Harika Dronavalli Wins 1st Women's 'Online' Blitz Championship

Harika Dronavalli Wins 1st Women's 'Online' Blitz Championship

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

Harika Dronavalli won the first FIDE World Online Women Blitz Championship. The final was held last Thursday with all participants together in Rome playing on laptops.

FIDE's online championship for women started with eight qualifier (Swiss) tournaments from June 2015 onwards, followed by a semifinal and a final tournament on 26 November 2015. The time control in all tournaments was three minutes for the game plus two seconds increment per move.

Eight players qualified for the final in Rome: Harika Dronavalli (India), Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), Olga Zimina (Italy), Irina Vasilevich (Russia), Sabina-Francesca Foisor (USA), Adriana Nikolova (Bulgaria), Padmini Rout (India), and Sofio Gvetadze (Georgia).

Two wild cards were added: Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia, nominated by the FIDE President) and Valentina Gunina (Russia, nominated by the Commission for Women’s Chess).

So far so good, but now it gets kind of funny. Or surreal, if you will.

The organizers thought it was a nice idea to invite the ten finalists and pay for their flights and hotels. As a result, the players were in a playing hall (the Circolo Canottieri Aniene in Rome), sitting at a table, facing each other, but with two laptops placed in between.

The players playing on laptops. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

A chess board, some pieces and a clock was an obvious alternative, but then... it wouldn't have been online chess.

Unlike some chess fans in the twittersphere, the organizers took the tournament very seriously. FIDE was represented by its President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and its Vice President Georgios Makropoulos, and also present was the CEO of Premium Chess, the company FIDE works with to provide the infrastructure. 

The players played an 18-round, double round robin. At the end of the day, Indian grandmaster Harika Dronavalli emerged as the winner. She edged out GM Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia) on tiebreak (Buchholz) after both had finished on 13.5 points. Third came GM Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, who scored 12 points.

2015 FIDE World Online Women Blitz Championship | Final Standings

# Name Fed Nickname Rtg Perf Pts SB Prize
1 GM Harika Dronavalli IND Elegance 2492 2612 13.5 111.50 $3000
2 GM Nana Dzagnidze GEO nanuka 2562 2604 13.5 110.25 $2000
3 GM Alexandra Kosteniuk RUS AlexandraK 2505 2540 12.0 $1000
4 GM Valentina Gunina RUS Fenyx1989 2602 2488 11.0 $750
5 IM Olga Zimina ITA Olghita 2386 2414 8.5 $550
6 IM Irina Vasilevich RUS nejashka 2288 2405 8.0 $500
7 WGM Sabina Foisor USA Sabinafoisor 2341 2379 7.5 $400
8 WGM Adriana Nikolova BUL torpedo_88 2351 2358 7.0 $400
9 IM Padmini Rout IND Padmini 2347 2318 6.0 $200
10 IM Sofio Gvetadze GEO Gvetadze 2413 2151 3.0 $200

Harika had not prepared much for the event. “Just for one day, and I studied my opponent's games a bit,” she told “But I often play blitz on Playchess, but with 3 minutes without the increment.”

She said she liked her games against Foisor as Black, and against Padmini as White. Here they are:

The FIDE President watches as Harika “faces” her compatriot Padmini. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Harika agreed that it was a bit weird to travel to Rome, but not for playing blitz via laptops. “It was funny for me, to travel all the way from India to Europe for a tournament which lasted for only four hours. Laughing But playing on laptops was fine because that's the whole new concept and point of this event.”

L-R Carlo Stellati (CEO of Premium Chess), Martha Fierro (Chairperson of WOM), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (FIDE President) and Georgios Makropoulos (FIDE Vice President). | Photo Alina l'Ami.

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