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Sam Shankland Wins Prague Masters With 2900 Performance
San Shankland holding the winner's trophy. Photo: Prague Chess Festival

Sam Shankland Wins Prague Masters With 2900 Performance

PeterDoggers
| 21 | Chess Players

GM Sam Shankland won the third edition of the Prague Masters. Playing his first over-the-board tournament in 16 months, the California-based grandmaster finished on 5.5/7, half a point more than Polish GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

How to watch?
The games of the Prague Masters can be found here on our live events platform.


Like so many chess players these days, Shankland was thrilled to finally return to the chess arena and touch the wooden board and pieces again. His last OTB tournament had been the 2020 Prague Masters, and it was also the Czech capital where he returned more than a year later. On the eve before the first round, he posted the following, touching message on Facebook:

"For the last 15 months, I've just been happy to be safe, healthy, and financially stable in an era where millions have fallen ill, died, lost loved ones, and had the foundation of their lives uprooted. But at the end of the day, my heart beats for the thrill of competition, and I'm so happy to finally have this part of my life back after over a year of all tournaments canceled."

Sam Shankland Prague 2021
Shankland at the drawing of lots. Photo: Prague Chess Festival

The tournament was an eight-player, single round-robin with a rating average of 2677. Two players with a rating above average finished at the bottom of the standings: Wijk aan Zee winner GM Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands and Czech number one GM David Navara. The latter had probably hoped to tip his rating over 2700 again, whereas Van Foreest would have liked to stay there.

Shankland crossed that 2700 marker in 2018 when he won the U.S. Championship. His victory in Prague is his biggest success since then. He won with an unbeaten 5.5/7 score, good for gaining 18 Elo points (back in the club!), and a 2900 performance rating.

An important game early in the tournament was Shankland's win over Duda, the eventual runner-up. The players followed one of the absolute main lines of the English Attack against the Najdorf, something Duda himself has also played as White. It looks like Shankland's prep went deeper before he finished the game off with pretty much perfect play:

The tournament saw a dramatic final round on Sunday. First, Duda beat his compatriot GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, who made a big mistake in a slightly unpleasant position:

Jan-Krzysztof Duda Prague 2021
Jan-Krzysztof Duda | Photo: Prague Chess Festival.

This meant that Duda was virtually half a point ahead of Shankland in the standings. The American grandmaster seemed on his way to a draw and thus a playoff when Van Foreest gave the wrong check:

Shankland Van Foreest Prague 2021
Shankland vs. Van Foreest. Photo: Prague Chess Festival.

2021 Prague Masters | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Shankland,Sam 2691 2900 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 5.5/7
2 Duda,Jan-Krzysztof 2729 2828 0 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 5.0/7
3 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2687 2725 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 4.0/7
4 Nguyen,Thai Dai Van 2577 2691 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 12.25
5 Abasov,Nijat 2665 2678 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.5/7 9.5
6 Grandelius,Nils 2670 2577 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.5/7 8.5
7 Van Foreest,Jorden 2701 2572 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/7 7.5
8 Navara,David 2697 2449 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1.5/7

All games

The third edition of the Prague Chess Festival took place June 13-20, 2021 at the Don Giovanni Hotel in Prague, Czech Republic. The time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30-second increment per move, starting from move one. 

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