Archive for March, 2015

VMCG-Schachfestival to take place in Lueneburg

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015


The VMCG Chess Festival is scheduled to take place from 15-23rd August, 2015, in Lueneburg, a town in the German state of Lower Saxony.

The venue of play is the 4-Star Seminaris Hotel****, Soltauer Stra?e 3, 21335 L?neburg, while the main tournament sponsor is VMCG (Vanhoff Management Consulting AG).

The event will be split into three tournaments:
- Open A – open to all players
- Open B – open to all players rated 1200-1800
- Open C – open o all layers rated below 1400 (in case the participants are less than 15, they will join Open B and special prizes for those players will be provided)

Open A is a 9-round Swiss tournament with tempo of play 90?/ 40 + 30? + 30? and prize fund in total of nearly 4,600€.

The players will have free access to many beverages during the rounds. Water, coffee, espresso and capuccino will be kindly provided by the organizers and a lot of side events will be organized.

Starting fee:
Normal: 65€
Juniors (1996 or younger): 50€ (for both open tournaments)
Participation at two tournaments: 40€ for one of the tournaments, 65€ for the other
Players staying in Seminaris: 40€ for one of the tournaments, 65€ for the other
GM/IM/ Girls and Women play for free!

Accommodation:
The organizers provide special conditions for the guests of Seminaris Hotel (Booking via organisers) as follows:
Single room B & B: 76€ (instead of 114€)
Double room B & B: 55,50 (instead of 72€)
Family room (B & B for 3 persons): 49€ (instead of 60€)
All the prices are per person per night.

Bank account:
Carlstedt & Becker GbR
IBAN: DE66 2406 0300 8523 8791 00
BIC: GENODEF1NBU

Contacts:
IM Jonathan Carlstedt: 0176/48350910
Martin Becker 0151/12756011
E-Mail: info@vmcg-schachfestival.de.de

Tournament website

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar

Source: Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information

Pogonina and M.Muzychuk set for final match of 2015 FIDE World Chess Championship

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The tie-breaks of the FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship Semifinals were played in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 31.

The matches Pia Cramling (Sweden) – Natalia Pogonina (Russia) and Harika Dronavalli (India) – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) continued with quicker time controls following 1-1 draws after the first two classical games.

In their first 25-minute game Cramling and Pogonina continued the theoretical discussion in the Queen’s Gambit started in the first classical game. The Swedish player was first to deviate and got a slightly better game. Later, however, Cramling hesitated and gave Pogonina time to rearrange pieces. Realizing that she is losing the initiative, Cramling forced a draw by move repetition.

Pia Cramling and Natalija Pogonina

Pia Cramling and Natalija Pogonina

In the second rapid game the players once again repeated their classical match opening – the Paulsen variation of the Sicilian defense. Pogonina placed her pieces of ideal squares and took complete control in the center. Around the 40th move she started a direct attack on the black king and could win by force, but missed the winning continuation.

The game extended considerably, and only on the 116th move Natalia broke the resistance of her tenacious opponent. The Russian won 1.5-0.5 on tie-break and advanced to the final match.

Harika Dronavalli and Mariya Muzychuk exchanged blows in rapid games, both winning with Black pieces. The first game saw wild complications. Harika, playing White, sacrificed a rook and created a strong attack, but in the time trouble did not find the winning maneuver. Mariya found the defense, parried all White’s threats and kept the decisive material advantage.

The return game was very stressful and erratic. First Black made a mistake and lost a pawn, then White returned the favor, allowing her opponent to create dangerous counterplay. The Indian developed powerful piece activity and tied the score in a sharp game.

Mariya Muzychuk and Harika Dronavalli

Mariya Muzychuk and Harika Dronavalli

The first 10-minute game was probably a key to the match. Dronavalli outplayed her opponent and transposed to a queen ending with two extra pawns, which was completely winning for White. However, her timing of the queen exchange was extremely unfortunate, as the resulting pawn ending turned out to be drawn. This lucky draw clearly inspired Muzychuk.

The Ukrainian handled the next game with great confidence and won convincingly, securing her seat in the final.

Replay games with analysis

April 1 is a rest day. The final match between Natalia Pogonina (Russia) and Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) begins on April 2 at 3 pm Moscow time. The Russian has White in the first game.

The final match consists of four games with 90 minutes per 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 bonus seconds added after each move. If the match is tied 2-2, it will be continued on tie-break.

Live stream with grandmaster commentary is available in two languages (Russian and English) on the official site of the championship (http://sochi2015.fide.com) and the Russian Chess Federation website (http://ruchess.ru/).

Photos by V. Barsky, E. Kublashvili and N.Karlovich

Chessdom

6 players from Webster University Final Four Championship team turn pro

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015


Big changes for Webster University Final Four Championship team

by PT (Director of Marketing & PR for SPICE)

After Webster University won the third straight College Chess Final Four Championship by an overwhelming margin, major opportunities opened up for members of this historic team. Within 24 hours after bringing back to St. Louis the President’s Cup, a major fitness company located in Chicago made a serious 7 digit offer to the entire squad. The deal is supposed to be finalized within the next week or so.

It is expected to be a 3 year contract with the players’ option for the 4th year. Each member of the team will receive approximately 250,000 per year plus substantial bonuses to be the company’s official spokespersons.

“We are all very excited about this incredible opportunity to turn pro. We are all so much into chess and fitness. This is simply perfect!”, said GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez, a computer major junior. “My former teammate Wesley So made millions turning pro after being victorious at Millionaire Chess. Winning the Final Four for the 3rd consecutive time also opened new opportunities for other team members as well”, added GM Corrales.

Susan Polgar, head coach of the Webster University championship team, is very happy for her players. “We wish the entire team the best of luck. It is hard to fill the shoes of GMs Le, Robson, Nyzhnyk, Durarbayli, Corrales, and Diamant. But we will have new 2600+ freshmen coming in next year to try to go for a 4-peat.”

It is very exciting times for Webster chess. Stay tuned for further developments.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar

Source: Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information

Pia Cramling: I would love if the championship would be held every year

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Pia Cramling was eliminated in the semifinal of the FIDE Women’s World Championship, but is still happy with her overall performance and the choice of the venue.

With emotions still running high minutes after finishing the tie-break, Pia started talking about the games even before we had a chance to start the recorder.

Pia Cramling: You know, in the first game I made some mistake, and the position immediately became equal. Maybe when she played 9…b6, I should not take on d5, this was my mistake.

Pia Cramling

Pia Cramling

Goran Urosevic: Maybe e4 was very ambitious?

Pia Cramling: Perhaps, I don’t know. But it’s possible to play 9.e4. Just 9…b6 I have not seen before. So she surprised me and I made mistake.

Then in the second game somehow I didn’t have harmony with my pieces. But at one moment, I thought it was completely fine for me. At one point I played 40…b5, but I don’t think I should play that. She went 40.Re1. This position was playable for me. But I played 40…b5… The problem was the time. It was difficult position plus I had much less time. I don’t know how I survived, because it was completely lost. But then she had this time trouble as well and made some mistakes too.

