Baltic Queen International Tournament: Atalik in the lead

by ChessBase
8/19/2009 – With seven of nine rounds completed in the Baltic Queen, IM Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey has taken the sole lead with 5.0/7, followed by GMs Arakhamia and Cramling. With the top contenders meeting in the final rounds a climatic finish is expected, Viktorija Cmilyte, 4.0/7, may certainly make a statement as well. Feel the atmosphere in St Petersburg in this big photo report by IM Irina Sudakova.

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Baltic Queen International Tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia

Taking place from August 11th-20th 2009, the Baltic Queen is a Category 8 tournament, attracting some of the top female talents in the world. Headlined by top seed GM Pia Cramling, the tournament features other notables, including the Netherlands' GM Zhaoqin Peng and WGM Natalia Zhukova of the Ukraine.

Tournament report by WGM Irina Sudakova

With pictures by Elena Mikheeva, Igor Ignatiev, Victor Zaitsev

“Baltic Queen” is a brand new women’s chess tournament held in “Northern Venice”, the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. The idea of such an event appeared back in 2007, when a club team from our city, Finec, turned five – not quite a jubilee, but a solid age for a team. For several reasons it was not possible to bring the project to fruition earlier, but our captain Vladimir Bykov never gives up, and though the team changed its name and sponsors, here we are – the strongest female players from all over the Europe have come to St. Petersburg to face our city team’s members. There are three "male" grandmasters among them – Pia Cramling, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant and Zhaoqin Peng, and this allows a rare chance of scoring a GM norm in a women’s tournament.

But first a word about the location. St. Petersburg was founded in 1703, during a war, by Peter the Great in a marshland where the Neva flows into the Baltic Sea. The city changed its name three times, survived 900 days blockade during WW II, and now it’s famous for its rainy and windy weather, its “white nights” and its drawbridges. The nearest metro station on a sunny day looks very nice – everything is within a ten minute walk.

Nevsky prospect, the main street of St. Petersburg

The famous monument to Katerina the Great

Alexandrinsky Theatre

A street, famous for its perfect proportions, planned by Carl Rossi and named after him

Lomonosov Square and the hotel “Rossi”

And here we are – unfortunately the tournament poster had to be moved inside later because of the wind

A view from the playing hall of Fontanka, a branch of the river Neva that flows through central St Petersburg

As to chess traditions, the great founder of Russian chess school Mikhail Chigorin lived in St. Petersburg, as well as Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Botvinnik, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, Victor Korchnoy, Ljudmila Rudenko, Kira Zvorykina, Irina Levitina. Today St. Petersburg chess is represented by well-known top GMs Peter Svidler and Alexander Khalifmann, or the younger generation Evgeny Alekseev and Nikita Vitiugov, along with top Russian women players Ekaterina Korbut and Anastasia Bodnaruk.

The opening ceremony

Georgy Fokin, the president of the St. Petersburg Chess
Federation, CEO of “Gazprom Transgaz St. Petersburg”

St. Petersburg Chess Federation vice-president and the captain of its
club team Vladimir Bykov has organizes this women’s tournament in our city

Special guest IM Ekaterina Korbut, 2448, who helped with the drawing
of lots – but unfortunately is not taking part in the tournament.

SPb Chess Federation team’s boards 1 and 2, Vikotrija Cmilyte
and Natalia Zukova, incidentally two of the nicest ladies in chess

Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine, rated 2465, is married to Alexander Grischuk

Elena Tomilova and Dmitry Kryakvin, another newly-wed chess couple

GM Dmitry Kryakvin is rated 2571, and WFM Elena Tomilova 2308, for an average of 2439.5. We have added them to our growing list of super-strong chess couples. Of course Alexander Grischuk, 2733, and Natalia Zhukova, 2465, top the list with an average of 2599.0.

Top seed GM Pia Cramling, 2525, of Sweden

Ekaterina Atalik started this event (like Pia) with 4.0/5 points

Roses for IM Elisabeth Pähtz of Germany (also very nice)

...and also for the other players: Arakhamia, Atalik, Blechzin, Cramling, Zhukova,
Peng, Cmilyte, Demina, Bodnaruk, Pähtz (click to enlarge)

Fighting for chocolate: WIM Elena Tomilova, IM Elisabeth Pähtz and GM Vasily Yemelin

The playing hall in Hotel Rossi in St Petersburg

IM Irina Turova, Russia, rated 2387

Elisabeth Paehtz currently sits well back of the lead at 2.5/6

GM Peng Zhaoqin, Netherlands, rated 2418

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, Scotland, 2506

IM Victorija Cmilyte, Lithuania, 2470

Standings after seven rounds

In the lead with a 2584 performance:
IM Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey

In second place (with Pia Cramling, who is in the background): GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant of Scotland

Viktorija Cmilyte analyses her game after a nice win

Our reporter in St Petersburg: WGM Irina Sudakova


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