Reports Feb 21, 2021 | 12:56 PMby Colin McGourty

Nepo & Korobov in World Corporate Championship Final 8

Ian Nepomniachtchi scored 6/6 and his team SBER dropped just 1.5 points out of 24 as the favourites to win the 1st Online FIDE World Corporate Chess Championship cruised into the knockout stages. It was tougher for the other 2700 players, including Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri, who lived up to their ratings but are now out after their teams couldn’t top their groups. For most of the almost 1500 players the event was about having some fun, with a few amateurs getting once-in-a-lifetime chances to play the world’s best.    

e4 wins the game, but Carlsen's Kindred eventually finished tied for 12th place, which was also their seeding. The event is also about donations, with FIDE encouraging teams to support their Disabilities, Veterans and Chess in Education programmes

Out of almost 288 teams just 8 made it through into today’s knockout stage: SBER (GM Ian Nepomniactchi on top board), Grenke Bank (GM Georg Meier), Morgan Stanley (HUN) (IM Levan Bregadze), Sberbank Trade Union (GM Anton Korobov), ERG (GM Anuar Ismagambetov), Emphie Solutions (GM Tomasz Warakomski), Anahuac (IM Oscar Sanchez) and PT Pelabuhan Tanjung Priok (IM Muhammad Lutfi Ali). 

They’ll now battle it out in a knockout, with the teams again playing rapid 10+2 matches on, but with the possibility of blitz matches and Armageddon if tied.

Most of the teams to qualify for the knockout did so with room to spare, with five of them winning all of their matches (it should have been six, but ERG seemed to lose two games by disconnect to draw their first match). Poland’s Emphie Solutions got in by the closest margin after beating Czech National Bank 4:0 in the last round while their rivals State Bank of Mongolia could only win their final match 2.5:1.5 to finish half a point behind.

For most of the star names the group stages were where the event ended, even though only Dmitry Jakovenko of the six highest rated players lost a game (he stumbled into a mating net against GM David Jojua in the final round).               

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen missed out on 6/6 after letting Anton Korobov escape in a tricky rook endgame but he made the day of an Oracle employee from Bengaluru, India. Santosh Hassan Sampath, an amateur player, only learned who he was playing in Round 1 when the organizers phoned to ask for a photograph. Santosh commented:

I was too shocked to react. I had no idea Carslen was playing the tournament and hadn't in my wildest dreams imagined I'd be facing him.

Magnus played the King’s Gambit (Santosh declined it) and went on to give checkmate in 25 moves, but it may just have changed one player’s career.

This game is going on my CV for sure and now that bosses love me, maybe I should ask for a good appraisal.

You can replay all the group games here: East AEast BEast CEast DEast EEast FWest AWest B

And tune in from 16:00 CET for the knockout stages live here on chess24

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