Candidates tournament for Women set for June in Kazan

by ChessBase
3/28/2019 – FIDE has announced in a press release the exact dates and the final field for the Women's Candidates Tournament in Kazan. Yifan Hou is not playing and Aleksandra Goryachkina will take her place. The tournament starts on May 29th. A brief history of the Women's World Championship.

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Kazan opens new chapter in women's chess

Press release

The race for the Women's World Championship title will take off in Kazan with a renewed Candidates Tournament, the strongest female event ever held, which features a record prize fund of 200.000 euros. From May 29th to June 19th, eight top Grandmasters will compete to become Ju Wenjun's challenger.

More than twenty years later, women's chess will celebrate a Candidates Tournament again. As FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich had announced right after his election, reshaping and improving this competition was one of his priorities, and now, thanks to the Ministry of Sports of Tatarstan and the Russian Chess Federation — organisers of the event — the foundations for this reform have been laid. The Women's World Championship will now have a similar format to the absolute World Championship.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk was Women's World Champion from 2008 to 2010 | Photo: David Llada

Eight of the best players in the world will compete in a double round-robin competition that spans along three weeks, with a substantial increase in prizes.

Mariya Muzychuk

The Candidates will now have a prize fund of EUR €200,000, while the finalists will play for half a million euros. That means a 150% increase compared to the previous world championship final and makes the event in Kazan the best paid all-female round-robin in history.

The Ukranian Mariya Muzychuk [pictured right] will lead the field, with a 2560 rating. At 26, she has the perfect balance between youth and experience, since she was the World Champion in 2015-16, and reached semi-finals last year. On paper, her closest opponent will be Kateryna Lagno, who was the challenger to Ju Wenjun's throne back in November; the Russian seems to be in excellent shape, and currently holds the title of World Blitz Champion. But in a long tournament that includes two other former World Champions — Alexandra Kosteniuk and Tan Zhongyi — and where the gap between the top and lowest seed is barely 50 points, the fight is expected to be very close and exciting.

The following players have confirmed their participation:

  1. Kateryna Lagno (RUS, 2559, KO World Ch. 2018 finalist)
  2. Mariya Muzychuk (UKR, 2560, KO World Ch. 2018 semi-finalist)
  3. Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS, 2545, KO World Ch. 2018 semi-finalist)
  4. Anna Muzychuk (UKR, 2555, qualified by rating)
  5. Valentina Gunina (RUS, 2515, qualified by rating)
  6. Nana Dzagnidze (GEO, 2513, qualified by rating)
  7. Tan Zhongyi (CHN, 2513, qualified by rating)
  8. Alexandra Goryachkina (RUS, 2505, 1st replacement)

Hou Yifan was the only player to turn down the invitation to take part in this event. Last year, the Chinese prodigy was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford, and since then she had to prioritize her studies over her competitive activity. [Hou also dropped out of the cycle in 2016 -Ed.]

About Kazan

While being the 7th Russian city by population, with roughly 1,3 million inhabitants, its beauty and rich history makes Kazan often regarded as “The Third Capital of Russia”, only after Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Laying at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka rivers, the capital of the Tatarstan Republic was founded in 1005, which makes this city at least 150 years older than Moscow.

Kazan is a famous sports center in Russia, having hosted the 2013 Universiade and many national hockey, boxing and swimming championships. It was one of the hosting cities of 2018 FIFA Football World Cup and, of course, it also held the 2011 Candidates tournament, won by Boris Gelfand.

All Women's World Champions

Here is the complete list:

1st World Champion 
Vera Menchik 1927-1944 Czechoslovakia / Great Britain 

2nd World Champion 
Lyudmila Rudenko 1950-1953 Soviet Union

3rd World Champion 
Elizaveta Bykova 1953-1956, 1958-1962 Soviet Union

4th World Champion 
Olga Rubtsova 1956-1958 Soviet Union

5th World Champion 
Nona Gaprindashvili 1962-1978 Soviet Union

6th World Champion 
Maia Chiburdanidze 1978-1991 Soviet Union

7th World Champion 
Xie Jun 1991-1996, 1999-2001 People's Republic of China

8th World Champion 
Zsuzsa Polgár 1996-1999 Hungary

9th World Champion 
Zhu Chen 2001-2004 People's Republic of China

10th World Champion 
Antoaneta Stefanova 2004-2006 Bulgaria

11th World Champion 
Xu Yuhua 2006-2008 People's Republic of China

12th World Champion 
Alexandra Kostenyuk 2008-2010 Russia

13th World Champion 
Hou Yifan 2010-2012, 2013-2015, 2016-2017 People's Republic of China

14th World Champion 
Anna Ushenina 2012-2013 Ukraine

15th World Champion 
Mariya Muzychuk 2015-2016 Ukraine

16th World Champion 
Tan Zhongyi 2017-2018 People's Republic of China

17th World Champion 
Ju Wenjun since 2018 People's Republic of China


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