Kings and Queens - A match in rapid classic chess and Chess960

by ChessBase
9/12/2011 – As a part of the launch of the renovated St. Louis Chess Club, together with the World Chess Hall of Fame, a Kings and Queens team match is also taking place, pitting the men against the women not only in rapid classic chess, but also Chess960. The event has a generous $52,000 prize fund and live online commentary by WGM Shahade and GM Seirawan. Here is the report with pictures and videos.

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GM Kateryna Lahno (2554) - Ukraine
IM Anna Zatonskih (2508) - U.S.
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (2469) - Russia
IM Irina Krush (2472) - U.S.
IM Martha Fierro (2378) - Ecuador


GM Hikaru Nakamura (2753) - U.S.
IM Marc Arnold (2505) - U.S.
GM Ben Finegold (2489) - U.S.
IM Jacek Stopa (2482) - Poland
NM Kevin Cao (2152) - U.S.

The average team rating of both the Queens and Kings is 2476 FIDE. It is a Scheveningen-paired tournament, in which each of the five team members plays each of the opposing team members twice: once in a Fischer Random (Chess 960) game with a time control of G/25 + 10-second increment and once in a rapid game with a time control of G/25 with a 5-second increment.

The winning team of the event will win $20,000, divided equally between each member of that team. In addition, individual prizes will be awarded based on final standings and are as follows:

  • 1st: $5,500
  • 2nd: $5,000
  • 3rd: $4,500
  • 4th: $4,000
  • 5th: $3,500
  • 6th: $3,000
  • 7th: $2,500
  • 8th: $2,000
  • 9th: $1,500
  • 10th: $1,000

Individual prizes total $32,500 and, when coupled with the team prize, the total prize fund for this event is $52,500.

GM Yasser Seirawan and WGM Jennifer Shahade are provide live commentary of the event, which will is open to the public, and is also broadcast live via the CCSCSL’s Livestream web channel.

Here is a video of the renovation process before and after of the St. Louis Chess Club

Round one

By Aviv Friedman

As expected, the first day of the Kings vs. Queens tournament produced the fireworks everyone had hoped for! Taking into consideration the fast pace of both formats (rapid and chess960), the games were exciting, uncompromising and thankfully for the spectators, not free of mistakes and heartbreakers.

The Kings field from left: IM Jacek Stopa, GM Hikaru Nakamura, IM Marc Arnold,
GM Ben Finegold and NM Kevin Cao.

While on paper the teams are evenly matched with an identical average Elo rating, the results on our first day were quite lopsided. Of course, looking at the positions in real time as the games were progressing, one could not have predicted that when the smoke would clear, the men would rack up 7 points to the women's 3.

The day started with yet another draw – this time not for colors or seed numbers, but rather for the one out of the 960 possible starting positions. In case you wonder what our brave competitors had to deal with, well here is that starting position!

A queen in the corner, the king 'stalemated' between his two rooks, and all the minor pieces clogged on the kingside—what more can we ask for? Of course if you spoke to GM Hikaru Nakamura, you'd get a scary (and incorrect) feeling that he knows this position as if it were old theory. In his game versus IM Martha Fiero he confidently opened with 1.g4 and after only 20 moves his opponent had to acknowledge defeat.

So the Kings team has opened a 4-point gap, but as Kosteniuk optimistically noted, it is only day one, and there are four more full days of fight! And fights she promised!

Robert Fontaine from Europe Echecs has kindly provided this video with images of the event, and
an interview (in English) of resident GM Ben Finegold.

Round two

The Queens held their ground on day two. From left: IM Irina Krush, GM Alexandra
Kosteniuk, GM Kateryna Lahno, IM Martha Fierro, IM Anna Zatonskih.

After the domination by the Kings in round one, the ladies came to the second round's matches ready for revenge. To determine the chess960 position for day two, GM Susan Polgar rolled a giant die to determine the starting position for each piece, however if the men thought that every day would be a rout, after the chess960 round there was a definite 'uh oh' feeling setting on them. Initially, it looked as if the confidence at the Kings' camp was justified, when both Nakamura and Finegold won convincingly, but the women responded with three straight wins in the remaining games to send a message that they were not planning on going quietly.

And so yesterday's margin remains the same after today. It is indeed a comfortable lead, but as the guys said in unison: one bad day and it could all be erased! Have the Queens regained some of their lost confidence? Will the Kings cement their lead? Stay tuned!

Here is Robert Fontaine's video of the second round and interview of Anna Zatonskih 


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 a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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