a chance to win. Now, only two are left, playing for the first prize of $88,000 (FIDE takes 20 percent of the advertised $110,000).

The first day of the big final was rather disappointing. Karjakin, playing white, allowed a move repetition on move 13, and after just 17 moves and about 45 minutes the game ended in a draw.

Karjakin Duda Sochi 2021
A short game: Karjakin-Duda. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

What happened? Well, the Russian player most likely mixed up something in his preparation: he might have played the wrong move order by immediately taking on c6 instead of playing the rook to d1 first. Carlsen himself had played 10.Rd1 against Duda in Wijk aan Zee in 2019, and Duda said that that is more critical.

As Karjakin said afterward, he then wanted to play "solid" which, in this case, means going for a quick draw.

For the Polish GM, it was all very surprising: he mostly expected 1.e4, and also he had played this opening before in the World Cup. "It was kind of weird; he seemed to be unprepared," he said.

Suddenly the live broadcast commentators, GM Vishy Anand, GM Hou Yifan, and GM Daniel Naroditsky, had just one game to discuss for the rest of the day. Luckily, it was one of the best games played at this World Cup.

The game was interesting from the very start as Fedoseev chose the 3.h4 Anti-Grunfeld, the same move that GM Sam Shankland had used to beat GM Peter Svidler earlier in the tournament.

"It means we're gonna get a game, so I was quite happy with that," said Carlsen, who, like Svidler, didn't mind entering a King's Indian type of position.

Vladimir Fedoseev
Vladimir Fedoseev set the tone with 3.h4. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

A few moves out of the opening, the position was hard to play for both sides as it was so rich with ideas—with Black's ideas mostly connected to sacrifices, said Carlsen. He was constantly looking at the move ....b5, especially after White's a4-a5 as allowing en passant is always tempting in such positions. 

However, he took action on the other side of the board. 

In this position, he played the brilliant 16...f4!! 17.Bxf4 Bd7 18.Nd1 and then 18...Rxf4!!, a long-term positional sacrifice that recalls some of the best King's Indian games played by former giants such as GM Tigran Petrosian and GM Svetozar Gligoric.

Black was doing OK but wasn't much better just yet, Carlsen thought. However, after 27.Qg1 he was.

"Because of some geometrical motifs there, he doesn't get to untangle. He cannot move any pieces, and then it's fairly straightforward for me," said Carlsen.

Fedoseev-Carlsen Sochi 2021
Discussing the game afterward. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

Missing his chance to castle, Fedoseev's pieces got completely stuck in the fourth quadrant of the board. He was so helpless that at one point even a king walk from g7 all the way to the white queenside was an option for Carlsen. That didn't happen, but Fedoseev resigned after the time control anyway because he just couldn't do anything.

Carlsen's opponent in the world championship match was watching and tweeted about his compatriot's lack of maneuvering space:

It was clear that Carlsen was quite content with the game himself considering his cheerful and candid interview afterward, where he also provided some fascinating insights into his own mind, related to his lost semifinal tiebreak—insights that might turn out to be quite relevant for the world championship later this year: 

What disappointed me about the game is that once I realized I was in trouble, I couldn't really focus too much. I almost, like, saw it coming that the first time I would be in trouble in the World Cup, I would not be able to recover. That was sort of going through my mind: this is the first time I am actually threatened, and then I couldn't cope.

Maybe the most disappointing thing is that I couldn't save the draw in the end. Frankly, he [Duda] played quite inaccurately, which is understandable; he is very short on time and probably very nervous. But I had the chance, I actually had a very simple fortress, looking back at it, but I just couldn't switch mode from, like, knowing I was lost and trying to hustle him into actually believing that the position was a draw.

Thinking back now, the whole last five, 10 minutes of the game is just a blur. So I definitely have something to work on there since in general, my play here has been good and today, when there was no pressure, I played fairly well. But obviously, I did way too poorly under pressure, so I need to work on that.

Finals | Results

Fed Player Rtg Fed Player Rtg G1 G2 TB
GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757 - GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2738 ½-½ . .
GM Carlsen, Magnus 2847 - GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2696 1-0 . .

2021 FIDE World Cup 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.

Previous reports:

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