Reports | December 23, 2011 12:55

China crushes Russia, leads Women's World Team Championship

China crushes Russia, leads Women's World Team Championship

China is leading the Women's World Team Championship in Mardin, Turkey after five rounds as the only team with a 100% score. India is one match point behind, with four more rounds to go.

Russia, with the Kosintseva sisters on top boards, lost 0-4 to China at the Women's World Team Championship | All photos courtesy of the Turkish Chess Federation 

Event Women's World Team Championship | PGN via TWIC
Dates December 18th-27th, 2011
Location Mardin, Turkey
System 10 teams, round-robin

Top players include Hou Yifan, Humpy Koneru, Elina Danielian, Nadezhda & Tatiana Kosintseva, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Nana Dzagnidze

Rate of play

40 moves in 90 minutes, then 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move 1

Prize fund
€ 7,500

Game points, mutual result, Berger, board count (Berlin System)

The Women's World Team Championship just passed it's half-way point (if there is any, with an odd number of rounds) on Thursday. The Turkish Chess Federation is organizing, and picked Mardin as the location, a city in southeastern Turkey. It is the capital of the Mardin Province and according to Wikipedia it is

known for its Arabic-like architecture, and for its strategic location on a rocky mountain overlooking the plains of northern Syria.

The old town of Mardin | Photo Florian Koch © Wikipedia

Strong teams, such as China (with Hou Yifan playing), India (with Humpy Koneru) and Russia (with the Kosintseva sisters and Kosteniuk), are present. A bit of a surprise team might be South-Africa, who thus far lost all their matches with big scores. They are replacing Algeria, who had qualified via the African Continental Championship.

A strong team not present in Mardin is the USA. Early December the USCF decided not to send a team to Turkey. Normally such matters are related to money, while the federation gave the following explanation:

Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici, Members of the Organizing Committee, and interested parties:

After serious consideration of multiple issues and several topics that were a concern to us, the USCF has decided to respectfully decline the invitation to the 2011 Women's World Team Championships.

One of the primary concerns was the principle that, although the qualification process for teams to the Women's World Team Championship are the same as for the World Team Championship, the regulations for the conditions are not consistent. We feel that this is an inappropriate gender bias and hope that this issue is addressed in the near future. We wish you the best success with the event.

Bill Hall
Executive Director
United States Chess Federation

In the regulations of the event we noticed that the total prize fund in Mardin is € 7,500 - the winners of the event get € 750 per board. This seems like a ridiculously low amount, but in fact money prizes for team events are not a tradition at all in chess. At the men's tournament, for example, which was held in Ningbo, China in July of this year, there were no money prizes. Generally speaking the host country takes care of the hotels and the venue while the federations deal with the travel costs and the players' appearence fees.

Anyway, let's see what is happening in Turkey. After five rounds the Chinese team, led by World Champion Hou Yifan, is the only team left with a 100% score.

China in round 4 (a 3-1 win against Vietnam), with Hou Yifan, Ju Wenjun, Zhao Xue and Than Zhongyi

Especially the result against one of their main rivals, Russia, was notable: a 4-0 sweep. Also before the 5th round it was already clear that the Russian team is not in good shape. In the first round they only won 2.5-1.5 against Vietnam, which was lower rated on all boards, and in the third round Greece managed to hold them to a 2-2 tie with Ekaterini Pavlidou (2176) beating Natalija Pogonina (2451). In round 4 Russia again played 2-2, this time against the only slightly lower rated Georgians, and then the rough day against China came.

PGN file

In fact the Chinese ladies also beat the (not that weak) Armenian team 4-0 in the third round.

With four rounds to go, India is one match point behind China, which they already dropped in the first round, against Ukraine. China and India are due to meet in the final round.

Boards 2-4 of India in round 5, R-L: Harika Dronavalli, Tania Sachdev and Padmini Rout

Women's World Team Championship 2011 | Round 5 standings

Rank Team Games + = - MP TGP SB. BT
1 China 5 5 0 0 10 17½ 36,00 1619
2 India 5 4 1 0 9 17 32,50 1586
3 Georgia 5 3 1 1 7 12½ 20,25 1170
4 Russia 5 2 2 1 6 28,75 880
5 Ukraine 5 2 1 2 5 12 14,50 1105
6 Armenia 5 2 0 3 4 13,00 880
7 Vietnam 5 2 0 3 4 8 17,50 749
8 Turkey 5 2 0 3 4 8 13,00 758
9 Greece 5 0 1 4 1 5 4,75 462
10 RSA 5 0 0 5 0 1 0,00 91


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.


choufleur's picture

what a rout for Russia, they were outplayed on all boards !

Raj's picture

We know that the Chinese women team has improved a lot but has Russian women team not improved their quality of play?

Clifford's picture

The problem for the US was not the prize money but the fact that teams were required to pay for accommodation (for the first time at such an event). Apparently quite a few other qualified teams dropped out as well as the US.

Anthony's picture

who cares about women's chess

Anonymous's picture

More importantly, does anyone care about your inane comment?

Anonymous's picture

More importantly, does anyone care about your inane comment?

