FIDE World Cup R1.1: Chilean Brilliance

The 2021 FIDE World Cup kicked off Monday in Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi (Russia) with 156 players in the open section and 78 players in the women’s section. Chilean grandmaster Pablo Salinas Herrera played the Game of the Day (and possibly the year!).

The FIDE World Cup marks the return of over-the-board chess on a global scale after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many sporting events. Even with problematic travel, almost all players were in Sochi on time. However, the players from Brazil were unable to board their original Qatar Airways flight because the airline did not accept the letter from the organizers. Two days later they still managed to make the trip.

Two top grandmasters who have just finished playing in the Croatia Rapid & Blitz, GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk missed their flight, but are among the players who will not show up for the second round until Thursday.


Mamedyarov: “The most expensive beer in the history of mankind. Missed the flight with Sasha.”

In Sochi, players must follow a health protocol, which includes completing a negative PCR test no later than 72 hours before arriving in Russia, maintaining physical distance and wearing a recommended face covering. Handshakes before a match have been replaced by simple face greetings.

Wearing face masks or other protection is not mandatory during matches, although some players still choose to keep them on. We saw this, for example, in the match between GM Abhimanyu Mishra, the youngest grandmaster in the world, and Georgia’s number one GM Baadur Jobava. Jobava won by the way, but he had to work hard for his point:

The main World Cup started on Monday with 156 players. Each round consists of two classic matches followed by a quick and quick tiebreak on the third day if necessary. This means that on Wednesday 78 players will go home and the other 78 players will be joined by 50 seeded players. From the second round we play a traditional World Cup with 128 players.

In the women’s tournament, everything is half the size: 78 players play in the first round. For the second round, the 39 winners will be joined by 25 seeded players, for a total of 64. As a result, the Women’s World Cup ends three days earlier.

FIDE World Cup 2021 Dvorkovich First Move
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich played the first move aboard one between GM Sanan Sjugirov (Russia) and CM Elmer Prudente (Guam). The top shelves of the open and women’s section are placed against each other. Photo: Anastasiya Korolkova/FIDE.

The first round saw some major setbacks such as IM Guillermo Vazquez (2527) beating GM Nikita Meshkovs (2568) and GM Iniyan P. (2506) beating GM Sebastian Bogner (2581). The biggest was IM Ravi Haria (2440) who defeated GM Vadim Zvjaginsev (2608) when the 22-year-old English IM nicely outplayed his veteran opponent in a French endgame:

In the women’s category, WIM Tilsia Carolina Varela La Madrid (2072) surprisingly defeated IM Pauline Guichard (2413), and WIM Turmunkh Munkhzul (2278) defeated IM Marina Brunello (2379). The biggest shock of the day was WIM Ayah Moaataz (2015) of Egypt beating former World Champion GM Anna Ushenina (2429) of Ukraine, who blundered into a safety net:

We counted nine players who couldn’t reach Sochi, leading to 2-0 walkovers in the following matches (including the top two Romanian players, by the way):

  • GM Viktor Mikhalevsky (Israel) vs. IM Zaw Htun Wynn (Myanmar)
  • GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan) vs. IM Mohamad Ervan (Indonesia)
  • VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin IM Saparmyrat Atabayev (Turkmenistan)
  • GM Constantin Lupulescu (Romania) vs. FM Allen Chi Zhou Fan (New Zealand)
  • GM Elshan Moradiabadi (US) vs. GM Helgi Dam Ziska (Faroe Islands)
  • GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Romania) vs. GM Amir Zaibi (Tunisia)
  • GM Ivan Ivanisevic vs. Andres Rodriguez Vila (Uruguay)
  • IM Bhakti Kulkarni (India) vs. WGM Anastasya Paramzina (Russia)
  • IM Olga Badelka (Belarus) vs. WFM Jemal Ovezdurdiyeva (Turkmenistan).

You can easily find all the results and the link tree here on the official website.

It’s high time to watch that wonderful match played by Salinas vs. Andersen, who bore some similarities to the famous match won by a 13-year-old GM Bobby Fischer vs. GM Donald Byrne at the Rosenwald Memorial in 1956.

Chess.com Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Pablo Salinas Herrera Chess Chess
Paul Salinas Herrera. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

The FIDE World Cup lasts until August 8, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. Beginning round two (Thurs), the top 50 seeded players (open section), including GM Magnus Carlsen, and the top 25 (women’s section) will take to the field.

It must also be a huge relief for photographers to be able to take pictures of players at the board again. Here is a selection of portraits from our “house photographer” and streamer WFM Maria Emelianova:

Jesse February chess
Streamer becomes player: Jesse February. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Qiyu Nemo Zhou chess
Another streamer becomes a player: Qiyu “Nemo” Zhou. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Tatev Abrahamyan
Tatev Abrahamyan (USA). Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Jennifer Yu playing chess
Jennifer Yu (USA). Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Sabrina Laterche Algeria
Sabrina Latreche of Algeria. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carolina Lujan Argentina
Carolina Lujan of Argentina. Photo: Maria Emelinova/Chess.com.
Joanna Majdan
Joanna Majdan of Poland. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Padmini Route India
Padmini route of India. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Nurgyul Salimova Bulgaria
Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Almira Skripchenko
From commentator at the Paris Grand Chess Tour back to the chessboard: Almira Skripchenko from France. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Marie Sebag
Marie Sebag of France. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Laura Unuk Slovakia
Laura Unuk from Slovenia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Baskaran Adhiban World Cup 2021
Baskaran Adhiban of India. Photo: Maria Emelianova / Chess.com.
Benjamin Hello chess
Benjamin Bok of the Netherlands. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Jorge Cori Peru
Jorge Cori of Peru. Photo: Maria Emelinova/Chess.com.
Timur Gareev
Timur Gareyev (USA). Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson
Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson of Iceland. Photo: Maria Emelianova / Chess.com.
Krikor Mekhitarian
Director of Portuguese Content for Chess.com Krikor Mekhitarian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Haik Martirosyan
Junior Speed ​​Chess contestant Haik Martirosyan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Abhimanyu Mishra FIDE World Cup
Abhimanyu Mishra. Photo: Maria Emelianova / Chess.com.
Volodar Murzin
15-year-old Volodar Murzin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Olanrewaju Ajibola Nigeria
Olanrewaju Ajibola of Nigeria. Photo: Maria Emelianova / Chess.com.
Nihal Sarin
Another Junior Speed ​​Chess competitor, Nihal Sarin, who turns 17 on Tuesday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

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