Then it was I guess a draw ending! I was so tired and did not have a control. It was a tricky position as well. When you keep the rooks… And I blundered the g5-pawn, which of course I am not allowed to blunder. If I could have managed to keep that pawn, it would have been another story.

Natalija Pogonina and Pia Cramling

Natalija Pogonina and Pia Cramling

Goran Urosevic: During the championship you eliminated some very strong players: Gunina, Muzychuk, and you went to the semifinals. What is your overall evaluation of your performance here?

Pia Cramling: You know, I am very happy. I did all my best now. Last time I went to the semifinals too and lost in the first game. I am very happy before each next match, happy that I can continue playing.

I am really happy that I got a chance to play against Gunina, Anna Muzychuk. Now I qualified to play FIDE Grand Prix. This makes me very happy. It was my dream.

A.Muzychuk and Cramling

Anna Muzychuk and Pia Cramling

Goran Urosevic: This is great. Congratulations. At one of the press conferences you said that in order to become the world champion you still have to eliminate some of your weaknesses. Can you say about your weaknesses, basing on these games?

Pia Cramling: I simply did not have energy. I did not play the right moves in critical moments. Today I was simply tired. I can see that… when I played match against Anna, for instance, I was in a better shape. And all this tension… And Natalia plays very strong. She plays solid chess and doesn’t make big mistakes. To have had a chance I really had to be in better shape.

Goran Urosevic: How do you feel after two weeks in Sochi?

Pia Cramling: I am very tired. I am just very happy to go home now. I would like to mention that it has been a very well organized championship. I would love if it would be held every year.

But I understand that it is very difficult to find sponsors. The format is also nice, of course if you are not knocked out in the first round. In other words, the format is good for the media.

Goran Urosevic: Thank you so much, Pia, and good luck in future games.

Photos by V. Barsky, E. Kublashvili and N.Karlovich

Chessdom

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

This is the third year in a row the team has taken the top spot

ST. LOUIS (MARCH 30, 2015) – Webster University’s chess team won its third straight College Chess Final Four championship over the weekend. The Webster University’s championship team is undefeated in all college chess matches for three years in a row.

The win also set a new record for Coach Susan Polgar. This is the first time that a coach has headed five consecutive winning teams – three as the coach at Webster University and two as the coach at Texas Tech. She also is the first female coach to lead any men’s college team to five straight national championships.

“I am proud of the Webster University students who are able to compete on the national stage,” said President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “Chess is a global game and it’s fitting that the three-time champions represent a global university.”

This year’s president’s cup challenge was held in New York City. Also known as the “Final Four of Chess,” Webster University was the #1 seed going in to the competition, a ranking the team has had for three straight years. In order to qualify, Webster had to place in the top four of the annual Pan Am Challenge college chess tournament. Webster’s team has won that championship three years in a row.

Playing for Webster in the Final Four were Liem Le, Ray Robson, Illia Nyzhnyk, Vasif Durarbayli, Fidel Corrales Jimenez (first alternate) and Andre Diamant (second alternate). With the exception of Andre, all have been students at Webster since their freshman year. They faced teams from Texas Tech, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and University of Texas in Dallas.

This year was the strongest finish for Webster University’s team out of the past three championships. Collectively the team earned 10 points out of the 12 games played. Teams receive one point for each win, one-half point for a draw and no points for a loss. Webster had nine wins, four draws and no losses, giving the team 4.5 points more than UT Dallas, the second highest scoring team in the tournament. This is the largest point spread in Webster University’s history for the President’s Cup.

“I am so proud of the students,” Coach Polgar said. “The starting squad of two freshmen and two sophomores, with the assistance from their teammates, trained very hard for the past three months. Not only they won but they shattered a number of previous Final Four records. This is truly a team effort.”

She added that President Stroble visited the team the day before the competition, which boosted the students’ confidence. For more information about Webster University’s chess team, visit http://www.webster.edu/spice/chess-team/.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional campuses in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar

Source: Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information

Natalija Pogonina, Mariya Muzychuk Reach Women’s World Championship Final

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

A thrilling playoff on Tuesday decided that the final of the Women’s World Championship in Sochi will be played between WGM Natalija Pogonina and IM Mariya Muzychuk.
Photo Eteri Kublashvili.
If we follow their titles, GM Harika Drona…

Source: Chess.com – Play. Learn. Share.

Webster Wins 3rd Straight Final Four Title

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

For the third time in a row Webster University won the Final Four College of Chess. It was held March 28-29 in New York. 
The winning team included GM Le Quang Liem, GM Ray Robson, GM Ilia Nyzhnyk and GM Vasif Durar…

Source: Chess.com – Play. Learn. Share.

Women’s World Championship 2015: Round 5 Tie-breaks

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

 MG 4985

Natalia Pogonina (Russia) and Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) will meet in the final match of the World Chess Championship in Sochi

The tie-breaks of the Women’s World Chess Championship Semifinals were played in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 31. The matches Pia Cramling (Sweden) – Natalia Pogonina (Russia) and Harika Dronavalli (India) – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) continued with quicker time controls following 1-1 draws after the first two games.

In their first 25-minute game Cramling and Pogonina continued the theoretical discussion in the Queen’s Gambit started in the first classical game. The Swedish player was first to deviate and got a slightly better game. Later, however, Cramling hesitated and gave Pogonina time to rearrange pieces. Realizing that she is losing the initiative, Cramling forced a draw by move repetition.

In the second rapid game the players once again repeated their classical match opening – the Paulsen variation of the Sicilian defense. Pogonina placed her pieces of ideal squares and took complete control in the center. Around the 40th move she started a direct attack on the black king and could win by force, but missed the winning continuation. The game extended considerably, and only on the 116th move Natalia broke the resistance of her tenacious opponent. The Russian won 1.5-0.5 on tie-break and advanced to the final match.

Harika Dronavalli and Mariya Muzychuk exchanged blows in rapid games, both winning with Black pieces. The first game saw wild complications. Harika, playing White, sacrificed a rook and created a strong attack, but in the time trouble did not find the winning maneuver. Mariya found the defense, parried all White’s threats and kept the decisive material advantage. The return game was very stressful and erratic. First Black made a mistake and lost a pawn, then White returned the favor, allowing her opponent to create dangerous counterplay. The Indian developed powerful piece activity and tied the score in a sharp game.

The first 10-minute game was probably a key to the match. Dronavalli outplayed her opponent and transposed to a queen ending with two extra pawns, which was completely winning for White. However, her timing of the queen exchange was extremely unfortunate, as the resulting pawn ending turned out to be drawn. This lucky draw clearly inspired Muzychuk. The Ukrainian handled the next game with great confidence and won convincingly, securing her seat in the final.

April 1 is a rest day. The final match between Natalia Pogonina (Russia) and Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) begins on April 2 at 3 pm Moscow time. The Russian has White in the first game.

The final match consists of four games with 90 minutes per 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 bonus seconds added after each move. If the match is tied 2-2, it will be continued on tie-break.


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The SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) hosted the second games of the Semifinals.

The Russian Natalia Pogonina defeated Pia Cramling (Sweden) as White and equalized the match. The game between Harika Dronavalli (India) and Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) ended in a draw. Both matches are tied, and their outcome will be determined on tie-breaks.

