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Women's World Championship Cycle Resumes In Gibraltar
A shot from the opening ceremony on Friday. Photo: John Saunders/FIDE.

Women's World Championship Cycle Resumes In Gibraltar

PeterDoggers
| 69 | Chess Event Coverage

Over-the-board chess is slowly returning and now, finally, that is also the case for top female players. On Saturday, the fourth and final leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix starts in Gibraltar.

How to watch?

You can find, play through, and download all games of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix on our Events page where you'll also find live commentary.


The FIDE Candidates tournament was interrupted for a bit over 13 months, but the gap in the women's world championship cycle has been even longer. The third leg of the Women's Grand Prix in Lausanne ended on March 13, 2020 and now, 435 days later, the Gibraltar leg is starting.

The tournament was initially scheduled to be held in May 2020 in Sardinia, Italy, but the coronavirus pandemic made that impossible. The organizers of the annual Gibraltar Chess Festival took over and initially wanted to hold it during their normal dates (late January-early February), but the local Covid situation forced them to postpone. Now it's finally happening.

As with the earlier three tournaments in Skolkovo, Monaco, and Lausanne, the Gibraltar Grand Prix is a 12-player round-robin. The prize fund in each Grand Prix is 80,000 euros, with 15,000 euros and 160 Grand Prix points awarded to the winner.

In all, 16 players participate. Four of them have played in all three previous legs, so their series is over. Below are the current standings.

Women's Grand Prix Standings

Rank Fed Player Skolkovo Monaco Lausanne Gibraltar Total
1 Aleksandra Goryachkina 120 133⅓ 145 398⅓
2 Humpy Koneru 160 133⅓ 293⅓
3 Alexandra Kosteniuk 45 133⅓ 15 193⅓
4-6 Kateryna Lagno 90 90 180
4-6 Dronavalli Harika 60 60 60 180
4-6 Nana Dzagnidze 35 145 180
7 Anna Muzychuk 80 85 165
8 Ju Wenjun 120 35 155
9 Alina Kashlinskaya 45 85 130
10 Mariya Muzychuk 60 60 120
11 Zhansaya Abdumalik 110 110
12 Pia Cramling 10 60 35 105
13 Elisabeth Paehtz 75 20 95
14-15 Valentina Gunina 75 10 85
14-15 Antoaneta Stefanova 25 60 85
16 Marie Sebag 25 15 40
17 Zhao Xue 35 35

The top two players will qualify for the 2022 FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament. Already qualified is GM Aleksandra Goryachkina, the runner-up of the last world championship match, which she lost to GM Ju Wenjun.

Although she couldn't play the final leg, GM Humpy Koneru has good chances of qualifying thanks to a 100-point lead over number three GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who is also not playing. GM Kateryna Lagno and GM Nana Dzagnidze will likely overtake Kosteniuk.

The other participants in the 2022 Women's Candidates will come from the following paths:

  • Three spots from the FIDE World Cup (July 2021 in Sochi, Russia).
  • One spot from the FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss Tournament 2021 (Oct.-Nov. 2021 in Isle of Man).
  • One spot by rating: the player with the highest standard rating in the January 2022 FIDE rating list, provided she has at least 15 standard games rated in FIDE standard rating lists 2021 or participated in the World Cup or Grand Swiss.

The tournament was officially opened in the same venue as where the Gibraltar tournament always takes place: Caleta Hotel.

Organizer GM Stuart Conquest called it "the most prestigious event we've ever run." Steven Linares, Gibraltar's Minister for Sport, Culture, Heritage & Youth, noted the Gibraltar Chess Festival's long-standing role in supporting and boosting the women’s game since its inception in 2003. 

GM Nigel Short, who will be one of the commentators during the event (together with WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni), referred to the participants as "12 Beth Harmons but without the narcotics."

The pairings for the first round are Gunay Mammadzada vs. Antoaneta Stefanova, Irina 
Bulmaga vs Elisabeth Paehtz, Zhansaya Abdumalik vs. Dinara Saduakassova, Mariya Muzychuk vs. Anna Muzychuk, Nana Dzagnidze vs. Kateryna Lagno, and Alina Kashlinskaya vs. Valentina Gunina.

Gunina was the only player who wasn't in Gibraltar at the time of the opening ceremony. She is bound to arrive on Saturday morning. You can follow the games and commentary here.

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