Women's World Championship ready to rumble

by Albert Silver
3/17/2015 – After uncertainty and concerns on the fate of the event last year, the FIDE Women's World Championship was announced and organized in a flurry, and is held in Sochi, Russia. All the brightest stars will be playing with the exception of Hou Yifan, who reserves the right to challenge the winner as a result of her Grand Prix victory. Complete info, pairings, and pictures.

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Tournament conditions

The Women's World Chess Championship takes place from March 17 – April 7 in Sochi, Russia. The knock-out tournament is attended by 64 players, including the former World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), and Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), the three-time Russian champion Valentina Gunina, the World Vice-Champion Humpy Koneru (India), and other leading grandmasters. Unfortunately, the reigning champion Hou Yifan was unable to come due to personal reasons, but she will still have an opportunity to challenge the new champion in a match, as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix.

The first five rounds consist of mini-matches of two games with 90 minutes per 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with bonus 30 seconds per each move. The final match consists of four games.

If the match score is tied, its winner is determined on tiebreak: two rapid games of 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move. If the score remains equal, the players proceed to another two games with a slightly faster time control – 10 minutes + 10 seconds per move. If these games do not determine the winner as well, then there are two blitz games: 5 minutes + 3 seconds per move. Finally, if the score is still even, there is an Armageddon game: White has five minutes, Black has four minutes, and a three-second increment per move after the move 61.

Opening Ceremony

Andrey Filatov thanked the organizers of the championship, primarily Vladimir Dvorkovich, the
Head of the Organizing Committee, whose efforts secured wonderful conditions for the players

Mr. Filatov also mentioned an innovative idea of the organizers: “This year the chess fans will also become visitors of a virtual art gallery. An exhibition of Russian art  dedicated to the 70th anniversary of winning in the Second World War is provided by the ART RUSSE fund, which supports and promotes Russian art of the XX century. Practically all authors fought in the war or were born during it”.

Alexandra Kosteniuk commented, “This is my 7th World Championship. I managed to win in 2008. Naturally I wish to regain the title, but one should be careful predicting the outcome of a knock-out tournament. I will live from one game to another, trying to show the best chess I can”.

Humpy Koneru, who recently wed, said, “This is my first visit to Sochi. I very much liked the
playing hall, and I am looking forward to the first game. I am not completely satisfied with
my play in the latest FIDE Grand Prix, and will try to do my best in Sochi”.

The press-conference was followed by the opening ceremony of the championship, which
took place in the Hunter Hall of the Grand Hotel Polyana. Igor Levitin, advisor of the Russian
President, read Vladimir Putin's greetings to participants and guests of the championship.

After the protocols and speeches had been made the entertainment started

There were several musical performances

Broadcast and art

An online video broadcast of the match in English and Russian is available on the match website and on the RCF website. Chess fans who follow the tournament will at the same time be visiting a virtual art gallery. An exhibition dedicated to the Second World War as reflected in the works of Russian artists has been timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of victory over Germany. Pictures and sculptures created in various styles and genres have been provided by the Art Russe foundation, which undertakes educational projects to support and promote twentieth-century Russian art. The virtual exhibition has been organised as part of the cooperation agreement signed last week between the foundation and the Russian Chess Federation.

Each of the works that will be displayed in the virtual exhibition conveys the artists’ experience of the tragic and heroic events of the Great Patriotic War. Practically all the artists served at the front or were war children.

For example, Freedom!, painted in 1962, reflects the personal experience
of Evsey Moiseenko, a master of the Leningrad school of painting who
volunteered to serve at the front, but was captured and then survived
three-and-a-half years in concentration camps.

Ivan Penteshin, who painted The Defence of Leningrad, miraculously survived the siege of Leningrad

The diptych "The Deserter" ...

... and "The Laundress" ...

plus "The Reunion" by Gely Korzhev portray the war as a personal event in an individual’s
life; a national tragedy is seen through the prism of a personal drama.

