World Women Chess Championship

bulletin round 1 and interviews

There is nothing worse in this world than big politics entering the everyday life, when the laws of common sense are
resigning in front of power, and destinies of people are sacrificed to fulfill someone’s ambitions. Especially it is not
pleasant when the politics interfere with sport as the sportsmen at all times were the messengers of peace and friendship.
Yet the Ancient Greeks were stopping the wars for the time of the Olympic Games establishing the sacred peace.
The Government of Georgia officially prohibited their representatives, who were the leaders of women’s chess for
dozens of years, to participate in the World Championship in Nalchik. The authorities of USA, France and some other
countries also “did not recommend” their citizens visiting Russia. Three of six Georgians who had the right to play in
this tournament, made their best to appear in Nalchik but could not get round the prohibition. Two brave Americans
despite all the recommendations made their flight over the ocean…
As a result, only 22 tables of starting 32 found their chairwomen, other ten distracting the eye by their emptiness…
Such an accident hasn’t ever happened on the World Championships. Seven players did not find anyone to fight with:
Antoaneta Stefanova, Anna Gasik, Thi Thanh An Nguyen, Elena Sedina, Claudia Amura, Anna Zatonskih and
Svetana Matveeva. On another two tables the clocks were even not started as both players were missing.
But despite all the problems, World Championship has started. It was opened by two presidents: Arsen Kanokov of
Kabardino-Balkaria and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the head of Kalmykia and FIDE.

The first round is already finished and it could not proceed without sensations. First heroes and first eliminations
were established, even a small scandal found its way to appear and claim the attention of the Appeals Committee.
It is rare to see a real fight in the first round – usually the favorites easily crush the underdogs. But not in Nalchik!
Six pairs here reached the tie-breaks, three of them made it to the blitz stage and the destiny of the victory in the match
Socko – Foisor was even decided only after the serious overlook through the FIDE Handbook!
Exactly the half of the players is leaving home. Among them is Natalia Zhukova, who can be named the biggest upset
of the first round. Having lost the first game to the American Katerine Rohonyan, the Ukrainian managed to win back
in the second one, and after what she lost on the tie-break.
All the participants eliminated in the first round would get $3,750 on their account. The next step is $5,500. The
champion receives $60,000. However, the first thing every player thinks about is becoming a new queen of chess…

Press-conferences at the World Championship are held in a somewhat usual format – the pressofficer
of the tournament Peter Rajcsanyi invites several players instead of one. The first press conference
featured several players who were considered favorites before the start.
The guests of the first press conference are the highest-rated player in the championship Indian Humpy
Koneru, ex-European Champions Aleksandra Kosteniuk and Natalia Zhukova, and the strongest
Swedish player Pia Cramling.


– What are your impressions of the first day of the
Championship and what do you think about the knockout
system?

Cramling: Of course, I always want to take a good start from the beginning. However, rarely everything
goes as planned. The KO-tournaments give the
participants no right for mistakes: if you lose one game,
you are already very close to elimination. I played many
knock-out events and I like this system. It makes you
concentrated and forces to demonstrate your best game.
It’s a pity that by now the World Championship is the
only tournament played under this system. I would like
other tournaments to use it as well.

Kosteniuk: The World Championship is a very special
tournament but I disagree with Pia. Knock-out system
is interesting and provides the intrigue, but I don’t think
it is suitable for establishing the new World Champion.
This is the fourth time I participate in a knock-out
championship. The most successful was the first one in
Moscow in 2001, when I reached the final. I will try to
perform my best here, but because of the format of the
event it is very difficult to make any guesses.


– A question to Natalia Zhukova. Today you became the
author of probably the biggest sensation of the tournament
by losing with White in the first game and committing
yourself to huge problems with entering the second round.
Can you explain what happened?

Zhukova: Yes, my feelings now are not the nicest.
After the game and looked at the protocol I noticed that
I am almost the only favorite who lost to an underdog. It
is always pleasant to be the one and only, but surely not
in this case. How it happened? It is difficult to explain;
I was pressuring my opponent the whole game and had
a big advantage both on the board and on the clock.
The pieces of my opponent lacked coordination – it
seemed they were thrown here and there on the board.
All that I needed was to find a forced win, which was
there, as the post-mortem confirmed. The biggest pity
is that I saw the winning line at the board, but decided
to play another move. My position was still good but
not winning anymore, the time started to run out (we
both had about 2 minutes), she stroke back and I got
confused. In fact the loss was purely psychological: I still
had excellent drawing chances but failed to use them.


– Have you ever managed to win back in knock-outs
after losing the first game?

– Yes, I encountered similar situation at the
European Championship and I even had to retrieve
my losses twice: after I equalized the score, I lost the
first tie-break game again. The difference is that there I
had to strike back with White, while here I have to play
for a win as Black. By the way, I ended up winning that
European Championship.


– A question to Humpy Koneru. It is already the third
time that you start the World Championship as one of the
main favorites, but every time there is a player who stops
you one step off the final. What do you expect this year?

Koneru: Well, one can never be sure in winning a
knock-out event. And the World Championship is a
really difficult tournament. It is very important to gain
confidence about your game, and that’s what I did
today by winning the first game.


– How do you feel about the fact that after the first
round you will have three rest days?

– It is in some way unexpected for me. Early in the
tournament is not the best moment for relaxation. I
enjoy playing chess a lot and I feel pity about having
a bye in the second round. However, it can’t be
helped.