In the recent years, Natalia Pogonina plays 1.d4 more frequently, however, today she needed to win on demand, and went for the more aggressive 1.е4. The players arrived at a very sharp line of the Paulsen variation of the Sicilian. On the move 8 White offered a pawn sacrifice, but Black declined the offer, aiming at a rather cramped but solid position.

In the middlegame Black wasted a couple of tempi for purposeless queen maneuvers, helping White to rearrange her pieces for a direct attack. In addition, Cramling got into the time trouble, and therefore was not defending perfectly. White won a pawn, penetrated the enemy camp with her queen and finished the game with a nice tactical blow on the move 38. Black resigned due to inevitable material losses.

Harika Dronavalli tried to break Mariya Muzychuk’s armor in the Dutch defense. The Indian player arranged her pieces harmoniously and created unpleasant central pressure. However, she failed to use her advantage in the best way. White won a pawn, but the game transposed into a rook ending with four pawns against three, all on the same wing. Dronavalli’s attempts to play for a win were void – Muzychuk defended accurately, and the game ended in a draw.

The tie-breaks are played on March 31 and start with the following games: Cramling (Sweden) – Pogonina (Russia), and Dronavalli (India) – M. Muzychuk (Ukraine). All games start at 3 pm Moscow time.



The Semifinals started at the Women’s World Championship in Sochi

The Semifinal matches of the Women’s World Chess Championship started in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 29. Four players continue competing for the chess crown: Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) faces Harika Dronavalli (India), and Pia Cramling (Sweden) meets Natalia Pogonina (Russia). These matches consist of two games with the following time control: 90 minutes for 40 moves, then 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus 30 bonus seconds after each move. If the match is tied 1-1, it is continued on the tie-break with quicker time controls. 

IMG 5298

Mariya Muzychuk, playing White, selected the Scotch game, the opening she already employed in the previous round against another Indian player Humpy Koneru. Harika Dronavalli responded with a rare variation, and in a couple of moves the players started to explore an unknown territory.

The queens were exchanged, and a complicated ending arose with White having a spatial advantage. In order to complete the development, Black had to trade her bishop for a knight. In an open position with passed pawns on both wings a bishop is generally stronger than a knight, and later White had a chance to obtain a more significant advantage. However, Muzychuk selected a different move, which looked more active, but gave Black serious counterchances. With a timely pawn sacrifice Harika created a strong passed pawn, forcing further simplifications and a draw. 

Photo Gallery / Results

Pia Cramling and Natalia Pogonina went for a popular line of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. White’s slight pressure did not evaporate even after most pieces were exchanged. Black’s position remained passive. Pogonina missed the best moment for trading minor pieces, and later had to do this trade under less favorable circumstances.

The Swedish player patiently improved her position and slowly loosened Black’s defense. Following a well-prepared pawn break in the center, the white king penetrated Black’s camp and secured decisive material gains. Cramling took the lead in the match.

The return games are played on March 30 at 3 pm Moscow time: Dronavalli (India) had White against Muzychuk (Ukraine), and Pogonina (Russia) has White against Cramling (Sweden).


IMG 5228


The pairs of the semifinalists determined at the Women’s World Championship in Sochi

The tie-breaks of the Women’s World Chess Championship were played in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 28. Six players returned to the venue to determine the semifinalists in rapid and blitz games.

Natalia Pogonina (Russia) once again used the Benko gambit against Zhao Xue (China). Yesterday this opening allowed her to come back after the first game loss, today it gave her a comfortable lead on tie-break. Zhao Xue did not prepare any improvement, and Black got a good game. In the subsequent maneuvering struggle White played imprecisely. Black pieces broke into the enemy camp, and Pogonina won a piece with a little combination, securing the match lead.

In the second game Zhao Xue went for a very rare and provocative opening and managed to initiate a complicated and double-edged game. In the middlegame White seemed in danger, but Black hesitated too much, allowing her opponent to launch the decisive counterattack. Pogonina won a pawn and could collect another one, but made a practical decision to force a draw by perpetual, securing her seat in the Semifinals. 

Photo Gallery / Results

Both games between Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) and Humpy Koneru (India) followed the same plot. Koneru outplayed her opponent in the middlegame, but later in the mutual time trouble the Ukrainian used tactical means to completely change the course of the game. The first game was drawn, and in the second one Koneru got a winning advantage, but blundered a powerful tactical shot and had to resign. Muzychuk won the match 1.5-0.5 and advanced to the Semifinals. 

IMG 5215

The match between Pia Cramling (Sweden) and Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) extended to 10-minute games. In rapid games the players exchanged blows, both winning with Black pieces – Cramling won the first game, then Muzychuk made a comeback. Then Cramling won the first 10-minute game and made a draw from the position of strength in the second one, rather unexpectedly eliminating the elder Muzychuk sister from the championship. Curiously, rating favorites went down in all three games of the day.

The Semifinals begin on March 29 with the following games: Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Harika Dronavalli (India), and Pia Cramling (Sweden) – Natalia Pogonina (Russia). Both games begin at 3 pm Moscow time.

As usual, the matches consist of two games with 90 minutes per 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with 30 seconds added after each move. If the score after two games remains equal, the match is continued on the tie-break.


 MG 4669

Round 4 game 2
Harika Dronavalli advances to the Semifinals, six other players go to tie-breaks

The second games of the Women’s World Chess Championship Quarterfinals were played in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 27. Yesterday Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine), playing White, defeated Humpy Koneru (India), Zhao Xue (China) won as Black against Natalia Pogonina (Russia), and two other games were drawn – Pia Cramlin (Sweden) – Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), and Meri Arabidze (Georgia) – Harika Dronavalli (India).

Photo Gallery / Results

Today’s games were extremely tense and all exceeded four hours. Natalia Pogonina finished her game first, winning on demand against Zhao Xue and extending the match to the tie-breaks. Pogonina employed the Benko gambit, which brought her many victories in junior events. Zhao Xue responded with a very solid setup, keeping an extra pawn but giving up the initiative. On the move 23 the Chinese made a serious mistake, which was left unnoticed by her opponent. Nevertheless, Pogonina kept looking for chances and was rewarded – Zhao Xue got into the time trouble, made several mistakes in a row and had to resign.

IMG 5757

The highest rated remaining player Humpy Koneru also managed to avenge her yesterday’s loss. The Indian grandmaster chose a very complicated opening scheme, in which the players castle to opposite flanks. First Mariya Muzychuk maneuvered well, and her position looked more promising. However, in the middlegame Koneru tricked the young opponent, exchanging two rooks for a queen and an important pawn. Utilizing vulnerability of the black king, Koneru slowly shattered Black’s defense and prevailed.

The most experienced remaining player Pia Cramling held an inferior position against Anna Muzychuk for the entire game. The Ukrainian got an opening advantage, then won a pawn, however, Cramling activated her pieces and transposed to a rook ending with good drawing chances. Possibly Muzychuk could create more problems for the opponent, but in the actual game Cramling managed to break to the white pawns with her king, securing a draw. This match will also continue on the tie-break.

