Tatiana Kosintseva on a roll in Nalchik
After 8 of 11 rounds, Tatiana Kosintseva from Russia leads the Women Grand Prix tournament in Nalchik with 6.5 points. Her closest rivals Nana Dzagnidze, Hou Yifan, Pia Cramling and Zhu Chen are 1.5 points behind.
The third FIDE Women Grand Prix tournament takes place April 25 - May 8 in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria where exactly one year ago the men's GP was held as well. It's not exactly the most comfortable place to play a chess tournament at the moment. On May 1st a bomb exploded in a VIP box during horse races, injuring ten people. It's a sign of unrest spreading in the troubled North Caucasus region, as reported by The Independent.
But like last year, when I was in Nalchik to cover the men's Grand Prix won by Aronian, the tournament is held in a hotel outside the city center and owned by the President. It has military-level security so the chess playing ladies should be safe there.
Zhao Xue is currently leading the overall Women GP standings with 200 points, followed by Humpy Koneru, Xu Yuhua and Marie Sebag with 160 points. The first Women GP was held in March 2009 in Istanbul and was won by Humpy Koneru. The second, in September-October 2009, was won by Xu Yuhua.
The Women Grand Prix series consists of six tournaments. The winner of each tournament wins 6,500 euros out of a prize fund of 40,000 euros and the overall winner of the series will win a further 15,000 euros at the end of the series. The last three GPs will be held in Jermuk, Armenia (23 June-6 July 2010), Ulanbaatar, Mongolia (29 July-12 August 2010) and Santiago, Chile (27 October-9 November 2010).
The women Grand Prix events have 12 participants. In Nalchik these are GM Humpy Koneru (2622, IND), GM Hou Yifan (2570, CHN), GM Tatiana Kosintseva (2524, RUS), GM Pia Cramling (2523, SWE), IM Lilit Mkrtchan (2503, ARM), IM Elina Danielian (2491, ARM), GM Zhao Xue (2490, CHN), GM Nana Dzagnidze (2479, GEO), GM Zhu Chen (2476, QAT), WGM Munguntuul Batkhuyag, (2428, MGL), WGM Baira Kovanova (2385, RUS) and WIM Betul Cemre Yildiz (2244, TUR).
After 8 rounds, the youngest of the Kosintseva sisters Tatiana is leading by a 1.5 point margin. She beat Dzagnidze, Hou Yifan, Munguntuul, Kovanova and Danielian and drew with Zhao Xue, Koneru and Yildiz. Below you'll find a selection of games.
Before we end this report we'd like to mention the excellent tournament website that has extensive round reports, good photos and lots of interviews. Baira Kovanova is quoted saying: "Yes, my childhood was happy till I was 10. At this age I started to learn chess seriously." Chess can be a seriously damaging business...
Selection of games rounds 1-8
Game viewer by ChessTempo
The opening ceremony, with locals dressed traditionally and holding flags
The playing hall
Currently first: Tatiana Kosintseva (2714 performance)
Second-fifth: Nana Dzagnidze (2575 performance)
Second-fifth: Pia Cramling (2591 performance)
Second-fifth: Hou Yifan (2584 performance)
Second-fifth: Zhu Chen (2568 performance)
Sixth-seventh: Humpy Koneru (2443 performance)
Sixth-seventh: Lilit Mkrtchian (2480 performance)
Eighth: Zhao Xue (2426 performance)
9th-10th: Baira Kovanova (2387 performance)
9th-10th: Batkhuyag Munguntuul (2395 performance)
11th: Betul Cemre Yidliz (2345 performance)
12th: Elina Danielian (2243 performance)
A top game: tournament leader Tatiana Kosintseva vs the world's number 2 Humpy Koneru
Mkrtchian, Kovanova and Dzagnidze
Press officer Eldar Mukhametov, not a bad chess player himself (he's an IM rated 2475)
Commentator Evgeny Sveshnikov, not a bad chess player himself ;-)
Photos © Ilya Akhobekov & Eldar Mukhametov, more here
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