FIDE World Cup R1.1: Chilean Brilliance
A view of the playing hall. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

FIDE World Cup R1.1: Chilean Brilliance

| 46 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2021 FIDE World Cup began on Monday in Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi (Russia) with 156 players in the open section and 78 players in the women's section. The Chilean grandmaster Pablo Salinas Herrera played the Game of the Day (and possibly the year!). 

How to watch?
The games of the FIDE World Cup can be found here: Open | Women. provides daily commentary on and with GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Hou Yifan, GM Veselin Topalov, GM Viswanathan Anand, and other guests. broadcast FIDE World Cup

The FIDE World Cup marks the return of over-the-board chess on a global scale after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many sporting events. Even with problematic travels, almost all of the players made it to Sochi in time. However, the players from Brazil could not board their original Qatar Airways flight as the airline did not accept the letter from the organizers. Two days later, they did manage to make the trip.

Two top grandmasters who just finished playing in the Croatia Rapid & Blitz, GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk, missed their flight but are among the players who only need to show up on Thursday for the second round.

Mamedyarov: "The most expensive beer in the history of mankind. Missed the flight with Sasha."

In Sochi, the players need to follow a health protocol that includes completing a negative PCR test no later than 72 hours before arrival in Russia, maintaining physical distancing, and wearing a recommended face covering. Handshakes before a game have been replaced by simple facial greetings.

During the games, wearing face masks or other protection is not mandatory, although some players are still choosing to keep them on. We saw this, for instance, in the game between GM Abhimanyu Mishra, the youngest grandmaster in the world, and Georgia's number-one GM Baadur Jobava. Jobava won, by the way, but he had to work hard for his point:

The main World Cup started on Monday with 156 players. Every round consists of two classical games followed by, if necessary, a rapid and blitz tiebreak on the third day. This means that on Wednesday, 78 players will go home and the other 78 players will be joined by 50 seeded players. Beginning with the second round, we're playing a traditional World Cup with 128 players.

In the women's tournament, everything is half the size: 78 players play in the first round. Then for round two, the 39 winners will be joined by 25 seeded players for a total of 64. As a result, the Women's World Cup finishes three days earlier.

FIDE World Cup 2021 Dvorkovich first move
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich played the first move on board one between GM Sanan Sjugirov (Russia) and CM Elmer Prudente (Guam). The top boards of the open and women's sections are placed together. Photo: Anastasiya Korolkova/FIDE.

The first round saw a few big upsets, such as IM Guillermo Vazquez (2527) beating GM Nikita Meshkovs (2568), and GM Iniyan P. (2506) beating GM Sebastian Bogner (2581). The biggest one was IM Ravi Haria (2440) beating GM Vadim Zvjaginsev (2608) as the 22-year-old English IM nicely outplayed his experienced opponent in a French endgame:

In the women's section, WIM Tilsia Carolina Varela La Madrid (2072) surprisingly beat IM Pauline Guichard (2413), and WIM Turmunkh Munkhzul (2278) beat IM Marina Brunello (2379). The biggest upset of the day was WIM Ayah Moaataz (2015) of Egypt beating former women's world champion GM Anna Ushenina (2429) of Ukraine, who blundered into a mating net:

We counted nine players who couldn't make it to Sochi, leading to 2-0 walkovers in the following matches (incidentally, with the top two Romanian players involved):

  • GM Viktor Mikhalevsky (Israel) vs. IM Zaw Htun Wynn (Myanmar)
  • GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan) vs. IM Mohamad Ervan (Indonesia)
  • GM Viktor Erdos (Hungary) vs. IM Saparmyrat Atabayev (Turkmenistan)
  • GM Constantin Lupulescu (Romania) vs. FM Allen Chi Zhou Fan (New Zealand)
  • GM Elshan Moradiabadi (USA) vs. GM Helgi Dam Ziska (Faroe Islands)
  • GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Romania) vs. GM Amir Zaibi (Tunesia)
  • GM Ivan Ivanisevic vs. Andres Rodriguez Vila (Uruguay)
  • IM Bhakti Kulkarni (India) vs. WGM Anastasya Paramzina (Russia)
  • IM Olga Badelka (Belarus) vs. WFM Jemal Ovezdurdiyeva (Turkmenistan).

You can easily find all results and the pairings tree here on the official website.

It's high time to look at that wonderful game played by Salinas vs. Andersen, which had some similarities with the famous game won by a 13-year-old GM Bobby Fischer vs. GM Donald Byrne at the Rosenwald Memorial in 1956. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Pablo Salinas Herrera Chess Ajedrez
Pablo Salinas Herrera. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

The FIDE World Cup continues until August 8, 2021, in Sochi, Russia. Starting from round two (Thursday), the top 50 seeded players (open section), including GM Magnus Carlsen, and the top 25 (women's section) join the field.

Also for photographers, it must be a huge relief to be able to take photos of players at the board again. Here's a selection of portraits from our "house photographer" and streamer WFM Maria Emelianova:

Jesse February chess
Streamer turns player: Jesse February. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Qiyu Nemo Zhou chess
Another streamer turns player: Qiyu "Nemo" Zhou. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Tatev Abrahamyan
Tatev Abrahamyan (U.S.). Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Jennifer Yu chess
Jennifer Yu (U.S.). Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Sabrina Latreche Algeria
Sabrina Latreche of Algeria. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Carolina Lujan Argentina
Carolina Lujan of Argentina. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Joanna Majdan
Joanna Majdan of Poland. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Padmini Rout India
Padmini Rout of India. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Nurgyul Salimova Bulgaria
Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Almira Skripchenko
From commentator at the Paris Grand Chess Tour back to the chessboard: Almira Skripchenko of France. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Marie Sebag
Marie Sebag of France. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Laura Unuk Slovakia
Laura Unuk of Slovenia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Baskaran Adhiban World Cup 2021
Baskaran Adhiban of India. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Benjamin Bok chess
Benjamin Bok of the Netherlands. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Jorge Cori Peru
Jorge Cori of Peru. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Timur Gareyev
Timur Gareyev (U.S.). Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson
Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson of Iceland. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Krikor Mekhitarian
Director of Portuguese content for Krikor Mekhitarian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Haik Martirosyan
Junior Speed Chess participant Haik Martirosyan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Abhimanyu Mishra FIDE World Cup
Abhimanyu Mishra. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Volodar Murzin
15-year-old Volodar Murzin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Olanrewaju Ajibola Nigeria
Olanrewaju Ajibola of Nigeria. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Nihal Sarin
Another Junior Speed Chess participant, Nihal Sarin, who turns 17 on Tuesday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
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