Women in focus

by Macauley Peterson
3/8/2018 – Last Sunday in Moscow the contest "blondes against brunettes" was held for the eighth time. Alexandra Kosteniuk led the "brunettes" to a clear victory. In India, IM Tania Sachdev launches a "Powerless Queen" project, and in Belgrade, there's a 50th International Women's tournament ongoing | Pictured: Elmira Mirzoeva | Photo: Russian Chess Federation

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International Women's Day 2018

March 8th is Women's Day, celebrated throughout the world. In Belgrade it even has its own tournament, this year celebrating its 50th edition, which runs through March 13th.

The first Women's International Tournament was organised between March 8th and 24th, 1965. Since then it has become an annual tradition in the Serbian capital, with the exception of 1980 (cancelled due to lack of funding) and 1984 (when only local players participated so it wasn't "international").

Twelve players from Serbia, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, France and Bosnia and Hercegovina are participating this year. After five rounds, Jovana Rapport (wife of Richard) is in clear first with 5.0 / 6.

Belgrade group

The women of the 50th International Tournament | Photo: Courtesy the city of Belgrade 

The live games transmission has been spotty, but when games are broadcast we'll have them on live.chessbase.com.

Blonds vs brunettes

In anticipation of Women's Day in Moscow, the "most beautiful chess tournament in the city" was played last Sunday, and "Blondes vs. Brunettes", as it's known, has also become a traditional competition, albeit one with a bit more flair. Organiser WGM Maria Forminykh instigated the event for the eighth time, which was played in the famous Central Chess Club on Gogolevsky Boulevard. 

Blonds vs. Brunettes | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Among the participants were two former world champions: Alexandra Kosteniuk and Anna Ushenina. Also in the mix were Valentina Gunina, Olga Giryaa, Natalia Zhukova, Daria Charochkina, Daria Voit, Bibisara Assaubayeva, Karina Ambartsumova, Alexandra Goryachkina, Marina Nechaeva, Elmira Mirzoeva, Dina Drozdova, Irina Sudakova, Alina Bivol and last, but not least, Maria Fominykh herself.  

Daria Charochkina, Bibisara Assaubayeva, Karina Ambartsumova | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

The two teams played a match using the Scheveningen system. Each blond played a blitz game against each brunette at a rate of 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move. All players were decked out in with dresses by designer Olga Grinyuk. 

At the end of the day, the brunettes left with the edge, the final score, 37 : 27. Alexandra Kosteniuk was the best performer with 7 out of 8. Anna Ushenina was close behind, with 6½ out of 8. 

Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Anna Ushenina | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Here's a brief video highlight:

Dina Drozdova vs Alexandra Kosteniuk

All games


Improve your chess with Tania Sachdev

On this DVD, well-known Indian WGM Tania Sachdev shows you how to evaluate certain positions and then find the right concepts and plans on the basis of her own games.


Powerless Queen Challenge

"What if the queen, the symbol of strength is rendered powerless?"

So asks the new social activism site from Project Nanhi Kali, which "works with parents and communities to counsel them of the importance of sending their girls to school."

The initiative gets a boost from IM Tania Sachdev, who posted this promotional video:

The challenge itself is simply a 30-second chess game against the computer, but with a twist, you'll quickly discover if you give it a go. It's a bit of a gimmick, but one which makes a profound point about fairness.

Andre Schulz contributed to this story


Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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fons3 fons3 3/12/2018 10:27
@ lute: >>"The silent majority of us"

Do speak for everybody. Where are the feminists now?
nuwandalton nuwandalton 3/11/2018 06:37
Call me a sexist if you wish, but I've been delighted to discover Ms. Mirzoeva and Ms. Nechaeva ^^
melante melante 3/10/2018 01:49
@fons3: for men it should probably be more like "hairy vs. bald" (and I would surely not be ashamed to play in the latter group!) but I doubt such an event would grab any sort of media attention... :P
lute lute 3/9/2018 08:55
Kudos to organizer Maria Forminykh for her efforts in continuing this traditional chess competition. Embrace what makes this chess event unique. Please ignore the hateful criticism from the overly sensitive crybabies. The silent majority of us respect what you are doing and are fully supportive of your efforts.
fons3 fons3 3/9/2018 08:31
Why are there no men's tournaments blonds against brunets?

Nah just kidding, I agree that this is a bit tacky, but hey, if the women like it...
genem genem 3/9/2018 05:33
Former World Champ Alexandra Kosteniuk continues to have a long effect career. While watching the video of her Blitz game, I am struck by the need for better chess pieces. Just looking at the board, it is often impossible to identify the type of piece on a square relatively far from the video camera. This is especially true for the so-called "black" pieces when they are quite dark in color (like a dark brown). Tournament after tournament perpetuates this flaw. That the chess piece type could be made much more perceivable is not in doubt, but neither do Tournament Organizers ever do anything about it. Yet the T.O.'s always talk about wanting more media coverage and public interest. The talk is not being matched by action.
sotoli321 sotoli321 3/9/2018 12:06
Nice an fun. You can see good games and beautiful women.
michaelriber michaelriber 3/9/2018 09:15
"Blondes vs. brunettes"? Seriously? And who plays chess for hours on end dressed in a short skirt and high heels? Surely that is not for the benefit of the players.

Is that really where we're at in 2018? I know it's Russia, but still..