Tiebreaks on Wednesday will decide 19 matches in the 2021 FIDE World Cup and nine matches in the Women’s World Cup. A total of 97 players reached the second round without needing a tiebreak.

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The World Cup runs all the way until August 6 for a total of 26 days, but for 97 participants it came to an end on Tuesday. Among the players who are packing their bags early are 2019 Aeroflot Open winner GM Kaido Kulaots (Estonia), bullet specialist GM Andrew Tang (U.S.), and the world’s youngest GM Abhimanyu Mishra (U.S.), who drew his second game with GM Baadur Jobava (Georgia).

Like many first-day winners, the Georgian grandmaster seemed happy with a draw but kudos to Mishra for keeping the game going for a while:

Abhimanyu Mishra FIDE World Cup 2021
Abhimanyu Mishra’s first World Cup experience was short-lived. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

GM Sebastian Bogner (Switzerland) needed a win in game two and couldn’t have been too unhappy when he got the chance to sacrifice his queen. He must have been shocked to discover after the game that both he and his opponent, Indian GM Panneerselvam Iniyan, had missed a simple tactic:

The experienced GM Michal Krasenkow (Poland), a former world number-10, advanced with 1.5-0.5 but survived a scare in the second game where GM Matej Sebenik (Slovenia) missed a win deep in the endgame:

One of the players who won their matches 2-0 was GM Alexander Onischuk (U.S.), who played Iraqi FM Salih Akar Ali Salih and won a quick second game:

Chess.com Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Alexander Onischuk 2021 FIDE World Cup
Alexander Onischuk. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

Seven players who started with a loss on Monday managed to win on demand. The biggest story was IM Chitumbo Mwali (Zambia), rated 2281, who beat Armenian GM Haik Martirosyan (2632) to force a tiebreak.

In what was a reversed Sicilian Dragon, Martirosyan tried a Yugoslav Attack before switching to a positional approach. He was better after the opening, but then his calculation became somewhat sloppy:

Chitumbo Mwali FIDE World Cup 2021
Chitumbo Mwali. Photo: Anastasiya Korolkova/FIDE.

After his nice win the other day, IM Ravi Haria (2440) was quite close to eliminating GM Vadim Zvjaginsev (2608) the next day. Even 2-0 was possible as the 22-year-old English IM again reached a winning position.

Haria Zvjaginsev 2021 FIDE World Cup
Haria vs. Zvjaginsev. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

Two more players who will play a tiebreak are GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (Iran) and GM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia). The latter took too much risk and was about to face a crushing counterattack but then succeeded in setting a trap that forced the second draw in the match:

Here are some of the matchups that are already known for round two:

  • Magnus Carlsen vs. Sasa Martinovic
  • Evgeny Bareev vs. Aryan Tari
  • Alireza Firouzja vs. Javokhir Sindarov
  • Sanan Sjugirov vs. Nihal Sarin 
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Elshan Moradiabadi
  • Gabriel Sargissian vs. Praggnanandhaa R.
  • Sam Shankland vs. Baadur Jobava

In the Women’s World Cup, two rating favorites who started with a loss on the first day managed to come back: French IM Pauline Guichard and also GM Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), who slowly but surely outplayed her opponent from Egypt:

Anna Ushenina 2021 FIDE World Cup
Anna Ushenina. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ukrainian IM Nataliya Buksa (2413) was surprisingly sent to tiebreaks as her opponent WIM Sabrina Latreche (2076), profiting from a blunder, managed to win on demand. A piece up, Latreche made things hard for herself but got there in the end:

WGM Janelle Mae Frayna (Philippines, 2179) is another lower-rated player who managed to score 1-1 after losing the first game. She beat the Vietnamese-born Hungarian grandmaster Hoang Thanh Trang, showing textbook dark-square strategy in a Stonewall:

Hoang Thanh Trang FIDE World Cup 2021
Forced into tiebreaks: Hoang Thanh Trang. Photo: Eric Rosen/FIDE.

Possibly the biggest surprise in the first round of the women’s event was WIM Turmunkh Munkhzul (Mongolia, 2278) beating IM Marina Brunello (Italy, 2379) 2-0.

Interesting pairings in round two are:

  • Tatev Abrahamyan vs. Anna Muychuk
  • Mariya Muzychuk vs. Inna Gaponenko
  • Pia Cramling vs. Monika Socko
  • Deysi Cori vs. Alexandra Kosteniuk

The FIDE World Cup continues until August 6, 2021, in Sochi, Russia. Starting from round two (Thursday), the top 50 seeded players (open section), including GM Magnus Carlsen, and the top 25 (women’s section) join the field.

Lagno Kosteniuk Khismatullin
GM Kateryna Lagno (left) and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, seeded into round two, have arrived with GM Denis Khismatullin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Omar Salama Laurent Freyd
Arbiters Omar Salama and Laurent Freyd. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Jennifer Yu, Carissa Yip, Andrew Tang
Jennifer Yu, Carissa Yip, and Andrew Tang. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.


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