It has started – the North Urals Cup 2008

by ChessBase
7/27/2008 – A low drawing ratio, fighting chess, grandmasters, girls with curls – this is what makes women's chess so attractive. The North Urals Cup 2008 begins today, with GM Koneru Humpy, GM Antoaneta Stefanova, GM Pia Cramling, IM Marie Sebag, IM Anna Muzychuk, GM Xu Yuhua (world champions), IM Anna Ushenina and WGM Natalija Pogonina. Pictorial, interview with Xu Yuhua.

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It has started – the North Urals Cup 2008

Press release

The opening ceremony of the “North Urals Cup 2008” took place on Saturday, the 26 of July 2008. The concert hall of Krasnoturinsk was full of warm emotions. The organizers prepared a magnificent concert of local groups for participants and the audience. Slide shows about Krasnoturinsk, the tournament and the wonderful people living here were demonstrated on screens on both sides of the stage.

A presenter at teh openings ceremony

The drawing procedure took place during the ceremony. Participants had to choose the box they liked most of all among those that were brought to the stage by girls-drummers.

After their presentation the drummers organised the drawing of colours

Girls with curls: WGM Natalija Pogonina, Russia, and GM Antoaneta Stefanova, Bulgaria

The players were offered a choice of boxes with numbers corresponding to a place in the tournament table. Here reigning Women's World Champion Xu Yuhua picks a box...

... and gets the number two.

The Chief Arbiter of the tournament Ashot Vardapetyan announced the results. They are as follows:

Round 1: Sunday, July 27, 2008
Pia Cramling 
 Anna Muzychuk
Xu Yuhua 
 Marie Sebag
Koneru Humpy 
 Antoaneta Stefanova
Natalija Pogonina 
 Anna Ushenina

Russian player Natalija Pogonina was welcomed with a storm of applause. She confessed without false modesty that her aim was to become the first in the tournament. And that’s right! Every sportsman must aim at the best results. Evidently other participants hold to the same opinion. And it means that we are in front of exciting rounds, tense struggle and unpredictable results.

WGM Pogonina Natalija, Russia, rated 2469

The first press-conference of the tournament took place before the opening ceremony. Except for Marie Sebag, who didn’t manage to come on time because of some technical problems, all participants were present at the ceremony.

The press conference before the start of the event

The organizers of the tournament also took part in it. Among them are Anatoly Sysoev (President of Sverdlovsk Chess Federation, Head of groups of companies “SAVIAK” that is the General sponsor of the tournament); Andrey Selivanov (Vice-president of the International Chess Federation FIDE); Alexander Levin (Head of the Administration of the Sverdlovsk region Governor); Viktor Mikhel (Head of Krasnoturinsk); Ivan Gramatik (Head of the Northern Administrative district) and Ashot Vardapetyan (Chief Arbiter of the tournament, internationally certified arbiter).

A. Levin Head of the Administration of the Sverdlovsk region Governor, speaking

Alexander Levin was the first who took the floor. He said, “On behalf of the Governor I greet all the organizers who managed to keep this wonderful tournament at this difficult time. The 19 FIDE category is not the limit for the “North Urals Cup” and we hope that once it will reach the highest 20 category”. Anatoly Sysoev pointed out that this tournament contributed to the chess propaganda. Andrey Selivanov informed, “This is the main super tournament of the year. A lot of world leading chess players would like to participate in the “North Urals Cup”. This tournament served as an example for many other countries. Now similar competitions are held in Baku and Istanbul. The world championship will be soon in Nalchik. I am sure that the future world champion is now sitting in this hall”.

Ivan Gramatik, GM Xu Yuhua, Viktor Mikhel, GM Koneru Humpy in the press conference

Viktor Mikhel shared his thoughts, “Always we tried to make Krasnoturinsk famous, to demonstrate that our town is wonderful and people that live here are friendly. Of course “North Urals Cup” contributes to it very much. Now Krasnoturinsk is famous not only because of industrial victories but also victories on the chess board. At last our town is famous all over the world. And if before somebody made sometimes a mistake and pronounced the name as KrasnotUrinsk, now everybody says it correctly KrasnoturInsk. “This tournament gave the great impulse to the chess development in Sverdlovsk region”, noticed Ivan Gramatik.

Sverdlovsk region Governor Alexander Levin with GM Antoaneta Stefanova

Answering the question to play with whom men or women is more interesting Antoaneta Stefanova, who takes part in great deal of men competitions, said that it was easier to play with men. But at the same time she considers victories in women tournaments her main achievements.

IM Anna Muzychuk, Slovenia, 2504

Anna Muzychuk who on the contrary mostly plays in women tournaments is of the same opinion. Andrey Selivanov emphasized that he and Anatoly Sysoev decided to create exactly women super tournament six years ago because there were just a few chess competitions for women and this situation appeared to them extremely unfair. Participants are glad to come to the hospitable Ural land again. “People here are very friendly and the Ural is the place where I am so lucky”, said the current world champion Xu Yuhua.

