The WWCC started at the beginning of December in Antakya, Turkey. The sacred chess number of players-- 64-- were to take part in the event, but two of them did not appear, and lost by forfeit.
The first round saw the first surprises. Some of the rating favorites were knocked out by lower-rated opponents. The Russian chess authorities did a doubtful service to their best players by scheduling their national championship just a couple of weeks before the WWCC. Natalia Pogonina was one of the victims of this mental overload. However, the achievement of her opponent Baira Kovanova should not be underestimated:
The greatest surprise of that round was the departure of the European Champion Pia Cramling, who went down against the local Yildiz Betul.
The second round also saw a couple of major upsets, when another Russian player- Tatiana Kosintseva gave way to the Greek Y. Dembo, and unfortunately for me Antoaneta Stefanova also had to leave the stage. After winning her first game against the Chinese Qian Huang, she lost the second, as well as the tie-break. Even though I was not personally in Turkey with Ety, I kept holding my fingers crossed for her, and supported her as well as I could, but some times things just do not work.
The most interesting moment of that round arose in the game:
The third round was significant as it determined that the chess world would have a new champion. Alexandra Kosteniuk from Russia lost her title in a dramatical tie break against yet another player from China- Lufei Ruan.
The following complex and beautiful rook endgame drew my attention:
In the quarter finals the remaining eight players met, and defined four semi-finalists. Curiously, all of them were from Asia, and three out of these four-Chinese! If you have a look at the pictures from the first round though you may discover how impressive the Chinese group of players/trainers/officials was. Nothing comes by chance in a sport like chess and the success of these two nations should not surprise anyone.
So far the elo-favorite Humpy Koneru was winning her matches exceptionally in the normal time, and did not experience the joy of the rapid games. On the other end of the spectrum was Ruan Lufei who won all her matches in the tie-break. Here is her best achievement:
The top seeded Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru met in the first semi-final (like they did at the previous WWCC in Nalchik).Despite the fact that the Indian managed to avoid the rapid games again, she had to give way to her younger opponent, just like a couple of years ago in the Russian Republic. Decisive proved to be the first game in their mini-match:
There is no need to say that Ruan Lufei will play a tie-break for the second spot in the final. Her opponent is compatriot Zhao Xue.
Thus despite the fact that the second finalist is not yet clarified, we can definitely claim that the title goes to China!