Chess: Carlsen eases into World Cup semi, but Esipenko is emerging star

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Leonard Barden

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The Russian 19-year-old held his own for six games against the world champion and rivals Alireza Firouzja as heir apparent to the Norwegian’s crown

Magnus Carlsen has never won the $1.9m World Cup, and his early exit at his last attempt in 2017 still rankles. Despite a few early hiccups, it was soon clear that the 2021 version of the 206-player knockout was made for the No 1 as he sailed through the majority of his matches comfortably while most of his seeded rivals fell by the wayside.

In Saturday’s semi-finals Carlsen, who beat Étienne Bacrot (France) 2-0, meets Jan-Krysztof Duda (Poland), who won 1.5-0.5 against Vidit Gujrathi (India). Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia) defeated Amin Tabatabaei (Iran) 1.5-0.5 and will meet his compatriot Sergey Karjakin, who beat Sam Shankland (US) 4-2 after the American had led 1-0 and 2-1. Saturday is a rest day, and the semi-finals can be watched free and live at the official website starting 1pm on Sunday.

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