Goryachkina, Zhu Lead 1st Leg Of FIDE Women's Grand Prix
The playing hall of the Women's Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

Goryachkina, Zhu Lead 1st Leg Of FIDE Women's Grand Prix

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

Halfway through the tournament, GM Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia and WGM Zhu Jiner of China are sharing the lead at the first leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan. The top two players of the Grand Prix will qualify for the next FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament.

How to watch? The games of the Astana Women's Grand Prix can be found here. The rounds start each day at 2 a.m. Pacific/11:00 CEST.

The women's world championship cycle is underway again with the start of the Grand Prix in Kazakhstan. When it began, there was an unusual situation about the name of the location: the opening ceremony took place on Saturday, September 17, in the capital, then called Nur-Sultan, the name it got in March 2019 in honor of the country's long-term president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The next day, the first round of the tournament took place in Astana, as the city was renamed to what it was called between 1998 and 2019.

The women's Grand Prix works very similarly as the old system for FIDE's "general" Grand Prix: 16 players compete in four round-robin tournaments with each individual player playing in just three of the four tournaments, which have 12 players each. Players score Grand Prix points, and the top two players in the overall GP standings after four legs will qualify for the FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament 2023-24.

By being seeded number one, top seed Goryachkina had the luxury of starting with two white games. The 23-year-old GM, who is the world's number-two behind GM Hou Yifan, took down her compatriot, GM Polina Shuvalova, in the first round and also beat the former Russian, now Polish, player, IM Alina Kashlinskaya, and China's GM Tan Zhongyi.

Kashlinskaya had been under pressure as she lost her compensation for the isolated d-pawn, but the draw was still in hand when she blundered:

Aleksandra Goryachkina chess smile
A good first half for Aleksandra Goryachkina. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

Zhu is doing surprisingly well with the same, undefeated score as Goryachkina so far: three draws and three wins. A big one was her game with GM Zhansaya Abdumalik that she won rather quickly, even though she didn't think she had a good position out of the opening.

Zhu Jiner Zhansaya Abdumalik
Zhu Jiner vs. Zhansaya Abdumalik. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE. 

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk has been struggling so far, partly because she has something else on her mind: getting her luggage, which never arrived in Kazakhstan. In the sixth round, she received a gift from IM Elisabeth Paehtz:

Paehtz Kosteniuk Astana 2022
A sad moment for Paehtz, who had a complete blackout in this game. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

FIDE Women GP Astana 2022 | Round 6 Standings

Astana Women's Grand Prix Chess 2022 standings

All games rounds 1-6

The FIDE Women's Grand Prix First Leg (of four) takes place September 18-29, 2022, in Astana, Kazakhstan. The format is a round-robin tournament with 12 players. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus a 30-second increment starting on move one. The prize fund is 80,000 euros. 

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