Shankland With Chances, Falls Just Short of FIDE Final Four

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FIDE World Cup Round 6
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Most players have been sent home from Sochi, Russia in Round 6 of the FIDE World Cup. // credit Anastasiia Korolkova

 

Grandmaster Sam Shankland was eliminated from the 2021 FIDE World Cup, falling to Russian World No. 14 GM Sergey Karjakin in tiebreakers on Friday.  

The defeat marks the end of a brilliant run by Shankland, who had been the last American GM standing in the International Chess Federation’s official return to the board in Sochi, Russia. The bi-annual World Championship qualifier began on July 12 as a knockout bracket with 206 of the world’s top Grandmasters; Shankland was eliminated in the sixth round, one of eight players remaining. 

Entering as one of the bracket’s top-50 seeds, Shankland received a bye in the first round, then went on to defeat, in order: Georgia World No. 224 GM Jobava Baadur, Ukraine World No. 47 GM Alexander Areschenko, Kazakhstan World No. 122 GM Rinat Jumabayev, and Russian World No. 29 GM Peter Svidler. The American settled all but one match within the first two classical games, needing rapid tiebreakers only against Areschenko, and did not lose a single game until Round Six against Karjakin – a decisive, back-and-forth slugfest of six games. 

The 2-4 quarterfinal defeat has a jagged edge: Just how tantalizingly close Shankland was to reaching FIDE’s final four, holding draw odds to advance in, not one, but two games against Karjakin. The California GM had one foot into the next round after winning the match’s first of two classical games, scoring as White in an English with a queenless middlegame.  

 

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GM Sam Shankland at the 2021 FIDE World Cup
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American GM Sam Shankland was all smiles after winning the first of his two-game classical match against GM Sergey Karjakin in the 2021 FIDE World Cup. // credit Eric Rosen, FIDE

