Announcement | November 14, 2011 8:51

Women's World Championship starts today

Women's World Championship starts today

Hou Yifan plays black in the first game of the Women's World Championship which starts today at 15:00 CET in Tirana, Albania. The Chinese grandmaster defends her world title against Humpy Koneru of India, who is rated 22 points higher.

An image of the official website's home page

Event Women's World Championship
Dates November 13th-30th, 2011
Location Tirana, Albania
System 10-game match, tie-break if necessary
Players Reigning World Champion Hou Yifan (China) and Challenger Humpy Koneru (India)
Rate of play 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one

The Women’s World Chess Championship Match between the current World Champion Hou Yifan (China) and challenger Humpy Koneru (India) will be held from November 12 to 30, 2011 in the “Akernia” hall of the Tirana International Hotel in Tirana, Albania. Hou Yifan is holding the title since her victory at the 2010 Women's World Championship, while Humpy Koneru earned the right to challenge her after she became second in the Womens' Grand Prix Series 2009-2011.

The total prize fund is 200,000 Euro which will be split between the players: 60% for the winner and 40% for the loser if the match ends within the 10 regular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55% and the loser 45%.

The drawing of colors was conducted during the opening ceremony, on Sunday evening, October 13th in the Presidential Palace in Tirana. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov declared the event open, after which the President of the Albanian Chess Federation Rezart Taci welcomed the participants. Taci is also the CEO and sole shareholder of the company Taci Oil, the main sponsor of the event.

On the FIDE website an article about Rezart Taci was published last Friday, which includes a cv. It says that Taci Oil is the oil market leader in the region. Taci is also CEO of other oil companies and the General Director of Albanian Satellite TV station Alsat. (Some Google results were not mentioned: apparently Taci was once arrested for an assault but saw his bodyguards convicted instead, and he also attempted to buy Italian football clubs AC Milan and Bologna.)

For the drawing of colors of the first game the players were offered to choose from two red parcels – Hou Yifan found a traditional souvenir spoon in one of them.

That meant she was the one to choose from two other parcels – this time blue ones – that hided black and white queens inside.

The defending World Champion picked a black queen – this means that the challenger Humpy Koneru will have the white pieces in the first game, which starts on 15:00 CET on Monday, November 14th.

The opening ceremony continued with a press conference by Ilyumzhinov, Taci and the players. After answering the questions of local journalists, all four signed a giant bottle of champagne.

The bottle was immediately opened to celebrate the start of the World Championship.

After the opening ceremony World Champion Hou Yifan and challenger Humpy Koneru inspected the playing hall and the technical facilities. Both players and the members of their teams checked the lighting and tested the chairs.

After long discussions Hou Yifan chose a red chair

Humpy Koneru preferred a blue one

All photos © FIDE by Anastasiya Karlovich

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


RealityCheck's picture

Go Humpy! Go Hou Yifan! I will watch the games sitting in the white chair. Good luck. May the best player win!

PP (NL)'s picture

200,000 Euros is more than I expected for this event. Good for them!

[devil mode]Maybe this will make Judith Polgar decide to have a go at this title in the future? It's pretty serious money for grasps given the fact that she is much stronger than these women![/devil mode]

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, Judith Polgar must have more money than she needs if she continues to ignore the Women's World Championship.

Frits Fritschy's picture

As I am not immune to prejudice myself, after I read the announcement a few weeks ago that the women world championship would be held in Albania, I also started looking up things about Mr. Taci. Hey, an Albanian millionaire, found willing by our beloved president to sponsor a FIDE event: that promised some mud to stir in!
I remember a lot of Google hits led, directly or by quotation, to sites of Albanian (exile?) opposition groups. That doesn't mean these are untrustworthy, but knowing this, some caution is required.
An article (Nov. 17, 2009) by John Feffer on puts things a bit in perspective: the attacked journalist was hardly any better than Mr. Taci. As Feffer concludes: “The recent targeting of Baze [the mentioned journalist] is less a reflection of his talents at investigative journalism than his fall from grace with those currently in power in Tirana. In Albania, there's a logic to the lawlessness.”
So, for the moment, let’s call Mr. Taci just ‘colourful’, one of those guys that can emerge in starting democracies.

Jeroen's picture

I"ll be present, sitting in my black chair. Good luck to both players and please bring on the fireworks!

bayde's picture

Nice to see that Kirsan's modernization of chess project is doing well...

leigh's picture

The money should attract Judit back to women's game. She couldn't earn these much money when she keeps playing in man's section.

fen's picture

Judit is currently 110 elo points ahead of the next highest ranked woman (Koneru). Through her stellar play she earned the opportunity to participate in the 2005 World Chess Championship. I think she is correct to continue to play in the Open section as there is no real competition in the Women's section and any matches/tournament would end in a predictable blowout.

Most men don't have the chance to earn that kind of money in the Open section either, but they don't have the choice of moving to an easier section. I think at this point in Polgar's career, it would be detrimental to her reputation if she started playing in the Women's section just to take advantage of the situation.

RealityCheck's picture

I prefer Yifans' approach to this male/female thing; she says she'll play both mens and womens events. Simple and correct!

DarrenL's picture

by your reckoning does that mean that anand can also play both male and female events, or would that be too close to equality? and as i see it polgar is right, any woman competing in female only events is more or less admitting they are inferiour to men. i see no reason on earth why there needs to be seperate sections anyway. it is patronising to women to even suggest there exists a gender difference based on ability, intelligence and talent. what advantage can a man possibly have over a woman at chess? this tourney, IMO, is merely celebrating discrimination and providing a spectacle of second rate chess. go the girls!

fen's picture

I agree with Yifan's approach for Yifan and the rest of the women who make occasional forays into the Open section. It makes sense for them because they face people in both sections with whom they can fairly complete. I simply maintain that Judit is so superior in ability that to compete in the Women's section would be a step down and really nothing more than opportunistic.

harami's picture

Nice first game. Go Humpy.

Who are the player's seconds ? Russian help for Hou , Maybe Humpy has one of the brit chicks for second ? :) , they are not so good in chess, but can be good for other reasons....

Saji's picture

Any idea of players seconds

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