– A question to Aleksandra Kosteniuk. What do you
think about dividing chess into men’s and women’s, is it
the right thing to do, or maybe it offends you?

Kosteniuk: I have always looked at chess as sport. All
kinds of sports are divided into men’s and women’s.
Of course if we compare chess with athletics, women
have some kind of advantage as physical strength is
not the most important factor in chess, and we can
compete with men on equal basis. Why girls play
weaker is another question, but in my opinion the
division is absolutely legitimate and I don’t feel any
offence about it.

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Only young talents were presented on the second press conference: the winner of several strong women
open tournaments Anna Muzychuk, who represents Slovenia, the Russian champion and the highest
rated Russian player Tatiana Kosintseva, the first board of Hungarian national team Hoang Thanh
Trang
, Harika Dronavalli from India, and one of the strongest players from the «new wave» of Chinese
talents, Zhang Jilin.


– A question to Peter Rajcsanyi. We can understand
why the players from Georgia are not participating, or we
can consider the arguments of Irina Krush, Marie Sebag
and Tea Bosboom-Lanchava. But why some of the other
participants did not arrive? Was it the question of safety?

Rajcsanyi: The reasons why the players are declining
the participation are often private. Maybe they were
thinking that it is not safe here. But what is happening
now in Nalchik shows that chess players had no any
reason for anxiety. Personally I am very happy to see
here such a big amount of strong women who coped
with all the prejudice.


– A question to Zhang Jilin. The Chinese team is
represented at this Championship with many players. Do
your have a special plan for this tournament as to make it
an open China Championship for instance?

Zhang Jilin: We were not even thinking about special
team tactic, especially as some of our girls will lay each
other already in the second round. It is doubtful that
this tournament can become some kind of an open
championship of our country, though we would all try
to get the maximum success. Let’s talk about it when
the event is over.


– Can you share with us the secret of such numerous
successes of Chinese players in recent years? What is the
reason for such a fantastic development? And every year
the number of strong players keeps growing.

– We don’t have any special secrets which we should
hide. We just consider chess being the main thing in
our lives; we dedicate all our time to it and constantly
improve our game. So our main secret is work, work and work!


– A question to Tatiana Kosintseva. What do you think
about the drawing of the tournament and the fact that you
are in the same part with Aleksandra Kosteniuk and other
top players?

Kosintseva: I guess it did not happen on purpose, it
is just a coincidence since the paring depends on the

tournament differs
from another.

ratings. The two strongest Russian players are facing
each other in the first half. Well, we’ll see who will go
further…


– How did you like the beginning of the tournament?
Did you find the playing shape?

– Yes, and it was very important for me because
before the Championship I had quite a long break. I
will not make any forecasts about the outcome of the
tournament, it has just started, let’s see what happens
later. In the next round I get much more serious
opponent than today – Anna Zatonskih, so we will see
how the games will go.
Tomorrow my sister and I want to go to the
excursion. When we just arrived, the organizers strongly
recommended visiting beautiful city surroundings.


– A question to everybody. All of you are young, talented,
real stars of your generation. What is more important in
this tournament – youth or experience?

Muzychuk: I think that there are some advantages of
both qualities as every match at this tournament differs
from another.

Kosintseva: Youth and experience have the meaning in
totality. Maybe we have more energy but elder participants
know what and how they should do things.

Hoang Thanh Trang: I think that it is not the age what
is so important, the main thing is to be in a good shape
and be able to seek a balance.

Dronavalli: In my opinion
one should pay more attention
to the preparation, physical
condition and in this I agree
with Hoang. The tournament
is very long so one should
be skilled to distribute the
energy.

Zhang Jilin: I think neither
youth nor experience is
important. The beauty of chess
is what matters! But on the other
hand, playing in tournaments
with different systems teaches
you different skills. Particularly,
in a knock-out one must be
ready to show all her strength
at any moment, and it is very
important to fight till the end in
every situation.


– Is there any difference between the World championship
and any other tournament in your opinion?

Muzychuk: Of course there is a big difference due
to the use of the knock-out formula. Every game is
extremely important.

Kosintseva: Indeed, it is the only KO tournament,
but the biggest difference is of course in responsibility.
You cannot become a World Champion in any other
event.

Hoang Thanh Trang: We are all trying to become first
whatever the system is because it is! Knock-out has
some similarities with other tournaments, but there are
many differences. The main of them is that we don’t
have the right for a mistake. One mistake, and you are
eliminated.

Dronavalli: From my point of view, knock-out
system is more complicated but at the same time more
interesting, maybe even more fair: if you win, you
continue. If you lose, you leave. In a Swiss tournament
one has to play with 9 players of more or less random
skill.

Zhang Jilin: I like the knock-out system, I think it is
the most sportive of all. And nobody would doubt the
achievement of the one who beats all the opponents!


– What do you think about those players who did not
come to Nalchik?

Muzychuk: I think that the strongest players are here,
and those who did not come made their choice.

Kosintseva: It’s a pity that this happened, I don’t
have any explanation to this.

Hoang Thanh Trang: It is a big pity that some players
did not arrive… but it did not affect the status of the
event. We are here and we play.

Dronavalli: I am sorry for this situation. It is their
choice. Those who wanted to play, have arrived.
As for those who didn’t want – well, it’s their
problem!

Zhang Jilin: Pity that some players did not arrive.
But on the other hand all the strongest are
participating. And let the strongest of all win!

For all the interviews and information download bulletin from the official website.