Start of the Women's World Championship 2018

by André Schulz
11/2/2018 – November is shaping up to be another massive chess month. There are super tournaments starting soon in China and India and of course the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana is now just a week away. But that's not even the only World Championship happening! In Khanty-Mansiysk, the Women's World championship — a knockout with 64 players — gets underway. Among the competitors is the reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun who, if she fails to win, will have had a scant five months with the crown. | Photos: FIDE

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Women in Siberia

From November 3rd to the 23rd, the Women's World Chess Championship will take place in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. It's a knockout system with 64 chess players from 28 countries who qualified in various ways to participate. The total prize fund is USD $450,000.

At the top of the seeding list are reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun (2568, China), former World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk (2543, Russia), Mariya Muzychuk (2545, Ukraine), Tan Zhongyi (2513, China), Antoaneta Stefanova (2490, Bulgaria ) and Anna Ushenina (2440, Ukraine), as well as top players like Humpy Koneru (2548, India), Kateryna Lagno (2556, Russia), Anna Muzychuk (2564, Ukraine), Aleksandra Goryachkina (2534, Russia), Valentina Gunina (2497, Russia).

Of the Top 20 players in the world, only number one Hou Yifan, and number 20 Marie Sebag are missing. Hou is in the midst of her first term as a student at Oxford University. Sebag previously played in the 2012 knockout tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Stefanova.

The tournament will be held in the now-familiar (though still impressive) Ugra Chess Academy.

Ugra Chess Academy

Ugra Chess Academy

There are six knockout rounds, with two classical games played per match per round. The final match will be played over four classical games. If no winner is determined after the classical games, rapid and, if necessary, blitz games follow. The final winner receives the title of Women's World Champion.

The opening ceremony takes place in the "Ugra-Classic" theatre and concert hall. Guests of honor at the opening ceremony will be, among others, Natalia Komarova, Governor of the Ugra district, and FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich.

Speaking of Dvorkovich, this may be the last time we see the KO format determine the World Champion among women in part because, at the suggestion of the new FIDE President, the regulations now call for the next World Championship cycle to include a Candidates Tournament making the KO tournament more like the larger bi-annual World Cup — the semi-finalists (except the new World Champion) will qualify in the upcoming 2019-20 cycle. 

Khanty-Mansiysk

Khanty-Mansysk

Schedule

  • November 2: Opening ceremony
  • November 3-5: Round 1
  • November 6-8: Round 2
  • November 9-11: Round 3
  • November 12-14: Round 4 (quarterfinals)
  • November 15-17: Round 5 (semifinals) 
  • November 18: Rest day 
  • November 19-23: Round 6 (final) 
  • November 23: Closing ceremony

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.

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