Women's World Championship Takes Off Saturday
The 2017 Women's World Championship will start tomorrow in Tehran, Iran. Among the 64 participants are former world champions Alexandra Kosteniuk, Anna Ushenina, Antoaneta Stefanova and Zhu Chen. The top seed is world number two Ju Wenjun.
We're a day away from an important tournament that's been controversial from the moment it was announced. This year's world championship for women will be held in Iran. Hence, the participants will be forced to wear hijabs.
Because of this, not all players who qualified will travel to Iran. For example, Argentina's number one player Carolina Lujan decided to skip the event and wrote on Facebook:
"The mandatory use of hijab do not seem to me that this is a simple dress code, it means a lot and for my beliefs, beliefs and values. I'm not ready to be forced to use it. Also, due to the misinformation that is on their culture, a possible confusion could send us to jail or worse."
I will be the official photographer in the Women's World Championship. As a warming up, here you have some badass girls wearing hijab. pic.twitter.com/a29br3d1fy— David Llada ♔ ( @davidllada) February 8, 2017
U.S. Champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes went even further and started a petition demanding FIDE to reconsider Iran as the location for the tournament. Paikidze referred to the FIDE Handbook, which states that the organization “rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of sex.”
Paikidze's protest was covered worldwide in mainstream media, but that didn't change anything. The tournament will be held according to plan, with the opening ceremony on Friday and the first round on Saturday.
And many strong players will be playing! The top seeds (listing all 2500+ players) are Ju Wenjun (CHN, 2583), Anna Muzychuk (UKR, 2558), Alexandra Kosteniuk, (RUS, 2549), Harika Dronavalli (IND, 2539), Nana Dzagnidze, (GEO, 2525), Valentina Gunina, (RUS, 2524), Antoaneta Stefanova, (BUL, 2512), Zhao Xue (CHN, 2505), and Tan Zhongyi (CHN, 2502).
@HarikaDronavali) February 9, 2017
We're missing a big name here obviously: that of Hou Yifan. The reigning world champion has decided to quit the world championship cycle for women, because she's not happy with the regulations for women, and especially the fact that there are different regulations than for her male colleagues.
@Rez7a) February 10, 2017
Valentina Gunina in between her mother and Anna Muzychuk, at the opening ceremony.
The world championship is a knockout tournament consisting of five rounds. During the first four rounds, which will last three days each, the players play two games and then if needed a tiebreak. The final consists of four classical games and a possible tiebreak.
In total, the event will take three weeks. The prize fund is $450,000 with a first prize of $60,000 for the new women's world champion.
The tournament will be held in the five-star Espinas Palace Hotel, which is situated on a hill in the northwest of Tehran. The players won't be close to the city center, but the view is not bad.
Вид на Тегеран из окна отеля "Эспинас Палас", в котором стартует чемпионат мира по шахматам среди женщин. pic.twitter.com/zZyyxmN6A4— Кирсан Илюмжинов ( @Ilyumzhinov) February 9, 2017
The women's world championship will be covered on Chess.com with several reports by our special women's chess correspondent IM Jovanka Houska.