International Chess Federation
Thursday, 15 Jul 2021 18:47
Day 04: Magnus Carlsen debuts with a technical win

No big surprises in game one of the second round of the World Cup

Thursday, July 15th, 2021 – Today’s round of the World Cup and the Women’s World Cup featured the arrival of all of the top-rated players, seeded directly into the second round of the competition, including the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Minutes before his debut, Carlsen received the 2020 Fair Play Svetozar Gligoric award, in recognition of an individual who, during the previous year, displayed exemplary behaviour that promotes the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship in chess.

In the semi-finals of the 2020 online “Chessable Masters”, Magnus won a key game by the unfortunate disconnection of his opponent, Ding Liren. Carlsen demonstrated that "winning fair" was far more important to him than winning at any cost, therefore minutes later in the second game he gave up his queen and resigned after just four moves to restore parity in the match.

Introduced by Laurent Freyd (Principal Tournament Arbiter), FIDE Vice-President and Chairman of the Award Commission, Mr. Mahir Mammedov, congratulated Magnus on his achievement and spoke a few words of encouragement to all the players in the hall.

One of the first players to finish was GM Baskaran Adhiban (2660) from India, who defeated his opponent, GM Neuris Delgado Ramirez (2622), from Paraguay, in a fine attacking game. In a 4.f3 Nimzo-Indian defence, White sacrificed two pawns for a very strong attack.

Baskaran Adhiban - Neuris Delgado Ramirez

The move 15.c5! was an excellent choice, leaving Black’s queen and queenside pieces unconnected with the defence and allowing Bc4+ at some moment. After 15...Kh8 16.Qe2 Nd7 17.Nxh7 dxc3 18.Qh5 Qxc5+ 19.Kh1 Kg8 20.Bxf5 Qd5 21.Kg5 Nf6? (Black is already losing but 21…Rxf5 was the best try) the Indian grandmaster played a lovely queen sacrifice with 22.Qh7!+ and Black resigned, as 22…Nxh7 23.Bxh7+ Kh8 24.Txf8 Qg8 25.Qxg8 is mate.

However, most of the expectation today was obviously placed on Magnus Carlsen’s game against GM Sasa Martinovic (2548), who was also celebrating his birthday! In a complicated middlegame without queens Martinovic, playing with White, miscalculated a tactical sequence and dropped a pawn. Even so, it wasn’t easy at all to convert but Carlsen’s endgame ability came to play once more and after 34 moves White had to capitulate.

In his postgame interview with FIDE’s Press Officer Michael Rahal, Carlsen briefly explained his thoughts on the game and what the Gligoric fair-play award meant to him.

In the Women’s section, most of the favourites started off with a win, although many pairings between more or less equal-rated opponents ended in a draw. Therefore, the second game of the match tomorrow will be decisive and I would even suggest that there will be quite a few tiebreaks for this round, in both groups.

One of the candidates to win the women’s world cup outright is India’s top female grandmaster Harika Dronavalli (2515). Seeded straight into the second round, she was paired today with WIM Medina Warda Aulia (2360) from Indonesia.

After an offbeat Ruy Lopez variation with Black, Harika played the strong pawn advance 13.e5 opening up the position and went on to win a nice technical game. She gave her thoughts in her postgame interview with the Press Officer.

On a sadder note, GM Levon Aronian had to forfeit his first game of the second round. The Armenian Grandmaster has had some symptoms of fever earlier this week and even though he felt well today, in order not to risk the safety of the other players it was decided that he would withdraw from the first game, and undergo additional health tests before deciding if he is fit to play in the second game.

Also, the organizers confirmed that one of the players had tested positive for Covid-19 - the result of the test became known during his second-round game. In line with the tournament's public health and safety protocol, the player was asked to immediately leave the playing area, and his game declared a loss.

The player in question was wearing a face mask during the game, and he has been placed in quarantine. His opponent, who was also requested to leave the playing hall immediately, will now undergo additional medical screenings and will be tested again tomorrow as scheduled.

The player who has been forced to forfeit his game today had been tested before his trip, and then again in Sochi on July 10th, July 11th, and July 14th.

After three negatives, it was this last test the one that turned out to be positive.

The health agency that runs the tests for the event should have alerted FIDE of any positive before 1PM, local time. 

However, for reasons that we are investigating now, FIDE was not informed about the result of this test until 15:21, when the game had already started.

FIDE did the only thing that was possible in the circumstances: to immediately stop the game, isolate the players, and provide medical advice to them.

* Please note that, due to privacy regulations, FIDE can not disclose to the public the name of any player who tests positive.

Pairings of the second game of the second round, live games and PGN files can be found on the World Cup website alongside a great amount of other interesting information such as daily videos, a complete photo collection and other useful data.

Text: Michael Rahal, FIDE Press Officer

Photo: Eric Rosen and Anastasiia Korolkova

About the tournament:

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).

Organisers: International Chess Federation (FIDE), Chess Federation of Russia, Russian Ministry of Sports, and Government of Krasnodar Krai.


Gazprom – general partner

Nornickel – general partner

PhosAgro – general partner

Chessable – event’s partner

Aeroflot – CFR’s partner

Educational centre “Sirius”