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2021"] [Site "Krasnaya Polyana RUS"] [Date "2021.07.28"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Shankland, Sam"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A20"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2021.07.12"] [EventType "k.o."] {[%evp 10,115,37,37,54,52,63,30,30,30,67,11,11,11,35,-18,10,8,9,15,26,23,22,23, 30,29,74,75,65,65,81,27,27,27,37,27,25,25,31,0,11,-20,-23,-23,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,-6, -3,-4,-7,-19,-9,-9,22,10,11,9,26,11,11,16,11,0,65,76,76,58,97,99,160,161,164, 161,165,120,103,90,121,116,148,104,96,109,102,99,99,58,99,54,98,99,96,99,98,99, 100,99,104,104,104,104,632,629]} 1. c4 e5 2. g3 c6 3. Nf3 e4 4. Nd4 d5 5. cxd5 Qxd5 6. e3 Bc5 {A20: English Opening: 1...e5.} 7. Nc3 Qe5 8. d3 $5 {[%mdl 4] An interesting side line.} exd3 {White has an edge.} 9. Qxd3 Nf6 10. Bg2 (10. Be2 $1 $14) 10... O-O $11 11. O-O Rd8 12. Nf3 Rxd3 (12... Qe7 {keeps more tension.} 13. Nd4 Bb6 14. Qc2 Na6 15. a3 Nc7) 13. Nxe5 Rd8 14. b3 Be6 $146 ({ Predecessor:} 14... Bf5 15. Bb2 Nbd7 16. Na4 Be7 17. Rfd1 Nb6 18. Rxd8+ Rxd8 19. Nxb6 axb6 20. a3 Rd2 {1/2-1/2 (75) Hracek,Z (2563)-Navara,D (2719) Plzen 2020}) 15. Bb2 Na6 16. Rad1 Be7 17. Ne2 Nb4 (17... Nd7 $11) 18. Nd4 $16 Bd5 19. a3 {[#] Nf5 is the strong threat.} Na6 20. b4 ({White should play} 20. Nf5 $16 Bf8 21. Bxd5 Nxd5 22. Nd3) 20... Bxg2 $11 21. Kxg2 c5 $1 {[%cal Rc5d4]} 22. Nf5 Bf8 23. b5 Nc7 24. a4 (24. Nc4 {seems wilder.} Nfd5 25. Be5 g6 26. Nfd6 Bxd6 27. Nxd6 b6 28. Nb7) 24... Nfd5 25. Nc4 (25. e4 $5 {[%cal Re4d5]} Nb6 26. a5 $11) 25... g6 26. Nh4 Nb6 (26... Bg7 {is more complex.} 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. Rc1 Nf6 29. Rfe1 Ne4) 27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Nxb6 axb6 29. Nf3 Ra8 30. Be5 Ne8 31. Ra1 f6 32. Bc3 Kf7 33. Nd2 Bd6 34. Kf1 Ke6 35. Ke2 h5 36. Kd3 Bc7 37. f4 Nd6 38. e4 f5 ({Black should try} 38... g5 $11) 39. e5 $14 Nf7 40. Kc4 Ke7 41. Nf1 Nd8 ( 41... Ke6 $142) 42. Ne3 $16 Ne6 43. a5 bxa5 44. b6 (44. Nd5+ $18 Kf7 45. Nxc7 Nxc7 46. Kxc5 (46. Rxa5 Rb8 $16)) 44... Bd8 45. Rd1 {Hoping for Rd6.} Nd4 46. Nd5+ ({Don't take} 46. Kxc5 Rc8+ 47. Kxd4 Bxb6+ 48. Kd3 Bxe3) 46... Kf7 47. Bxd4 (47. Kxc5 $142 Ne6+ 48. Kb5) 47... cxd4 48. Rxd4 {[%mdl 4096] Endgame KRB-KRN} Rc8+ 49. Nc7 {[%mdl 64] [#] Decoy} Bxc7 {KRB-KR} 50. Rd7+ Ke6 (50... Ke8 $1 $14 {deserves consideration.} 51. Rxc7 Rxc7+ 52. bxc7 Kd7) 51. Rxc7 Rxc7+ 52. bxc7 {KP-KP} Kd7 53. Kb5 Kxc7 {White must now prevent ...b6.} 54. Kxa5 Kc6 55. Kb4 Kb6 56. Kc4 {And now Kd5 would win.} Kc6 57. Kd4 b5 $2 { [%mdl 8192]} (57... Kc7 $16) 58. h3 1-0 [/pgn]

Shankland got the slightly better of two aggressive kings in the center, and Karjakin’s err at 38. … f5 allowed 39. e5, a protected passer for White that would ultimately become the game winner. The collapse into the endgame was tactically wonderful, including a lethal 44. b6! to back up the black bishop, and a hero white knight that began a reroute at 41. Nf1 and rampaged up the middle to 49. Nc7 and one last tactical swap. 

 

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GM Sam Shankland at the 2021 FIDE World Cup
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American GM Sam Shankland in Sochi, Russia. // credit Eric Rosen, FIDE

 

Karjakin hit back in the second classical game, however. With Shankland distracted by queenside intentions, Russia’s “Minister of Defense” struck with 27. Rxg7+, a sacrifice that kicked off a vicious mating attack. 

 

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Karjakin - Shankland after 27. Rxg7
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Focused on his queenside invasion, Shankland missed 27. Rxg7+ and the vicious mating attack that followed in his second classical game with GM Sergey Karjakin.