Juan Castillo's picture

I do.

foo's picture

troll alert!

litmus's picture

As an American, I am very interested in knowing why we did not participate in this event. The letter from Bill Hall quoted in the article is not of much use, however. The second paragraph of the letter piques curiosity but defies comprehension, not least because it is worded in impenetrable officialese. (What does "regulations for the conditions" even mean? What conditions? Perhaps Bill intended to say either "contests" or "competitions" and ended up squishing the two words together to "conditions.") Can Peter or someone in the USCF Exec board say what the "inappropriate gender bias" was that prompted the USA to withdraw after qualifying?

PeterV's picture

@ litmus: see Clifford's reaction

middlewave's picture

In chess jargon, "conditios" refers to the coverage of accomodation, food and travel costs, as well as - perhaps - some pocket money for various expenses. Thus, when a player asks the organizer for "conditions", he is essentially asking whether his hotel (or food, or travel) will be paid by the organization (and whether he will receive any pocket money). Thus, Mr.Hall's phrase "regulations for the conditions" means "the (FIDE and organizers') regulations for coverage of various costs".
Despite having a very vague idea about the event's logistics, I would presume that Mr.Hall (and the USCF) were dissatisfied with the fact that the USCF would have to cover a greater part (or the whole) of their expenses on their own.

Wudu's picture

"We feel that this is an inappropriate gender bias and hope that this issue is addressed in the near future."

Is he saying that not selecting men for the Women's Team Championship is too gender biased?! o.O

JON's picture

There is so much political unrest being so near iraq that it was a wise idea to avoid that part of the middle east.

Septimus's picture

The USCF reasoning makes no sense whatsoever. Gender bias in a women's only event??

middlewave's picture

Obviously the USCF implies that, while in the open ("men's") event the organizers tend to cover all accomodation expenses for the participating teams, in this particular women's event the teams would have to pay for these expenses on their own. So, basically, USCF politely protests against FIDE and the organizers for this difference in attitude towards the two events.

Clifford's picture

It is gender bias in as far as the open (men's) event in Ningbo had all costs except travel covered by the organisers, whereas for this tournament the women's teams had to pay quite large sums of money to attend.

Parkov's picture

It's not gender bias. It's bias against weaker, less interesting chessplayers, which is thoroughly understandable

justice's picture

Why USCF did not participate is not matter of principle I guess. When I read the article in Susan Polar Blog Spott, it says what is real reason....


fen 's picture

Susan Polgar is hardly unbiased when it comes to the USCF. Apparently you are not aware that she and her husband were removed from the USCF board in 2009.

Parkov's picture

"A strong team not present in Mardin is the USA"

Two players doesn't make a team

Parkov's picture

To those of you who think the womens event should recieve the same publicity, prize fund, conditions etc. as the mens, maybe some of you will change your tune when you realize that 5 of the participants are rated <2000 with the lowest being 1607. The lowest rated player in the mens championship was an Egyptian fellow rated 2430. Gender discrimination? Don't make me laugh

Sander's picture

So basically the American team is saying; "Us women (rated 300 points lower than men on average) should be paid the same as the men. If you don't treat us weak players the same as the strong players we'll cal it gender bias" Why should Jennifer Shahade be given the same treatment as Kamsky or Nakamura?

A little tip for the American ladies, try to gain at least one 2700-player then we'll talk.

Septimus's picture

To me it simply looks like the USCF are a bunch of bums who won't lift a finger to do anything for the players (men and women). The entire lot should be sacked immediately. Women's issues are a big deal over here, so I'm sure they could have found some money for the team. If women's chess sucks, the blame is on the USCF who don't do more to help the ladies participate in the open events. You can't go from 1400 to 2800 if you only keep beating up on 1200 players.

fen 's picture

I basically agree with you here. Then men's team received better conditions and also appears to have received some funding from Rex - note that the team was wearing St. Louis Chess Club blazers at the event. This should have freed up USCF money that then could have been used to support the women's team.

As far as I can tell, any gender bias here belongs squarely on the shoulders of the USCF. By refusing to spend the money to send the women's team to the event they completely failed in their duties to support them.

columbo's picture

merry christmas to chessvibes, great covering all along these years !

Chess Fan's picture

I honestly do not understand the great disparity between men and women chess in rating and playing ability. In an intellectual sport like chess, I would expect women to be as good or better than men.
This has to do with the number of women participating in chess, the relative lack of encouragement and opportunity given to women.

Parkov's picture

"relative lack of encouragement and opportunity given to women"

You can't really be serious can you? You realize you're commenting on a news item about an event in which ONLY women are allowed compete

Septimus's picture

Going by this report, everybody is having a great time!-->

USCF have some serious explaining to do!

mishanp's picture

Natalia Pogonina at Twitter (after Russia's 4:0 loss to China where she didn't play): "Sports is tough. It's Christmas time, and we are in Turkey & missing our significant others."

I can't help think a lack of enthusiasm for playing chess on Christmas Day was a significant factor, which is obviously less for some of the countries which don't celebrate the day at all, or celebrate it on a different date.

fen's picture

If you have a quote from one of the members of the women's team stating that the reason they didn't go was because they wanted to spend their holidays at home (or something to that effect) could you please source it?

I have been looking for a statement from the team members and all I can find is this silly nonsense from Bill Hall. I'd like to hear what's going on from the women team members themselves.

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