Visitors will see miniature copies by the sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich of his monuments The Motherland Calls and Soldier with Little Girl.

The bronze "The Motherland Calls" is a copy of the monument erected on
Mamayev Kurgan in memory of the Battle of Stalingrad, one of the bloodiest
battles in the Second World War, which marked the first global defeat of the
Nazis and the first step towards the long-awaited victory.

"Soldier with Little Girl" is a model of the central feature in the monument
to the heroes of the Soviet Army which is located in the Treptow Park
memorial complex in Berlin.

The originals of the works to be featured in the video broadcast are on display in London in the “Exploring the legacy of World War II in Russian Art” exhibition. The opening of this exhibition on 12 March 2016 at the Saatchi Gallery was a significant event in the cultural life of the British capital. The ceremony was honoured by the attendance of heroes of the Second World War – British veterans of the Arctic convoys.

Alexander Yakovenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who opened the exhibition, noted that it was very significant that these pictures would be displayed in the broadcast of the FIDE Women’s World Championship.

The exhibition had 3,779 visitors in its first three days.

Full pairings bracket (very large)

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Craig Machine Craig Machine 3/21/2015 09:11
Hey Paul, good points despite the facts interfering with your logic. Judith didn't play in the Women's WC because she would just embarrass herself and her colleagues by either winning or losing. Her sister Susan and no qualms with such a matter and even won the WC by participating. She refuse to defend her title because of that idiot FIDE president forcing matters, but nonetheless Women's WC is just a poor excuse for lonely men who play chess to oogle their fantasies. As for the women players, as always, take advantage of the situation and try to make fame and money in the process.
hpaul hpaul 3/18/2015 06:22
The whole idea of a "women's world championship" needs review. It seems to have as much relevance as a "left-handers' world championship" or a "gay world championship." What is the point of a gender-restricted championship, or of gender-restricted tournaments? There are no "men only" tournaments! In the U.S. and in western Europe, "women only" tournaments and special women's prizes had just about disappeared in the 1970's, in recognition of gender equality. Just like other competitions where physical difference is not an issue, such as pistol shooting, horse racing and dressage, motor racing, bridge, sailing, and many others, chess in the west moved away from gender separation. But with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his eastern-oriented tradition, where women are far from equal, the separation of the sexes have again become commonplace in international chess. Women, who are treated as a lower form of chess player, have their own championship!

There is no good reason for this. A 2400-rated player is exactly that, no matter the player's sex. She/he is a good player, but not yet world class. If you're a male 2400-player, you'll never be mentioned on this site; if you're female, you'll be treated as a star!

The unmentioned reason for the women's trophies and championships is the patronizing idea that women really can't be expected to compete on an equal footing with men, so let's give them their own championship. What rot! I'm an 1800 player, and I've lost to plenty of women with higher ratings. They've been a little better than me. On the other hand, I've beaten lots of male and female players with lower ratings. My point is that it's the player's skill, not his/her sex, that should matter. It's time to drop the sexual distinctions in chess, and play all against all. Judith Polgar recognized this many decades ago, and refused to play in "women's chess". It would be good to see all women follow her lead, to defy Kirsan and his tradition of male superiority, and refuse to take part in sex-restricted tournaments.
nekog1 nekog1 3/18/2015 12:11
thanks for pictures and photo. time to recall...
ChiliBean ChiliBean 3/17/2015 06:41
Looks like only Irina Krush is going to survive to round 2 out of the 3 Americans. Oh well.
idratherplay960 idratherplay960 3/17/2015 05:58
During an interview at Gibraltar Yifan was more than gracious regarding FIDE's scheduling of this event and I hope it is a sign of her choosing to move past women's events for good. She is close to the 2700 mark and if she continues playing strong opens and keeps getting invited to some more prestigous events I believe she can enter the top 40 by next year if not sooner. I wish her all the best in Hawaii.
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 3/17/2015 10:27
See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.
Van Phanel Van Phanel 3/17/2015 09:27
Seriously? Not even a single critical word about the way this happened?