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2021"] [Site "Krasnaya Polyana RUS"] [Date "2021.07.29"] [Round "6.2"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Shankland, Sam"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2709"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2021.07.12"] [EventType "k.o."] {[%evp 22,70,-37,-39,-21,-23,-23,-28,-21,-51,-45,-86,-67,-90,-67,-120,-112, -154,-71,-75,-86,-139,-25,-25,-19,-34,-34,-36,24,-38,-37,-92,878,756,753,756, 818,818,790,405,1602,1895,1604,1895,1604,1895,29997,29998,29998,29999,29999]} 1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 Be7 5. g3 a5 6. Bg2 a4 7. a3 c5 8. O-O Nc6 9. Re1 O-O 10. e5 Nd7 11. Nf1 b5 {11...f6 is the fancy move.} 12. h4 Bb7 { C00: French: Unusual White 2nd moves.} 13. h5 h6 14. Bf4 Qb6 {Black has an edge.} 15. Qd2 $146 ({Predecessor:} 15. Ne3 Rfb8 16. Ng4 Bf8 17. Qd2 Nd4 18. Nxd4 cxd4 19. Bh3 Ra6 20. Bxh6 gxh6 21. Nxh6+ Bxh6 22. Qxh6 {1/2-1/2 (30) Johansson,K (2264)-Hassim,U (2117) LSS email 2014}) 15... Rfc8 16. g4 (16. N1h2 $15) 16... Qd8 17. N1h2 Ra6 18. Kh1 (18. Nf1 $15) 18... b4 $17 19. Rg1 (19. Kg1 $142) 19... Nf8 (19... bxa3 $142 20. bxa3 Rb6) 20. axb4 cxb4 21. d4 (21. g5 $142 hxg5 22. Bxg5) 21... Na5 ({Better is} 21... Nh7 $17 22. Bf1 Ra5) 22. g5 $1 $11 {[%cal Rg5h6]} Nc4 23. Qc1 hxg5 24. Bxg5 b3 ({Black should play} 24... a3 $15 25. Bxe7 Qxe7 26. bxa3 bxa3) 25. Bxe7 ({White should try} 25. Bf1 $1 $11) 25... Qxe7 $15 26. Bf1 (26. cxb3 $15 Nxe5 27. Qe3 Nxf3 28. Nxf3) 26... a3 $2 { [%mdl 8192] [#] This costs Black the game.} (26... bxc2 $17 27. Rxg7+ Kxg7) 27. Rxg7+ $3 $18 {[%mdl 512]} Kxg7 {[#]} 28. Ng4 $1 {Threatening mate with Qh6+.} f5 29. exf6+ Qxf6 30. Nxf6 axb2 (30... Kxf6 $142 31. bxa3 bxc2) 31. Qg5+ Kf7 { [#]} 32. h6 $1 {[%csl Gh6][%cal Rg5g7][%mdl 512]} Ng6 {[#]} 33. Nh4 $1 { [%mdl 512]} bxa1=Q (33... Ke7 34. Nxg6+) 34. Qxg6+ {White mates.} Ke7 35. Qg7+ Kd6 36. Qd7# 1-0 [/pgn]

The split of classical games brought two rapid 25+10 tiebreakers on Friday, and Shankland once again seized the match advantage by winning the first game as White. A Catalan, balanced for 36 moves, suddenly rocked with Karjakin’s mistake 36. … Qd2? on a greedy pawn hunt. Shankland caught him with a fork at 37. Qd6, earning White a winning passer and then dunking again with 39. Bxc6!  

