The Greatest Women's Chess Event of the Year
As far as society and sport within said society has come, there still seems to be a distinct lack of coverage and attention when it comes to female sporting events. Far be it from this article to attempt to delve into the many reasons why this is still the case, this Women's Chess World Cup 2015 piece will instead simply attempt to take a step towards the correction of this asymmetrical coverage.
Even though the chess spotlight is currently intensifying the already blazing heat of the 2015 Chess World Cup in Baku, the Women's Chess World Cup 2015 remains in comparative darkness in spite of having taken place in the much-publicised (and criticised) region of Sochi, Russia between March and April 2015. This short article covers key information regarding the events and outcomes of the greatest women's chess event of the year.
Trouble With Organisation
The arranging and planning of the 2015 women's event wasn't a smooth affair. In fact, the event was originally scheduled to take place in October 2014 but was postponed. Reasons for this postponement were cited as being difficulty in obtaining secure sponsorship for the event as well as the difficulty in finding a hosting city. FIDE were forced to announce the official postponement of the event in September 2014.
Although the outcome of the 2015 tournament was met with much joy and jubilation from a variety of organisations (see this European Chess Union newsletter for an example of this), the handling of the planning aspects of the Women's 2015 Chess World Cup came under heavy criticism. The Association for Chess Professionals in particular were heavily critical of the uncertain nature of its planning and the delaying of the event.
Players of the Tournament
Selection of players that would be allowed to participate in the 2015 Women's World Chess Cup took place via a mixture of events including national and continental championships as well as zonal tournaments. The selection process ensured that a wide spread of nationalities were represented in the tournament, though Russia and Ukraine had the largest representation (10 and 5 players respectively).
Players that were successful in qualifying for the tournament were seeded according to their 2015 rankings. Impressively, there were three former world champions among the qualifiers: Alexandra Kosteniuk, Anna Ushenina, and Antoaneta Stefanova.
If you were lucky enough to catch the action of the tournament, you will likely be aware that some of the best players in the world were absent from the tournament for various reasons. The most noticeable absence was from reigning champion and world number one Hou Yifan of China, due to her prior commitment to a chess tournament in Hawaii. Other op-10 players that were also not in attendance included Kateryna Lagno and Nana Dzagnidze.
Events of the tournament
The tournament itself began with an air of negativity, sparked initially by the absence of defending champion Hou Yifan and compounded by the general d. Additionally, the second-round elimination of former world champion Anna Ushenina was a controversial one since the disqualification was triggered by FIDE's 'zero tolerance' rule that pertains to the strict timing of each match and the moves that take place within. Therefore, as a result of her phone setting itself to Ukrainian time (one hour behind Sochi's time zone) , Ushenina was late for her tie-break match, which she then lost by default due to the oft-criticised zero tolerance rules.
In spite of the presence of three former world champions at the outset of the tournament, its crescendo would be a result of two players: Mariya Muzychuk and Natalia Pogonina, who were seeded 8th and 31st respectively. It was Muzychuk who went on to claim the event's coveted $60,000 top prize however. Even though Muzychk - one of the players who also represented the Ukraine in the Women's Team Championship 2015 - began with a loss in the first round, she went on to beat Yuanling Yuan of Canada, Monika Socko of Poland, Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, and finally Humpy Koneru and Dronavalli Harika of India.
The final took place between Muzychuk and Pogonina, consisting of four classical games played between the 2nd and 5th of April 2015. The outcome of the final was 2.5 to 1.5, with Muzychuk managing to outplay Pogonina, essentially leaving her with no further winning chances on the board.