All set for the first leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix

by ChessBase
9/12/2022 – The first event of the 2022-2023 Women’s Grand Prix Series will kick off on September 18 in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Fielding 16 of the world’s top female players, the Grand Prix will consist of four tournaments (to be played in Kazakhstan, Germany, India and Poland). Each player will participate in three out of the four tournaments. | Photo: FIDE / David Llada

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Two Candidates spots up for grabs

Press release by FIDE (authored by Michael Rahal)

The first event of the 2022-2023 Women’s Grand Prix Series will kick off in a few days (September 17th) in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Formerly known as Astana, Nur-Sultan is a futuristic city in the middle of a vast steppe. With an estimated population of 1,136,008, it is the second-largest city in the country, after Almaty, the capital until 1997. Nowadays, it’s one of the most modern cities in Central Asia.

Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

Photo: astanatimes.com

The event will be held at the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) while the players, accompanying persons and officials will stay at the Hilton Astana Hotel, perched on the edge of the 2017 Exhibition Centre.

Fielding 16 of the world’s top female players, the Grand Prix will spread out between four different events (Kazakhstan, Germany, India and Poland will be the organizing countries) and each player must participate in three out of the four tournaments.

The stakes are extremely high: the top two finishers of the series will qualify directly for the 2023-2024 FIDE Women’s Candidates.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Photo: David Llada

Participants

The twelve Nur-Sultan participants, with their starting numbers, are:

1. GM Aleksandra Goryachkina (2579 - FIDE)
2. GM Kateryna Lagno (2547 - FIDE)
3. IM/WGM Alina Kashlinskaya (2491 - Poland)
4. IM/WGM Bibisara Assaubayeva (2443 - Kazakhstan)
5. GM Tan Zhongyi (2525 - China)
6. WGM Dinara Wagner (2358 - Germany)
7. WGM/IM Elisabeth Paehtz (2477 - Germany)
8. WGM Zhu Jiner (2464 - China)
9. GM Zhansaya Abdumalik (2503 - Kazakhstan)
10. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (2521 - FIDE)
11. IM/WGM Vaishali R (2449 - India)
12. IM/WGM Polina Shuvalova (2510 - FIDE)

Top Indian player GM Humpy Koneru withdrew from the first event a few weeks prior due to medical reasons and, according to regulations, has been replaced by IM Vaishali R, who also plays for India, only for this first event.

Vaishali Rameshbabu

Vaishali R | Photo: Steve Bonhage

The field

The two top seeds, Aleksandra Goryachkina and Kateryna Lagno, playing under the FIDE flag, have a slight rating edge over the rest of their colleagues, especially two-time world junior champion Goryachkina. In addition to being the overall winner of the previous edition of the Women’s Grand Prix, Goryachkina is the only player in the field to have crossed the elite 2600 rating barrier.

However, perhaps it’s too early to speculate if the lack of recent rated games may be a drag on any of them: Goryachkina has only played fifteen official classical rating games so far this year.

As for two-time European women’s champion and three-time world blitz/rapid champion Kateryna Lagno, seeded number two, she has only played eight official games this year.

Nonetheless, in online events, Kateryna Lagno (pictured below) did achieve success very recently. She won the 2022 FIDE Chess.com Women’s Speed Chess Championship, defeating Hou Yifan in the final round. Many of the participants that will play in Nur-Sultan also took part in this event.

Kateryna Lagno

Photo: Niki Riga

With regard to the other two participants playing under the FIDE flag, Polina Shuvalova has kept herself very busy, as she played 45 official FIDE rated games this year, including Tata Steel in January and two top-level local events in August; while former women’s classical world champion and current World Cup champion Alexandra Kosteniuk has only tallied 11 classical rated games, but has successfully played recently in the French Chess League and other online events.

Possibly in an even worse situation are the two Chinese players. Former women’s world chess champion Tan Zhongyi and 2016 U-14 world youth chess champion Zhu Jiner have hardly played this year.

For several reasons, including the fact that China did not participate in the Olympiad this year, they have practically not played official classical games, although both of them have been active online and in rapid and blitz modalities.

Notwithstanding, while writing this report, I happened to notice that Zhu Jiner is currently participating in the highest category of the Chinese League in Fuling, Chongqing.

Meanwhile, some of their main opponents have been much more active. Elite players Alina Kashlinskaya, Elisabeth Paehtz, Vaishali R and Dinara Wagner all played at the Chennai Olympiad recently, notching up important top-level games. In particular, Vaishali shared the third-board individual bronze medal with her brother, elite Indian grandmaster Praggnanandhaa R.

The locals

For the home crowd, it will be a joy to see the progress of Kazakhstan’s two strongest young players, Zhansaya Abdumalik (pictured below) and Bibisara Assaubayeva. Born in 2000, Abdumalik is a two-time girls’ world youth champion as well as a girls’ world junior champion, and has represented Kazakhstan at the Chess Olympiad and World Team Chess Championship.

Zhansaya Abdumalik

Photo: Lennart Ootes

A few years younger, Bibisara Assaubayeva (pictured below), winner of several youth world and continental titles, is also the current women’s world blitz champion. Both were part of the Olympic team that finished fifth in Chennai, where Abdumalik also won the individual bronze medal on the first board.

Bibisara Assaubayeva

Photo: Lennart Ootes

The first round, scheduled for next Sunday, September 18th, already features some very cool match-ups.

  • Goryachkina Aleksandra 2579 (FID) – Shuvalova Polina 2510 (FID)
  • Lagno Kateryna 2547 (FID) – Vaishali R 2449 (IND)
  • Kashlinskaya Alina 2491 (POL) – Kosteniuk Alexandra 2521 (FID)
  • Assaubayeva Bibisara 2443 (KAZ) – Abdumalik Zhansaya 2503 (KAZ)
  • Tan Zhongyi 2525 (CHN) – Zhu Jiner 2464 (CHN)
  • Wagner Dinara 2358 (GER) – Paehtz Elisabeth 2477 (GER)

Prize fund and GP player allocation

The total prize fund for each leg will be €80,000, with another €80,000 being distributed among the top 8 finishers in the global Women’s Grand Prix Series standings, according to the cumulative points they score across the four events.

Players tournament allocation (IM Vaishali R replaces GM Humpy Koneru):

FIDE Women's Grand Prix


Attacking with the Jobava London System

The Jobava London System is a minor form of the London System. White tries to play Lf4 quickly followed by Nc3.


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