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Reports Jul 27, 2021 | 9:48 AMby Colin McGourty

FIDE World Cup 5.2: Shankland & Vidit in Quarterfinals

Sam Shankland knocked out Peter Svidler to become the first player to reach the quarterfinals of the 2021 FIDE World Cup, while also securing a spot in the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix. Vidit was the second, after overcoming Vasif Durarbayli, but the remaining six matches will all be decided in tiebreaks today, after Haik Martirosyan cracked at the end of a game he needed only to draw, allowing Amin Tabatabaei a comeback win. In the women’s section Tan Zhongyi shocked no. 2 seed Kateryna Lagno to reach the semi-finals, with only Muzychuk-Dzagnidze going to tiebreaks.

Sam Shankland will play MVL or Karjakin in the FIDE World Cup quarterfinals | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

You can replay all the FIDE World Cup games with computer analysis here on chess24: Open | Women

And here’s the day’s live commentary from Loek van Wely and Jan Gustafsson.

In many of the Last 16 matches on Monday it was clear that the players had decided they’d prefer to play tiebreaks than risk everything on one sudden-death classical game. Karjakin-MVL was the clearest example, with the players needing just 8 minutes to blitz out a Grünfeld draw that’s spectacular only the first time you see it. At least it gave Maxime some time to work on his game!

Magnus Carlsen played super-solidly against Andrey Esipenko with the black pieces, with a Giuoco Piano for once living up to its name — a quiet draw in 36 moves.

Magnus had time to check out some of the other games | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

It felt like there were some chances for White in Piorun-Bacrot and Ivic-Fedoseev, but in each case Black played faster and neutralised the advantage with little apparent difficulty.

The Grischuk-Duda clash featured another day of fighting chess | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

Duda-Grischuk was another very sharp draw between two maximalist players, with Jan-Krzysztof for the first 11 moves following a game where he was dead lost against Vidit for a long time before drawing in the European Online Club Cup. Grischuk’s new move 11…Bd7 sent Duda into a long think, with both players burning up time. It was extremely sharp, especially when 19…f5 appeared on the board.

White would be in trouble if not for the move Duda played quickly, 20.h4!, and after 20…fxe4 21.hxg5 Nxd3 22.Qxe4 Qd2 he took over 20 minutes to decide on 23.Qe6+, which led to a draw by repetition. The Duda-Grischuk tiebreak should be a lot of fun!

Durarbayli had a great chance to take the lead in the first game, but was given little chance in the second | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

The winner of that tiebreak will play Indian no. 2 on the live rating list Vidit, who took full advantage of his great escape against Vasif Durarbayli the day before to clinch a place in the quarterfinals. Vidit’s 13…Nh5 in the opening got Vasif thinking.

Vidit went into some detail afterwards:

Yes, it’s a very standard idea that White tries to provoke c5-c4 and then the thing is if he manages to remove the bishop, then he has a very good position, and Black’s entire play is based on avoiding that, so I think he misplayed in the opening. It was not really bad, I think it was roughly equal, but he played too slow. He played this move h3, and after that I had this very nice trick of playing c3 and completely locking in the bishop on b1, so the rest of the game was basically just like I’m playing with an extra piece. Of course I have to be careful, but I think I played a good game.

20.h3!? was a very understandable move, since Bg4 is likely to follow otherwise, but 20…c3! really was a tough move to meet.

It says all you need to know about White’s position that the computer recommends 21.b3!?, immediately condemning the b1-bishop not to move again in the game. The problem was 21.bxc3!? Bc4! 22.Rfe1 Bxe2 23.Rxe2 bxc3 24.Ree1 Ra8 also left the bishop completely out of action.

There may have been some chances for Durarbayli in what followed, but Vidit kept control as well as a huge edge on the clock. The symbolic end of the game came on move 36.

Vidit was able to play 36…Raxb1 and simply pick up the helpless bishop, with just a couple more moves before White resigned.