GM Pia Cramling, Sweden, rated 2544

Pia Cramling shared her impressions, “It’s my first time here. When I got the proposal to participate in the “North Urals Cup” I didn’t hesitate at all and agreed because it is the strongest women tournament in the world! It is indeed the strongest women chess competition. We are surely in front of bright tournament. And it started!

Top seed and second strongest female player in history:
GM Koneru Humpy, 21, India, currently rated 2622

Press contact: Anna Burtasova, Press-attache of the “North Urals Cup 2008”
Email: Anna_burtasova(at); Tel: +7-922-1462301 (Krasnoturinsk)


Koneru Humpy GM India 2622
Antoaneta Stefanova GM Bulgaria 2550
Pia Cramling GM Sweden 2544
Marie Sebag IM France 2529
Anna Muzychuk IM Slovenia 2504
Xu Yuhua GM China 2483
Anna Ushenina IM Ukraine 2476
Natalija Pogonina WGM Russia 2469


Friday 25 July 2008 Arrival of participants
Saturday 26 July 2008 17.00 Opening ceremony
Sunday 27 July 2008 15.00 1st Round
Monday 28 July 2008 15.00 2nd Round
Tuesday 29 July 2008 15.00 3rd Round
Wed. 30 July 2008   Day off
Thursday 31 July 2008 15.00 4th Round
Friday 1 August 2008 15-00 5th Round
Saturday 2 August 2008 15-00 6th Round
Sunday 3 August 2008 11.00 7th Round
Sunday 3 August 2008 18.00 Closing ceremony
Monday 4 August 2008   Departure of participants

Time control

90 minutes for the whole game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one.


The North Urals Cup 2008 is being held in Krasnoturinsk. The city is located in the north of Sverdlovsk area, 426 kms from the regional center Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg). It is the cultural center of Northern Ural and the home of a number of outstanding Russian scientists.

Aluminum plant in Krasnoturinsk (photo Kostya for Wikipedia)


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.

Interview with World Champion Xu Yuhua

In 2006 Xu Yuhua became the Women's World Champion. Xu, whose Chinese name is written 许昱华 許昱華, is 31 years old and a law graduate. She won the title by beating Russian IM Alisa Galliamova in the final of the 64-player knockout event. Xu Yuhua was three months pregnant at the time. The following interview was conducted by Elena Golovushkina from the press centre “North Urals Cup – 2008”.

It is not your first visit to the Urals. What are your impressions of the region?

I like it very much here. I’ve been to Yekaterinburg, and it is my second visit to Krasnoturinsk. The people here are very friendly. They radiate warmth and kindness. I was very glad to see the people that I’ve already met among the organizers.

In 2006 you became the world chess champion among women. What were your impression of the victory?

I was very happy and proud of my country and people. It was one of the best moments in my life. At that time I was going to become a mother, and the victory at the Championship made me twice happier. But the time is passing by. And the sky is the limit. I should move only forward.

In which large competitions did you take part after the World Championship?

In 2007 I took part in the European Club Championship held in Turkey. I played for the Russia club AVS that became a runner-up. I enjoyed playing for this club very much. I have good relations with my team mates and coaches. This year at the Russian Club Championship I played for another Russian club Spartak, Vidnoe. We also became runners-up but we should have become the champions. It was my fault. I lost in a crucial game. But I hope that in the future I will improve.

Share your feeling on the Women’s World Chess Championship in Nalchik this August. How do you evaluate your chances to win?

I am not in the position to make predictions. I’d like only to say that I will try to do my best and show the best chess but I don’t know what the outcome will be. A lot has changed during the last two years. I have become a mother. During a year I was taking care of my son and family. But now I am coming back to chess.

In one of the interviews you mentioned that Anand is your idol in chess. Do you have any idols among Russian chess players?

Among Russian chess players I like chess of Alexander Morozevich. He has a lot of interesting and exciting games. Among women I’d like to mention Alexandra Kosteniuk. In 2001 I played her in a semi-final of the World Championship. She is a very strong player. I know that she is in a similar position. After birth of her child she is gradually coming back to chess. In general, intelligence, excellent tactics and persistence are characteristic features of Russian chess players.

This November the Chess Olympiad will be held in Dresden. Are you going to participate in it?

I am not sure that I’ll go there. The time will show. But in general, regardless of the fact whether I will take part in it or not, the Chinese team has very good chances to win.

In 2005 you already took part in the tournament “North Urals Cup”. Describe your impressions of that tournament.

I enjoyed the competition very much. Last year I was taking care of my little son, and it prevented me from visiting you hospitable town. That is why I was very happy to get an opportunity to come here again.

And the last thing, please share with your fans what we can expect of the tournament “North Urals Cup 2008”?

It is impossible to predict the course of events. I think the players will play interesting and tense chess. As for me, I will try to play excellent chess, and make my fans happy.

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