We all know that the “Dude abides” from the cult 1998 Coen brothers movie The Big Lebowski – but now in the chess world comes a new play on that famous movie phrase with the “Duda abides”, as Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda scored the biggest win of his career by sensationally outplaying top seed Magnus Carlsen in their semis tiebreak to go forward to the FIDE World Cup Final in Sochi.
It proved to be a close and enthralling match from start to finish with both players giving it their all with a brace of hard-fought draws and a further draw in the first rapid tiebreak-decider — but something had to give, and it turned out to be Carlsen’s position in the second rapid tiebreak game, as the world champion found himself being outplayed and pushed off the board in Carlsen-like style by Duda, who after a mutual time-scramble eventually went on to claim a famous 2½-1½ victory.
The World Cup has become a wasteland for Carlsen, with this now being the only major title in the game he hasn’t yet won, and this the fourth time he’s crashed out of the contest without even making it to the final. And likewise Duda is also fast emerging as Carlsen’s hoodoo opponent, as he not only ended his latest World Cup run in Sochi, but last year at the Norway Chess Tournament, he also brought to a grinding halt the Norwegian’s record-breaking unbeaten streak that stretched to 125-games.
But for Duda this is his chance to seize a Top-10 breakthrough, as he now goes forward to meet Russia’s Sergey Karjakin in the FIDE World Cup Final that starts onWednesday. And with it, both also take the two 2022 Candidates Tournament spots that were also up for grabs from the knockout tournament. And in the process, Duda now becomes a new national hero in his homeland by becoming the first Polish-born player since the great Miguel Najdorf in the 1950s to qualify for the Candidates!
The Karjakin-Duda FIDE World Cup Final – plus the third-place playoff between Carlsen-and Fedoseev – kicks-off on Wednesday and can be watched free and live at the official site with top grandmaster commentaries, starting at 15:00 local Sochi time (08:00 EST | 05:00 PST | 13:00 BST).
GM Magnus Carlsen – GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda
FIDE World Cup, (7.4)
Sicilian Defence, Moscow Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 This is the most combative line against the Moscow Variation – and one made famous by the remarkable struggle between Garry Kasparov and ‘The World’, an enthralling online match sponsored by Microsoft in 1999. 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.c3 e6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 10.e5 Ne4 11.Nbd2 Nxd2 12.Bxd2 Bb4 13.Bf4 0-0 14.Qd3 Be7 15.a3 Rac8 16.g3 Na5 17.b3 Qc6 18.Bd2 Qb6 19.Rfb1 a6 20.Kg2 Nc6 21.Re1 Qb5 22.Qb1 Carlsen is pushing the envelope here by keeping the queens on, and he soon lives to regret his decision. Black is on top, and White had to accept the queens had to come off now with 22.Qxb5 axb5 23.a4 b4 and there’s nothing really in the position, perhaps Black very marginally having a little edge here with his b4-pawn and long-term ideas of …Na5 etc. 22…Rc7 23.h4 Rfc8 Duda’s control of the only open file on the board and his queenside grip gives the Pole an undeniable advantage – and by this stage, I can assume Carlsen may well have been kicking himself for eschewing the trade of queens when he had his chance a few moves ago. 24.Ra2 a5 25.Rh1 a4 26.b4?! Carlsen just starts to stray into a more and more difficult position after this move, as Duda capitalises on his queenside grip. Instead, the obvious move was 26.Rb2!? Bxa3! (More accurate than 26…axb3?! 27.Rxb3 Qa6 28.Ng5! g6 29.Nf3 where the dark-square weakness created on Black’s kingside offers White a little edge now.) 27.Ra2 Be7 28.Ng5!? g6 29.Rxa4 Qe2 30.Nf3 and we have an equal game with both sides having more space and freedom for their pieces. 26…h6 Duda is wary of the Ng5 possibility noted above. 27.Be3 This looks too cautious, and only offers Duda the time to seize a big initiative on the queenside. Easy to say this from the comfort of home and the engine running in the background, but this was the time to be brave and go for 27.g4!? just to give Black something to think about on the kingside. 27…Na7! What’s not to like here for Duda? He’s bossing the only open file on the board, and now he’s looking to pile on the pressure on the queenside with his knight heading to the b4 outpost for light-square domination. 