Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pestaño: Weird women’s world championship

 Sunday, April 05, 2015
The 2014 Women’s World Championship is unique in several ways. Although its’ called the 2014 championships, it is being held this year. There are actually two world women championships to be held in 2015.
It was originally scheduled from Oct. 11 to 31, 2014 however problems in finding a sponsor and host city eventually forced FIDE to announce the postponement of the Championship. The unclear state of the tournament was highly criticized by the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP).
On Nov. 20, 2014 it was announced that the championship would take place in Sochi, Russia on March 17 to April 7 this year thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin . If you will recall, Garry Kasparov (Putin’s fiercest critic) promised to solve this problem.
The women’s championship uses a knockout format on even-numbered years and uses a match play for odd years.
Another interesting item is that the defending champion Hou Yifan of China is conspicuously absent. Hou opted not to play because of a prior commitment to a chess tournament in Hawaii.
However, Hou won the 2014 -2015 Grand Prix and will therefore meet the 2014 champion via match play later this year. They will play in the second half of 2015 in a 10-game match for the title.
The women’s world championship, currently in the finals, features 64 players in a series of knockout matches. The early rounds are two games each, plus a tiebreak if necessary. The final is a match of four games, plus possible tiebreakers. The prize fund is $450,000 with the winner taking home $60,000.
The players are selected through national chess championships, Zonal tournaments and continental chess championship.
Natalia Pogonina claimed her place in the final after a 116-move win over Pia Cramling in the tie-break.
The Russian faced Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, who overcame Harika Dronovali of India after the latter failed to convert a completely won position.
The first game in the final was a draw and I expect the match to go the full distance and it will be won via tiebreakers. It is also interesting to note that both women are very beautiful and lovely.
STRONG FIELD. The 2015 US Championship has arguably the strongest field ever .The sponsor is Rex Sinquefied and has a prize fund of $175,000 . There is also the $64,000 “Fischer Bonus.” Named after Bobby Fischer’s sensational 11-0 win in the 1963-64 U.S. Championship, it is given to any player who can match the feat.
This year’s 12-player tournament will run through April 13 and the participants hold an average rating of 2642, higher than any other national championship in U.S. history. Two of the participants, Hikaru Nakamura (2798) and Wesley So (2788), are ranked No. 3 and No. 8 in the world, respectively.
More than half the field are under the age of 25. After two rounds Wesley won over Daniel Naroditsky 19 (2663) and Samuel Shankland 23 (2661). After a battle of almost six hours, Nakamura also won over Conrad Holt 2530 (US Open champion) and Varuzhan Akobian (2630) .
Wesley was set to play Samuel Sevian 2530 (wild card entry) and the youngest GM today, while Nakamura was to face the dangerous Gata Kamsky (2683).
Wesley and Nakamura could also face off probably to determine the champion. The last time they met was early this year in Tata Steel, where they had a draw.
Running concurrently is the U.S. Women’s Championship featuring Irina Krush, who has won the title six times since first winning as a 14 year old in 1998.
Irina will be looking to capture her seventh title as her main rival Anna Zatonskih is not participating this year.

No comments: