After dramatically ending top seed Magnus Carlsen’s fourth attempt to win the biennial FIDE World Cup in Sochi, Poland’s rising star Jan-Krzysztof seized his own chance for glory as he continued to defy the pre-tournament odds by going on to beat former world title-challenger and World Cup winner Sergey Karjakin in the final to capture the behemoth knockout title.
After a largely uneventful first game draw, the 23-year-old Krakow student left the Russian for dead after he unwittingly fell into the trap of some well-prepared opening work in a fashionable Queen’s Gambit line of the Semi-Tarrasch Defence – the end result was that not even the notorious “Minster of Defence” could even defend the indefensible, as his position rapidly deteriorated.
“It was totally unrealistic but I am really happy to have won,” said a delighted Duda follwing his big win. One of the first to congratulate Duda on his victory was Magnus Carlsen, who called his victory a “massive achievement,” pointing out his world-class opponents in the last four rounds of a notoriously tough contest to win, and the fact that he never lost a game, and never faced a must-win or desperate situation.
Pre-tournament, Duda, seeded 12th in a starting field of 206-players, was seen as a world top 20 player handicapped by inconsistent form, but now he’s emerged from the shadows to win the title and the first prize of $110,000, his biggest-ever pay-day. And unbeaten in 18-games against many world-class opponents, including the current World Champion and a former World Cup winner, suddenly Duda is on the cusp of a world top 10 breakthrough, jumping 5 spots and an 18-point rating rise in the unofficial live list.
Duda also follows in a heritage line that includes past World Cup winners Levon Aronian (2005 and 2017), Gata Kamsky (2007), Boris Gelfand (2009), Peter Svidler (2011), Vladimir Kramnik (2013), Sergey Karjakin (2015) and Teimour Radjabov (2019) – and with it, the rapidly rising young Pole now ends the run of all the previous winners being born in the USSR!
And his breakthrough victory – coupled with 19-year-old Andrey Esipenko’s close quarterfinal showdown with Carlsen – also signals that a slew of newer-generational players are on the rise and set on a collision course with “the establishment” as they begin to make their move into the world’s top 10 and a possible tilt at Carlsen’s crown. It’s also a historic chess moment for Poland; a moment that comes with Duda being hailed as a national hero in his homeland by his namesake Andrzej Duda, president of Poland.
Not only was it one of the biggest Polish chess wins ever, but just by getting to the final, Duda has now qualified for the 2022 FIDE Candidates Tournament to follow in the footsteps of two Polish-born legends: Miguel Najdorf, who left Warsaw on the eve of WWII to represent Poland in the 1939 Buenos Aires Olympiad, stayed, going on to represent Argentina in the 1951 and 1953 Candidates; and Sammy Reshevsky, who as an eight-year-old left Poland as a child chess prodigy for the US in 1920, going on to play not only in the 1948 World Championship Tournament but also the 1953 and 1967 Candidates.
GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda – GM Sergey Karjakin
FIDE World Cup Final, (2)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 cxd4 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Bg5 Be7 8.e3 0-0 9.Rd1! “Study my Chessable course, win the World Cup!” tweeted Sam Shankland immediately after this game. The US Grandmaster had indeed published the winning ideas in his Lifetime Repertoire 3 course in January, showing all the key motifs, such as Rd1, Qa4 and Bb5 with Black’s in deep trouble – and Karjakin becomes one of the biggest victims of Sam’s dastardly plan! 9…Nc6 10.Qa4 Be6 As Sam explains, the problem for Black against this set-up is that he’s forced down the bad …Qb6 option, and there’s no play whatsoever with the isolated d-pawn due to the early Rd1. 11.Bb5 Qb6? 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxd5 Bxd5 14.Rxd5 Bxb2 Despite the equal material, Black’s position has become unpleasant, to say the least, as White can take on c6 at any moment to mess up his pawn structure. 15.Ke2!? This is Duda’s clever twist on Shankland’s analysis, as he only gives 15.0-0 with White having the advantage due to Black’s inherent structural weakness – but after a little bit of a lengthy think, Duda clearly subscribes to the Anand/Kramnik “no castling movement”, realising that the queens could soon be forced off, and thus his king safe and strategically better placed on e2 for the coming endgame. 15…Bf6 16.Rhd1 Rac8 17.Bc4! And now comes the second issue for Black pointed out by Sam: Black’s king faces problems on the the light-squares – here the threat for Karjakin being Rd7, Qb3 and overwhelming pressure on f7. 17…Qb4 The Minister of Defence decides to throw his lot in by exchanging the queens and trying to defend the bad endgame. However, the alternative may well have fared better, and 17…a6!? 18.Bb3 (The plan with 18.Rd7 might not be enough this time, as 18…Nb8 19.R7d6 Nc6 20.Bd5 (After 20.Bb3 Black comes in with 20…Qc5! and White’s exposed king becomes a problem.) 20…Qc5! 21.Bxc6 bxc6! 22.Qxa6 Be7 23.R6d4 Ra8 24.Qc4 Qxc4+ 25.Rxc4 Rxa2+ 26.Rd2 Rxd2+ 27.Nxd2 c5 28.Ra4 and although White has the obvious initiative, Black – even if he loses his c-pawn – has realistic chances of saving this endgame, as all the pawns left on the board will be confined to the same side of the board. 18.Qb3 Qxb3 19.Bxb3 Nb8? Karjakin becomes obsessed about stopping Duda playing Rd7, but this just gets his pieces into a bigger tangle. Best just to make “normal” moves, such as 19…a6 20.Rd7 b5 and try to defend from here – it will be uncomfortable for Black, but better than the disaster that now befalls Karjakin. 20.g4! Suddenly White’s grip on the game has dramatically increased with Karjakin’s pieces moving backward. 20…h6 It’s just all awkward for Karjakin. The first instincts is to try and trade the rooks on the d-file, as that will be an instant relief for Black’s position, but its not enough now. After 20…Rcd8 21.g5! Be7 22.Ne5! and Black’s position is on the verge of collapse. 21.h4! Duda is in no mood to hold back now; he’s seizing his moment by going right in for the kill. 21…g6 22.g5 hxg5 23.hxg5 Be7 24.Re5! Just look at the difference between Duda’s pieces and Karjakin’s – it’s like night and day. 24…Nc6 25.Rd7!! [see diagram] Something just had to give, and sure enough the young Pole swiftly goes for the jugular for a famous victory. 25…Bd8 Karjakin has been left for dead by the exchange sacrifice. After 25…Nxe5 26.Nxe5 Rce8 (Worse was 26…Bxg5 27.Rxf7! Rxf7 28.Nxf7 and there’s no answer to the double attack with the discovered check and the bishop under attack. 26.Rb5 Na5? The final, fatal mistake, but then again, even with the better 26…b6 27.Bd5 a5 28.Rd6 Ne7 29.Bb3 Kg7 30.Ne5 Black is barely managing to hang on by his finger tips here. 27.Bd5 Rc7 28.Bxf7+! Hasta la vista, baby! 28…Kg7 29.Rxc7 Bxc7 30.Bd5 1-0 The online crowds watching all this unfold wondered if Karjakin might have thrown the towel in just a tad early, but the position is quite, quite hopeless, more terminal than many thought it was, and after 30…b6 31.Nd4! Rc8 32.Ne6+ Kh8 33.Rb1! Black has to worry about his king being caught in a mating net.