WWch Rd1 tiebreaks: Watch the clock!

by Albert Silver
3/20/2015 – It was a tense day for the players and thrilling for the spectators as 22 players fought for their lives in the tournament. Heart-wrenching for Argentina who saw two heroic players fall under the tiebreak sword, while Germany's Elizabeth Paetz also failed to make the cut. In the Armageddon, both Goryachkina and Kosintseva won their games on time. Report, pictures and more!

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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 moves 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.

Round one - tiebreaks

The tie-breaks of the Women's World Chess Championship were played in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 19. 11 pairs of players who tied their first round matches 1-1 came today to find out who advances to the next round.

The tiebreaks were thrilling and tense

The day started with two-game matches played at 25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. Two of them ended with perfect 2-0 scores – Zhao Xue (China) defeated M. Zuriel (Argentina), and S. Melia (Georgia) defeated I. Sukandar (Indonesia).

When one terrible mistake changes the tide

A true chess tragedy occurred in Daulyte (Lithuania) – Socko (Poland). The Lithuanian player won the first game and achieved a huge advantage in the second one. In mutual time trouble Daulyte had a mate in one on the board to advance to the next round, however, she hung her queen instead and resigned immediately.

Daulyte - Socko

All White needed to play was 57.b6 mate! Instead she played 57.Qa5+??

This devastating blow swung the momentum completely, and Socko dominated in the following mini match, winning it 2-0.

Ju, Wenjun - Wafa, Shrook

Tactics abound in rapid and blitz. Ju Wenjun dispatched her opponent with
this shot. White to play and win.

Lujan, Carolina - Galliamova, Alisa

Though Argentina sadly lost their two qualifiers in the tiebreaks, they did
not leave without drawing blood of their own. White to play and win.

Marisa Zuriel fought valiantly to take her much higher-rated opponent to the tiebreak, but
succumbed in the end.

Galliamova, Alisa - Lujan, Carolina

It was the former Russian Champion's turn to strike, and strike she did.
White to play and win.

The two closest matches extended to blitz games: A. Goryachkina (Russia) – L. Mkrtchian (Armenia) and M. A. Gomes (India) – T. Kosintseva (Russia), but even these could not separate the players thus in both matches the spectators witnessed the ultimate game – an Armageddon. In this final breaker of ties White gets five minutes, while Black only gets four but a draw counts as a win for Black.

Goryachkina and Gomes won the drawing of lots and both picked White. Goryachkina obtained an advantage in the opening, piled up the pressure and won convincingly. Kosintseva got a very good position as Black, but then either blundered or unsuccessfully sacrificed a piece, not getting much compensation for the lost material. However, the Russian kept fighting, and eventually won on time in a hopeless position.

The last handshake of the last game. with ten seconds left on her clock, Tatiana Kosintseva
flagged her opponent in a dead lost position

Interview with Alexandra Goryachkina

After the final games of the day, press officer Anastasia Karlovich interviewed young Alexandra Goryachkina, playing her first Women World Championship.

Anastasia Karlovich: Please welcome Alexandra Goryachkina, the Russian player who just won the match with Lilit Mkrtchian. Alexandra, this is you first World Championship, what are your impressions?

Alexandra Goryachkina: Yes, this is my first Women's World Championship. I am very impressed of course. My goal was to win at least one match, and I achieved it. Perhaps I will keep moving forward.

The full interview conducted in its original Russian
AK - This was quite a hard match, you even had to play an Armageddon. What was the most difficult part?

AG - We were equal in classical games. Maybe I had some chances in the first game, but definitely not in the second one. As the time control was getting shorter, my confidence grew. However, I just could not hold as Black at all, no matter how well I played in the opening.

Losing the first blitz game was a heavy blow for me. I have a big problem with making comebacks – basically, I simply cannot come back after losing a game. However, here I somehow managed to equalize the score, with the opponent's help, of course. At some point I was a pawn down and resigned myself to losing the match, however, I got lucky again. Another lucky moment occurred during the drawing of lots in the Armageddon. My opponent had to choose the color, and she took Black. I had Black once in such situation, and it is very unpleasant, I tell you. White rules!

AK - The game itself went very easy for you – you never had a worse position. What did you feel during the game?

