The race for the Women's World Championship title will take off in Kazan with a renewed Candidates Tournament, the strongest female event ever held, which features a record prize fund of 200.000 euros. From May 29th to June 19th, eight top Grandmasters will compete to become Ju Wenjun's challenger.
The participants are Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine, 2563), Kateryna Lagno (Russia, 2554), Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia, 2546), Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine, 2539), Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia, 2522), Tan Zhongyi (China, 2513), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia, 2510), and Valentina Gunina (Russia, 2506).
The pre-competition press-conference with organizers and participants will take place at AO Tatmedia (Dekabristov st. 2) at 3 pm May 30.
The opening ceremony will take place in the Kazan Palace Hotel (Kalinina st. 5/24), starting at 4:30 pm. An invitation is required for attendance (members of the media will need their press credentials to get in).
The event is a double round round-robin – the players will play each other twice, once with White, and once with Black pieces. The venue is the Nogai Hotel (16B, Profsojuznaja St., Kazan). Playing days: May 31 – June 2, 4-6, 8-10, 12-14, and 16-17. Tie-breaks (if needed) and the Closing Ceremony will take place on June 18. All rounds begin at 3 pm local time.
The drawing of lots ceremony took place on April 30 in Moscow and was attended by Arkady Dvorkovich, President of FIDE, and Judit Polgar, the strongest female player in the history of chess and Honorary FIDE Vice-President. These will be the pairings for the first round:
Valentina Gunina - Kateryna Lagno
Alexandra Kosteniuk - Alexandra Goryachkina
Nana Dzagnidze - Tan Zhongyi
Maria Muzychuk - Anna Muzychuk
A special chess tent will be installed on Bauman street near the playing venue. On the playing days, grandmaster Sergey Shipov will be commenting the games live for the Russian-speaking audience. On the rest days, the tent will be hosting side activities such as blitz tournaments, master classes, meeting with chess celebrities, and simultaneous displays by famous grandmasters.
GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko and IM Elisabeth Paehtz will be commenting the events of the Candidates Tournament for the English-speaking audience.
The winner of the FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament qualifies for the World Championship Match with Ju Wenjun (China), where both players will compete for a total prize fund of €500,000, which is 150% percent bigger than in the previous championship match.
The Republic of Tatarstan is rightly considered to be one of the strongest sporting regions of Russia, and Kazan is often referred to as the sports capital of Russia. Thanks to its widespread sporting infrastructure, Tatarstan hosts more than 800 competitions each year, including all-Russian and international events in various sports.
The chess history of the Republic of Tatarstan accounts to 135 years. The chess life revolves around the Republican Sports Olympic Reserve School, named after the great Tatarstani player Rashid Gibyatovich Nezhmetdinov, the only player in the world to become international master in chess as well as USSR master is checkers.
This is not the first time for Kazan to host prominent chess events of such caliber. In 1999 it carried out the Women's World Championship Match between Alisa Galliamova and Xie Jun. In 2011 the capital of Tatarstan hosted the Candidates Matches. Next year, the city organized one of the legs of the Women's Grand Prix, and in 2014 it welcomed the Russian Superfinals.
The organizers are FIDE, Russian Chess Federation, Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, Ministry of Sports of the Republic of Tatarstan, and city administration of Kazan.
The tournament is sponsored by PJSC PhosAgro and Russian Railways.