A model exchange sacrifice

While most of the elite players fight to become the challenger in the World Championship, the reigning champion is only waiting and preparing for his next match. Some of the former champions have decided to keep their cards close to their chests, barely playing classic elite tournaments while waiting for the next game. The defending champion, on the other hand, can’t help but play some serious events against his potential opponents.

After losing his semi-final match against Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Magnus Carlen tweeted:

Losing today certainly hurts, but I’m happy with my progress in the tournament nonetheless, and I’ve had some good training for the end of the year as well.

This is indeed the second time that Carlsen has played in the World Cup since he became world champion (in 2017, he was eliminated by Bu Xiangzhi in the third round). Speaking to Michael Rahal after his victory over Vladimir Fedoseev, Carlsen noted that Game 2 of the playoffs against Duda was the first time he had struggled in this long tournament, and that he could not stand. properly adapt to the circumstances, failing to save a shoot from a defensible position.

The Norwegian has yet to win a World Cup and, given his competitiveness over the years, we expect him to continue to compete in the next editions, seeking to secure one of the few trophies missing in the his cabinet – it was certainly close. to have it this year!

Magnus carlsen

Magnus Carlsen during his match against Jan-Krzystof Duda | Photo: Anastasiia Korolkova

Time for the game. Carlsen opted for an Indian defense of the king, to which Fedoseev responded with 3.h4, not afraid to enter into a double-edged sword. The world champion explained that the setup that followed lent itself to various sacrificial ideas, and on move 16 he opted for what will likely turn out to be an example of a manual of when to give up a trade in order to take control of a complex of colors.

16 … f4 17.Bxf4 Bd7 18.Cd1 Rxf4

After 19.Qxf4 Bh6 20.Qg3 Qf8 White needs to untangle their pieces before having any activity – the bishop is stuck behind the pawn structure, the rook has virtually no movement from h1, while the knight on d1 will need a certain number of moves. precise to reach an active cell.

Black soon placed his bishop on f4, establishing the dominance of the black squares. Carlsen was clearly in the driver’s seat, but he still had to convert his position advantage into victory. White’s crucial mistake came on the 27th move.

White’s position after 27.Qg1 can be described as claustrophobic – the engines suggest 27.Kf1, but finding the justification for making such a move on the board is not at all easy. After the text, Carlsen infiltrated with his queen via a8, and slowly but surely tightened the screws around the white king.

Eventually, the world champion agreed to enter the exchange offered several times by Fedoseev, but only under optimal circumstances.

40 … Bxg5 41.hxg5 Ne5 and Fedoseev resigned. White was practically blocked for almost 20 moves!

Vladimir Fedoseev

Vladimir Fedoseev | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

A quick draw in the final

Unexpected decisions by the two contenders resulted in a 17-stroke draw in the final. Karjakin surprised Duda by opening with 1.d4, but it was the Russian who ended up jumping inviting a triple rep after being surprised by Duda’s 11th stroke.

Whites 11.Rd1 was novelty in the game, but apparently Karjakin didn’t expect the natural look 11 … Bd7 by his opponent. After thinking for more than 15 minutes, Karjakin entered a line which led to a draw by repeat.

Duda will have the white pieces in Thursday’s rematch. Unlike previous World Cup editions, this year’s final match consists of 2 classic matches – not 4 – meaning another draw will lead directly to a quick and blitz playoff.

Sergey Karjakin, Jan-Krzysztof Duda

World Cup Finalists – Sergey Karjakin and Jan-Krzysztof Duda | Photo: David Llada