New Delhi GP: Abdumalik withdraws, first round postponed due to organizational issues

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/25/2023 – The third stage of the Women’s Grand Prix series, set to take place in New Delhi, did not start as scheduled on Saturday, March 25. It was reported that some of the players were not received by official transport at the airport and that, at the hotel, they were informed that the rooms were not ready and the breakfast was not included in the price. Due to these conditions, Zhansaya Abdumalik withdrew from the event. FIDE and the eleven remaining players decided that the event would take place anyway, albeit starting on Sunday. | Photo: International Chess Federation

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“Broader issues” with women’s chess events

The first-round games of the Women’s Grand Prix in New Delhi, supposed to start at 15.00 local time on Saturday, were not relayed from the playing venue. As it turns out, according to a report by Europe Échecs, FIDE, the local organizers and the participants decided to postpone the first round to Sunday following Zhansaya Abdumalik’s withdrawal from the event.

The Europe Échecs report mentions the reasons (or some of the reasons) that prompted Abdumalik’s withdrawal. Other players, apparently, also had to go through similar situations:

  • Players were not received at the airport by official transport and were not sure exactly where they had to go.
  • When they arrived at the hotel, they were told that the rooms were not ready and that breakfast was not included in the price.

First, FIDE attempted to find an Indian replacement, but the players refused to accept this condition. In the end, they decided that the tournament would go on as an 11-player single round-robin. Adjustments are expected to be made so as to keep the balance of colours — i.e. players who were supposed to play with the black pieces against Abdumalik would be favoured by the new pairings.

Besides Europe Échecs’ report, two statements have been made regarding the issue, one by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and one by Bibisara Assaubayeva, who is also in New Delhi and is a compatriot of Abdumalik.

Both accounts acknowledge the fact that there were organizational issues that must be addressed. Assaubayeva, on her poignant Facebook post, adds that Abdumalik’s conduct was not appropriate once she decided to withdraw.

Dvorkovich’s letter, on its part, mentions “broader issues which have been highlighted by the players regarding other events”.

It should be noted that, unlike male, elite GMs, women players do not have as much leverage in relation to FIDE. For many of them, the official tournaments of the World Championship cycle are the top events in their calendars — in terms of prize money and competitive value. They do not have, as their male counterparts, private alternatives that would yield similar rewards, like the Grand Chess Tour or the Norway Chess super-tournament.

Given these circumstances, the fact that “broader issues” have been mentioned raise further concerns, especially following the withdrawal of the Muzychuk sisters from the New Delhi event, and the adoption of a new format in the 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament.


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.