Second International Women's Tournament in Baku

9/9/2007 – This event, in a country that truly loves chess, features three local talents and seven international stars from seven different countries. The venue is Baku, the Pearl of the Caspian Sea, where our reporter Ali Nihat Yazici feels at home, because one can get around very nicely in Turkish. He has sent us a big report on the start of the event, which includes pictures and video impressions.

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Tournament report by Ali Nihat Yazici and Zahir Ahmadov

Baku, Pearl of the Caspian Sea, is so beautiful. For me, each time I visit this country, Azerbaijan, I feel something in my heart. A country, where I can speak my own language, lovely Turkish.

Azerbaijan has a very important role in world chess with its strong chess culture. I remember my first visit, I want to share with you a story showing the strong chess culture in Azerbaijan.

The year is 2002, European Junior Championships (Under 20) my first time in Baku. The tournament was organized in the Olympic House, while accommodation was in Absheron Hotel, Baku. The organizers had provided a shuttle service from the hotel to the venue, every morning and after the round. One morning, I missed the shuttle service and I took a taxi from the hotel. Of course originally the conversation was all in Turkish…

Me: "To the Olympic House, please"

Taxi driver: "Are you a chess person?"

Me: "Yes, I am."

Taxi driver: "Did you see yesterday, the game of our girl Zeinab Mamedyarova?"

Me: "No, Why?"

Taxi driver: "She made a fantastic novelty in the Sicilian Dragon, and won!"

Ohmygod, a country where some random taxi driver knows the Sicilian Dragon! How are we going to catch up with them? On April 27, 2007, the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, His Excellency Ilham Alieve, instructed the Sport Ministry, and also the National Education Ministry, to prepare a State Program and Policy for the years 2008-2014, to be published in official news paper of the Republic, to develop chess in the country!

Today our topic is the Second International Women Chess Tournament in Baku. There are so many top level chess tournaments in the world for men, like Linares, Dortmund, Corus, etc. But for many years now we have neglected women's chess. Did we provide good conditions for our ladies? Please look at the prize fund for individual championships, organized for women and men, and see the difference. Shouldn't we make a positive discrimination for the sake of women's chess?

These questions were answered by the Azerbaijan Chess Federation. They started last year with a traditional women's round robin top level tournament. The first one was organized in Shaki in Azerbaijan. I was there. WGM Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) won it.


WGM Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia, who won last year's women's tournament

The Second International Women's Tournament in Baku

The Second International Women’s Chess Tournament started on September 3rd in the prestigious UNS Theatre in Baku. It will last until September 12th. Ten well-known female players from eight countries are competing in this round-robin tournament. Three of the players, Firuza Valikhanli, Ilaha Kadimova and Nargiz Umudova, represent Azerbaijan, while seven countries are represented with one player each. The foreign players invited are Sophie Milliet (France), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Monika Socko (Poland), Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania), Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia), Pia Cramling (Sweden) and Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine). Here is a table sorted according to their current FIDE ratings.

Player Title(s) Nation Rating

Pia Cramling

GM

SWE

2533

Antoanetta Stefanova

GM

BUL

2481

Monica Socko

IM (+WGM)

POL

2479

Victoria Cmilyte

IM (+WGM)

LIT

2467

Lela Javakhishvili

IM (+WGM)

GEO

2460

Katerina Lahno

GM

UKR

2450

Sofi Milliet

WGM

FRA

2414

İlaha Kadimova

WGM

AZE

2316

Friuza Velikhanli

WGM

AZE

2284

Nargiz Umudova

WIM

AZE

2213

Category seven, Elo average 2409

The honorary guests of the tournament are the Honorary President of FIDE Florencio Campomanes, FIDE Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili and the head of the Turkish Chess Federation, Ali Nihat Yazici.


FIDE Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Honorary President Florencio Campomanes

The games start at 16:00 local time (12:00 GMT) and the organizers are providing live broadcast through their web site. The time control is 90 minutes for all moves with a 30 seconds increment per move. The prize fund of the tournament is 16,000 dollars.

The Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was held at the UNS theatre at 19:00 (15:00) on September 3rd. The Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov and the head of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation and National Bank of Azerbaijan, Elman Rustamov, delivered speeches and said that this tournament could be realized thanks to the fact that the chief of the main sponsor, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, Rovnag Abdullayev, was an avid chess enthusiast.


Sports Minister Azad Rahimov speaks to the participants

Florencio Compomanes also delivered a speech and said that he believed the Baku tournament would have a strong impact on the development of women’s chess all over the world. Following the speeches, the head of the organizing committee and vice-president of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation, Mahir Mammadov, executed the drawing of lots. The artistic part of the event was rich with different types of national and modern music. A short part from “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare was staged by the Yugh Theatre.


The audience: on the left GM Pia Cramling, fourth Elman Rustamov, President of of the ACF, fifth Florencio Campomanes, Honorary President of FIDE, sixth Azad Rahimov, Sport Minister


An Azeri Classic Ancient Art Music concert


Famous Opera Singer of Azerbaijan, Inara Babayeva


Master class Accordion Music provided by Anvar Sadikhov


Jazz provided by Aypara


The Hamlet presentation by the Yugh Theatre


Replay video of openings ceremony: dialup or broadband


After the Opening Ceremony there was a delicious banquet in the Azerbaijan Olympic Yacht Club


With such a wide choice WGM Sofi Milliet of France goes for the best


Antoanetta Stefanova vs Ilaha Kadimova at the start of round one


Former women's world champion Antoanetta Stefanova from Bulgaria


An important round one game that ended 1-0 for White


17-year-old Ukrainian talent Kateryna Lahno


Azeri player WIM Nargiz Umudova, rated 2213


New mother: WGM Friuza Velikhanli of Azerbaijan, rated 2284


The round is under way


The setup on the stage at the Women's International Tournament

Standings after six rounds

 1   Stefanova, Antoaneta BUL   2902257  2481    GM    5     10.50
 2   Socko, Monika        POL   1106619  2479    IM    4.5   10.50
 3   Javakhishvili, Lela  GEO   13601458 2460    IM    4     12.25
 4   Cramling, Pia        SWE   1700030  2533    GM    4      8.25
 5   Cmilyte, Viktorija   LTU   12801259 2467    IM    3      9.00
 6   Lahno, Kateryna      UKR   14109336 2450    GM    3      6.00
 7   Velikhanli, Firuza   AZE   13400029 2284    WGM   2.5    5.75
 8   Milliet, Sophie      FRA   623725   2414    WGM   2      6.50
 9   Umudova, Nargiz      AZE   13402137 2213    wim   1.5    2.00
10   Kadimova, Ilaha      AZE   13400045 2316    WGM   0.5    1.25

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