Reports | November 11, 2012 11:57

Women's World Championship started in Khanty-Mansiysk

Hou Yifan, still the World Champion, at the drawing of lots on Saturday

The Women's World Champion started today in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Last night the opening ceremony took place, and while we're writing this, the first round is under way. Hou Yifan of China is defending her title in a 64-player knockout tournament. 

Hou Yifan, still the World Champion, at the drawing of lots on Saturday | Photos courtesy of the Russian Chess Federation

Event Women's World Championship | PGN via TWIC
Dates November 11th-December 2nd, 2012
Location Khanthy-Mansiysk, Russia
System 64-player knockout
Players The top 10 on rating is Hou Yifan, Humpy Koneru, Anna Muzychuk, Zhao Xue, Kateryna Lahno, Nadezhda Kosintseva, Viktorija Cmilyte, Marie Sebag, Valentina Gunina, Pia Cramling
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 from move one

Tie-breaks 2 rapid games (25 minutes + 10 seconds increment), 2 blitz games (10 minutes + 10 seconds increment), 2 blitz games (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment), 1 sudden-death (5 vs 4 + 3 seconds, increment frome move 61).


The Women’s World Chess Championship 2012 is the conclusion of the current Women's World Championship cycle. Unlike their male colleagues, the women have a World Championship that's supposed to take place every year. Qualifying events are national championships, zonal tournaments, continental championships, Women’s Grand Prix tournaments and the previous World Championship.

The World Championship is a match (10 games, 2 players) in odd years (2011, 2013, etc.) and a knockout tournament (64 players) in even years (2012, 2014 etc.). The Chinese Hou Yifan defended her title successfully last year in a match against Humpy Koneru of India, and this time she will need to beat six players in 2-game matches and possible tie-breaks to do the same.

The tie-breaks are a bit different from what we're used to at World Cup tournaments, where two rapid games and up to ten blitz games are played before there's an all-decisive sudden-death game. The women play two rapid games (25 minutes + 10 seconds increment), two blitz games (10 minutes + 10 seconds increment), two faster blitz games (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment) and then the sudden-death (5 vs 4 + 3 seconds, increment frome move 61, draw odds for Black).

The pairings are done following the principle of top half vs. lower half reversed (1-64, 2-63...). Thus the highest ranked player of the top half plays the lowest ranked player of the bottom half. If the lower ranked player wins in any match, she shall automatically take the position of the higher ranked player for the next round.

For rounds 1-5 every match consists of two classical games and a possible tie-break. In the final there will be four classical games instead of two.

Prize fund in US $

1st round 32 losers 3,750 120,000
2nd round 16 losers 5,500 88,000
3rd round 8 losers 8,000 64,000
4th round 4 losers 12,000 48,000
5th round 2 losers 20,000 40,000
6th round 1 loser 30,000 30,000
Women's World Champion     60,000
Total     450,000


a) From World Women’s Championships 2010-2011:
01. Hou, Yifan (CHN) – World Champion
02. Koneru, Humpy (IND) – World Champion Finalist 2011
03. Zhao Xue (CHN) – World Championship Semi finals 2010

b) World Girl Junior Champions 2010-2011:
04. Muzychuk, Anna (SLO)
05. Cori T Deysi (PER)

c) Rating List average 7/2011 & 1/2012:
06. Gunina, Valentina (RUS)
07. Galliamova, Alisa (RUS)
08. Zhu, Chen (QAT)
09. Kosteniuk, Alexandra (RUS)
10. Skripchenko, Almira (FRA)
11. Ushenina, Anna (UKR)

d) 28 players from European Women’s Championships 2010 & 2011
12. Cramling, Pia (SWE) (2010)
13. Cmilyte, Viktorija (LTU)
14. Socko Monika (POL)
15. Sebag, Marie (FRA)
16. Kosintseva Tatiana (RUS)
17. Zhukova Natalia (UKR)
18. Dembo Elena (GRE)
19. Stefanova Antoaneta (BUL)
20. Kosintseva Nadezhda (RUS)
21. Muzychuk Mariya (UKR)
22. Rajlich Iweta (POL)
23. Ziaziulkina Nastassia (BLR)
24. Kovalevskaya Ekaterina (RUS)
25. Khurtsidze Nino (GEO)
26. Danielian, Elina (ARM) (2011)
27. Matveeva, Svetlana (RUS)
28. Khotenashvili, Bela (GEO)
29. Lahno, Kateryna (UKR)
30. Javakhishvili, Lela (GEO)
31. Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan (SCO)
32. Foisor, Cristina-Adela (ROU)
33. Bodnaruk Anastasia (RUS)
34. Pogonina Natalija (RUS)
35. Ovod Evgenija (RUS)
36. Romanko Marina (RUS)
37. Hoang Thanh Trang (HUN)
38. Mkrtchian Lilit (ARM)
39. Khukhashvili Sopiko (GEO)

