FIDE World Cup R6.2: Carlsen, Duda, Fedoseev Through; Karjakin Strikes Back
Sergey Karjakin wins on demand vs. Sam Shankland. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE World Cup R6.2: Carlsen, Duda, Fedoseev Through; Karjakin Strikes Back

| 33 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen has reached the semifinals of the FIDE World Cup after beating GM Etienne Bacrot twice. He will next play GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who defeated GM Vidit Gujrathi on Thursday.

GM Vladimir Fedoseev has also qualified as he won against GM Amin Tabatabaei. His opponent will be either GM Sam Shankland or GM Sergey Karjakin as the latter managed to win on demand.

The semifinals of the women's section started on Thursday. Both games ended in draws.

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.

"Somehow I managed in a completely crazy game," Karjakin started his interview after beating Shankland. The now 31-year-old Russian player, who recently lost his record of youngest-ever GM, hasn't lost his ability for making comebacks.

World Cup history has shown that no one should ever write off Karjakin. Most of us remember his 2015 final, where he was 0-2 down after two classical games with GM Peter Svidler, came back, then was 1-2 down in the rapid, again came back, and ended up winning.

Shankland knew this, of course, but couldn't avoid losing his black game after his splendid victory with the white pieces. It was the first loss for the American player in the tournament. Karjakin had earlier won on demand in this World Cup as well, in the rapid segment of his match with GM Vladislav Artemiev.

The first surprise came from Shankland, who had played the Sicilian three times in Sochi but switched to the French for a game where he needed only a draw. After two and a half minutes of thought, Karjakin decided to surprise his opponent as well and played 2.d3, the prelude to the King's Indian Attack.

Half a century after a young GM Bobby Fischer had played it a few times and with success, Black's best defense schemes have been worked out, and the system has lost its punch from a theoretical perspective. However, facing it unprepared can still be tricky.

Sergey Karjakin 2021 FIDE World Cup
Sergey Karjakin played the King's Indian Attack. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Shankland's early push of the a-pawn is rare but is eventually just a transposition into the mainline. The typical scenario ensued with attacks on opposite sides and a target (or "hook") for both White (pawn h6) and Black (pawn a3).

White often tries to sacrifice a piece on h6 in such cases, but if Black is prepared, they're usually OK. Instead, Karjakin went for the slower plan of preparing g4-g5.

"I felt like it's very interesting and also if you have to win, you don't really have a choice; you have to do something like this," said Karjakin. "Maybe objectively, he was completely fine, I believe, but at the same time in a practical game, he blundered once, and then he was just lost. It means the position was very tense."

At one point during the game, commentating GM Ben Finegold's quote of Fischer turned out to be prophetic: "The kingside attack usually beats the queenside attack. Mate is more important!"

Karjakin got to deliver checkmate indeed as Shankland graciously allowed it to be executed—pure class from the American grandmaster. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Learn a young Bobby Fischer's pet system

Learn to play the King's Indian Attack in GM Dejan Bojkov's recently published Lesson series!

The Karjakin-Shankland match is the only one that is going to tiebreaks. In the semifinals, the winner will face Fedoseev, who managed to trick Tabatabaei deep in the endgame.

In a very drawish endgame, the 26-year-old-grandmaster from St. Petersburg decided to continue playing as he was enjoying more active pieces and a better pawn structure. Despite these minimal advantages, he was not expected to convert this endgame until the 20-year-old Iranian player suddenly fell into a trap.

When Tabatabaei grabbed the poisoned pawn on g3, a fist-pumping Fedoseev might have forgotten for a moment that he wasn't playing online:

"Maybe this was on camera; I really couldn't believe that this happened," said Fedoseev, who joined's Russian broadcast afterward and said that Tabatabaei wasn't offended.

The other semifinal is set and will be played between Duda and Carlsen. It was never really in doubt that the world champion would move on to the next round, especially when he got a rock-solid position out of the opening.

Despite that, Carlsen thought Bacrot's opening was a good choice since the Frenchman got a comfortable position, using a setup Carlsen himself had played as Black as well. "I think I responded kind of meekly, and I was a little bit worse, for sure," said Carlsen.