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2021"] [Site "Krasnaya Polyana RUS"] [Date "2021.07.30"] [Round "6.3"] [White "Shankland, Sam"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E06"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2021.07.12"] [EventType "k.o."] {[%evp 21,89,31,52,47,54,24,41,24,24,10,14,14,13,6,21,16,18,8,10,8,13,11,11,2, 20,8,18,13,21,0,10,-16,32,31,40,28,21,26,27,21,21,28,38,18,16,0,63,66,66,63,63, 70,294,300,294,299,308,315,308,301,313,294,289,320,597,598,601,537,711,711]} 1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Qxc4 Bc6 10. Bg5 Nbd7 11. Nc3 h6 12. Bxf6 {E05: Open Catalan: 5 Nf3 Be7.} Nxf6 13. e3 $5 {[%mdl 4] Recently 13.Rfd1 got a lot of attention. An interesting side line.} Qd6 $146 ({Predecessor:} 13... a5 14. Rac1 Bxf3 15. Bxf3 c6 16. Rfd1 Qb6 17. Ne4 Nxe4 18. Bxe4 Qb4 19. Qc2 Rfd8 {1/2-1/2 (48) Andreikin,D (2737)-Movsesian,S (2673) Tallinn 2016}) 14. Rfb1 {White is slightly better.} a5 15. Qe2 Bxf3 16. Bxf3 c6 17. Rd1 g6 18. h4 h5 19. Qc2 Rfd8 20. Ne2 Kg7 21. Kg2 Qc7 22. Rac1 {[%cal Ba1c1,Bc1c2,Bc2d2,Bd2d3][%mdl 32]} Rac8 23. Qb3 Bd6 24. Rc2 Qe7 25. Rcd2 Bb4 26. Rd3 Rd7 (26... c5 $11 {deserves consideration.} 27. dxc5 Rxd3 28. Rxd3 e5) 27. e4 $14 Rcd8 28. Nf4 e5 29. dxe5 Qxe5 30. Rxd7 Rxd7 31. Nd3 Qe7 32. e5 Nd5 33. Qc2 Nc7 (33... Qe6 $11) 34. Nxb4 axb4 35. Rxd7 Qxd7 36. Qc5 Qd2 $2 {[#] Black cannot hold the game after this.} (36... Na6 $1 $14 37. Qa7 Kh7) 37. Qd6 $1 $18 {[%cal Rd6d2]} Qxd6 38. exd6 { [%mdl 4096] Endgame KB-KN} Ne6 {[#]} 39. Bxc6 $1 {[%mdl 512]} b6 ({But not} 39... bxc6 $2 40. a5 $18) 40. Bd5 Nc5 41. Kf3 Kf6 42. b3 g5 $2 (42... Ke5 { was worth a try.} 43. Bxf7 Kf6) 43. hxg5+ {White is clearly winning.} Kxg5 44. Ke3 f5 45. Kd4 {Weighted Error Value: White=0.06/Black=0.30} 1-0 [/pgn]

But for the second time Karjakin, the 2015 World Cup winner who has now reached FIDE’s final four a record four times, won on demand. Against Shankland’s Najdorf Sicilian, the Russian introduced a novelty by castling queenside on the 10th move, followed by quick expansion on the kingside. Black’s decision to castle was late, allowing 14. Nd5! and uncorking a series of discoveries. Shankland’s bishop was left trapped, traded for two pawns, and White’s extra minor piece went on to help convert. 

 

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Russian GM Sergey Karjakin in the 2021 FIDE World Cup
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Russian GM Sergey Karjakin was the 2015 FIDE World Cup winner and has reached the final four a record four times. // credit Eric Rosen, FIDE

