FIDE World Cup R7.1: Kosteniuk Dodges Bullet, Takes Lead

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GM Alexandra Kosteniuk grabbed the lead in the Women’s FIDE World Cup final on Sunday by winning a dramatic game vs. GM Aleksandra Goryachkina. GM Tan Zhongyi and GM Anna Muzychuk started their match for third place with a draw. Both games in the semifinals of the open section ended in draws as well.

The beautiful drama that unfolded in the women’s tournament deserves prevalence in this report, and so we’re starting with it. Goryachkina-Kosteniuk had it all: creative maneuvers, a pawn sacrifice for compensation, a nice attack by Goryachkina that should have been decisive, a sudden turnaround in a hectic time-trouble phase with Goryachkina missing the win and later also the path to the draw, Kosteniuk almost giving away the win as well but eventually converting the full point after all.

This was a huge win for the former world champion as she now has the white pieces to try and hold the draw. However, it’s not really in Kosteniuk’s style to play solid so this second game will be very interesting.

2021 FIDE World Cup finals
The start of round seven at the FIDE World Cup. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

Goryachkina was in a must-win situation before in this World Cup. In the fourth round, she lost her first classical game to another former women’s world champion, GM Antoaneta Stefanova. But then she could play with the white pieces the next day.

That loss to Stefanova was perhaps easier to deal with because it was the result of a simple miscalculation. Against Kosteniuk, Goryachkina needs to forget about two key moments: missing that win, and also missing relatively easy draws after the first time control:

Chess.com Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

The match for third place between Muzychuk and Tan is a repeat of the final of the 2017 women’s world championship, also a knockout tournament, held in Tehran, Iran. Back then, the Chinese player won in the playoff to grab the world title.

Muzychuk drew comfortably in the first game where she played a line once championed by the Dutch player Lodewijk Prins (5…cxd4) which has recently been revived at the top level. In fact, it was also played a few meters away in Fedoseev-Karjakin (see below).

Tan Zhongyi Anna Muzychuk 2021 Sochi
A solid draw for Muzychuk vs. Tan. Photo: Anastasiya Korolkova/FIDE.

Finals | Results






Fed Player Rating

Fed Player Rating G1 G2 TB
GM Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2596 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472 0-1 . .
GM Muzychuk, Anna 2527 GM Tan, Zhongyi 2511 ½-½ . .

FIDE Women's World Cup 2021 bracket
The open section was a fairly quiet affair with two draws on the first day of the semifinals. What stood out was how easy GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda held his game as Black with GM Magnus Carlsen to a draw. Afterward, he said he was “quite pleased” to have achieved that.

In a sideline of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Carlsen deviated on move eight from an earlier clash with Duda (Wijk aan Zee 2019). Although he didn’t remember much of the 8.Qe2 line, Duda managed to get out of the opening unscathed.

Carlsen Duda Sochi 2021
Duda couldn’t remember much of the 8.Qe2 line but managed to avoid serious problems on his own. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

At some point, he underestimated certain play from Carlsen and was obliged to trade queens. “I wasn’t happy to play this against Magnus,” Duda said. “It’s easy to become paranoid in slightly worse endgames against him!”

To make matters worse, the Polish player then also missed a tactical sequence from the world champion and admitted that he was lucky that it didn’t lose on the spot. The rook endgame saw a nice moment on move 30:

The second game between these two players looks promising from the outset. It was Duda, with the white pieces, who ended Carlsen’s 125-game unbeaten streak last October.

In the other semifinal, the same 5…cxd4 line as in Tan-Muzychuk came on the board, played by GM Sergey Karjakin. Despite being surprised and unprepared for this line, GM Vladimir Fedoseev was pressing throughout the game.

“I feel that the position was difficult for him to play for most of the time but he managed to defend it pretty well, I guess,” said Fedoseev.

Fedoseev Karjakin Sochi 2021
Fedoseev and Karjakin agree to a draw with a smile as the final position is rather drawish indeed. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

Semifinals | Results






Fed Player Rtg

Fed Player Rtg G1 G2 TB
GM Carlsen, Magnus 2847 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2738 ½-½ . .
GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757 GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2696 ½-½ . .

2021 FIDE World Cup bracket

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 R6.3: Karjakin, Goryachkina, Kosteniuk Through
  • FIDE World Cup R6.2: Carlsen, Duda, Fedoseev Through; Karjakin Strikes Back
  • FIDE World Cup R6.1: Carlsen, Shankland Strike
  • FIDE World Cup R5.3: Carlsen Beats Esipenko In Epic Tiebreak
  • 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 World 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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