Women's World Rapid Chess Championship

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Jun 5, 2012

This year both the Women’s Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships were announced – thanks to the Association of Chess Professionals and Batumi, Georgia, the city which agreed to host it. This news came as a pleasant surprise for many players, because normally either none or just one of those events is held at all.

While considering whether this championship would fit my schedule, I found out that people, who had a published rating over 2500, as well as World and Olympic champions, receive personal invitations and special conditions. I was seduced by the offer and decided to take part. In addition to the above-mentioned contestants each federation could nominate a certain number of players, depending on how high-rated they were.

When I arrived on Batumi, the World Chess Championship was in the tie-break stage. We had to postpone our trip around the city with Alexandra Kosteniuk until the end of the rapid games. At first I was anxious to go, but then I got excited with the show and couldn’t stop watching! Here are some interesting expert opinions about the match.

While I was familiarizing myself with the city, two guys asked me to pose with them so they could take a picture. I doubt they knew who I was though. Smile And here are some pics I took to give you a sense of the environment we were playing in:


A luxury hotel

Вид из окна отеля.jpg

View from my window



Маяк и колесо.jpg

A lighthouse and a wheel

Overall, I found most of my colleagues focused and very motivated. While I personally prefer classical chess to anything else, many of the participants were looking as concentrated as if the supreme chess crown was at stake. One well-known player, a friend of mine, said that she believes that rapid chess is the future of the game, and that hence she would like to win the event very much. Whenever I went out, most of the participants would stay in their rooms and prepare. I am not sure how and what they were preparing, given that one could find out in advance the pairings for just one game out of three and that many players were experimenting with openings in rapid chess, but that's the way it was.

The financial conditions were rather tough for the players. The prize fund was $100,000 ($59,000 for the rapid championship and $41,000 for blitz). Given that the field included 50 competitors, you can get an impression of how much an average participant would make. On a positive note, winning the championship gives great bragging rights, as well as earns one a real crown – what else does  a girl need? Laughing

The line-up included five former World Women’s Chess Champions (Gaprindashvili, Chiburdanidze, Zhu Chen, Stefanova, Kosteniuk) and most of the world’s best female chess players. A notable absentee was the reigning chess queen Hou Yifan. Being busy playing in a Chinese super tournament, she couldn’t come.

The rapid part of the tournament lasted 4 days: 3 rounds, 3 rounds, 3 rounds, 2 rounds. The time control was standard for such events – 25 minutes/game + 10s/move. You can find the final standings here. As usually, most of the games were very tense: mutual mistakes, amazing tactics, nerve-racking time troubles. Below I will offer you a selection of some interesting positions – positive examples and, using Mark Dvoretzky’s terminology, tragicomedies:

P.S. The blitz tournament is taking place on June 5th-6th. You can follow it at the official website.


  • 3 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

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  • 4 years ago


    Very interesting article, thank you!

  • 4 years ago


    nice post nat!keep it up and good luck!

  • 4 years ago


     i see many game in this tournement many game played in reti 1 Nf3 game played in 1e4 (and here they play in this tournement 1 ....e5 1....e6 1....c5 1...d5 scandinavien ) 1d4 played also and they play 1...Nf6.

    i see also memorial tal played 1b3 the nimzovich larsen attack

    many quetion is why the sacandinavien defense we have not any grand master in the world play realy scandinavien in blac why the scandinavien defence is not played for example by carlsen or by aronian?

    many option in scadinavien1. e4  d5 2. exd5  Qxd5 3. Nc3  Qe5+ 4. Be2  Bg4 5. f3  Bf5 6. b3  Nc6 7. Bb2  Qf4 8. Nh3  Bxh3 9. gxh3  Qh4+ 10. Kf1  Qxh3+ 11. Kf2  e6 12. Bf1  Qh4+ 13. Ke2  Nd4+ 14. Kd3  O-O-O 15. Ne4  Nxb3+ 16. Kc3  Nxa1 17. Bxa1  f5 18. Ng3  Qb4# 

     this a game for example other game

    1 e4 d5 2 e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qe5+ 4 Be2 Bg4 5 Nf3 B*f3 6 g*f3 Nc6 7 00 000

    1e4 d5 2 e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qe5+ 4 Be2 Bg4 5 Nf3 B*f3 6 g*f3 Nc6 7h4 000