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2021"] [Site "Krasnaya Polyana RUS"] [Date "2021.07.30"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Shankland, Sam"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2709"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2021.07.12"] [EventType "k.o."] {[%evp 11,79,61,79,18,59,47,51,63,57,55,79,64,71,66,65,64,147,151,172,169,180, 179,171,179,179,175,181,187,203,203,204,203,200,185,200,183,184,156,156,150, 153,154,247,242,264,257,298,238,263,267,303,276,371,369,450,451,450,435,470, 340,288,301,381,291,846,1027,919,942,29994,29994]} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 Nc6 7. g4 {B90: Sicilian Najdorf: Unusual White 6th moves, 6 Be3 Ng4 and 6 Be3 e5.} (7. Bc4 $16) 7... g6 (7... Nxd4 $11 { deserves consideration.} 8. Qxd4 e5) 8. Be3 $14 Nxd4 9. Qxd4 {White is slightly better.} Bg7 $1 10. O-O-O $5 $146 {[%mdl 8] New and interesting.} ({ Predecessor:} 10. Qb4 O-O 11. O-O-O b5 12. e5 Ne8 13. Bg2 Rb8 14. Ba7 a5 15. Qd4 Bb7 16. Bxb8 Bxg2 {1/2-1/2 (57) Karthikeyan,M (2606)-Sardana,R (2437) Caleta 2020}) 10... Be6 11. f4 Qa5 12. f5 $36 {[%mdl 2048] White is more active.} Bxa2 13. Bd2 {And now Nd5 would win.} O-O {[#] White now steadily converts the win.} (13... Rc8 $14) 14. Nd5 $1 $16 {[%cal Rd5e7][%mdl 64] Discovered Attack} Nxd5 15. Bxa5 Bxd4 16. Rxd4 Ne3 17. Kd2 Nxf1+ 18. Rxf1 Rfc8 {[#]} 19. b3 Rc6 {With the idea ...Rac8.} 20. Ra1 Bxb3 21. cxb3 Rac8 22. Ke3 Rc2 23. f6 exf6 24. Rxd6 Rh2 25. Rxf6 Rxh3+ 26. Rf3 Rh2 (26... Rh4 $16 { keeps fighting.}) 27. Rd1 $18 Rb2 28. Rd3 h6 29. Kf4 g5+ 30. Kf5 Re2 31. Bd8 Kh7 32. Bf6 b5 33. Rd7 Kg8 34. b4 Ra2 35. Rd8+ Rxd8 36. Bxd8 Rd2 37. Bf6 Kf8 $2 (37... Kh7 38. Ra3 Rf2+ 39. Ke5 Rf4 40. Rxa6 Rxg4) 38. Rc3 {Intending Rc8+ and mate.} Rf2+ 39. Ke5 {[%cal Rc3c8]} Ke8 40. Rd3 {[%csl Gf6][%cal Rd3d8] Weighted Error Value: White=0.17/Black=0.47} 1-0 [/pgn]

Though the match was still tied, the new set of tiebreakers featured two rapid 10+10 games, plunging further into Shankland’s weakness: a Rapid time control that sheds more than 100 points from his rating, while Karjakin maintains at 11th in the world. The Russian won both games. 

 

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GM Sam Shankland at the 2021 FIDE World Cup
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A dejected GM Sam Shankland in the sixth round of the 2021 FIDE World Cup in Sochi, Russia. // credit Eric Rosen, FIDE