The moment it was all over | photo: Eric Rosen, official website

A great tournament was over for US-based Azerbaijan Grandmaster Vasif Durarbayli.

Vidit can celebrate already qualifying for the FIDE Grand Prix series next year, where two places in the Candidates Tournament are up for grabs, but there are also two places immediately to whoever reaches the World Cup final. Vidit was just happy to have some time since he doesn’t have to play tiebreaks.

All the rest days I can get I will happily take, because this tournament has been so long, it’s very tiring, but I’m very happy with the result, so can’t really complain at all.

Peter Svidler is one of the most successful World Cup players out there, but one move and he was out | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

The only other player through to the quarterfinals is Sam Shankland, who revealed afterwards that his plan in the match against Peter Svidler was to go for real fights. He’d played the Najdorf on the first day and only managed to get an unpleasant ending, but this time he succeeded. He went for 3.h4 against Peter’s Grünfeld, commenting:

Of course it’s a very messy position and I knew what I was signing up for when I played this line, that I’ll get a wild game.

Sam pointed out that some of Peter’s moves were inaccurate (e.g. 12…c5! should have been played first and not 12…Rb8!?), but there’s little doubt Peter also relished the position after opposite-sides castling.

The pawn sacrifice 15…Nd7!? was a bold and maybe objectively flawed decision, but as Sam commented, “I know the computer doesn’t give Nd7, so I’m sure it’s probably bad, but it’s one thing to know that your position’s good, but it’s so sharp you still have to play it and play it well.”

Our commentary team of Jan Gustafsson and Loek van Wely were making the same point live, and also felt it was extremely risky to allow Peter to get such a position with open lines towards the enemy king. The game remained dynamically balanced, until suddenly Peter’s World Cup was over in the space of a single move. 24.Qb6? was a very unfortunate square for the black queen (24…Qb5! is equal), and Sam didn’t delay long to show why, playing 25.Bh4! after just 4 minutes’ thought. In fact the delay was partly the excitement of knowing he was winning!

The problem for Black is there’s no good square to put the rook. For instance, 25…Rd8 runs into 26.Nf6+, when you can’t take with 26…Bxf6 since 27.Bxf6 threatens Rh8 checkmate. The only other move is 26…Kf8, but then 27.Nd7+, forking the king and queen, is the reason b6 is such an unfortunate square for the queen. You find that in other variations as well.

Peter quickly played 25…Rd4, avoiding that forced win, but after 26.Nf6+ Kf8 he ran into a killer retreat — and the kind of move you can very easily miss 27.Bf2!

Now it really was over. At a glance 27…Rc4 looks winning for Black, but it fails in multiple ways, all based on that Nd7+ fork again. Even 28.Nd7+! immediately should win, but 28.Qxc4! and 28.Bxc5+! are stronger.

The tragedy for Peter is that he calculates this kind of forced line as fast as anyone in the world, so that he knew immediately the game was up. He pressed on with 27…Bxf6 28.exf6 Qxf6 but after 29.Qxc5+ Rd6 30.Qc8+! he resigned.

The problem is that 30…Rd8 loses, most picturesquely to 31.Qxd8! Qxd8 32.Rh8+ Ke7 33.Bh4+! — again that killer Bh4 move.

It was perhaps an unfortunate day for Peter to pick up Nigel Short's book "Winning", for which he wrote a preface | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

So it’s not this time for World Cup legend Peter Svidler, while Sam Shankland is already guaranteed a place in the FIDE Grand Prix series and at least a $35,000 prize. He’s also up to 2718.8 on the live rating list after having to spend the pandemic sub-2700. How’s he feeling?

I’m very good, I’m through to the quarterfinals, I’m some happy guy!

Or as he put it on Twitter:

For most of the game, it looked as though this image with Tabatabaei having his head in his hands would sum things up, but there was a complete turnaround | photo: Anastasia Korolkova, official website

It looked for most of Monday as though 20-year-old Haik Martirosyan would be joining Sam and Vidit as a confirmed quarterfinalist. Haik had beaten Amin Tabatabaei with Black on the first and only needed to hold with White. He ended up slightly worse, but all the way until move 58 he seemed to have things under control.