    1e4 d5 2e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qe5+ 4 Be2 Bg4 5 Nf3 B*f3 6g*f3 Nc6 7h3 000

    1e4 d5 2e*d5 Q*d5 3Nc3 Qe5+ 4 Be2 Bg4 5Nf3 B*f3 6g*f3 Nc6 7 Tf1 Nd4

    1 e4 d5 2 e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qe5+ 4 Be2 Bg4 5 Nf3 B*f3 6g*f2 Nc6 7 d3 000

    1 e4 d5 2e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qe5+ 4 Be2 Bg4 5 Nf3 B*f3 6 g*f3 Nc6 7 d3 000 8 Be3 Nf6 9 Qd2 e6 10  000 Nd4

  • 4 years ago


    @paul211, is there any sarcasm involved in your comments or you were serious when you talked about posting pictures and google maps? I think there is nothing wrong in posting pictures of the places where competition was held. It makes us familiar with the place, and it somewhat makes the article more interesting.

  • 4 years ago


    Some of these posts just make me shake my head. Unbelievable.

  • 4 years ago


    i think this is not a hypocrisy to support gender based segregation and criticize racial segregation.

  • 4 years ago


    i read the previous comments. If women players can participate in men competition then why man can't participate in women's only championship? Is that the context of this discussion?

    But how gender based segregation can be compared with racial segregation? Gender is created by the god.This is a truth that woman can't be comapred with man in context of physical strength. Thats why we segregate man and woman as far as physical sports are concerned. You see the world records for athletics, swimming, etc. woman are far behind than man. So the segregation is a necessity in physical sports. In chess, it is not required as it a mental game.

  • 4 years ago


    please don't discuss racial issues here. Natalia just reported about the ongoing women's rapid and blitz championship. I am happy India's Koneru Humpy finished 3rd in Rapid and 2nd in blitz tournament.

  • 4 years ago


    two indians finished in top ten.Smile

  • 4 years ago


    nice article as always by Natalia Ma'am.

  • 4 years ago


    "There has never been any kind of sport or competition that had a designation for black people only, so the thought of making one now would just be silly."

    So your argument is that because we haven't done it in the past, we shouldn't now? I don't think there should be black-only tournaments, but not for that reason. On the other hand, if another group, such as a different race, shows a lack of interest for chess, it's not impossible to apply the same line of reasoning we have for women (we want to make them more interested in playing) to other groups who aren't as plentiful in the chess world.

  • 4 years ago


    I enjoyed

  • 4 years ago


    I hope to learn from some of these blunders and not repeat them in my own games.

  • 4 years ago


    very nice!

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    Physics is a great field -- keep encouraging her!

  • 4 years ago


    Nice examples ! especially last one ! -it shows what are FIDE ratings...of course Kramnik can do it sometimes too (in CLASIC chess).GM mate in one...Embarassed

  • 4 years ago



    Very good post with interesting history -- thanks for taking the time to write it!

  • 4 years ago



    That's what I was trying to explain. Women are allowed to participate in ANY competition, not just women's. In fact, some women choose not to participate in women-only competitions.

    Have you ever heard of Judit Polgar? Her rating is 2709. At one point, back in 2005, she had the 8th highest rating in the world. Well guess what, she has never been denied access to any FIDE tournament (and neither has any women), and she has played at top-level with the best of the world.

    The fact remains that there isn't tournament were only men are allowed to participate, so I stand by what I said, there is no sexism in FIDE.

    The women-only tournaments were introduced in 1927. This was a time when literally there was little to no participation in tournaments from women, for all kinds of reasons, and FIDE wanted to change that. Can you call them sexist for wanting more women to be involved in chess?

    Everyone can and should participate in the regular FIDE tournaments (the ones were both men and women can participate in case it's not clear enough for you by now). The reason why they still hold women-only tournaments is more out of tradition and because a lot of female players actually like them; they see it just as one more oportunity to compete and have fun.

    Trust me, if all female players thought that it was wrong to have an extra competition that is women-only, they could end it very quickly. All they have to do is to never attend these, and they would cease to exist. It's that simple.


    No, it's not the same situation. Back in 1927, when the first women's world championship was created, there were already other international competitions that were for women only, so it seemed fitting at the time to make one for chess too, and now it has been kept for other reasons.

    There has never been any kind of sport or competition that had a designation for black people only, so the thought of making one now would just be silly.

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