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2021"] [Site "Krasnaya Polyana RUS"] [Date "2021.07.30"] [Round "6.5"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Shankland, Sam"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2709"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2021.07.12"] [EventType "k.o."] {[%evp 11,69,58,63,22,62,62,62,54,54,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,21,0,0,0,0,0,38,11,75,75,76, 76,76,76,94,91,259,254,254,250,254,247,242,178,309,252,307,268,468,474,480,282, 283,282,282,277,383,377,526,338,355,361,29995,29996]} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 Nc6 7. g4 {B90: Sicilian Najdorf: Unusual White 6th moves, 6 Be3 Ng4 and 6 Be3 e5.} (7. Bc4 $14 {feels stronger.}) 7... g6 8. Be3 Nxd4 9. Qxd4 {White is slightly better.} Bg7 $1 10. e5 $5 $146 { [%mdl 8] New and interesting.} (10. g5 $14 Nh5 11. Qb4) ({Predecessor:} 10. Qb4 O-O 11. O-O-O b5 12. e5 Ne8 13. Bg2 Rb8 14. Ba7 a5 15. Qd4 Bb7 16. Bxb8 Bxg2 { 1/2-1/2 (57) Karthikeyan,M (2606)-Sardana,R (2437) Caleta 2020}) 10... Nd7 $1 $11 11. O-O-O $1 Bxe5 12. Qd2 Qa5 13. Nd5 Qxd2+ 14. Rxd2 {[#] And now Nc7+ would win.} (14. Bxd2 {is interesting.} Rb8 15. Bg5 Bf6 16. Bxf6 Nxf6 17. Nxf6+ exf6 18. Rxd6 Be6 19. Bg2) 14... Kd8 15. f4 $36 {[%mdl 2048] Black is under pressure.} Bg7 16. Bg2 a5 17. a4 {[%mdl 1024] White has compensation.} Ra6 {[#] } (17... e6 $11 {remains equal.}) 18. Bf1 $1 $16 Rc6 19. Bb5 h5 20. g5 ({ Much worse is} 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nb6 hxg4 $11) 20... h4 21. Re1 Nb8 $2 { Loses the game.} (21... e6 $16) 22. Ba7 $18 e6 23. Bxc6 Nxc6 24. Bb6+ Kd7 25. Ne3 Ke7 (25... Bf8 {might work better.} 26. Rd3 Be7) 26. Bc7 Nd4 27. Rd3 ({ Weaker is} 27. Bxa5 Nf3 $14) 27... Bd7 $2 (27... Kd7) 28. Nd5+ Ke8 29. Nf6+ ( 29. Bxd6 $142 Bxa4 30. Bc5) 29... Bxf6 30. gxf6 Nf5 31. Bxd6 ({Less strong is} 31. Bxa5 Bxa4 32. Bb4 Rh5 $16) 31... Kd8 32. Red1 Bxa4 33. Be7+ Kc7 34. Bd8+ Kc8 $2 (34... Rxd8 $18 35. Rxd8 Nh6) 35. Bb6 {Weighted Error Value: White=0.25/ Black=0.53} 1-0 [/pgn]

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GMs Sergey Karjakin and Sam Shankland at the 2021 FIDE World Cup
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Russian GM Sergey Karjakin defeated American GM Sam Shankland 4-2 in the Round of 8 of the 2021 FIDE World Cup. // credit Eric Rosen, FIDE

