Female Candidates: Monaco receives the players from Pool A

A new formula

One of Arkady Dvorkovich’s main offers to support women’s chess since his first election as FIDE President in 2018 was to create a cycle of women’s world championships that would resemble the open cycle – after a period of annual women’s championships with different formats. In this vein, a Candidates Tournament, with a dual round-robin format as in the open cycle, was held in 2019. Aleksandra Goryachkina won the event and then lost the title match to Ju Wenjun.

A similar format was established for the next cycle, which was originally scheduled to end in 2022. However, the FIDE Council met on March 15, 2022 and decided to postpone the Candidates and “[consult] with the players regarding the format of the tournament”. This resolution was prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as no less than 3 Russians and 2 Ukrainians were among the 8 qualified Candidates entrants.

Three and a half months later, FIDE announces the adoption of a new format. Instead of a double round robin, a two phase knockout would take place. Pool A included the two Ukrainian representatives — Anna and Mariya Muzychuk — while Pool B included the three Russian participants — Goryachkina, Kateryna Lagno and Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk qualified for the contenders by securing third and fourth places at the 2021 Women’s World Cup (which was won by Alexandra Kosteniuk) | Photo: Eric Rosen

Perhaps to avoid possible disapproval of the sporting merits of the tournament, FIDE did not publicly acknowledge that the new format was established to prevent Russian and Ukrainian players from clashing in the midst of the war. The specific justification for the allocation of hens can be found in the official rules (point 4.2).

Notwithstanding these considerations, the first half of the event (pool A) will take place in Monaco from Monday. Anna Muzychuk will face the Indian Humpy Koneru while Mariya Muzychuk will play against the Chinese Lei Tigjie.

The winner of this pool will secure a place in the final, which will supposedly take place in the first quarter of 2023. The dates for the organization of the Pool B knockout have not yet been announced, although in the press release of June, it was revealed that this “[would] will take place in October-November.

Monaco will host Pool A of female candidates

FIDE Press Release August 5, 2022

The glamorous Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo will host Pool A of the Female Candidates Tournament from October 24 to November 6, organized by the Monegasque Chess Federation.

This installment will see the clash between Humpy Koneru and Anna Muzychuk (first quarter-final), and Lei Tingjie and Mariya Muzychuk in the second quarter-final. Under the new knockout format, players from each of the two brackets or “pools” will play a four-game match (plus tiebreakers, if necessary) in order to progress to the next stage, the final match. being played. over the distance of six games.

The prize pool for this prize pool is €70,000, while an additional €110,000 will be up for grabs in the female candidates final, bringing the total to a record €250,000.

The main sponsor of the event will be the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM), a company that owns and manages the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Opéra de Monte-Carlo and the Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo. Originally founded in 1863 by Charles III, Prince of Monaco, and previously owned by Aristotle Onassis, SBM is today a publicly traded company registered in the Principality of Monaco, with the Government of Monaco as its major shareholder.

Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo

Photo: Hakan Dahlström

The venue for the games will add a touch of distinction to the event since the Hôtel Hermitage is one of the most emblematic hotels in Europe. Housed in a Monegasque palace listed as a historic monument, this luxurious 5-star hotel features Belle-Époque decor, a winter garden and a 7,000 m² spa. Among other distinctions, it received the ‘Best spa in a hotel in Europe’ award from Villégiature Award in 2016 and the Gold Award in the ‘Event Hotel of the Year’ category from Eventia in 2012.

Group B of female candidates will take place under the same conditions, and the host city will be confirmed in the coming days. The final that will determine Ju Wenju’s challenger to the throne, played over the 6-game distance, will take place in the first quarter of 2023, and two different European cities have already expressed interest in hosting it.

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