After lots of little maneuvering by both sides, Bacrot decided incorrectly on move 31. He took a pawn, expecting a trade, but Carlsen played a knight move instead.

"I'm almost completely sure he missed 32.Ne7," said Carlsen, who could start playing for two results from that moment: "I felt I was already playing with house money then."

Carlsen Bacrot 2021 FIDE World Cup
Carlsen and Bacrot just after their game had finished. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Realizing what was going on, Bacrot offered a draw as a way of resigning the match, but his opponent declined. "It was a bit too late maybe for that," smiled Carlsen. "I understand that I win the match by accepting, but I thought my position was just too winning." 

For the fourth time in this tournament, Carlsen will be facing an opponent who is younger. Duda was already the first Polish player in World Cup history to make it to the quarterfinals (GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek made it to the round of 16 in 2015), and now the 23-year-old player from Wieliczka has even made it to the semis.

A fun fact revealed by Duda is that he actually missed his usual means of transportation to the venue (perhaps because of preparing until the last moment before leaving the hotel room?) and instead "hitchhiked" together with the Carlsen family.

His game with Vidit indeed needed lots of preparation as it saw a highly topical line in the Moller Defense to the Ruy Lopez, which Vidit had also played in the previous round in a game where he beat GM Vasif Durarbayli. Duda afterward said that he wanted to "play something else" and actually intended to make a draw. In the official broadcast, he showed an amazing variation and if Vidit had known it, the draw would have been agreed quickly.

Position after 20.Kg1.

Here, Duda wanted to test Vidit in the line 20... O-O 21. Nxf7 Qe7 22. Nd2, and now Black needs to find the remarkable sequence 22...d5! 23. Qxg2 Qe3+ 24. Kh1

24...Kxf7! and it's equal. As people in the early days of the internet used to say, "w00t!"

Vidit, however, played 20...Qf6 instead, so an endgame was reached where White has a knight for three pawns. Black should be OK there as well, but at the same time, it's White who is playing for two results.

Duda Vidit 2021 FIDE World Cup
Vidit resigning his game vs. Duda. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Vidit wasn't even playing it badly actually. His rook check on move 32, ruthlessly criticized by the engines, looks very natural, but Duda's brilliant king move to h1 followed by first playing the rook to a1 before taking on a6 reveals why it is wrong.

"I'm very happy with my play here," Duda said after his win. "I think it's just the best tournament in my entire life!"

That was four wins for White in the open section and three players moving on to the semifinals straight away. They will have two rest days: the tiebreak day (with only Karjakin-Shankland on the program) and the scheduled final rest day that follows.

Carlsen was one to emphasize the importance of those two free days:

"First of all, I desperately need them. I think everybody needs them. Now I've played eight days in a row and I could really feel it today, that I had zero energy. I intend to go for a hike in the mountains, try and 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'm still in the tournament. And now, I also know I will be here till the end, regardless! Might as well try and win it."

Carlsen was referring to the fact that the two players who will lose the semifinals will be playing a match for third place alongside the final. And don't forget that the top two players in this World Cup not named Carlsen will qualify directly for the 2022 Candidates, adding to the importance of Duda and Fedoseev's victories.

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 .
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

Carlsen Fedoseev Tabatabaei 2021 FIDE World Cup
Carlsen looking at Fedoseev-Tabatabaei. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Vladimir Fedoseev interview 2021 FIDE World Cup
Vladimir Fedoseev being interviewed after the game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Karjakin Shankland checkmate on the board 2021 FIDE World Cup
Shankland graciously allowed checkmate on the board. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Fedoseev Tabatabaei blunder FIDE World Cup
Fedoseev-Tabatabaei, shortly before the end. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Vidit Gujrathi FIDE World Cup
Vidit Gujrathi, out of the World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The four remaining women had already enjoyed their last rest day on Wednesday and started their semifinals on Friday. Both games ended in draws.

That result must have been a big disappointment for GM Anna Muzychuk, who failed to convert a technically winning endgame against GM Aleksandra Goryachkina. The engine evaluations, however, don't reveal that this endgame is not so easy to win in a practical game, and Goryachkina put up some great defense:

Muzychuk Goryachkina FIDE World Cup
Muzychuk-Goryachkina. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Semifinals | Results

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

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.

Previous reports:

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