[pgn][Event "FIDE World Cup 2021"] [Site "Krasnaya Polyana RUS"] [Date "2021.07.30"] [Round "6.6"] [White "Shankland, Sam"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A15"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2021.07.12"] [EventType "k.o."] {[%evp 23,100,43,43,44,50,35,54,46,128,74,74,74,79,71,68,71,85,89,80,88,88,85, 88,85,102,78,67,67,85,85,85,85,108,55,55,27,29,14,13,0,0,13,13,12,12,14,12,12, 36,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,-67,-70,-71,-65,-64,0,-71,0,-75,-71,-73,-64,-113, -106,-236,-237,-394,-408]} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. b3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 c5 6. Bb2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. d4 cxd4 9. Qxd4 Nc6 10. Qf4 d5 11. Nc3 dxc4 12. Rfd1 Qb8 13. Qxc4 {A30: Symmetrical English: Double Fianchetto and Hedgehog.} Rd8 $146 ( {Predecessor:} 13... Ne5 14. Nxe5 Bxg2 15. Nd7 Qb7 16. Nxf8 Rxf8 17. f3 Bh3 18. Ne4 Nxe4 19. Qxe4 Qxe4 20. fxe4 Bg5 {1-0 (29) Psittos,K-Gitsis,H Athens 2001}) 14. e4 Rxd1+ 15. Rxd1 {White is slightly better.} Ne5 {[#]} (15... a6 $14) 16. Qe2 (16. Nxe5 $142 $1 Qxe5 17. Qe2) 16... Nxf3+ $16 17. Bxf3 Bb4 18. a3 Bxc3 19. Bxc3 Qc7 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21. e5 fxe5 22. Bxb7 Qxb7 23. Qxe5 {[%mdl 4096] Endgame KQR-KQR} Qf3 24. Rd7 h6 25. Qc7 $1 Rf8 26. Qc2 ({Much weaker is} 26. Qxa7 $6 Rc8 $11) 26... a5 27. a4 Qa8 28. Qc1 (28. Qd2 $16) 28... Rd8 $14 29. Rxd8+ (29. Qd1 {seems wilder.} Rxd7 30. Qxd7 Qb8 31. h4 Kf8 32. Kg2) 29... Qxd8 30. Qxh6 {KQ-KQ} Qd1+ 31. Kg2 {Threatening Qe3.} Qd5+ 32. f3 {And now Qe3 would win.} Qxb3 33. Qg5+ Kf8 34. Qd8+ Kg7 35. Qd4+ Kg8 36. g4 (36. h4 { looks sharper.} Qb4 37. Qd7 Kg7 38. h5 Qb2+ 39. Kh3) 36... Qb4 37. Qd7 Qb2+ 38. Kh3 Qh8+ 39. Kg2 Qb2+ 40. Kg1 Qa1+ (40... Qc1+ {feels hotter.} 41. Kg2) 41. Kf2 Qb2+ 42. Ke3 (42. Kg3 $11) 42... Qxh2 $15 43. Qd8+ Kg7 44. Kd3 Qa2 ({Better is } 44... Qh1 $15 45. Kc4 Qf1+ 46. Qd3 Qe1 47. Qc3+ Qxc3+ 48. Kxc3 Kf6) 45. Qd4+ (45. Qg5+ $11 {remains equal.} Kf8 46. Qd8+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack} Kg7 47. Qg5+ Kh8 48. Qh4+ Kg8 49. Qg5+ Kf8 50. Qd8+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack} Kg7) 45... Kg8 (45... Kg6 $17) 46. Qc4 (46. Qd8+ $11 Kh7 47. Qh4+ Kg8 48. Qg5+ Kf8 49. Qd8+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack} Kg7 50. Qg5+ Kh8 51. Qd8+ Kh7 52. Qh4+ Kg8 53. Qg5+ Kh8 54. Qd8+ Kh7) 46... Qa3+ 47. Ke4 Qb2 48. g5 (48. Qd3 $15) 48... Qb1+ $17 49. Ke3 (49. Qd3 $17 Qe1+ 50. Qe3 Qb1+ 51. Qd3 Qe1+ 52. Qe3 Qb4+ 53. Qd4) 49... Qe1+ $19 50. Kd3 $2 {[#]} (50. Kd4) 50... Qf1+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack. Weighted Error Value: White=0.27/Black=0.10} 0-1 [/pgn]

"It's a tragedy of knockout events that, no matter how well you played, you always go home unhappy because the last match was the most important one. In my case, it was the most important match of my life," Shankland wrote in a Facebook post. "But there's still a lot to be proud of, and if I can keep up the same level of play I showed here and in Prague, I expect I'll be able to make another deep run at future World Cups to come.

"Thanks to all of my fans for the support you showed during the event. Flying the US Flag and making a deep run at the most premier event in the world was the greatest honor of my life."

Shankland’s run at the 2021 World Cup earned his classical rating over 11 points, now at 2720 and ranked 26th in the world, up from 31st at the beginning of July. The impressive performance is the second in a row for the California GM, following on his solid win of the Prague Chess Festival in June, which was highlighted by a win over Poland GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda – who remains in Sochi, Russia as one of the final four. 

Duda has a semifinal match with World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who has never won a World Cup. Karjakin moves on to play Russian World No. 40 GM Vladimir Fedoseev. Saturday was a built-in rest day, and Round 7 will resume Sunday, August 1. The 2021 World Cup final and third-place match is scheduled to begin Wednesday, August 4. For complete information, visit the official website

Comments

Fantastic unbelievable wild west performance by the one the only Mr., Sam Shankland ..the pride of San Francisco's 170 year old and counting Mechanics Institute (open to the entire world) chess club 57 Post Street/4th floor ,... Period, end of case .that is all folks. Mr. Shankland delivers...all others talk. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

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