Who will challenge the World Champion?

by Johannes Fischer
11/17/2016 – The last tournament of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix series 2015/2016 will take place from 18th November to 2nd in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. It will decide who wins the Grand Prix series and who will challenge the next Women's World Champion. The best chances to do so has Chinese grandmaster Ju Wenjun.

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Who will challenge the Women's World Champion?

The FIDE Women's Grand Prix is part of the Women's World Championship cycle and the winner of the 2015/2016 series acquires the right to challenge the Women's World Champion in a 10-game match for the world title. This time the Grand Prix winner also has good chances to become Women's World Champion as Hou Yifan has declared her intention not to defend her title  to protest against the format of the Women's World Championship. However, the next Women's World Champion will be established in the Women's World Cup in February 2017.

The challenger of this World Champion will be established from 18th November to 2nd December in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, in the last of five tournaments of the Grand Prix series 2015/2016. It is a twelve-player round robin with a total prize-fund of 60,000 Euros of which the winner will receive 10,000 Euros.

These players start in Khanty-Mansiysk: Ju Wenjun (2580, China), Alexandra Kosteniuk (2555, Russia), Dronavalli Harika (2543, India), Valentina Gunina (2525, Russia), Natalija Pogonina (2492, Russia), Nina Batsiashvili (2489, Georgia), Lela Javakhishvili (2461, Georgia), Almira Skripchenko (2455, France), Olga Girya (2450, Russia), Natalia Zhukova (2448, Ukraine), Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (2435, Iran) and Bela Khotenashvili (2426, Georgia).

Ju Wenjun - the next Women's World Champion? (Photo: FIDE)

The winner of a leg of the series scores 120 points + 40 bonus, the silver medalist gains 110 points + 20 bonus, and the third-place winner – 100 points + 10 bonus. In the case of any tie in a tournament, the Grand Prix ranking points and prize money are split equally. The overall winner of the Grand Prix will be the one who will score the most number of cumulative points.

The current leader of the series is Humpy Koneru from India who has 335 points but has already taken part in three Grand Prix tournaments. The Chinese players Ju Wenjun and Zhao Xue occupy the second and third places in the overall standings with 235⅓ and 250 points respectively. However, Zhao Xue is not playing in Khanty-Mansiysk, so only Ju Wenjun will be able to get more ranking points.

Other players who have theoretical chances to win the series are the Russian grandmasters Valentina Gunina (205 points) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (195 points), and Dronavalli Harika from India (190 points).

Overall Grand Prix standings

Rank Player Rating Monte
Tehran Batumi Chengdu Khanty-
1  Koneru Humpy (India) 2557 120 70  NP 145  NP 335
2  Ju Wenjun (China) 2580  NP 160  NP 93⅓   253⅓
3  Zhao Xue (China) 2508  NP 120 70 60  NP 250
4  Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) 2561 30  NP 100 93⅓  NP 223⅓
5  Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) 2532 120  NP 40 60  NP 220
6  Valentina Gunina (Russia) 2525  NP 45 160  NP   205
6  Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia) 2507 50 85 70  NP  NP 205
8  Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia) 2555 65  NP 130  NP   195
9  Dronavalli Harika (India) 2543  NP 45  NP 145   190
10  Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) 2512 65 15  NP 93⅓  NP 173⅓
11  Natalia Pogonina (Russia) 2492 85 85  NP  NP   170
12  Hou Yifan (China) 2635 160  NP  NP  NP  NP 160
13  Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran) 2435 10 120  NP  NP   130
14  Pia Cramling (Sweden) 2461 85 30  NP 10  NP 125
15  Nino Batsiashvili (Georgia) 2489  NP 15 100  NP   115
16  Almira Skripchenko (France) 2455 30  NP 70  NP   100
17  Natalia Zhukova (Ukraine) 2448 30 60  NP  NP   90
18  Olga Girya (Russia) 2450  NP  NP 40 35   75
18  Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) 2461  NP  NP 40 35   75
20  Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia) 2426  NP  NP 10 60   70
21  Elina Danielian (Armenia) 2444  NP  NP 20  NP  NP 20
21  Tan Zhongyi (China) 2492  NP  NP  NP 20  NP 20

NP - not participating

Official website http://wgp2016.fide.com/

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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