FIDE World Cup: Goryachkina, Harikrishna Among 10 Players In Danger Zone


The top seed of the Women’s FIDE World Cup GM Aleksandra Goryachkina is in a must-win situation vs. GM Antoaneta Stefanova after blundering in the first game of round four. GM Nana Dzadnidze also started with a loss against IM Polina Shuvalova, while all other games ended in draws in the women’s section.

The open section saw eight out of 16 games ending decisively, with GM Amin Tabatabaei scoring an upset victory over GM Pentala Harikrishna. GM Magnus Carlsen played his first draw of the tournament against GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek. FIDE World Cup coverage 2021

Four players will have the difficult task to win on demand with the black pieces on Friday, after losing as White in the first game of round four. Those include the two Uzbek GMs left in the field, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who lost to Azerbaijani GM Vasif Durarbayli and GM Javokhir Sindarov, who got tricked by GM Poland’s Kacper Piorun:

Kacper Piorun Sindarov World Cup
Don’t give such tactical opportunities to five-time world champion in chess problem solving Kacper Piorun! Photo: Maria Emelianova/

One of the two American grandmasters left in Sochi is also in trouble. 20-year-old GM Jeffery Xiong, who made it all the way to the quarterfinals in the previous World Cup, lost his white game to GM Vidit Gujrathi. The situation became quite tricky in time-trouble for Xiong:

Xiong Vidit, Sochi 2021
Xiong vs. Vidit. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The other U.S. grandmaster, GM Sam Shankland, was one of the four players to win his black game, quite unexpectedly. GM Rinat Jumabayev, who had eliminated GM Fabiano Caruana the round before, had Shankland with his back against the wall after “move-ordering” him into a Maroczy Bind position. When the Kazakhstani GM won a pawn on move 36, it looked like he would win soon.

Jumabayev Shankland World Cup
Jumabayev seemed in full control vs. Shankland. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

“I wasn’t supposed to win it,” said Shankland, who found some great maneuvers and successfully blocked his opponent’s passed pawn until it came to a point where Jumabayev couldn’t really make progress anymore. He tried anyway, pushed too hard, got into a slightly worse endgame, and then failed to hold that:

Someone who spent most of his time as a trainer/coach in recent years now keeps reminding us of the strong player that he still is. The now 38-year-old GM Etienne Bacrot played quite well in the rapid part of the Paris Grand Chess Tour event last month and is now a draw away from reaching the final 16 in the World Cup. His win over the Russian GM Pavel Ponkratov was the best game of the day. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Tabatabaei surprisingly knocked out GM Yu Yangyi in the previous round, and he might do the same to Harikrishna. Things looked pretty equal for a long time but when the Indian GM decided to trade even more pieces, the knight endgame turned out to be trickier than he thought:

Tabatabaei Harikrishna Sochi 2021
Tabatabaei vs. Harikrishna. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen was the only player in the tournament to start with four wins, but his hundred-percent score is now gone after an interesting draw with Wojtaszek where the world champion might have missed a chance to go 5/5.

Four years ago at the World Cup in Tbilisi, Carlsen also started with four wins but then got eliminated, losing his white game and drawing as Black, so he might have some demons to kill here.

Wojtaszek Carlsen Sochi 2021
Wojtaszek-Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

“I just thought I would play aggressive because I thought against Magnus, if you play a normal game, it will not give you much success, I guess, so that was sort of the plan,” said Wojtaszek. The Polish GM wasn’t sure what was happening in the middlegame and felt the same about the final position, where he accepted a rare draw offer from Carlsen: “On the one hand, I thought I am better but on the other hand, I thought it’s not simple not to blunder anything.” 

Results round 4

Fed Player Rtg Fed Player Rtg G1 G2 TB
GM Carlsen, Magnus 2847 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2691 ½-½ . .
GM Grischuk, Alexander 2778 GM Korobov, Anton 2683 ½-½ . .
GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757 GM Artemiev, Vladislav 2704 ½-½ . .
GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2749 GM Praggnanandhaa, R 2608 ½-½ . .
GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2738 GM Idani, Pouya 2614 ½-½ . .
GM Harikrishna, Pentala 2730 GM Tabatabaei, M. Amin 2613 0-1 . .
GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2726 GM Xiong, Jeffery 2709 1-0 . .
GM Andreikin, Dmitry 2724 GM Ivic, Velimir 2582 ½-½ . .
GM Vitiugov, Nikita 2724 GM Svidler, Peter 2714 ½-½ . .
GM Esipenko, Andrey 2716 GM Dubov, Daniil 2714 ½-½ . .
GM Shankland, Sam 2709 GM Jumabayev, Rinat 2637 1-0 . .
GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2696 GM Kovalev, Vladislav 2637 1-0 . .
GM Bacrot, Etienne 2678 GM Ponkratov, Pavel 2629 1-0 . .
GM Haik Martirosyan 2632 GM Brkic, Ante 2592 1-0 . .
GM Durarbayli, Vasif 2625 GM Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 2634 1-0 . .
GM Piorun, Kacper 2608 GM Sindarov, Javokhir 2558 1-0 . .

The women’s tournament had a rather peaceful day with six out of eight games ending in draws. Top seed Goryachkina, who had won her first two matches without needing a tiebreak, unexpectedly suffered her first loss vs. former women’s world champion Stefanova after spoiling a promising position and then miscalculating badly.

Aleksandra Goryachkina World Cup 2021
Aleksandra Goryachkina now needs to win on Friday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

An interesting side story is that these days, Stefanova is also a politician in Bulgaria. As a member of the anti-elite party “There Is Such a People,” she was elected for the second time as Member of Parliament and was lucky to be able to attend the first online session of the new parliament as it took place during the rest day in Sochi.

The next day, Stefanova perfectly refuted Goryachkina’s mishap:

Like in the previous round, Dzagnidze started with a loss, this time to the vice-champion of Russia among women, Shuvalova.

Polina Shuvalova portrait
Polina Shuvalova. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

17-year-old IM Bibisara Assaubayeva has chances to knock out a third GM in a row after comfortably drawing her black game with GM Kateryna Lagno where she used the Poisoned Pawn Najdorf:

Assaubayeva chess world cup
Assaubayeva checking out the Abdusattorov-Durarbayli game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Results round 4

Fed Player Rating

Fed Player Rating G1 G2 TB
GM Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2596 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 2463 0-1 . .
GM Lagno, Kateryna 2559 IM Assaubayeva, Bibisara 2389 ½-½ . .
GM Muzychuk, Mariya 2550 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472 ½-½ . .
GM Muzychuk, Anna 2527 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 2466 ½-½ . .
GM Dzagnidze, Nana 2523 IM Shuvalova, Polina 2489 0-1 . .
GM Tan, Zhongyi 2511 IM Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat 2494 ½-½ . .
IM Kashlinskaya, Alina 2488 IM Saduakassova, Dinara 2483 ½-½ . .
GM Batsiashvili, Nino 2487 GM Gunina, Valentina 2437 ½-½ . .

The FIDE World Cup takes place in the Galaxy Leisure Complex in Sochi, Russia, until August 6, 2021. Each round consists of two classical games and, if necessary, a rapid/blitz tiebreak on the third day. The Open section began round two with 128 players and the women’s section, 64.

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