AG - I never had a worse position for sure, but the main factor was a very poor time management by my opponent. By the move 20 she already had almost no time left, while I had over three minutes. I even thought it didn't matter what moves I made, since I would simply flag her no matter what.

On the video feed, one could see the incomprehensible unfold. In an Armageddon game
with no increment before the 61st move, Black simply let her time run out.

AK - Who is your next opponent? Have you met her before?

AG - Anna Muzychuk. We played only once and it was a rapid game a very long time ago. Strangely, I won.

Solutions to positions:

[Event "WCh Women 2015"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2015.03.18"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Ju, Wenjun"] [Black "Wafa, Shrook"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E09"] [WhiteElo "2557"] [BlackElo "2058"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2bRnrk1/1rq2pp1/2N1p3/1pQ4p/8/6PP/PP3PB1/3R2K1 w - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2015.03.17"] 26. Rxc8 $1 Qxc8 27. Ne7+ 1-0 [Event "WCh Women 2015"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2015.03.19"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Lujan, Carolina"] [Black "Galliamova, Alisa"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B44"] [WhiteElo "2349"] [BlackElo "2484"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/r5k1/3pB2p/4p1bP/4P3/5QPK/pqP2P2/R7 w - - 0 54"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2015.03.17"] 54. Rxa2 $1 Qb7 (54... Rxa2 55. Qf7+ Kh8 56. Qg8#) 55. Rxa7 Qxa7 56. Qf5 Qb8 57. Qg6+ Kh8 58. Qf7 Qd8 59. c4 Bf6 60. f4 exf4 61. gxf4 Bg7 62. Bf5 Qb8 1-0 [Event "WCh Women 2015"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2015.03.19"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Galliamova, Alisa"] [Black "Lujan, Carolina"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A46"] [WhiteElo "2484"] [BlackElo "2349"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4k2r/p3qp1p/4p3/5pNQ/Pp4r1/1Pb3P1/2P2P1P/3R1RK1 w k - 0 24"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2015.03.17"] 24. Nxf7 $1 Qxf7 25. Rd8+ $1 Ke7 26. Rd7+ $1 {winning the queen.} Kxd7 27. Qxf7+ Kd6 28. Qxa7 Rd4 29. a5 {The pawn means Black will not be able to muster any defense or counterplay.} 1-0

Round one tiebreaks

Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Zhao, Xue 2527 1 1           2
Zuriel, Marisa 2219 0 0           0
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Yuan, Yuanling 2257 0 ½           0.5
Muzychuk, Marya 2526 1 ½           1.5
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Lujan, Carolina 2349 1 0 0 ½       1.5
Galliamova, Alisa 2484 0 1 1 ½       2.5
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Gomes, Mary Ann 2354 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 3
Kosintseva, Tatiana 2483 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 4
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Guramishvili, S 2367 ½ ½ 1 ½       2.5
Javakhisvili, L 2481 ½ ½ 0 ½       1.5
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Paehtz, Elisabeth 2479 ½ ½ 0 0       1
Arabidze, Meri 2374 ½ ½ 1 1       3
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Huang, Qian 2473 ½ 1           1.5
Kovanova, Baira 2381 ½ 0           0.5
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Socko, Monika 2463 0 1 1 1       3
Daulyte, Deimante 2395 1 0 0 0       1
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Melia, Salome 2459 1 1           2
Sukander, Inne Kharisma 2415 0 0           0
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Shen Yang 2459 ½ 1           1.5
Kashlisnskaya, Alina 2436 ½ 0           0.5
Player Rtg G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2456 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 4
Mkrtchian, Lilit 2443 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 3


Round 1 - 64 players
March 17 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 18 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 19 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 2 - 32 players
March 20 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 21 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 22 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 3 - 16 players
March 23 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 24 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 25 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 4 - 8 players
March 26 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 27 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 28 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 5 - 4 players
March 29 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 30 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 31 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Rest day - April, 1
Round 6 - 2 players
April 2 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
April 3 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
April 4 Game 3 3:00 p.m. local time
April 5 Game 4 3:00 p.m. local time
April 6 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
April 7 Closing Ceremony*  
*Closing Ceremony can be shifted to
April 6 in the absence of tie breaks

Report by Albert Silver and Eteri Kublashvili
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili and Vladimir Barsky


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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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