WWch Rd3 tiebreaks: Nervy and dramatic

by Albert Silver
3/26/2015 – Six players returned to the SCC Galactica to find out who would advance to the quarterfinals, with only three tickets into the last eight. For the Russians, it was a very nervous affair since two of them were Russian, and elimination of the two would mean that was that. There are no easy matches left, and it showed as the games were nervy and dramatic.

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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), as well as other leading grandmasters. Unfortunately, the reigning champion Hou Yifan was unable to come for personal reasons, but as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix she will still be able to challenge the new champion to a match.

The first five rounds consist of mini-matches of two games played at 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment per move. The final match will consist of four games.

In the event of a tie, the winner will be determined by a series of tiebreak games: two rapid games of 25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. If the score remains equal, the players then proceed to two more games played at 10 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. If the score continues tied a final mini-match will be played of two blitz games of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds per move. Finally, an Armageddon game will be played to decide the winner in which White has five minutes and Black has four minutes, with a three-second increment per move after move 61. Black will be declared the victor if the game is drawn.

Round three - tiebreaks

In the first rapid game Marie Sebag (France) and Natalia Pogonina (Russia) repeated the line that occurred in the Carlsen-Anand World Championship match (Sochi 2014). Pogonina improved Anand's play and got a comfortable position. Sebag continued playing aggressively, allowing the opponent to seize control of the d-file. As described by Pogonina, "She understandably tried hard for a win, but blundered badly when she was very short on time."

France's Marie Sebag (right) came with a will to win, but her nerves betrayed her in the end

The return game was a wild one in which Marie even had a few chances to win, but desperately short of time, the players erred understandably, and in the end luck was on Pogonina's side as Sebag overstepped her time in a lost position.

Alexandra Kosteniuk was one of the final two Russians left in the competition

Harika Dronavalli (India) played a quiet opening against Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia) in their first game, aiming at a complex middlegame, but nothing came of it until the end when Kosteniuk blundered a pawn in a rook ending, after which Dronavalli did not squander her chance.

In spite of the Zen-like posture, shoes off and legs tucked under her, Harika was not quite so calm

In the second game Harika equalized in the opening and even won a pawn. However, Alexandra managed to keep the game alive, and her persistence paid off as her Indian opponent lost control of the position and suddenly it was not so clear, and then at move 61...

Kosteniuk - Dronavalli

In this position, Black just took a pawn on g2. White played 61.Re6+ a terrible
blunder as it condemns the result to a draw. Instead, the body check 61.Ke5!
would have won the game, and forced the tiebreak into a second mini-match.

To be fair, it was a rapid game and both players were extremely short of time. White missed her chance, and Dronavalli thus advanced to the quarterfinals.

Georgian Meri Arabidze was the slightly unexpected winner over Victoria Cmilyte, but earned
it deservingly, acknowledged graciously by the Lithuanian

The young Georgian Meri Arabidze showed excellent technique against Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania), defeating her in the first game as she converted a strong centralized rook into a winning endgame. In the return game Cmilyte created massive complications and won a pawn, however, Meri showed great tenacity and held the draw, securing her spot into the Last Eight.

During the event, activities, seminars, and more are organized to promote the game

Anastasia Karlovich holding a princess in her arms

Vladimir Barsky has been providing photos at the site and for the Russian Chess Federation

Report by Albert Silver and Eteri Kublashvili
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili, Anastasia Karlovich, and Vladimir Barsky

Round 3 pairings / results

Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Koneru, Humpy IND 2581 1 1               2
Galliamova, Alisa RUS 2484 0               0
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Sebag, Marie FRA 2482 1 0  0 0            1
Pogonina, Natalia RUS 2456 0 1           3
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Muzychuk, Anna UKR 2552 ½ 1                1.5
Javakhishvili, Lela GEO 2481 ½               0.5
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Arabidze, Meri GEO 2374 ½ ½  1 ½           2.5
Cmilyte, Vktorija LTU 2530 ½ ½  ½           1.5
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Kosteniuk, Alexandra RUS 2529 0  1 0  ½           1.5
Harika, Dronavalli IND 2492 1  0 ½           2.5
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Cramling, Pia SWE 2495 1 ½                1.5
Gunina, Valentina RUS 2528 0  ½               0.5
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Zhao, Xue CHN 2527 1  ½               1.5
Khotenashvili, Bela GEO 2513 0 ½                0.5
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Stefanova, Antoaneta BUL 2552 0 ½                0.5
Muzychuk, Mariya UKR 2526 1 ½                1.5


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


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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