Only Harika Dronavalli advanced to the Semifinals today. Her game with Meri Arabidze proceeded to a quiet rook ending right after the opening. White’s minimal advantage slowly increased, although the position remained rather drawish. However, after five hours of play Arabidze selected a wrong defensive plan in a theoretically drawn ending, and Harika finally broke Black’s resistance.

The tie-breaks are played on March 28 and start with the following games: Zhao Xue (China) – Pogonina (Russia), A. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Carmling (Sweden), M. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Koneru (India). All games begin at 3 pm Moscow time.


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Round 4 Game 1

The Quarterfinals begin at the Women’s World Championship

The fourth round of the Women’s World Chess Championship started in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 26. Eight players continue their quest for the chess crown – Humpy Koneru and Harika Dronavalli (both from India), sisters Anna and Mariya Muzychuk (both from Ukraine), Zhao Xue (China), Natalia Pogonina (Russia), Meri Arabidze (Georgia), and Pia Cramling (Sweden). They are to play short two-game matches with the following time control: 90 minutes for 40 moves, then 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus 30 bonus seconds after each move. If the match is tied 1-1, it is continued on the tie-break with quicker time controls.

Photo Gallery / Results

Arabidze and Dronavalli were first to finish their game. The Georgian, playing White, employed an aggressive setup in the Queen’s Gambit Declined and obtained a promising position with attacking chances. Harika decided to test the ambition and fighting spirit of her opponent by offering a draw after the move 15. After some thought Arabidze accepted the offer.

IMG 5077

Mariya Muzychuk defeated the highest rated player of the tournament Humpy Koneru in a spectacular fashion. Prior to this game Koneru won six games out of six. Today she played Black, equalized rather easily and soon seized the initiative on the queenside. She then managed to win a pawn, but Muzychuk in turn created some threats to the black king. Humpy carelessly moved her knight away from the action, and then missed a powerful tactical blow. Mariya carried out a swift attack and earned a big victory.

Anna Muzychuk, playing Black against Pia Cramling, patiently defended a slightly worse position with an isolated pawn. On the move 21 she offered a pawn sacrifice, aiming at pieces activity. Cramling declined the offer, but missed a stronger reply that could create Black serious problems. After the move in the game Muzychuk got sufficient counterplay; the position became balanced, and soon the players agreed to a draw.

The game between Natalia Pogonina and Zhao Xue was the longest of the day. The position after the opening was about even, but White overestimated her chances, aiming at the kingside attack. After Black’s central punch Pogonina had to switch to defending. She did not defend perfectly – first White lost a pawn and then traded the rooks, transposing to an opposite-colored bishops ending that turned out won for Black. Zhao Xue calmly proceeded to winning the game.

The return games are played on March 27. We will see the following match-ups: Koneru-M.Muzychuk, Dronavalli-Arabidze, Zhao Xue-Pogonina, and A.Muzychuk-Cramling. All games start at 3 pm Moscow time.


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The third round of the World Championship in Sochi is in the books

The tie-breaks of the third round of the Women’s World Chess Championship were played in Sochi on March 25. Six players returned to the SCC Galactica to find out who advances to the Quarterfinals.

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. Being under the time pressure, Sebag carelessly opened the center, and Pogonina’s counterattack decided the game.

The return game was very erratic, but in the end luck was on Pogonina’s side, and Sebag overstepped the time limit in a lost position.

Harika Dronavalli (India) played a quiet opening against Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), aiming at the more complex middlegame. Black solved opening problems and got a good game, but then started to act indecisively and gave up the initiative. Nevertheless the position was close to equal until Kosteniuk blundered a pawn in a rook ending. Dronavalli did not miss her chance.

In the second game Harika equalized in the opening and even won a pawn. However, Alexandra managed to complicate things, and after the exchange of tactical shots Harika missed a strong resource of her opponent. Kosteniuk could obtain a big advantage in the rook ending, but chose a wrong move, and Dronavalli saved the game, thus advancing to the Quarterfinals.

The young Georgian Meri Arabidze showed excellent endgame technique against Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania). In the first game Cmilyte, playing White, misplaced her pawns, after which Arabidze broke through on the queenside and soon obtained a winning material advantage. In the return game the Cmilyte created large-scale complications and won a pawn, however, Meri showed tenacity in defense and made a draw with perfect play, securing the match win. 

IMG 4985

The Quarterfinals begin on Thursday, March 26, with the following games: M. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Koneru (India), Arabidze (Georgia) – Dronavalli (India), Pogonina (Russia) – Zhao Xue (China), Cramling (Sweden) – A.Muzychuk (Ukraine). All games begin at 3 pm Moscow time.


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Round 3 Game 2
The second games of the third round finished in Sochi

The return games of the third round matches of the Women’s World Chess Championship were played in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana). Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) became the first Quarterfinalist by beating Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) as Black. Today the Georgian misplayed early in the middlegame, initiating an exchange of queens in highly unfavorable circumstances. She almost immediately lost a pawn and then, shortly, an exchange. Anna Muzychuk converted her advantage easily and won the match.

Her younger sister Mariya Muzychuk also advanced to the next round. Playing Black, she defeated the ex-World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) in the first game, and today was able to hold a draw from the position of strength.

Zhao Xue (China) also won her match 1.5-0.5. Her opponent Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia) needed to win in order to remain in contention, but was very close to losing the second game and only made a lucky draw in the very end. 

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The rating favorite Humpy Koneru (India) defeated Alisa Galliamova (Russia) for the second time. This is Koneru’s sixth win in six games in Sochi.

Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), playing Black, managed to come back against Harika Dronavalli (India). Kosteniuk found an opening variation where White could not force mass simplification and safely make a draw. Slowly Black started to gain the initiative, and Dronavalli’s attempt to create complications was met with calm and accurate defense. Kosteniuk won two pawns, which was sufficient to win the game. Tomorrow the players will continue the match on the tie-break.

Natalia Pogonina (Russia) also succeeded in equalizing the score. She caught her opponent Marie Sebag (France) unprepared in the opening and quickly obtained a big positional advantage as well as an overwhelming advantage on the clock. Sebag defended stubbornly and even managed to simplify to a rook ending without a pawn. This time Pogonina showed an impeccable technique and secured a win. 

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The Russian champion Valentina Gunina failed to come back after losing the first game to Pia Cramling (Sweden). Cramling, playing Black, was defending an inferior position patiently and with precision, despite the mutual time trouble. The game ended in a draw after more than 100 moves.

Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania) kept trying to win a slightly better ending against Meri Arabidze (Georgia), but Arabidze defended with confidence, and their match will also continue on the tie-break.

On Wednesday, March 25 we will have three tie-breaks: Sebag-Pogonina, Cmilyte-Arabidze, and Dronavalli-Kosteniuk; the players listed first have White in the first game.

The tie-breaks begin with 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 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black.

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Round 3 Game 1
The 3rd round of the Women’s World Championship started in Sochi

The 3rd Round of the Women’s World Chess Championship was played in the SCC Galactica on March 23. Only 16 out of 64 participants are remaining in contention for the title.

