A new format
At the end of the month, on September 26, the 2021 FIDE Women’s World Team Championship kicks off in Sitges, the coastal town of Spanish Catalonia famous for hosting eight editions of the popular chess open. Sunway chess.
The first women’s team chess world championship was held in Yekaterinburg in 2007. This central Russian city, now famous for the last candidates’ tournament, was a center of attraction for female chess players at the time. because it organized a series of high level tournaments. round robin tournaments for women, called Northern Urals Cup.
China won that first championship convincingly, crushing future silver medalists Russia 4-0 in one of the opening rounds. The victory in Yekaterinburg started a hat-trick as the team led by Hou Yifan took home championship gold in Ningbo 2009 and the next in Mardin 2011.
The years of Chinese domination ended with the triumph of the Ukrainian team in Astana 2013 and the Georgian victory in Chengdu 2015. At the home championship in Khanty-Mansiysk 2017, one of the permanent favorites and medalists of all editions previous ones, Russia, finally managed to win. their first gold. In the last edition, at Astana 2019, China reclaimed first place and won its fourth gold medal, leaving Russia in second place and Georgia in third.
2021 marks the 8th edition of the championship, and this year it takes place in a new, more spectator-friendly format. Instead of the usual round robin, the twelve teams will be divided into two pools of approximately the same strength. Top four teams from each pool (five-round round robin) advance to the playoffs. In the round of 16, each duel consists of two matches and the tie is broken by blitz matches, much like in the recently concluded Online Olympiad. Time control will also be shorter than usual: 45 minutes for the entire game with an increment of 10 seconds per move.
The pandemic has put most of the non-standard events on hold in 2020, but luckily it was the year passed by a semi-annual team championship schedule, so there won’t be a gap in the schedule. However, it’s not so lucky that the restrictions related to the pandemic are still having a significant impact on our world, which means that not all the favorites will manage to participate. In particular, we will not see China and the United States, two flagship teams from the Asian and American continents.
Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: David Llada
In the absence of China, the Russian team are the favorites, led by world number 2, Aleksandra Goryachkina (pictured above), who will be perfectly supported by Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Polina Shuvalova and Alina Kashlinskaya in Reserve. player. This is Russia’s best possible line-up according to standard FIDE rankings, demonstrating their determination to win another gold medal this fall, following the triumphant victory at the Online Olympics.
Russia’s permanent rival Georgia also brings the optimal training: Nana Dzagnidze, Nino Batsiashvili (pictured below), Bela Khotenashvili, Lela Javakhishvili and Meri Arabidze. Oddly enough, when Georgia won gold in Chengdu 2015, four out of five players were the same, and the fifth was Melia, instead of Dzagnidze. Will they be able to repeat their feat six years later?
Nino Batsiashvili | Photo: David Llada
Another regular favorite, Ukraine, is nothing short of the top players. But unlike Russia or Georgia, they take a slightly more creative approach to the order of the board, placing Iulija Osmak on a reserve board, behind slightly lower rated Nataliya Buksa. The first two boards naturally belong to the powers Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, and team captain Michael Brodsky has chosen Anna to lead the team. The third board is occupied by Anna Ushenina.
These three teams stand out in terms of rankings and have considerable experience and a history of medals at the World Team Championships, so they will likely become the top contenders for gold. Traditionally strong Armenia (led by current European female champion Elina Danielian), Poland (led by Zawadzka and Cyfka), Germany (led by undisputed leader Elisabeth Paehtz) and Azerbaijan (led by Gunay Mammadzada, 21, discovery of WGP Gibraltar) will interfere with the distribution of the medals and fight for a place on a pedestal. The local heroines led by Ana Matnadze have a well-rounded lineup. There is no place like home, so maybe familiar walls will lead the Spanish team to success.
Ana Matnadze | Photo: David Llada
Apart from this fairly usual distribution of forces, two teams this year deserve special attention: India and Kazakhstan. It had been a long time since India played with their best lineup and the fans’ dream was about to come true in Sitges, but unfortunately at the last moment Humpy Koneru was replaced by Mary Ann Gomes. Without the third player in the world, India’s position among the tournament favorites is shaken and the quest for gold becomes all the more difficult. Harika Dronavalli (pictured below) will have to take on the skin of a team leader and inspire Vaishali R, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni to their best performance. “Humpy is one of our best, but we have others who are just as capable of doing well. We are sure our team will put on a good show in Spain, ”AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan told The Times of India, who reported on the news.
Harika Dronavalli | Photo: David Llada
It’s great to see young stars claiming their place alongside recognized masters. Russian Polina Shuvalova, 20, Indian Vaishali R, 20, and Gunay Mammadzada, 21, are here to stay. But the change of generation is particularly evident with the Kazakhstan team, an apparent outsider capable of reserving any surprises. Team leader Zhansaya Abdumalik, 21 (pictured below), just crushed Gibraltar WGP this summer, and third board Bibisara Assaubayeva, 17, had a fantastic run in the World Cup feminine. Add to the mix experienced and stable Dinara Saduakassova, Gulmira Dauletova and another promising teenager, Meruert Kamalidenova, 16, to complete the picture.
Zhansaya Abdoumalik | Photo: David Llada
It won’t be an easy walk for the France and FIDE Americas teams, competing against heavyweights, so moving on from the group stage could certainly be seen as a success. In the absence of the USA, FIDE Americas is a mixed team with players from the continent, appointed by the President of FIDE: Deysi Cori (Peru), Carolina Lujan (Argentina), Maritza Arribas (Cuba), Maili-Jade Quellet (Canada) and Jeniffer Pérez (Paraguay). As for France, they are led by longtime leader Marie Sebag but miss out on some of the other top domestic players.
No less than 13 of the 20 best female players in the world participate in this championship, which promises to be a perfect aperitif in the tradition of the major chess competitions of this fall, followed by Grand Swiss and FIDE World Championship Match.
After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6! leads to the so-called “accelerated dragon defense”. On this DVD, the Russian grandmaster and top player Nadezhda Kosintseva reveals the secrets of her favorite opening.