5 August 2021

Sergey Karjakin and Jan-Krzysztof Duda Draw First Game in FIDE World Cup Final

Magnus Carlsen defeated Vladimir Fedoseev in the match for third place.

August 4, the final FIDE World Cup match began in Krasnaya Polyana, which pitted Sergey Karjakin (Russia) against Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) for first place, and world champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) against Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia) for the third place.  

Sergey Karjakin was White in game one. The opponents played out the Vienna variation of the Queen's Gambit, or, more specifically, its Gambit branch, which Duda has already faced twice here in Sochi. The Polish GM confidently defended as Black's against Alexander Grischuk and Magnus Carlsen. Karjakin also failed to pose substantial problems for his opponent, although he was the first to sidestep from the above games. Jan-Krzysztof's opening preparation proved impeccable again; when Sergey realized that there was no gaining any opening advantage, he forced a draw by repetition. 

Vladimir Fedoseev stopped Magnus Carlsen from employing the Grunfeld Defense, choosing the trendy 3.h4 plan. The world champion contemplated for about 20 minutes and opted for a reliable setup in the spirit of the King's Indian Defense. Fedoseev dispatched his second extra pawn into the offensive, at the same time leaving his king in the center and compromising his pawn structure. Carlsen grabbed the initiative completely via an ingenious pawn and then the exchange sacrifices. His queen infiltrated the opponent's camp, while White's pieces huddled lonely in the corner and his short moves on a narrow space resembled a game of tags. In an attempt to free up his pieces, Fedoseev returned the exchange, but to no avail. White gave up immediately after the time control move.

Magnus Carlsen, “Obviously, when he goes 3.h4 (by the way, this is an excellent move), it means that we are going to get a game. So, I was quite happy with that. I thought it was very difficult to play after that and there were so many ideas. Mine were generally connected with sacrifices all over the place – for example, f5-f4 or b7-b5, which was screaming to be played at some point. I went for this f5-f4 idea, and decided not to sac the exchange immediately and did in a better version. After that I was doing fine, with compensation. I think the crucial moment was when he played Qg1: because of some geometrical motifs the queen can never get out of there. He should have castled and give back all this material instead with a worse but quite tenable position. Fortunately for me, he went for something else”.  

The return games are scheduled on Thursday, August 5. If the score is still a draw, a match goes into a tie-breaker. 

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Photos by Eteri Kublashvili