This was a disastrous day for the four Russian players still competing in Sochi. Alisa Galliamova played Black against the top seed player of the championship Humpy Koneru. After the opening Galliamova started playing very aggressively – she left her king in the center and launched a kingside pawn attack. Koneru replied with a pawn sacrifice, fighting for the initiative. Black did not dare to accept it; soon her attack evaporated, and she was unable to hide king or connect the rooks. Eventually Galliamova was forced to transpose to a very difficult ending. White rooks invaded the 7th rank, and Humpy Koneru prevailed.

Alexandra Kosteniuk played White with another Indian Harika Dronavalli. The early stages of the game were quite favorable for the Russian, as she had Black on the ropes for a long time not allowing any counterplay. The tables began to turn when Kosteniuk allowed her opponent to create a passed pawn on a3. The pawn looked doomed, however, following a serious blunder of White, it turned to a powerhouse. In order to neutralize the pawn, Kosteniuk gave up all her kingside pawns, and the rest was easy for Dronavalli.

Valentina Gunina handled her opening against Pia Cramling very poorly, and already by the move 15 her position was very bad. Gunina’s attempt to complicate the game by sacrificing an exchange failed, as Cramling avoided the traps and won easily. 

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Natalia Pogonina also did not solve the opening problems and was forced to defend a difficult position against Marie Sebag. The French could deliver a decisive tactical blow at some point, but missed the opportunity and lost almost all her advantage. After five hours of play a theoretically drawn rook endgame arose, but Pogonina blundered horribly, and Sebag managed to obtain a victory.

The last remaining representative of China Zhao Xue outplayed Bela Khotenashvili in only a slightly better position. The Georgian player apparently did not regain energy following a nerve-racking tie-break. The ex-World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova missed a nice tactics by Mariya Muzychuk in the middlegame. The Ukrainian seized the initiative and converted her advantage in a lengthy ending.

Only two games were drawn today – A.Muzychuk-Javakhishvili and Arabidze-Cmilyte.

The return games are played tomorrow. All games start at 3 pm Moscow time.


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Round 2 Tie-breaks
Five players advance to the 3rd Round after the tie-breaks

The tie-breaks of the Women’s World Chess Championship in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) were played on March 22. Five pairs of players who drew their 2nd Round matches returned to the venue for the quickplay finish.

The tie-breaks started with an unfortunate incident – the ex-World Champion Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) was a couple of minute late to the start of the clocks, and received a loss by default in accordance with the so-called zero tolerance rule (chess players must be present at the board in the beginning of the round). Ushenina was unable to tie the score, despite having the initiative for the entire game. Marie Sebag gradually neutralized White’s pressure and successfully defended an endgame without a pawn.

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Four out of five winners were determined already after two rapid games (25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move for each player). The Ukrainian Mariya Muzychuk won the opening duel against Monika Socko (Poland) and by the move 15 had an overwhelming position. Monika continued hopeless resistance for a long time, but no miracles happened, and Mariya won the game. In the next game Muzychuk held the balance until move 30, and then capitalized on the opponent’s blunders.

Irina Krush (USA) played a passive game against Harika Dronavalli (India). Dronavalli seized the initiative, went on a full-scale offense all over the board and soon won a pawn without compromising her position. Despite missing several instant wins, the Indian eventually converted her advantage into a point. In the second game Krush had the initiative and a certain advantage, but didn’t have real winning chances, and the game ended in a draw. Dronavalli advanced to the next stage.

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The second rapid game between Inna Gaponenko (Ukraine) and Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) was decisive. In an approximately even ending Gaponenko played too forcefully on the queenside, however she failed to create threats to the enemy king and soon lost two pawns and the game.

The match between Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia) and Huang Qian (China) was completely equal until the blitz games (5 minutes plus 3 seconds per move). Khotenashvili won the first game and won completely lost in the second one. Everybody was getting ready for the Armageddon, when the Chinese player suddenly sacrificed a rook for a pawn, falling a victim to some hallucination. Khotenashvili took the rook and easily stopped Black’s passed pawns, advancing to the next round.

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The third round of the championship begins on March 23. The pairings are: Koneru (India) – Galliamova (Russia), Sebag (France) – Pogonina (Russia), A. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Javakhishvili (Georgia), Arabidze (Georgia) – Cmilyte (Lithuania), Kosteniuk (Russia) – Dronavalli (India), Cramling (Sweden) – Gunina (Russia), Zhao Xue (China) – Khotenashvili (Georgia), Stefanova (Bulgaria) – M. Muzychuk (Ukraine). All games start at 3 pm Moscow time.


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Round 2 Game 2
The second games of the 2nd Round are played at the Women’s World Championship in Sochi

The concluding games of the 2nd Round matches of the Women’s World Chess Championship were played on March 21 at SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana). There was a special guest at the tournament today – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Before the start of the round he came to the playing hall to greet the participants and arbiters, then met the broadcasting team and briefly joined the live stream with Sergey Shipov and Ilya Smirin. Afterwards the Prime Minister examined the exhibition of the RCF Chess Museum brought to the venue from Moscow, and played friendly games with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the chess robot. The FIDE President presented him a chess set produced for the 2014 World Championship Carlsen-Anand match that also took place in Sochi.

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The 12th World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk was the first player to advance to the 3rd Round. Yesterday Kosteniuk defeated the Chinese player Shen Yang, so today she was content with a draw. In a very promising position Alexandra forced a draw by the perpetual check, securing the match victory. The Galliamova-Kosintseva match followed a similar plot: Alisa Galliamova won the first game, then obtained a significant advantage in the second one and offered a draw in a position with an extra pawn, which her opponent accepted.

Valentina Gunina once again defeated another Russian player Olga Girya and advanced to the next round. The top seed of the championship Humpy Koneru (India) also won her match 2-0, beating the Chinese Lei Tingjie. Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania) successfully defended against Ekaterina Kovalevskaya (Russia) and advanced to the 3rd Round thanks to her first game victory. Thus, none of the five players who lost on the first day managed to equalize the score, and all of them were eliminated from the championship.

Other players advancing to the 3rd Round: Natalia Pogonina (Russia) defeated the second seed Ju Wenjun (China), Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) def. Alexandra Goryachkina (Russia), Zhao Xue (China) def. Salome Melia (Georgia), Pia Cramling (Sweden) def. Ketino Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland), Meri Arabidze (Georgia) def. Yanet Marrero Lopez (Cuba), and Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) def. Tan Zhongyi (China).

The rest of the matches were tied, and the players will return tomorrow for the tie-breaks: Socko (Poland) – M. Muzychuk (Ukraine), Stefanova (Bulgaria) – Gaponenko (Ukraine), Krush (USA) – Dronavalli (India), Ushenina (Ukraine) – Sebag (France) and Huang Qian (China) – Khotenashvili (Georgia).

The tie-breaks begin with 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 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black.

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Round 2 Game 1
The second round of the Women’s World Championship started in Sochi

32 participants of the Women’s World Chess Championship returned today to the SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) to play the first games of the second round. 

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In the Russian clash between Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya a quiet opening turned into wild complications after White initiated a risky kingside expansion. Soon Gunina sacrificed a piece, playing in style of Mikhail Tal – her sacrifice might have been unsound, but was very enterprising and led to a very sharp game. Girya did not find the correct response, and Gunina developed a winning attack.

