International Chess Federation
Sunday, 18 Jul 2021 18:47
Round 03 Game 01: Magnus Carlsen on track to win

Fabiano Caruana returns to the competition after his win by forfeit

Sunday, July 18th, 2021 – With the player field cut by more than a half, the venue is starting to look rather big in relation to the number of boards. The “weakest” players in the pairings tree are 2550+ and nearly all of the top dogs are still in contention. Wherever you look, 2650-2700+ players are walking around, in full concentration. An absolute pleasure to enjoy the presence of such fabulous players.

The World Champion Magnus Carlsen is taking things very seriously: it’s clear that he has come here to win. The World Cup is one of the few events that Carlsen doesn’t yet have in his trophy case. This afternoon he made the first step to qualify for the fourth round by defeating his teammate Aryan Tari with the white pieces.

Magnus Carlsen - Aryan Tari

Tari was actually doing very well but low on time Aryan blundered 38…Bd4? 39.Rb5 a4? 40.Ne7+ and he had to resign because he was either losing a piece or on the bad side of an Anastasia mate (with Rh5). Instead of 38…Bd4, Tari could have played 38…a4 and although he is a pawn down, he might be able to hold the double rook ending.

Everyone was happy to see Fabiano Caruana back on the stage after his win by forfeit in the second round. Although he was only able to get a draw (with Black against Rinat Jumabayev) he was relatively content with the result, having the White pieces tomorrow.

Fabiano was kind enough to pop in for a brief interview in which he explained his thoughts on the game and confirmed that he was feeling great.

Top-ten player Alexander Grischuk also made a huge step to qualify for the next round by defeating Argentina’s number one Alan Pichot with White.  The intermediate move 17.Bf4! may have escaped Pichot’s attention but it left him in a very delicate position.

Although Grischuk’s king had to make the walk to f3 he had everything under control and soon created a mating net which proved definitive. The top Russian player in the field explained his thoughts in a brief post-game interview.

The all-Indian encounter between Santosh Vidit and Baskaran Adhiban also proved to be a fighting game. Adhiban was doing well in a King’s Indian until he blundered a pawn with 19…e4, maybe due to an oversight. Vidit played it safe and actively relocated his pieces, netting a second pawn and went on to win.

Adhiban will have to go all-out tomorrow for a win but, as Vidit was quick to say in the postgame interview, “Adhiban goes all-out no matter the score”.

Other important results this afternoon were: Dubov-Malakhov (1-0), Van Foreest-Piorun (0-1), Oparin-Karjakin (0-1), Vitiugov-Shirov (1-0) and the main surprise result Martirosyan-Mamedyarov (1-0) (the winner is pictured below)

In the women’s group, the main favourite Aleksandra Goryachkina (pictured below) is still on 100% having defeated Olga Badelka with White. Today she played a solid Catalan opening, achieving a small positional plus after the opening. Later in the game she opened the a-file and penetrated into her opponent’s position with her heavy pieces, winning a pawn and converting in the endgame.

Joining her on 100% is the older of the two very strong Muzychuk sisters, Anna. Today’s win over Pauline Guichard – with Black - gives her very good chances to qualify for the fourth round. She gave her thoughts on the game in a brief post-game interview.

Other important results this afternoon include Kashlinskaya-Galliamova (1-0), Dzagnidze-Yip (0-1), Cramling-Kosteniuk (0-1), Gunina-Harika (1-0), Tan-Sebag (1-0) and Munguntuul-Lagno (0-1).

All these players have the advantage going into the second game of the third round. Their opponents will have to win on-demand tomorrow in the Galaxy Centre in Sochi to force the tie-breaks. 

The general partner of the tournament Nornickel established a special prize - Platinum Crown - for the best games of Rounds 2, 3 and 4 at the FIDE World Cup and Women’s World Cup. Michal Krasenkow and Bibisara Assaubayeva were awarded Platinum Crown for the best game of Round 2. 

The games were selected by the jury - commentators Sergey Shipov, Evgenij Miroshnichenko, tournament director Mark Glukhovsky, and international arbiter Boris Postovsky. 

57-year old Polish GM Michal Krasenkow beat Candidates tournament participant Kirill Alekseenko in a spectacular style. In the position on the diagram (see diagram below), he went for a rook sacrifice - 29.Rxh6! - eventually laying his hands on the Black king. 17-year-old Bibisara Assaubayeva developed great dynamics in the middlegame, based on careful calculation, crushing her compatriot and leader of Kazakhstani women's list Zhansaya Abdumalik.

Michal Krasenkow - Kirill Alekseenko

Pairings of the second game of the third round, live games and PGN files can be found on the World Cup website alongside a great amount of other interesting information such as daily videos, a complete photo collection and other useful data. 

Text: Michael Rahal, FIDE Press Officer

Photo: Eric Rosen and Anastasiia Korolkova

About the tournament:

Scheduled to take place from July 12th (Round 1) to August 6th (finals), the 2021 FIDE World Cup will gather together in Sochi (Russia) 309 of the world’s best chess players, with 206 of them playing in the Open World Cup (and 103 participants in the first-ever Women’s World Cup.

The top two finishers in the tournament, aside from World Champion Magnus Carlsen who is also participating, will qualify for the 2022 Candidates Tournament, in addition to winning the 110.000 USD first prize (80.000 USD for the runner-up).

Organisers: International Chess Federation (FIDE), Chess Federation of Russia, Russian Ministry of Sports, and Government of Krasnodar Krai.


Gazprom – general partner

Nornickel – general partner

PhosAgro – general partner

Chessable – event’s partner

Aeroflot – CFR’s partner

Educational centre “Sirius”