Women's World Championship starts today

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Hou Yifan plays black in the first game of the Women's World Championship which starts today at 15:00 CET in Tirana, Albania. The Chinese grandmaster defends her world title against Humpy Koneru of India, who is rated 22 points higher.

An image of the official website's home page

EventWomen's World Championship
DatesNovember 13th-30th, 2011
LocationTirana, Albania
System10-game match, tie-break if necessary
PlayersReigning World Champion Hou Yifan (China) and Challenger Humpy Koneru (India)
Rate of play90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one

The Women’s World Chess Championship Match between the current World Champion Hou Yifan (China) and challenger Humpy Koneru (India) will be held from November 12 to 30, 2011 in the “Akernia” hall of the Tirana International Hotel in Tirana, Albania. Hou Yifan is holding the title since her victory at the 2010 Women's World Championship, while Humpy Koneru earned the right to challenge her after she became second in the Womens' Grand Prix Series 2009-2011.

The total prize fund is 200,000 Euro which will be split between the players: 60% for the winner and 40% for the loser if the match ends within the 10 regular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55% and the loser 45%.

The drawing of colors was conducted during the opening ceremony, on Sunday evening, October 13th in the Presidential Palace in Tirana. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov declared the event open, after which the President of the Albanian Chess Federation Rezart Taci welcomed the participants. Taci is also the CEO and sole shareholder of the company Taci Oil, the main sponsor of the event.

On the FIDE website an article about Rezart Taci was published last Friday, which includes a cv. It says that Taci Oil is the oil market leader in the region. Taci is also CEO of other oil companies and the General Director of Albanian Satellite TV station Alsat. (Some Google results were not mentioned: apparently Taci was once arrested for an assault but saw his bodyguards convicted instead, and he also attempted to buy Italian football clubs AC Milan and Bologna.)

For the drawing of colors of the first game the players were offered to choose from two red parcels – Hou Yifan found a traditional souvenir spoon in one of them.

That meant she was the one to choose from two other parcels – this time blue ones – that hided black and white queens inside.

The defending World Champion picked a black queen – this means that the challenger Humpy Koneru will have the white pieces in the first game, which starts on 15:00 CET on Monday, November 14th.

The opening ceremony continued with a press conference by Ilyumzhinov, Taci and the players. After answering the questions of local journalists, all four signed a giant bottle of champagne.

The bottle was immediately opened to celebrate the start of the World Championship.

After the opening ceremony World Champion Hou Yifan and challenger Humpy Koneru inspected the playing hall and the technical facilities. Both players and the members of their teams checked the lighting and tested the chairs.

After long discussions Hou Yifan chose a red chair

Humpy Koneru preferred a blue one

All photos © FIDE by Anastasiya Karlovich

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