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White also won in the second Russian derby – Alisa Galliamova vs. Tatiana Kosintseva. Galliamova got a small but lasting advantage in the opening, creating pressure against Black’s weak pawns. Kosintseva replied with a pawn sacrifice, aiming at a rook ending with good drawing chances. However, Galliamova countered her plan, kept an extra pawn and carefully converted this advantage into a win.

The ex-World Champion Alexandra Kosteinuk (Russia) defeated Shen Yang (China) with Black pieces. In the middlegame Kosteniuk found a great knight move – that was probably the most beautiful move of the day!Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania), playing with Ekaterina Kovalevskaya (Russia), capitalized on her middlegame mistakes in the sharp Botvinnik variation.

The longest game of the day was Lei Tingjie (China) – Humpy Koneru (India): it took six hours for the rating favorite to finally break the resistance of the young Chinese opponent.

Other games ended peacefully – an unusually high draw percentage for such tournament stage! The following players split the point: M. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Socko (Poland), Gaponenko (Ukraine) – Stefanova (Bulgaria), Arabidze (Georgia) – Marrero Lopez (Cuba), Dronavalli (India) – Krush (USA), Ju Wenjun (China) – Pogonina (Russia), Sebag (France) – Ushenina (Ukraine), Melia (Georgia) – Zhao Xue (China), Khotenashvili (Georgia) – Huang Qian (China), Goryachkina (Russia) – A. Muzychuk (Ukraine), Tan Zhongyi (China) – Javakhishvili (Georgia), Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland) – Cramling (Sweden).

The second games of the second round will be played on Saturday, March 21, starting at 3 pm Moscow time.


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Round 1 Tie-breaks
The first round of the Women’s World Championship ended in Sochi

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.

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The day started with 2-game matches with rapid time control – 25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. Two of them ended with the perfect 2-0 score – Zhao Xue (China) defeated M. Suriel (Argentina), and S. Melia (Georgia) defeated I. Sukandar (Indonesia). Three matches ended 1.5-0.5 – M. Muzychuk (Ukraine) won against Yuan Yuanling (Canada), Shen Yang (China) won against A. Kashlinskaya (Russia), and Huang Qian (China) defeated B. Kovanova (Russia). 

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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 the mutual time trouble Daulyte could deliver a mate in one and advance to the next round, however, she hung her queen instead and resigned immediately. Such a blow changed the momentum completely, and Socko dominated in the next 2-game match, winning it 2-0. The second stage of the tie-breaks (10 minutes plus 10 second per move time control) also gave victories to A. Galliamova (Russia) over C. Lujan (Argentina), L. Javakhishvili (Georgia) over S. Guramishvili (Georgia), and M. Arabidze (Georgia) over E. Paehtz (Germany).

Two closest matches advanced to blitz games: A. Goryachkina (Russia) – L. Mkrtchian (Armenia) and M. A. Gomes (India) – T. Kosintseva (Russia). Their blitz matches also ended in draws 1-1, and in both of them the Russians lost the first games, but won the second ones.

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Thus in both matches the spectators witnessed the ultimate game – a so-called Armageddon (White gets 5 minutes, Black gets 4, bonus 3 seconds are added for each move starting with the 61st, and 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 of a compensation for the lost material. However, the Russian kept fighting, and eventually won on time in a totally hopeless position.

The second round begins on March 20. The pairings: Koneru (India) – Lei Tingjie (China), Galliamova – Kosintseva (both Russia), M. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Socko (Poland), Stefanova (Bulgaria) – Gaponenko (Ukraine), Cmilyte (Lithuania) – Kovalevskaya (Russia), Marrero Lopez (Cuba) – Arabidze (Georgia), Kosteniuk (Russia) – Shen Yang (China), Dronavalli (India) – Krush (USA), Jun Wenjun (China) – Pogonina (Russia), Ushenina (Ukraine) – Sebag (France), Zhao Xue (China) – Melia (Georgia), Khotenashvili (Georgia) – Huang Qian (China), A. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Goryachkina (Russia), Tan Zhongyi (China) – Javakhishvili (Georgia), Gunina – Girya (both Russia), Cramling (Sweden) – Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland). The games start at 3 pm Moscow time.

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Round 1 Game 2
The second games of the first round were played at the Women’s World Chess Championship in Sochi

The second games of the first round were played at the CS Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 18. The top seed players of the event Humpy Koneru (India), Ju Wenjun (China), Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania), Alexandra Kosteniuk, and Valentina Gunina (both – Russia) won their matches and advanced to the second round. They are joined by Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Harika Dronavalli (India), Tan Zhongyi (China), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), Marie Sebag (France), Irina Krush (USA), Olga Girya, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Natalia Pogonina (all – Russia), and Lei Tingjie (China).

The Ukrainian Mariya Muzychuk managed to equalize the score after her first round loss to Yuan Yuanling (Canada). Also Sopiko Guramishvili from Georgia defeated her compatriot Lela Javakhishvili and tied the score 1-1. The biggest upset of the day brought Marisa Zuriel (Argentina), who defeated Zhao Xue (China). All these players will determine the winner of their match on the tie-break.

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The experienced Elina Danielian (Armenia) sensationally lost to Yanet Marrero Lopez (Cuba) and is eliminated from the championship. The ex-European champion Natalia Zhukova (Ukraine) lost as White to her friend and compatriot Inna Gaponenko, and is also eliminated. Hoang Thanh Trang (Hungary) did not manage to equalize the match score against Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland) and will also have to leave Sochi.

The fate of 11 matches that ended in a draw will be determined on the next day, March 19, on the tie-break. It starts with 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 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black. 

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The tie-break pairs: Carolina Lujan (Argentina) – Alisa Galliamova (Russia), Mary Ann Gomes (India) – Tatiana Kosintseva (Russia), Yuan Yuanling (Canada) – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine), Monika Socko (Poland) – Deimante Daulyte (Lithuania), Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany) – Meri Arabidze (Georgia), Shen Yang (China) – Alina Kashlinskaya (Russia), Zhao Xue (China) – Marisa Zuriel (Argentina), Salome Melia (Georgia) – Irine Kharisma Sukandar (Indonesia), Huang Qian (China) – Baira Kovanova (Russia), Alexandra Goryachkina (Russia) – Lilit Mkrtchian (Armenia), Sopiko Guramishvili (Georgia) – Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia). The players named first will have White in the first game. The tie-breaks begin at 3 pm Moscow time.

Online broadcasting of the games with video is available in two languages (Russian and English) on the official site of the championship (http://sochi2015.fide.com) and the Russian Chess Federation website (http://ruchess.ru/).

For press credentials please contact the RCF Press Officer Eteri Kublashvili: ekublashvili@gmail.com.


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Round 1 Game 1
Igor Levitin, adviser of the Russian President, made a symbolic first move of the Women’s World Championship in Sochi 

The first round of the Women’s World Championship (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana), attended by 64 players from 28 countries, was played today at the CS Galactica. Igor Levitin, adviser of the Russian President, made a symbolic first move of the championship in the game of the highest rated player Humpy Koneru (India).

