Women's World Championship 2017: Who plays, who doesn't?

by Johannes Fischer
1/12/2017 – The Women’s World Championship 2017 will be played from 10. February to 5. March in Tehran. The decision to play in the Iranian capital was controversial, not least because women in Iran are forced to wear a headscarf in public, and all players have to comply to this rule. But Fide stood by its decision and now published a list of the 64 players who will fight for the Women's title. Top seed is Ju Wenjun, second seed Anna Muzychuk. But a number of top players refused to start.

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List of participants of the World Women's Championship 2017

a) From World Women’s Championship 2014-15
01. Pogonina Natalija (RUS) - Runner up 2014 (2457.00)
02. Cramling Pia (SWE) Semifinalist 2014 (2511.50)
03. Harika Dronavalli (IND) - Semifinalist 2014 (2506.16)

b) World Girl Junior Champions 2014-2015:
04. Goryachkina Aleksandra (RUS) World Junior G20 Champion 2014 (2479.16)
05. Buksa Nataliya (UKR) World Junior G20 Champion 2015 (2227.58)

c) From average Rating List 2/2015 to 1/2016
06. Ju Wenjun (CHN) 2547.08
07. Muzychuk Anna (UKR) 2545.58
08. Kosteniuk Alexandra (RUS) 2530.08
09. Zhao Xue (CHN) 2522.66
10. Shen Yang (CHN) 2460.75
11. Ushenina, Anna (UKR) 2452.16

d) 28 players from European Women’s Championships 2014 & 2015
12. Gunina Valentina (RUS) 2014
13. Melia Salome (GEO)
14. Zhukova Natalia (UKR)
15. Dzagnidze Nana (GEO)
16. Batsiashvili Nino (GEO)
17. Javakhishvili Lela (GEO)
18. Stefanova Antoaneta (BUL)
19. Foisor Cristina-Adela (ROU)
20. Socko Monika (POL)
21. Khurtsidze Nino (GEO)
22. Kashlinskaya Alina (RUS)
23. Danielian Elina (ARM)
24. Bodnaruk Anastasia (RUS)
25. Mkrtchian Lilit (ARM)
26. Guseva Marina (RUS) 2015
27. Girya Olga (RUS)
28. Gaponenko Inna (UKR)
29. Kovalevskaya Ekaterina (RUS)
30. Khotenashvili Bela (GEO)
31. Paehtz Elisabeth (GER)
32. Charochkina Daria (RUS)
33. Savina Anastasia (RUS)
34. Hoang Thanh Trang (HUN)
35. Guramishvili Sopiko (GEO)
36. Atalik Ekaterina (TUR)
37. Zimina Olga (ITA)
38. Ziaziulkina Nastassia (BLR)
39. Gvetadze Sofio (GEO)

e) 8 players from Americas
40. Arribas Robaina Maritza (CUB) (Continental)
41. Nemcova, Katerina (USA) (Zone 2.1)
42. Ni, Viktorija (USA) (Zone 2.1)
43. Foisor, Sabina (USA) (Zone 2.1)
44. Zhou Qiyu (CAN) (Zone 2.2)
45. Marrero Lopez, Yaniet (CUB) (Zone 2.3)
46. Cori T., Deysi (PER) (Zone 2.4)
47. Martinez, Ayelen (ARG) (Zone 2.5)

f) 12 players from Asia/Oceania
48. Sukandar, Irine Kharisma (INA) (Continental 2014)
49. Hejazipour, Mitra (IRI) (Continental 2015)
50. Zhu, Chen (QAT) (Zone 3.1)
51. Shamima, Akter Liza (BAN) (Zone 3.2)
52. Pham, Le Thao Nguyen (VIE) (Zone 3.3)
53. Saduakassova, Dinara (KAZ) (Zone 3.4)
54. Tan Zhongyi (CHN) (Zone 3.5)
55. Zhai Mo (CHN) (Zone 3.5)
56. Ni Shiqun (CHN) (Zone 3.5)
57. Huang Qian (CHN) (Zone 3.5)
58. Lane, Nancy (AUS) (Zone 3.6)
59. Padmini, Rout (IND) (Zone 3.7)

g) 3 players from Africa
60. Mona, Khaled (EGY) (Continental)
61. Mezioud, Amina (ALG) (Continental)
62. Latreche, Sabrina (ALG) (Continental)

h) 2 nominees of the FIDE President
63. Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat (IRI) (FIDE nominee)
64. Pourkashiyan, Atousa (IRI) (FIDE nominee)

Source: Fide

However, a number of prominent players refused to play for the World Championship in Tehran.

Hou Yifan

The world's best women player - Hou Yifan

Last year the still reigning Women’s World Champion and the clear number one on the Women’s Ranking List announced that she would not defend her title in the knock-out World Championship in Tehran - out of protest against the mode of the Women’s World Championship.

In a ChessBase interview from 20. May 2016 with Frederic Friedel, Hou Yifan explained her decision:

“I decided to drop out from WGP cycle after I received an unclear answer from FIDE regarding the possibility of a change in the current Women’s World Championship system. I participated in all previous cycles, since 2009, and the main reason in recent years was that the overall winner got the right to play the Women’s World Championship match. I didn’t think this was actually reasonable, but it was the only option I had.

Now the situation is different. I do not see any point in taking part in the different stages only to be able to play in the WWCC, especially when the opponents usually are at least one hundred points below me. For years now I have expressed my deep dissatisfaction to FIDE about this, but they didn’t accept anything I said. So I won’t consider staying in a system with which I completely disagree.”

Mariya Muzychuk

Mariya Muzychuk

Mariya Muzychuk, winner of the last Women’s Knock-Out Women’s World Championship in Sochi 2015, World Champion from 2015 to 2016, and currently number six on the Women’s Ranking List, also decided not to play in Tehran. In an interview with the Ukranian newsportal censor.net.ua she said:

“As for the 2017 Women's World Chess Championship in Iran, I decided not to take part in it, since Iran is obviously not a suitable country for such a prestigious competition. It is so wrong that those chess players, who refuse to go to Iran and to wear the hijab, simply lose the right to participate in the Championship for no reason.”

Irina Krush

Irina Krush

Irina Krush, seven times winner of the U.S. Championship does not play in Tehran because of lack of security and follows a recommendation of the U.S. State Department that warns women to travel to Iran.

Nazi Paikidze

Nazi Paikidze

Reigning U.S. Women’s Champion Nazi Paikidze was one of the first to protest against playing the Women’s World Championship in Tehran. “I think it's unacceptable to host a Women's World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens,” Paikidze said. Her protest was widely publicized and led to a “flurry of attention in the international press”.

Humpy Koneru

According to a recent tweet from ChessBase India, Humpy Koneru, currently the number four on the Women’s Ranking List, also decided not to start in Tehran.


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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