The Women's World Championship shifts to Vladivostok, Russia for the 2nd half
The second half of the Women's World Chess Championship between Ju Wenjun (China) and Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) kicked off with an opening ceremony in Vladivostok, Russia.
The ceremony began with welcoming speeches from the organizers and sponsors and was followed by a concert.
"Vladivostok is not only a commercial but also a cultural and sports capital of the region," said Vera Scherbina, vice-governor of the hosting Primorsky region. "We are happy to host such a large-scale event. There are over 3,000 chess lovers here, and that's why it's a very big event for us."
"I thank all the partners and organizers of the Match, in particular, the Chinese Chess Association, all Chinese sponsors, Government of the Primorsky region, Governor Oleg Kozhemyako, Gidrostroy, Gazprom, Chess Federation of Russia, Far Eastern Federal University, all the partners of FIDE and CFR, and sponsors of the participants, including Andrey Simanovskiy and Ju Wenjun's supporters," said FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, welcoming the guests of the ceremony. "The whole world is watching the Match with great interest. I think that this event will help promote chess in this wonderful region. We will do our best to create comfortable conditions for both players. I declare the second part of the Women's World Championship Match open", he added.
Wang Xiaochun, Deputy General Consul of China in Vladivostok, expressed his gratitude to the organizers and partners. "Such sports events enrich friendly relations between China and Russia", he said. "Chess is very popular in both countries, the Russian and Chinese take leading positions in the world chess rating lists. This match demonstrates the strength and high level of our players. I wish success to both participants."
Alexander Verkhovsky, Chairperson of the Board of directors of Gidrostroy, general sponsor of the Match, sent a message of greetings to the participants and guests:
"We are witnessing and partaking in a unique contest. Just like all chess games. In this lies its beauty and power. Chess is above and beyond time, politics, and all pretenses. Chess unites. Chess makes us all one family. Here's to hoping that this Women's World Championship Match will be remembered in history as a prime example of great sportsmanship and friendship between two great chess nations".
Gidrostroy is the largest fishery holding company in the Far East and second in Russia in terms of overall production. Its subsidiary businesses include all fishery-related operations such as oceanic and coastal fishing; processing, storage, and sales of fish products; artificial propagation; and construction."
Following the speeches, Vera Scherbina and Wang Xiaochun pushed the buttons of a legendary clock to launch the second part of the Championship. This clock, a historical artifact, had been used during the 1958 World Championship played between Mikhail Botvinnik and Vasily Smyslov in Moscow.
Speaking to journalists, both Ju and Goryachkina promised to play their best games and to satisfy all chess fans. "We've had very intense games, and, so far, the match is proving to be extremely interesting," Ju said. "I believe my strength comes from being a more experienced player, while my opponent is younger and is very motivated."
Goryachkina confirmed her strong motivation. "I will give it my all," she said. "The match is now tied and its an indication that we are evenly matched."
The Match is set to resume with the seventh game on January 16, and Ju Wenjun will have the white pieces. The score is equal at 3 to 3 points.
Text: Michael Friedman
Photos: Eteri Kublashvili, Michael Friedman