In a first round of a knock-out tournament the top rated players face the lowest rated opponents, therefore many games were quite one-sided, and many favorites won without much trouble. Yet, there were a couple of upsets. The ex-World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), playing White, barely held her game to a draw. Maria Muzychuk (Ukraine) and Alisa Galliamova (Russia) even lost to a much lower-rated opponents Yuan Yuanling (Canada) and Carolina Lujan (Argentina). 

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The leaders of the Russian national team Valentina Gunina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and Olga Girya confidently won their games. Ekaterina Kovalevskaia, playing Black, quickly defeated the experienced Nino Khurtsidze (Georgia). The young Alexandra Goryachkina secured a hard-fought draw against Lilit Mkrtchian (Armenia). Other Russian players also made draws in their games: Tatiana Kosintseva with Mary Ann Gomes (India), Baira Kovanova – with Huang Qian (China), Alina Kashlinskaya – with Shen Yang (China), Natalia Pogonina – with Guo Qi (China).

The second games of the first round are played tomorrow, March 18. If the matches are tied after two games, the winners will be determined on tie-breaks on March 19.

The tie-break begins with 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 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black. The tie-break for the final match consists of four rapid games.

Schedule: Round 1 – March 17-19, Round 2 – March 20-22, Round 3 – March 23-25, Quarterfinals – March 26-28, Semifinals – March 29-31, Finals – April 2-5.

April 1 is a day off. All games start at 15.00 msk.

Online broadcasting of the game with video is available in two languages (Russian and English) on the official site of the championship (http://sochi2015.fide.com) and the Russian Chess Federation website (http://ruchess.ru/). 

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A press-conference dedicated to cooperation of the Sistema Charity Fund and the Non-profit Partnership Chess in schools aimed at introducing chess into the Russian school curriculum and increasing the role of chess in general education took place at the Women’s World Chess Championship press center on March 17. Read more

 


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Women’s World Championship 2015 is officially underway in Sochi

The press-conference of the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, RCF President Andrey Filatov, the 12th World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), and the top seed player of the championship Humpy Koneru (India) took place on March 16 at the press-center of the World Championship (Achipsinskaya street 12, CS Galactica, village Estosadok, Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi).

According to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, “Sochi becomes not only the sports capital, but also the intellectual capital of the world: last November this city hosted the World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand, and now it welcomes the Women’s World Championship. Unfortunately, the reigning champion Hou Yifan was unable to come due to personal reasons, but other world’s strongest players are present. Also Hou Yifan will have an opportunity to challenge the new champion in a match, as she is a winner of the FIDE Grand Prix”.

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Andrey Filatov thanked the organizers of the championship, primarily Vladimir Dvorkovich, the Head of the Organizing Committee, whose efforts secured wonderful conditions for all 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: “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: “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, the advisor of the Russian President, read Vladimir Putin’s greetings to participants and guests of the championship. The message reads, in part:

“Our country is justifiably proud of its chess traditions and has great experience in organising prestigious competitions of this kind. We will of course do everything possible to make sure that this championship is of the very highest level.

Sochi extends a hospitable welcome today to the world’s best women chess players, who will engage in intense and strong competition to demonstrate their skill, determination and creative ability and show in practice that they have everything it takes to fight for the chess world’s crown.

I am sure that this championship will be a memorable and vivid event that will draw us in with its skilful duels. It will help to make chess more popular here in Russia and around the world.”

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It was followed by welcome speeches of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, RCF President Andrey Filatov, Russian Deputy Minister of Sports Pavel Kolobkov, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov. Then the Chief Arbiter of the championship Zuza Vereczy drew the lots. In the first game of the first round the players with odd numbers will be playing White.

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The games start on Tuesday, March 17 at 3 pm msk.

Online broadcasting of the event in English and Russian is available at the official site of the championship (http://sochi2015.fide.com) and the RCF website (http://ruchess.ru/).

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The Women’s World Chess Championship takes place on March 17 – April 7 in Sochi (Krasnaya Polyana, Estosadok, CS Galactica, Achipsinskaya street, 12). 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 many leading grandmasters from China, India, USA, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and other countries.

The first five rounds consist 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 the tie-break: 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 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black. The tie-break for the final match consists of four rapid games.

Schedule: Round 1 – March 17-19, Round 2 – March 20-22, Round 3 – March 23-25, Quarterfinals – March 26-28, Semifinals – March 29-31, Finals – April 2-5.

April 1 is a day off. All games start at 15.00 msk.

Pictures by Boris Dolmatovsky


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THE VIRTUAL EXHIBITION DURING WOMEN’S WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP

People watching the internet broadcast of the tournament will see works by Russian artists on the subject of the Second World War

An online video broadcast of the match in English and Russian is available on the match website (http://sochi2015.fide.com) and on the RCF website (http://ruchess.ru/). 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 fascist 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, was captured and spent three-and-a-half years in fascist concentration camps. Ivan Penteshin, who painted The Defence of Leningrad, survived the siege of Leningrad by a miracle. The diptych The Deserter and the Laundress and 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.

Mr. Yakovenko also thanked the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for his kind permission to display the works of the Russian artist at the official website of the World Women’s Chess Championship.

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


Women’s World Championship 2015 starts in Sochi

The Women’s World Chess Championship takes place on March 17 – April 7 in Sochi (Krasnaya Polyana, Estosadok, CS Galactica, Achipsinskaya street, 12). 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 from China, India, USA, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and other countries. The first five rounds consist 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 the tie-break: 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 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black. The tie-break for the final match consists of four rapid games.

The opening ceremony takes place on March 16 at 8 pm in the Okhotnichij Hall of the Grand Hotel Polyana (Krasnaya Polyana, Estosadok, Achipsinskaya street, 16B).

Press-conferences

March 16, 7 pm, at the press-center in CS Galactica, attended by 

A. V. Dvorkovich, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Russian Deputy Prime Minister,
K. N. Ilyumzhinov, the FIDE President,
A. V. Filatov, the RCF President,
Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), the 12th World Champion,
Humpy Koneru (India), the highest rated player of the championship.

March 17, 3:30 pm, at the press-center in CS Galactica, attended by

K. N. Ilyumzhinov, the FIDE President,
A. V. Filatov, the RCF President,
Z. Vereczi, Chief Arbiter of the championship,
T. A. Gvilava, President of the “Sistema” Charity Fund,
Galina Roketskaya, Chairman of the All-Russian NPO “Women in Business”,
Elena Pakhomova, Head of the Sochi branch of the All-Russian NPO “Women in Business”,

the topic of chess at schools will be discussed.

Schedule:
Round 1 – March 17-19, Round 2 – March 20-22, Round 3 – March 23-25, Quarterfinals – March 26-28, Semifinals – March 29-31, Finals – April 2-5.
April 1 is a day off. All games start at 15.00 msk.

For press credentials please contact the RCF Press Officer Eteri Kublashvili: ekublashvili@gmail.com.

In order to get the car access to the GTZ Gazprom one should send the car brand and registration plate as well as the driver’s passport details.

