Women's World Championship Postponed

Women's World Championship Postponed

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Sep 26, 2014, 1:24 AM |
55 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2014 Women's World Championship, which was scheduled to start in two weeks from now, has been postponed “for a few months.”

This was announced on Wednesday on the FIDE website, and might have serious consequences for the women's world championship cycle.

A small and disappointing text was posted on the FIDE website this week:

FIDE announces that the Women's World Championship 2014, originally scheduled for this October, will be postponed for a few months. Exact dates will be announced soon when FIDE finalizes all organising details with potential sponsors interested to hold this event.

Until a few days ago, the FIDE Calendar had the 2014 Women's World Championship listed for October 11-31, without mentioning a venue. Now it tops the October month, without a venue and without dates. 

The tournament, arguably one of the most important events of the year for everyone who takes women's chess seriously, was canceled just two-and-a-half weeks before it was supposed to start.

It is quite remarkable that FIDE waited to postpone it until the very last minute. Did it really think that such a big tournament could still be organized in time? And what about the players, who had to prepare while not knowing for what exactly, and who apparently were expected to wait with booking their flights until the tickets were really expensive?

Not to mention that they might have been interested in signing up for a different tournament in October.

The way it is formulated on the FIDE website, the World Chess Federation strongly hints that a venue and sponsor haven't been found yet. That is surprising, considering the relatively smooth organization of top women's events in recent years.

The women's Grand Prix series has encountered less problems than the general GP, and consequently the Women's World Championship cycle wasn't interrupted.

As pointed out by Chess-News, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov failed to keep his promise made at the opening of the Sharjah Grand Prix. There, he said that a venue for the Women's World Championship would be announced “during the closing ceremony on the 6th of September.”

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in Sharjah. | Photo © Maria Emelianova.

Perhaps Ilyumzhinov made his promise because of the firm criticism by the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP). In his open letter of August 26, ACP President Emil Sutovsky wrote:

It is shocking to see no official news for the Women's World Championship scheduled to start in 1.5 months. Sixty four ladies are supposed to take part in this most prestigious competition, and they can neither prepare for the event, nor to accept invitations to other tournaments in September - November period. Having no official news about World Championship tournament just a few weeks prior to its commencement is unheard of, and I ask you, Mr. President, to confirm or postpone it officially without further delay.

As it turned out, Sutovsky and the 64 participants had to wait another month to see the tournament postponed “for a few months.”

According to R-Sport, Chisinau and Ashgabat have been mentioned and possible host cities, and now Abu Dhabi and Sharm el-Sheikh have been added.

Probably not Russia, where many events are already taking place,” said Ilyumzhinov's aide Berik Balgabaev.  

So what does the postponement mean? A lot, at least as far as the cycle is concerned. By winning the Grand Prix, Hou Yifan has qualified for a world championship that is scheduled for October 11-31, 2015.

She is supposed to play the winner of the 2014 knockout championship. When this is held in the spring of 2015, there will be only half a year between two world championships.

The 2014 (now 2015) Women's World Championship is a 64-player knockout. The players are selected through national chess championships, Zonal tournaments and continental chess championships. The qualifiers can be found at this Wikipedia page.


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