Yesterday marked the start of the FIDE World Cup 2021 and what a day it was! With so many interesting games and upsets, the event is living up to all expectations. We will now take a look at some of the interesting moments that happened in the games of our African contingent, although I would recommend that you glance through all the tournament games as well, if you have the chance to.
Upset in Sochi!
In our previous article, we mentioned that WIM Ayah Moaataz from Egypt would not be distracted by the fact that she would be playing against GM Anna Ushenina, former Women’s World Champion, who is rated 414 (!) points above her, and she definitely was not as she scored the only upset from the African contingent today! In a complicated battle, Moaataz managed to swindle her opponent in time trouble, after running into some trouble in the opening. When you are in a worse position, you should always be alert and positive to be able to take advantage of the moment your opponent makes an error. This is exactly what happened in this game. Let us take a look at a few interesting moments:
Black has achieved a huge advantage from the opening. The way Black continued here also gave a winning advantage, but I think there is a solution that is more to the point. How can Black achieve a winning attack in this position?
Black won some material, but she allowed White’s pieces to gain some active posts and White now has an opportunity to put some pressure on Black’s king!
We reached this position after a bishop sacrifice by White. Both players were in time trouble here and the Women’s World Champion started to go astray with 36…Ng7. Black just needs to consolidate her position and she will take home the victory.
The final mistake from Black. White has a mating attack now, which WIM Moaataz definitely would not miss!
What a feeling it must be to beat a former World Champion! She now has a great opportunity to advance to the second round!
On the Scoreboard
The WIM from Egypt was not the only one to record a win in the first game. In the African battle between GMs Ahmed Adly and Adbelrahman Hesham, Adly drew the first blood with the white pieces.
After a very interesting series of opening moves, we have reached an atypical position. Adly comes up with a very strong move here. Can you find it?
After a trade of pieces, we reached this position where White can consolidate his position and gain an advantage due to his superior pieces.
Leading up to this position, the game was full of many complications, but it has now cooled down in Adly’s favour. How can White gain a winning advantage here?
Hesham will have to win on demand with the white pieces tomorrow if he wants to extend his World Cup journey. But this will not be an easy task, as Adly will try to keep things solid. It will certainly be one to watch.
In other results, GM Adham Fawzy held GM Evgeny Alekseev to a draw with the white pieces and WGM Shahenda Wafa drew against IM Almira Skripchenko with the black pieces. As we can see, only Egyptian players managed to score full points today, further cementing their position as the top African nation.
We had a very tense battle in the Scotch game, which simplified to this opposite-coloured bishop ending where Fawzy is a pawn up. As is typical in this type of ending, the extra pawn does not matter that much and Fawzy was unable to put pressure on Black. The game soon ended in a draw.
Skripchenko-Wafa featured the very topical Rossolimo Variation of the Sicilian Defence. We reached this endgame, which the engine claims is equal, but this position is very pleasant for White due to the better pieces. Skripchenko soon starts putting pressure on Black’s position.
White has made a lot of progress and here Black played …d6-d5 finally opening the diagonal for her bishop, but this does not matter as White’s pieces are perfectly placed to achieve a big advantage.
White has achieved a winning same-coloured bishop ending but needs to be very accurate as the drawing margin is quite big. Skripchenko could not find the win here; can you?
Other interesting moments
As we have already reported, GM Amir Zaibi was unable to travel to Sochi and was forfeited in his game against GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac. Our other players tried their best to come away with a victory or a draw but were unable to. We will now take a look at some of the highlights of these encounters.
WGM Mezioud vs IM Osmak
After a very interesting middlegame, Black won a pawn and looked to be in control. But in time trouble, Black made a careless error which could have cost her the full point. What should White play here?
WGM Shrook Wafa vs IM Unuk
IM Buksa vs WIM Latreche
Although White later went on to draw water from a stone, she missed a winning tactic at this moment. Later, Latreche managed to get a drawn rook endgame, but unfortunately blundered in time pressure.
CM Chipanga vs GM Adhiban
Chipanga has played well so far, but this is an important moment. White has a very strong move here, can you see it?
FM Sergio vs GM Saric
Black has achieved a very pleasant position in the King’s Indian Defence. How would you continue here?
GM Motylev vs FM Elarabi
GM Paravyan vs IM Tissir
GM El Gindy vs GM Svane
A very strange series of events preceded this position. Black won a piece and then managed to blunder it back. We were left with a 4v4 on the kingside, and as we can see here, Black has just grabbed the e4-pawn. Black missed a winning tactic in this position due to time pressure, and because of this White even had some drawing chances later. Black to play and win.
The moments I included here are only a fragment of what actually happened in the round. These are only ‘clippable’ moments and it would be worth your while to check out the rest of the games. For example, Gabuzyan-Bellahcene has this interesting knight maneuver that seemingly cuts off the knight from the game, but later rises from the dead to play a decisive role in the endgame or discover the power of the central pawn majority in Kovalev-Makoto. You can also learn a lot about closed positions by studying the games Ssegwanyi-Sarin and Paravyan-Tissir. This was really an exciting first day and I am sure it will only go up from here. All the best to our African representatives in their next games!
Scheduled to take place from July 12th (Round 1) to August 6th (finals), the 2021 FIDE World Cup will gather together in Sochi (Russia) 309 of the world’s best chess players, with 206 of them playing in the Open World Cup and 103 participants in the first ever Women’s World Cup.
The top two finishers in the tournament, aside from World Champion Magnus Carlsen who is also participating, will qualify for the 2022 Candidates Tournament, in addition to winning the 110.000 USD first prize (80.000 USD for the runner-up).