The credentials will be distributed on March 16 at 6:30 pm in CS Galactica, and on March 17 at 2 pm in CS Galactica. For other days one should contact the Press-Officer.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  /  ACCOMMODATION SCHEDULE / RANKING LIST & PAIRINGS


Source: World Chess Federation – FIDE

Interview with Paul Truong from SPICE

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The SPICE team with Paul Truong and Susan Polgar celebrating the Final Four title

The SPICE team with Paul Truong and Susan Polgar celebrating the Final Four title

The SPICE team won the Final Four college chess championship for the fifth time. This was the third consecutive title of the team as Webster University.

With 10 points, Webster University broke our own all time Final Four record of 9.5 points (in 12 games) set in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the 4.5 point winning margin is the largest for Webster (beating the previous record of winning by 2.5 points set in 2013 and 2014). Replay the games here

After the victory, Paul Truong – the marketing and PR director of the program – gave an extensive interview to Chessdom.com

Congratulations on winning the College Chess Final Four for the 5th consecutive years. What is your secret to winning the most prestigious College Chess event in the United States year after year?

Thank you. It is not really a secret since our system is well known. The system is also very simple.

1. Train harder than anyone else. Since this was the strongest ever Final Four College Chess Championships with 18 GMs among the 4 teams, we knew it would not be easy. Our work started the minute the PanAm InterCollegiate Chess Championship ended on December 30, 2014 when we knew which other 3 schools qualified for the Final Four. From December 30 until March 27, we spent over 1,000 hours collectively as a team doing research to know every little thing about each of our potential opponents. We want to know what are their favorite openings, as well as strengths and weaknesses in each phase of the game, in addition to many other intangibles.

2. Team work. Every member of the entire team contributes in one way or another. This is one family. Those who do not buy into this system are shown the door out of SPICE, regardless of their ratings. There is no I in this team and selfishness is not something we tolerate. There is no exception to this rule and some found out the hard way.

3. Pinpoint assessment. After the initial scouting phase of the Final Four, we have to try to outsmart and outguess our opponents. Pinpoint assessment is the key. The better the assessment, the better chance to win. This is a science in itself. This is also why many big financial firms reached out to recruit chess players. This pinpoint assessment skill can translate into major success in finance or business.

4. Game plan precision. After the initial scouting and pinpoint assessment, we then come up with a game plan for each match and each player in each round. The better the data, the more precise the game plan will be. Our game plan has worked to perfection in the last 5 years.

5. Enhanced physical fitness. Even though we were made fun of many times about why chess players need to be fit to move the little chess pieces, we firmly believe that physical fitness is required to raise chess strength to another level. When a chess game can last 5, 6, or 7 hours, and there are 2 games in a day, you have to be so fit. When players are tired, mistakes are more likely to happen.

6. Setting goals. We do not believe in randomness. This team sets goals every year. Then we will do everything humanly possible to reach those goals. For example, the goal of getting 10 points in 12 games in the Final Four to break our own records from the past 2 years was something we aimed for. Some may say we are nuts but that was our goal.

7. Planning for the next year. My personal enjoyment ended 1 minute after we won the Final Four. While I am very happy for Webster University, the staff, the students, and all our sponsors and supporters, I am already looking at 2016. There are a long line of students waiting to get into SPICE and we have students who will be graduating. Never sit on your laurel for too long. The competition will not sit still. They will work hard to improve and if you want to be the best, you have to be 2-3 steps ahead of them. As I said to many people, including all of my students, that while we may or may not have the best team in any given year, we will work harder than anyone else, fight with more vigor than any other team, and we will be more disciplined than all the competition. I guarantee it!

These are some of the things we instill in each of our student. Wesley So learned from the same system which vaulted him from mid 2600′s to high 2700′s and top 10 in the world.

Webster University has many strong students. What is your recruiting secret to getting some of the biggest names (all 2600+ GMs) such as Le Quang Liem, Wesley So, Ray Robson, Georg Meier, Illya Nyzhnyk, Vasif Durarbayli, Fidel Corrales, Manuel Hoyos, etc?

Contrary to what many people think, we do very little recruiting. Even though we do reach out to a few particular students, but in most cases, prospective chess students contact us. Everyone knows where and how to contact Susan (Polgar) directly.

We have a long list of GMs, IMs, WGMs, and other players applying and waiting to get in. There are many good universities which offer chess scholarships. But if players are serious about improving and getting to the next level, SPICE at Webster University is the first choice for all of them. However, I must say that it is harder to get into the elite SPICE program than to get to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, or Cornell, etc.

The cup coming once again to SPICE and Webster

The cup coming once again to SPICE and Webster

What are the requirements to get into Webster University – SPICE?

1. They must focus on their academic study to maintain at least a 3.0/4.0 GPA, although we expect a much higher GPA.
2. They must follow all team rules.
3. They must conduct themselves professionally and ethically at all times.
4. They are expected to volunteer in the community.
5. They must respect their teammates and learn to work as a team.
6. They are expected to work on their physical fitness and endurance.
7. They are expected to set achievable chess goals, and work with us to reach these goals.

Every player has strengths and weaknesses. We will work with our players to enhance their strengths and fix their weaknesses. If they do not want to improve and get better then they will not be a right fit at SPICE. They are better off being at other chess programs which are not as strict or have no expectation at all. There are plenty of players who want to improve and want to have the chance to improve to get to the next level.

What do you look for in potential students?

We look for the 7 P’s.

1. Passion
2. Process
3. People
4. Purpose
5. Preparation
6. Persistence
7. Perseverance

For those who are not acquainted with the SPICE program, allow me to tell you more about it. SPICE stands for Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence. Susan is the Director of SPICE, as well as Head Coach of the chess team. It is a part of Webster University. In order to be a part of SPICE, all students must follow the same process to be admitted to the university. Once they are accepted, they can then apply to be a part of SPICE. There are two main components to our chess program at Webster.

1. Webster University Chess Club: Any student, staff, faculty, or members of the local community can participate.
2. SPICE: This is for Webster students only, which includes training and competition, etc.

Thank you for taking time to chat with us. Congratulations once again to Webster University and all the students.

2015 College Chess Final Four Championship Standings

(4 team round robin with 4 boards for each team)

1. Webster 10 pts / 12 games
2. University of Texas in Dallas 5.5 pts / 12 games
3. Texas Tech University 4.5 pts / 12 games
4. University of Maryland in Baltimore 4.0 pts / 12 games

With 10 points, Webster University broke our own all time Final Four record of 9.5 points (in 12 games) set in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the 4.5 point winning margin is the largest for Webster (beating the previous record of winning by 2.5 points set in 2013 and 2014).

Board 1: GM Le Quang Liem 2.5 / 3
Board 2: GM Ray Robson 2.5 / 3
Board 3: GM Illya Nyzhnyk 2 / 3
Board 4: GM Vasif Durarbayli 3 / 3

Photos from College Chess Final Four 2015

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Final Four round 3 103
Final Four round 3 107

Chessdom

Natalija Pogonina and Mariya Muzychuk Reach Women’s World Championship Final

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

A thrilling playoff on Tuesday decided that the final of the Women’s World Championship in Sochi will be played between WGM Natalija Pogonina and IM Mariya Muzychuk.
Photo Eteri Kublashvili.
If we follow their titles, GM Harika Drona…

Source: Chess.com – Play. Learn. Share.

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