FIDE Chess World Cup 2021 – Round 6

FIDE World Cup 2021

The sixth round was held on 28th July where eight players played the first game of the two games to be played at the quarter-finals.

Although the stakes were very high at the FIDE World Cup, the women’s category had a rest day. Nobody expected these eight players to make it to the quarter-finals. 

Most Awaited Game

The most awaited game of the day was on the board one between Grand Master Etienne Bacrot (2678), representing France, against World Champion Grand Master Magnus Carlsen (2847). Carlsen played the anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez Opening from Black and sacrificed a pawn for two of Bacrot’s Bishops.

Bacrot made a blunder on the 24th move by playing f4 and weakening his kingside, which was followed by another blunder on the 26th move, which was Qh3. Carlsen then sacrificed his Queen for a Rook, a Bishop and a strong passed pawn that Bacrot created.

On the second board, we saw a game between the USA top player Grand Master Sam Shankland (2709) and former 2015 World Cup winner GM Sergey Karjakin (2757), which was their first official game against each other.

The two opponents shared an early exchange of Queens, and the game looked like it was headed for a draw. Shankland could pressurise and take advantage of his opponent’s doubled pawns; however, Karjakin made a mistake on the 38th move, allowing Shankland to created a passed pawn. 

The third board saw a draw between GM Vladimir Fedoseev (2696) from Russia and GM M. Amin Tabatabaei (2613) from Iran. The game followed a Queen’s Gambit variation where the two players exchanged their Queens. Tabatabaei posed a queenside attack because of which Fedoseev sacrificed a pawn; however, Tabatabaei did not accept this sacrifice.

The fourth board also saw a draw between the Grand Master from India, Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi (2726) and GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2738), representing Poland. Vidit played the Catalan Opening, which allowed him to have two strong Bishops and some good squares for the Knights; however, his opponent defended his position extremely well, and the game ended in a draw on the 28th move.

Second Game Of The Sixth Round

The next day we had the second game of the sixth round, and all eyes were on the first board where we had Magnus Carlsen play against French GM Etienne Bacrot, who began the game with the Sicilian Defense.

On the other hand, Carlsen decided to play it calm by playing Bb5 on the 3rd move, aiming for a draw. The game was almost equal till Bacrot blundered on the 31st move by playing Rxe4 after which Bacrot offered a draw that Carlsen rejected. 

GM Sam Shankland and GM Sergey Karjakin played an engaging game on the second board where Shankland began the game with the French Defense, and Karjakin responded with the King’s Indian Attack.

Karjakin posed a strong Kingside attack by playing g5 on the 22nd move, which was followed by an excellent Rook sacrifice and now the game was completely in Karjakin’s favour. The two would have to then fight it out in the tiebreaker the next day. 

The Russian GM Vladimir Fedoseev played an exciting game against GM M. Amin Tabatabaei which began with the Catalan Opening, and they played the Queen exchange variation. The end game saw a double Rook and an opposite colour Bishop ending and seemed to end in a draw, but Tabatabaei made a huge blunder on the 77th move that cost him the game. 

The most spectated opening at this event was on the fourth board was between GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2738) and GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi (2726). This game saw multiple sacrifices, and it was evident that the two players had extensively studied the line they were following.

The end game was between a Knight and three pawns, and just when the game seemed to be ending as a draw, Vidit made a blunder on the 34th move, and Duda won the game soon after and proceeded to play in the semi-finals.

Women’s Category

The semi-finals in the Women’s category saw GM Anna Muzychuk (2527), representing Ukraine, play against GM Aleksandra Goryachkina (2596) from Russia on the first board.

The game began with the Ruy Lopez Opening, and Goryachkina dropped a pawn in the opening, giving her opponent an advantage. Goryachkina played an extremely tight and defensive game which led to the game ending as a draw on the 46th move. 

On the second board, we had GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (2472) play against GM Tan Zhongyi (2511), where the game began with the Queen pawn opening. The two players exchanged their Queens early into the game, and Tan Zhongyi’s had double pawns on the ‘f’ file. Both the players tried attacking and counter-attacking, but the game ended as a draw. 

While some of the players qualified for the semi-finals, some had to wait for their results by playing the tiebreaker on the following day.