Women's Speed Chess Championship Match Kosteniuk-Zatonskih Preview

Women's Speed Chess Championship Match Kosteniuk-Zatonskih Preview

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The Women' Speed Chess Championship continues today with the second quarterfinals matchup between GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia) and IM and WGM Anna Zatonskih (USA). 

We're having two Women's Speed Chess Championship matches back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. The first one is today: Alexandra Kosteniuk vs. IM Anna Zatonskih on Sunday, May 26 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST). That match is featured in this preview.

Tomorrow, same time same place, it's Valentina Gunina vs. Irina Krush. You can watch the matches with live commentary by IM Sopiko Guramishvili and IM Anna Rudolf on and

Danielian upset Lagno in the first match of the 2019 WSCC

The 35-year-old Kosteniuk (@ChessQueen) is one of the most famous female chess players, and definitely not just for her strong presence on social media (with e.g. over 243,000 followers on Twitter). She has won basically all the titles there are to win in chess, including the individual world championship. She held the highest crown between 2008 and 2010.

Kosteniuk also won several gold medals for representing the Russian team, including the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Olympiads, the 2017 World Team Championship and 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2017 European Team Championships.

Alexandra Kosteniuk Women's Speed Chess Championship

The 40-year-old Zatonskih (@ZatonskihAnna) is currently America's highest-rated player, having two Elo points more than GM Irina Krush, who is playing tomorrow. Married with children to grandmaster Daniel Fridman, Ukrainian-born Zatonskih moved to the USA in 2003 and has won the U.S. Championship four times since (after her Ukrainian national title in 2001).

Zatonskih was part of the silver winning team at the Calvia 2004 Olympiad, and she was also there in 2008 in Dresden when Olympic bronze was won. She won an individual silver medal on first board at the 2017 World Team Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Anna Zatonskih Women's Speed Chess Championship

Kosteniuk should be considered the favorite for this match, but interestingly, Zatonskih actually has a remarkably good record against the Russian player in classical chess: three wins, one draw and no losses. Their last over-the-board encounter was at the Isle of Man tournament in 2017.

In rapid and blitz Kosteniuk is 4-2 up though. Her FIDE blitz rating is 2466, versus 2374 for Zatonskih. On, the difference is even bigger. 

"I used to play online quite a bit and then completely stopped for a long time and only recently came back to the online chess community," Kosteniuk said. "Right now I usually play online when I stream and participate in streamers' tournaments. And I don't know anything about Anna's experience in online chess."

Here's one win for Kosteniuk, ending in checkmate:

Kosteniuk doesn't see herself as the big favorite. "Well, as the first match of this series already showed, any result is possible, especially in an online blitz match," she said. "If we look at the rating, of course I'm favorite, but Anna has a positive score against me so I don't think it will be an easy match."

Perhaps Zatonskih should try to make things as tactical as possible, because there's one more area where she performed better than Kosteniuk: Puzzle Rush. The American has a high score of 45, with 44 for the Russian!

Like seven other top players, Kosteniuk is preparing for the Candidates' tournament and she said she didn't have much time to prepare for this speed chess match: "My life right now has a lot of chess in it. I just hope that I will be able to keep on going for three hours or so, since just simply looking at the screen for such a long time can be quite challenging itself."

Prizes Women's Speed Chess Championship

The match will start with 90 minutes of 5|1 blitz, continue with 60 minutes of 3|1 blitz, and end with 30 minutes of 1|1 bullet. (Find all regulations here.) The prize fund for the first-round matches is $2,000 each. The winner earns $1,000 and advances to round two, while the other $1,000 is split by win percentage.

The Women' Speed Chess Championship takes place May 22 - June 27 on the live server. All WSCC matches will be broadcast live with chess-master commentary on and

Here's the full schedule:

  • Lagno vs. Elina Danielian (Round 2, Match 1): 13.0-14.0 (News post.)
  • Kosteniuk vs. Zatonskih (Round 2, Match 2): May 26, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Gunina vs. Krush (Round 2, Match 3): May 27, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Dronavalli vs. Sebag (Round 2, Match 4): May 30, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Semifinal 1: (Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 4): June 20, 2019 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Semifinal 2: (Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3): June 25, 2019 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • WSCC Championship: June 27, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
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