FIDE World Cup R5.3: Carlsen Beats Esipenko In Epic Tiebreak

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GM Magnus Carlsen eliminated GM Andrey Esipenko on Tuesday in what was an epic tiebreak match that was decided in the blitz games. Carlsen will now play GM Etienne Bacrot, who defeated GM Kacper Piorun.

The other winners of the round-five tiebreaks were GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, GM Vladimir Fedoseev, GM Sergey Karjakin, and GM Amin Tabatabaei.

The women’s section saw just one tiebreak match, where GM Anna Muzychuk beat GM Nana Dzagnidze 2-0.

As Carlsen tweeted himself after the match, Esipenko proved himself a most worthy opponent for the world champion in their tiebreak match of round five. The 19-year-old Russian grandmaster had already made a name for himself by beating Carlsen in Wijk aan Zee.

At this World Cup, he followed up with two draws in the classical segment and two more draws in the 25|10 rapid games, in itself a highly impressive achievement.

When Carlsen finally managed to win the first 10|10 game, winning the return game felt too much to ask for the young Russian. But he delivered.

As commentator GM Daniel Naroditsky noted, Esipenko played a beautiful game in the style of the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov:

Chess.com Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Andrey Esipenko FIDE World Cup 2021
Andrey Esipenko won on-demand vs. the world champion. Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen recovered well from his first loss in this World Cup as he convincingly won the first 10|10 game. Again, Esipenko had to win as White, and this time he failed after accepting a dangerous pawn sacrifice.

This World Cup has made it clear that a huge amount of talent exists in the next generation of chess players, and Esipenko has proven to be one of the most promising among the many aspiring teenagers.

Chess.com’s highlights video of this epic match.

If Carlsen would make it to the final, he could be facing his 2016 world championship opponent GM Sergey Karjakin. As the only former World Cup winner left in the field (and in the other half of the bracket!) Karjakin showed his class by eliminating GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

After draws in the first three rapid games, Karjakin struck with the black pieces and suddenly it was all over for the Frenchman, whose best World Cup achievement remains his third place in 2019. Karjakin himself won the cup in 2015. His next opponent is GM Sam Shankland, who didn’t need to play a tiebreak.

France has a player among the final eight after all because Bacrot did make it. The 38-year-old grandmaster, originally from Lille, was the world’s youngest grandmaster in history between March and December 1997 but his biggest successes seem behind him. In recent years he has mostly been working as a trainer/coach and accompanied MVL at many top tournaments. For the quarterfinals, these roles might be reversed when Bacrot will be facing Carlsen.

Piorun came pretty close to beating Bacrot actually. After winning the first rapid game, his position was solid and the draw within reach, but it went wrong and then he lost both the 10|10 games.

The only top 10 player left in the field is Carlsen as GM Alexander Grischuk got knocked out by GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The Russian player already lost a Chess.com Speed Chess Championship match against the Polish player in 2018 and then again in the Speed Chess Invitational last year, so he was double warned. 

Duda won the first rapid game before holding the second to a draw. His next opponent is GM Vidit Gujrathi, the other player who didn’t need to play a tiebreak. 

In heavy time trouble, Grischuk erred in a tough endgame:

GM Velimir Ivic’s fairy-tale tournament came to an end on Tuesday as GM Vladimir Fedoseev won both 25|10 games. The first one was quite convincing, but Ivic had great chances to come back in the second until he blundered, having just seconds left on his clock:

Fedoseev’s next opponent is GM Amin Tabatabaei, who drew his black game and then beat GM Haik Martirosyan as White. A tough loss for Martirosyan, who was so close to clinching this match in the second classical game.

“The problem for him was that I think he couldn’t handle yesterday’s match,” said Tabatabaei, who joined Chess.com’s live broadcast for a bit. “I could see from his face that he was so much under pressure.”

We now also know that five of the quarterfinalists will be qualifying for the  2022 FIDE Grand Prix and the top-two finishers not named Carlsen will be qualifying directly to the 2022 FIDE Candidates Tournament.

Results round of 16












Fed Player Rtg Fed Player Rtg G1 G2 TB
GM Carlsen, Magnus 2847 GM Esipenko, Andrey 2716 ½-½ ½-½ 4-2
GM Grischuk, Alexander 2778 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2738 ½-½ ½-½ 1½-½
GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2749 ½-½ ½-½ 2½-1½
GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2726 GM Durarbayli, Vasif 2625 ½-½ 1-0 .
GM Svidler, Peter 2714 GM Shankland, Sam 2709 ½-½ 0-1 .
GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2696 GM Ivic, Velimir 2582 ½-½ ½-½ 2-0
GM Bacrot, Etienne 2678 GM Piorun, Kacper 2608 ½-½ ½-½ 3-1
GM Haik Martirosyan 2632 GM Tabatabaei, M. Amin 2613 1-0 0-1 ½-1½

FIDE World Cup 2021 results

Bacrot Piorun 2021 FIDE World Cup
Bacrot beats Piorun. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Alexander Grischuk 2021 FIDE World Cup
Alexander Grischuk, out of the World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Fedoseev Ivic 2021 FIDE World Cup
Fedoseev sets up the pieces as Ivic faces elimination. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Vachier-Lagrave Karjakin 2021 FIDE World Cup
Vachier-Lagrave resigns vs. Karjakin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Martirosyan Tabatabaei 2021 FIDE World Cup
Martirosya loses to Tabatabaei. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The women’s tournament saw just one tiebreak, in which Muzychuk proved too strong for Dzagnidze. She won both rapid games; here’s the first:

Muzychuk will now be playing top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina while the other semifinal will be played between former women’s world champions GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and GM Tan Zhongyi. These matches will be starting on Thursday.

All four women will be playing chess until at least Monday because there is also a match for third place. 

Results quarterfinals








Fed Player Rating

Fed Player Rating G1 G2 TB
GM Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2596 IM Saduakassova, Dinara 2483 ½-½ 1-0 .
GM Lagno, Kateryna 2559 GM Tan, Zhongyi 2511 ½-½ 0-1 .
GM Muzychuk, Anna 2527 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 2523 ½-½ ½-½ 2-0
GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472 GM Gunina, Valentina 2437 1-0 1-0 .

FIDE Women's World Cup 2021 results

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.


Previous reports:

  • FIDE World Cup R5.2: Shankland, Vidit Through
  • FIDE World Cup R5.1: Kosteniuk, Martirosyan Only Winners
  • FIDE World Cup R4.3: Carlsen, Ivic Among Final 16
  • FIDE World Cup R4.2: Dzagnidze, Goryachkina Force Tiebreaks; Harikrishna Out
  • FIDE World Cup R4.1: Goryachkina, Harikrishna Among 10 Players In Danger Zone
  • FIDE World Cup R3.3: Giri, Mamedyarov Out; MVL Survives In Armageddon
  • FIDE World Cup R3.2: Caruana Knocked Out
  • FIDE World Cup R3.1: Dzagnidze, Mamedyarov, Yu In Trouble
  • FIDE World Cup R2.3: Dominguez, Firouzja Out On Wild Armageddon Day
  • FIDE World Cup R2.2: Nihal, Praggnanandhaa Among Qualifiers For Round 3
  • FIDE World Cup R2.1: Covid-19 Hits, Aronian Withdraws
  • FIDE Worlc Cup R1.3: 14-Year-Old Murzin Through
  • FIDE World Cup R1.2: 28 Matches Go To Tiebreaks
  • FIDE World Cup R1.1: Chilean Brilliance



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