Top female players battle at the Women’s Speed Chess Championship

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/25/2021 – The 2021 Women’s Speed Chess Championship has reached its final stages. While Kateryna Lagno already made it into the semis after beating Nana Dzagnidze, six more players, including the likes of Hou Yifan and Anna Muzychuk, are set to play their quarterfinal matches on Friday and Monday. The semifinals are scheduled to take place on July 1-2 while the final match will be played on Saturday, July 3.

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Assaubayeva knocks out Humpy

The International Chess Federation partnered with to organize the 2021 Women’s Speed Chess Championship. An online event featuring blitz and bullet chess intends to give all female titled players a chance to fight for their share of a total prize fund of $66,000. The tournament kicked off on May 28 and will come to an end next Saturday, July 3.

Eight qualifier events — with a two-stage format (a Swiss tournament plus a playoff) — were played between May 28 and June 6. One player from each qualifier moved on to the knockout stage, in which they joined eight invited stars from the women’s circuit.

See the full bracket below

A big surprise was already seen in the round-of-16, as 17-year-old Bibisara Assaubayeva eliminated Humpy Koneru by a commanding 14½-7½ score. The Khazakhstani IM is the youngest player in the main event, and she made it into the knockout by winning the third qualifier event on May 30.

Bibisara Assaubayeva

Bibisara Assaubayeva in 2018 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

As the name of the event states, speed is a key factor in the online tournament. The matches for the round-of-16, quarterfinals, and semifinals  consist of three segments:

  • A 75-minute segment with a 5|1 time control
  • A 45-minute segment with a 3|1 time control
  • A 25-minute segment with a 1|1 time control

Matches for the final of the main event will consist of three longer segments:

  • A 90-minute segment with a 5|1 time control
  • A 60-minute segment with a 3|1 time control
  • A 30-minute segment with a 1|1 second per move.

Women's Speed Chess Championship 2021

In case of a tie, bullet games and a potential Armageddon decide the winner of the match

Assaubayeva will not have it easy in the quarterfinals, as beating the third highest-rated woman player in the world gained her the right to face none other than Hou Yifan, ranked first in the women’s ranking by quite a margin.

Hou also got a clear victory in the round-of-16, as she beat Azerbaijani IM Gulnar Mammadova by a 15-6 score. In the 5+1 section, Hou won a fine game with white out of a French Defence. 


White is ready to break through — 22.Rxg7 and Black cannot capture the rook due to Bxh6. After 22...Rh8, Hou rerouted her bishop with 23.Bc1 Rb6 24.Ba3. The conversion was easy for White after 24...Qb7


25.Bxe7+ Kxe7 26.Ng6+, forking king and rook, and Black is doomed.

The Chinese star, who will play at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid starting Saturday, confessed:

To be honest, I was busy with my job in the university and also some other projects going on. I am not particularly training myself and not playing too often. It’s a great pleasure to be back!

The first quarterfinal match was played on Thursday, with Kateryna Lagno beating Nana Dzagnidze by a 14-8 score.

Women's Speed Chess Championship 2021

Click to enlarge

The remaining three matches of the quarterfinals will be played on Friday and Monday.


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.


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