Norway Chess introduces parallel women’s tournament

by ChessBase
1/21/2024 – The organisers in Stavanger have announced the participants of the upcoming Norway Chess Tournament. As a novelty, a women’s tournament will now be organised in parallel under the same conditions as the open event from 27 May to 7 June. Each tournament will feature six players, with both world champions included — Ju Wenjun and Ding Liren — besides local hero and world number one Magnus Carlsen.

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Press release by Norway Chess

Addressing a disparity

Norway Chess is thrilled to announce the lineup for this year’s tournaments! For the 12th consecutive year, the prestigious Norway Chess tournament will unfold from May 27 to June 7 at SR-Bank’s main building in Stavanger.

The international supertournament will feature six players this year. A noteworthy addition is the introduction of the world’s inaugural equal female tournament, the Norway Chess Women’s Tournament.

This parallel event will transpire in the same playing hall as Norway Chess, concurrently, with an identical number of players, the same format and an equivalent prize fund.

Historic tournament

In a historic move, Norway Chess annually extends invitations to players based on world ratings, selecting the top 15 from the world rating list. Regrettably, within the top 100 players globally, no women are listed. It takes a descent to number 115 to find a female player. The scarcity of women in top-level privately held competitions is a complex issue, with limited invitations and unequal prize money being contributing factors.

Norway Chess is actively addressing this disparity by organizing the Norway Chess Women’s Tournament. Collaborating with EY, the Sparebank-1 SR-bank foundation, Sparebank-1 SR-bank, and Stavanger municipality, the organizers aim to provide women with more opportunities and a comparable prize fund, fostering female participation and serving as role models for aspiring female chess players. Notably, three out of six players in the Norway Chess Women’s Tournament boast World Championship titles.

After dedicating several years to securing sponsors for a women’s tournament, we take great pride and joy in announcing the realization of this event. Our aspiration is for the tournament to serve as an inspiration for young female chess players to pursue a professional career. Furthermore, we hope that other super tournaments will follow suit, organizing women’s events with prize money on par with the open class. Firmly believing that these measures will accelerate the process of increasing female representation in chess, we acknowledge the ongoing grassroots efforts worldwide. While commendable work is being done at the grassroots level, it is equally crucial to raise awareness at the top level. We envision this as a regular addition to the annual Norway Chess tournament and invite sponsors committed to gender equality and diversity to reach out and join us in this endeavor.

Benedicte Westre Skog & Kjell Madland, Norway Chess

Two reigning World Champions

Participants this year include reigning world champions Ding Liren and Ju Wenjun, alongside Magnus Carlsen and the previous year’s Norway Chess winner, Hikaru Nakamura.

In a historic occurrence, siblings Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and Vaishali Rameshbabu will compete side by side in their own supertournament, marking their debut in Norway Chess and the Norway Chess Women’s Tournament. Vaishali Rameshbabu is the third woman in India to achieve the Grandmaster title, making her and her brother the first brother-sister duo to attain this distinction.

The Norway Chess Women’s Tournament will also feature chess legend Pia Cramling, who, since the early 1980s, has been one of the strongest female players in the world.

Pia Cramling serves as the Nordic region’s counterpart to Magnus Carlsen, and we are delighted that she has embraced the opportunity to participate. Cramling exhibits immense enthusiasm for our concept, adding an extra layer of gratification. Her positive outlook, along with that of the other players, makes them excellent ambassadors for the broader message we aim to convey to the world.

- Benedicte Westre Skog, Norway Chess

Norway Chess maintains its policy of excluding players from Russia and Belarus.

Participants - Norway Chess 

Live ratings & world standings as of 18 January 2024

  • Magnus Carlsen (Norway), 2830, World No. 1
  • Fabiano Caruana (USA), 2804, World No. 2
  • Hikaru Nakamura (USA), 2788, World No. 3
  • Ding Liren (China), 2776, World Champion, World No. 4
  • Alireza Firouzja (France), 2765, World No. 6
  • Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (India), 2748, World No. 11

Participants - Norway Chess Women’s Tournament

Live ratings & world standings as of 18 January 2024

  • Koneru Humpy (India), 2554, World No. 2 among women.
  • Lei Tingjie (China), 2550, World No. 4 among women.
  • Ju Wenjun (China), 2547, Women’s World Champion, World No. 5 among women.
  • Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), 2525, World No. 7 among women.
  • Vaishali Rameshbabu (India), 2481, World No. 14 among women.
  • Pia Cramling (Sweden), 2437, World No. 31 among women.

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