28.Bd2 Qe2 29.Re1 Qc4 30.Re3 Nb5 It’s not often you see Carlsen being dominated by an opponent as he is here – but it is all self-inflicted, so no sympathy. 31.Rd3 Rc6! [see diagram] A touch of class from Duda, as he paves the way for his bishop to get to b6 for total domination of Carlsen, with the pressure piling up not only on his d-pawn but his very position. 32.Rb2 Bd8 33.g4 It’s all too late now for any kingside counter-play. 33…Bb6 34.Be3 Nc3 35.Qf1 Qb5 The Duda not only abides but dominates! And with it, it is just a question of whether he can hold his nerve against the world champion for one of the biggest results of his career with a World Cup Final berth and a Candidates spot up for grabs. 36.Rc2 Ne4 37.Rxc6 Rxc6 38.Rd1 Rc4 You can sense that Carlsen is on the brink here, but you can never be sure about heading into any ending against the world champion by trading the queens with 38…Qxf1+ 39.Kxf1, but after 39…Nc3! 40.Rd3 Nb5 White looks to be in serious trouble of collapsing with the ominous-looking …Rc2 looming large on the horizon. 39.Nd2 Nxd2 40.Rxd2 Qc6 Carlsen at least has traded off that worrying Black knight – but his position remains terminal, with Duda controlling the only open file on the board, and still able to target those weak White queenside pawns. 41.Qe2 Rc3 42.Ra2 Defending this had to have been nothing short of pure agony for Carlsen. 42…Bd8 43.g5 hxg5 44.hxg5 Qc4 45.Qxc4 dxc4 Either recapture was good, but this one adds more danger for Carlsen, as Duda creates a passed pawn. 46.d5 This is the only try Carlsen has to stay in the game, otherwise Duda will consolidate his big advantage with …b5 and …Bb6. 46…exd5 47.Rd2 Rd3 48.Rxd3 cxd3 49.f4 Kf8 Not so easy to see in the heat of the battle, but the clinical win was 49…f6! the (full) point being that 50.gxf6 (If 50.exf6 gxf6 51.g6 f5! and Black will have annexed off the White g-pawn.; And unfortunately there’s no time for 50.g6 as Black simply plays 50…fxe5 51.fxe5 Bb6!! 52.Bg5 Bd4 53.e6 Kf8 easily winning, as White can’t defend all four of his weak pawns.) 50…gxf6 51.exf6 Bxf6 and all of White’s pawns are quick and easy targets being on dark squares. 50.Kf3 Ke7? With the pressure on Duda and both players beginning to get in time-trouble, the rest of the game becomes something of a rollercoaster ride with the engine assessments bounce from one extreme to the other. Duda still had the 50…f6! option available to him, but he foregoes it to almost let Carlsen escape with an unlikely draw. 51.Bc5+ Ke6 52.Ke3 Kf5 53.Kxd3 g6 54.Be3 Safer was 54.Ke3 Kg4 55.Bd4 and neither side can make any progress. 54…Bc7 55.b5?! Not losing per se, but Carlsen begins to let his position drift again, as his pawn advance only uncovers a major pawn weakness on a3 which Duda quickly hones in on. 55…Bd8 56.Kd4 Bb6+ 57.Kd3 Bd8 58.Kd4 Be7 59.Bc1 Ke6 60.Bb2 Bd8 61.Kc5 And we’re back to equality once again – but alas not for long, as both players get down to their final seconds and living off the fumes of the time increment. 61…Ba5 62.Bc1?? The final, fatal error from Carlsen, who in the mad-dash doesn’t realise that he simply had to play 62.Bd4! Bd8 Black can’t allow White to play Kb6 which wins quickly. 63.Ba1 Ba5 64.Bd4 Bd8 and a draw on the cards. 62…Bc3! It’s nothing short of a disaster now for Carlsen, as Duda suddenly has a major winning threat by simply pushing his passed d-pawn up the board. 63.b6 Played more in the hope now that Duda might panic about the threat of Kb5 and Kxa4. 63…d4! 64.Kc4 Kd7 The easier win was 64…Kf5! 65.Kd3 Ba1! that leaves White in zugzwang. 65.Be3 Not a bad desperado punt from Carlsen given the circumstances of the mutual time scramble. 65…Bb2 66.Bxd4 Bxa3 67.Be3 Forced. If it wasn’t for the threat of …Bc1 systematically picking off all of White’s kingside pawns, Carlsen would have escaped with a draw by Kb5 and Kxa4 – but having to play 67.Be3 gives Duda the vital tempo needed now to win the endgame. 67…Bb2! 68.Kb4 a3 69.Kb3 Ke6 A confident Duda was quickly bashing out his last few moves, and had accumulated just over one minute on his clock with the increment – more than enough time needed to convert the win. 70.Ka2 Kd5 71.Kb3 Ke4 It’s a lost cause for Carlsen with all of his pawns on dark squares. 72.Bd2 Bd4! 73.Kxa3 Bxb6 74.Kb4 Bf2 0-1 And with that Carlsen resigns, as he can’t stop …Bg3 with his three pawns systematically dropping off the board.