All Haik needed to do here was continue his approach of doing nothing, with 58.Nf1, 58.Nc4, 58.Nb1 and 58.Kd1 all fine. Instead he thought the time had come to wrap up a place in the quarterfinals with 58.Nxf3?, only to throw away the draw!

He’d missed the kind of nuance which means you have to calculate very carefully before entering such endings. After a sequence of completely forced moves Black finished not with the most standard 67…Kg2, but 67…Kg1!.

Haik had seen it too late and his despair was obvious.

The key point is that after 68.g6 f2 69.g7 f1=Q+ 70.g8=Q+ Black has the g2-square for 70…Qg2+! and after 71.Qxg2+ Kxg2 Black is winning the new pawn ending.

e.g. 72.Ke2 Kg3 73.Ke1 Kf3 74.Kd2 Kf2 and White can’t hold the e3-pawn any longer.

The match itself is far from over, however. Martirosyan also lost the second game to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but he came back to win in tiebreaks!

Tan Zhongyi knocks out Kateryna Lagno

In the Women’s FIDE World Cup we already know three of the four semi-finalists, with only Dzagnidze-Anna Muzychuk going to tiebreaks after a quick draw in their second game.

Top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina thought her opponent Dinara Saduakassova had already been drifting for a few moves before 22.Rc2? blundered a rook. Dinara simply resigned after 22…Rxc2!

The problem is not 23.Qxc2 Ne3?, as in that case 24.Qb3+ would save the day, but 23…Qxf1+! 24.Kxf1 Ne3+.

"Who do you want to play?", "I don't choose," was the style of Aleksandra Goryachkina's answers in the post-game interview, but she did manage a smile | photo: Eric Rosen, official website  

Alexandra Kosteniuk faced the task of holding at least a draw against Valentina Gunina and in fact went on to win without having been worse at any point in the game. Nevertheless, it had been wild, as she commented:

In today’s game I was not very happy because I haven’t analysed this line deep enough at home and the positions are very crazy, and Valentina had very strong compensation. Luckily I was not getting checkmated — at least I didn’t see how — but it felt that she might have a very strong attack. But luckily for me we ended up again in an opposite-coloured bishops position in which I think I’m the side who’s pushing, so it’s very hard to find any chances, although Valentina tried her best in this desperate situation, but I think I was lucky today and yesterday.

Alexandra is not just through to the semi-finals but has booked a spot in the 2022 Women’s Candidates Tournament, since the Top 3 from the World Cup get a spot but Goryachkina was already qualified after losing the last Women’s World Championship match. 

In fact Kateryna Lagno also has a spot, for finishing 2nd in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix behind Humpy Koneru, so that at least the pain of losing a World Cup quarterfinal will be tempered by knowing it doesn’t hurt her chances of reaching a World Championship match.

30-year-old Tan Zhongyi became Women's World Champion in the 2017 knockout event | photo: Eric Rosen, official website 

No. 2 seed Lagno was knocked out by China’s Tan Zhongyi, who showed her knockout prowess in 2017 when she won the 64-player Women’s World Championship in Tehran. 32.Ree6? by Kateryna proved to be a losing move in what was already a tricky position. The rook was needed for defensive duties.

32…h3! 33.Nxh3 Rh7! 34.Nf4 Nf5!, threatening the Nd4 fork as well as weaving a mating net with the black rooks, which in any case got to invade on the 2nd rank. The game stretched to move 50, by which time Tan Zhongyi had traded down into a winning pawn endgame.

So Tan Zhongyi is also in the Candidates Tournament, with the Dzagnidze-Muzychuk tiebreak having a lot at stake. The same, of course, goes for the six tiebreaks in the Open tournament! It’s going to be a day you don’t want to miss, with the action starting at 14:00 CEST: Open | Women

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