The 2017 Polish Championships kicked off yesterday in the Trading Room of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, with women’s top seed Monika Socko scoring a 122-move win over 3rd seed Karina Szczepkowska. The women’s event could hardly be stronger, while the men’s event is marred by absences, including that of Polish no. 1 Radek Wojtaszek and no. 2 Jan-Krzysztof Duda. Nevertheless, it’s a tough field, with Gajewski-Socko and Piorun-Bartel ending in dramatic draws in Round 1.
The 2017 Polish Championships are two 10-player round-robin tournaments taking place from 21-29 March in Warsaw. As in 2016, the sponsors LOTTO and Budimex are following the unusual policy for chess of offering exactly the same prize fund to the men and women, with both playing for a 20,000 PLN (about $5,000) first prize. In the women’s case, that helped bring together close to the strongest possible line-up, with the top 7 Polish female players on the current FIDE rating list, including 7-time Polish Champions Monika Socko and Iweta Rajlich and 3-time Champion Jolanta Zawadzka.
The remaining three players also add some youth, with 16-year-old Oliwia Kiolbasa and 15-year-old Alicja Sliwicka. The latter has already been U10 European Youth Champion and U14 World Youth Girls' runner-up.
Perhaps only Mariola Wozniak could be considered missing – the 19-year-old scored 6/6 in the Baku Olympiad as the Polish team took silver medals, but she skipped the event for her school-leaving exam.
All the games are live on chess24 (Open | Women) and the official website, with commentary in Polish by GM Marcin Tazbir and IM Michal Luch as well as assorted guests.
You can click a game below to watch it with computer analysis, or hover over a player’s name to see their results and pairings:
In 2016 Radek Wojtaszek complained about the equal prizes for men and women, commenting:
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There’s an argument that women's games are cooler, because more happens, but more happens just because the level is lower.
At the time he was making that comment Karina Szczepkowska bungled a better rook endgame against Monika Socko and eventually lost with the white pieces in 102 moves – Radek commented that it was “what the fight for gold looks like among the women”. Karina hit back to point out that the men were hardly immune from blunders, while it wasn't the men who were sponsoring the event.
Fast forward a year and the same two players were paired against each other with the same colours. The result was also the same, with Monika grinding out a win in a very tricky queen ending. There was no glaring blunder from Karina, but the game was notable for this time reaching 122 moves!
2nd seed Jolanta Zawadzka also got off to a winning start, finally finding a mating attack against Klaudia Kulon. The most topsy-turvy game was Joanna Majdan-Gajewska’s win over Anna Kantane. Black had a winning edge but went astray as complications coincided with time trouble. 30…Qe5? was a bad idea:
Black is threatening both to take the rook on f4 or the knight on e2 (with either queen or rook!), but White responded with the even more multi-purpose 31.Qg3! The e1-rook is defended and White threatens to win a piece with Rxg4+ or h3 (31…Rxe2 is also met by 32.Rxg4+!). After 31…Qxb2 32.h3Joanna actually managed to give mate on move 39!