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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anthonyy anthonyy 1/15/2017 11:16
I've been there and I have Iranian friends.
If what I describe is what they (who ? the mollahs ?) want the world to believe, then
they missed their point, because most people, like yourself, think Iran is an underdedvoleped country. And think that in USA women earn less than men for exactly the same job, and are sometimes beaten and killed by their husband.
MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs 1/15/2017 01:45
Most of the political commentaries on Iran comes from the average American fed with cheap TV talk shows, blown up News reports and fear out of ignorance. I love my country, but we seem to simply not understand why our own government keeps on building hatred and a general sense of panic.
I do believe women in Iran have different role in life than women in western countries, regardless the "clothing habits", but to be talking about oppression you need proof. And there is not.

And of course if you supported Trump last year you have no saying on this matter as misogynist as he is. And if you still do then I come to where you live, build a wall around your property and make you pay for it.
Aighearach Aighearach 1/13/2017 07:30
@anthonyy Perhaps others describe it as it is, and you describe the public face that they ask the world to believe?
rehsupdoow rehsupdoow 1/13/2017 05:50
The average rating of this tournament will be more than 100 points below the WC; therefore, the result can, at most, only be recognized as a challenger who will have the right to challenge Hou Yifan to a match with conditions and a country acceptable to BOTH players.

Hou Yifan will still be the ONLY WC after this "tournament" ends. Let's not start that two WCs again.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 1/13/2017 04:59
"I bet that 90% of the commentaries here come from ppl who had never been in a muslim country."


You do not need to have gone in a Muslim country to see that making mandatory the wearing of the hidjab is a direct violation of the freedom of conscience and religion.

I bet that you are not a woman. Therefore you are not entitled to an opinion on this?
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 1/13/2017 04:49
That the WCC be in Iran? Maybe. Only at the condition that Iran does not make mandatory wearing the hidjab for the competitors - this is an absolutely unacceptable condition that violates directly the freedom of conscience and of religion.

Moreover, WCC could be in Iran only at the condition that Iran puts no pressure to incite the competitors to wear the hidjab and explicitly mention that the competitors are absolutely free to act as they wish on that matter.

A total bocycott by all the competitors would have sent a strong message. But a boycott among the most prominent ones is still quite good.
geraldsky geraldsky 1/13/2017 02:15
I agree with Mariya Muzychuk and Irina Krush. Iran is not a good place for women.
benedictralph benedictralph 1/13/2017 10:38
If men and women are equally good at this game, there should only be ONE world championship. A "world championship" reserved for women with men excluded purely on the basis of gender (given also that one does NOT exist exclusively for men) is a silent concession that women are inferior.
calvinamari calvinamari 1/13/2017 05:46
Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison Foreign nationals, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security. The Iranian government represses some minority religious and ethnic groups, including Christians, Baha'i, Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and others. Consequently, some areas within the country where these minorities reside, including the Baluchistan border area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kurdish northwest of the country, and areas near the Iraqi border, remain unsafe. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions and religious activists are subject to arrest and prosecution. Countries like Canada, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the U.S do not have diplomatic or consular relations with Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to Their citizens traveling to Iran.
mozartiano123 mozartiano123 1/13/2017 02:01
I bet that 90% of the commentaries here come from ppl who had never been in a muslim country and that watch in CNN that all muslim is a terrorist.

Honestly I think that to "force" foreigners to wear a hijab is a clearly bad thing, but one cannot judge the whole country and society on account of this.

The players that refused to play, they are in their right, but they cannot take out the value of the player who wins the championship. She will be as world champ as maryia muzychuk was. Btw, Maryia refused to play in the world rapid and blitz as well nad her sister, Anna, said that she did so because she was upset about a bad year in her career. In my opinion, Maryia just needs an excuse in order to not play, and she got a good one. On the other hand, Anna will still play and I root for her to become world champion in all time controls.
anthonyy anthonyy 1/12/2017 10:26
I think you guys mix up Afghanistan and Iran.
Yes women wear a scarf in Iran, but they are highly educated
(more than 50% of the students are female), more than in many western countries.
And it is complete nonsense to say that it is dangerous to go to Tehran
(and to other places in Iran). So it is far from perfect, but also far from
what you describe without ever having been there.
floryncd floryncd 1/12/2017 09:14
The best way to deal with such utter crap from FIDE is to refuse to play - I mean every chess player from the list above should refrain herself from playing in such a country.
rachmuth@pdx.edu rachmuth@pdx.edu 1/12/2017 09:01
Should be called "Women not Caring for Women Rights World Championship 2017." BTW, are they playing with a special set of pieces with the queens wearing hijab?
turok turok 1/12/2017 08:12
sorry but why does chess still award to countries who treat women as 2nd class citizens this is not me being political but what is right as human beings
Aighearach Aighearach 1/12/2017 06:58
What a farce! Maybe it is time to create an alternative to FIDE?
Malcom Malcom 1/12/2017 06:43
Iran... hope you take this as a "f**k off!" Keep your religious and/or political crap away from pure entities like the game of chess. What weakness shown by all professional sports going to these stupid places to make more $. Damn is anything sacred anymore!
Jacob woge Jacob woge 1/12/2017 06:02
A competing double round-robin event with the top absentees would be in place.
CostaMaison3 CostaMaison3 1/12/2017 05:00
Glad to see that we will get a new women world champion.
mdamien mdamien 1/12/2017 04:26
Hou Yifan, please announce that you remain Women's World Champion and are accepting bids from a rightful challenger for a championship match outside of FIDE. That's what Fischer should have done. Leave FIDE with their corruption and tin-cup champions.
Denix Denix 1/12/2017 04:25
I now understand Hou Yifan's point
thirteen thirteen 1/12/2017 04:00
WHY wasn't there far more public outcry to this FIDE decision when it chose THIS location? The one place on the planet where [women] are ground under foot everyday, treated like dogs, can only have the brain that the superior men there tell them they can have and are forced to live LESS lives than they deserve, or else. This insane act should receive a better choice of world protesting words and far stronger language. Obviously just my opinion.....makes me want to oppress the men there and see how THEY like it. Bet they WOULDN'T!
calvinamari calvinamari 1/12/2017 02:19
Yet another unmitigated FIDE disaster, the upshot of which is that the title of WWCC is rendereded meaningless since the winner of this misbegotten event plainly will not be the best player. What exactly is FIDE getting in return for ash-canning the title? This is also a lovely way for FIDE to express its true regard for women: hold an event where a woman who presents herself in public in the manner she chooses to do so every day in her home country and elsewhere will not only disqualify her from the event, but might land her in jail or worse.
austin_guy austin_guy 1/12/2017 02:16
Kudos for those of you standing up against Iranian oppression against women.