Jan-Krzysztof Duda wins the 2021 World Cup

Thursday, August 5th 2021 – The famous Russian hockey player Sergei Tolchinsky, forward of the Avangard KHL club, made the symbolic first move in the game of the final match between Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2738), representing Poland and GM Sergey Karjakin (2757), playing for Russia.

After the ceremony, Tolchinsky popped in to see us at the press centre and revealed his intentions: “I felt the tension when I played the first move. I wanted to help Sergei Karjakin by moving Duda’s h2-pawn, but for some reason he didn’t oblige (laughs)”.

In the end, 1.d4 was played on the board and Karjakin repeated the solid Semi-Tarrasch Queen’s Gambit line that he used successfully against Fedoseev in the semi-finals. But Duda had also already faced this defence in his tough match against Alexander Grischuk in 1/8 finals.

Duda’s move 12.Bxf6 is a novelty according to my database, improving on an old game played in Beijing by Anish Giri. After a few exchanges, the Polish grand master achieved a very small edge in the endgame: not much, but enough to press during many moves.

The exhaustion could be seen on Karjakin’s face: low on time, gradually his position went downhill until there was nowhere to hide. Clearly, 26…Na5? was the final blunder but his position was already far from salvation.

The 2021 World Cup champion was obviously tremendously happy but before celebrating he came to the press centre for his final post-game interview with FIDE Press Officer for the World Cup, IM Michael Rahal.

In the match for third place between World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen (2847), playing for Norway, and GM Vladimir Fedoseev (2696), representing Russia, a Caro-Kan defence was played, a strange albeit solid choice by the Russian after losing the first game yesterday.

Carlsen was definitely taken by surprise and he used up five full minutes before deciding to play the Advance variation with the 4.c4 aggressive line, which according to the database Fedoseev had never faced before.

Very soon the position was out of the books and when Carlsen went for the aggressive 13.Qg4 attacking the pawn on g7, Fedoseev made a big defensive mistake. It just wasn’t his day.

He decided to give up his castling rights and from then on Carlsen just increased the pressure all over the board. The engines suggest that 13…Bf5 was possible, the point being that 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qxh6 Black has 15…Qxd4 with a complicated game ahead.

Carlsen’s position was so dominant that on move twenty-four he sacrificed another exchange (24.f5!).  “Utter domination” was being used by the online following: the World Champion was enjoying himself.  

Fedoseev correctly declined the invitation, so Carlsen initiated the second wave of the attack with the pawn thrust 27.d5 and 29.d6. Fedoseev might have been able to defend better but the attack was always pushing through.

The World Champion finished off the game with another exchange sacrifice (“funnily enough, on the same square as yesterday” he said later) and forced a nice final position, in which his opponent’s rook is caged in.

Carlsen opened up in the tournament’s final post-game interview, in which he talked about his result in the event and his plans for the immediate future.

The closing ceremony and prizegiving will be held at the Galaxy Centre on Friday August 6th at 3pm.

More information, the full tournament tree, live games and PGN files can be found on the World Cup websitealongside a great amount of other interesting information such as daily videos, a complete photo collection and other useful data.

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
Rosatom - event’s partner
Aeroflot – CFR’s partner
Educational centre “Sirius”