e) Eight players from Americas
40. Arribas Robaina, Maritza (CUB) (Continental)
41. Zatonskih, Anna (USA) (Zonal 2.1)
42. Abrahamyan, Tatev (USA) (Zonal 2.1)
43. Krush, Irina (USA) (Zonal 2.1)
44. Khoudgarian, Natalia (CAN) (Zonal 2.2)
45. Castrillon Gomez, Melissa (COL) (Zonal 2.3)
46. Aliaga Fernandez, Ingrid (PER) (Zonal 2.4)
47. Lujan, Carolina (ARG) (Zonal 2.5)

f) Twelve players from Asia/Oceania
48. Pourkashiyan, Atousa (IRI) (Continental 2010)
49. Harika, Dronavalli (IND) (Continental 2011)
50. Ghader Pour, Shayesteh (IRI) (Zonal 3.1)
51. Ranasinghe, S D (SRI) (Zonal 3.2)
52. Li, Ruofan (SIN) (Zonal 3.3)
53. Davletbayeva, Madina (KAZ) (Zonal 3.4)
54. Ju Wenjun (CHN) (Zonal 3.5)
55. Shen Yang (CHN) (Zonal 3.5)
56. Huang Qian (CHN) (Zonal 3.5)
57. Gu Xiaobing (CHN) (Zonal 3.5)
58. Berezina, Irina (AUS) (Zonal 3.6)
59. Soumya, Swaminathan (IND) (Zonal 3.7)

g) Three players from African Women’s Championship 2011
60. Mona, Khaled (EGY)
61. Mezioud, Amina (ALG)
62. Frick, Denise (RSA)

h) Two nominees of the FIDE President
63. Guo Qi (CHN)
64. Olga Girya (RUS)


The venue is the Ugra Chess Academy in Khanty-Mansiysk. Sponsored by Gazprom, the building has modern conservative technologies and engineering solutions. The unique three-level building is completely without sharp corners and is styled as a chess piece. It was designed by the famous Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat and it took two years to build.

The Ugra Chess Academy

Videos by Chess.TV

During the whole tournament there will be live video coverage provided by Chess.TV. Alexander Khalifman will be responsible for the English language commentary, and Sergey Shipov will comment in Russian. For the first time there will be commentary in Chinese as well, performed by GM (and 13-times Dutch women's champion) Peng Zhaoqing.

Saturday's opening ceremony was broadcast by Chess.TV as well and you can still watch it in full: 

At the drawing of lots Hou Yifan picked a white pawn, which means that on the tables with odd numbers the higher rated players will have white in the first round. You can watch the first round live here.

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.


Ruralrob's picture

For the players who are knocked out, is there a parallel tournament that they can play in, like the one at the World Cup?

Jocky's picture

womens chess......yawn, ive no interest.

RG13's picture

Your chart is not very clear. Does the winner of the title receive 60,000. US$ or Euros (as I read elsewhere)?

Septimus's picture

Having a massive knockout tournament is probably not the best way to do things. Why not organize it like the men's section or zonals, inter-zonals, candidates and then the final.

redivivo's picture

It's just to call the whole thing "Candidates matches" instead and people will be as happy as when FIDE introduced the Kazan knockout.

Rambus's picture

How do Women's WCC cycle work? Koneru just won some Grand Prix just ahead of Muzychuk. Wasn't that for the right to play Hou?

centovic's picture
sekarntak's picture

great building!!

RealityCheck's picture

If the Carlsonites get their way, the men's world championship could look like this (again).

redivivo's picture

Carlsen refused to play the so called Candidates because it was a knockout like this event, you have to be pretty thick to think Carlsen or his fans like knockouts.

Anonymous's picture

No he refused 'cause he was chicken. Then he made up some BS excuses about changing rules and what not but in the past he already had participated (and failed) in knock out qualifiers like this.
He just wasn't confident in being able to win the event-and not without reason.

RealityCheck's picture

Oh really! I was under the impression they were pushing tournaments. I was led to believe winning tournaments tops winning the world championship. Some big shots even payed lip service the idea.

redivivo's picture

A minimatch knockout is an event like the World Championship Anand won in 2000 and said he valued just as much as the one that consists of traditional matches. It is also the same format as the World Championships won by Khalifman and Kasimdzhanov, and the Candidates won by Gelfand. When you state that minimatch knockouts is the format Carlsen and his fans hope to see used in the World Championship even you know that you are just making things up. No one wants that format for anything.

Anonymous's picture

you are just making things up, this format is not that of the candidates Kazan.

RealityCheck's picture

I'd be a fool to argue with you on this one. You win.

hansie's picture

@Peter, you've written that:

I think that 10 minutes + 10 seconds increment are perhaps 'faster rapid', and, not 'blitz'.

hansie's picture

Sorry, the comment above should be read as:

@Peter, you've written that:
"two blitz games (10 minutes + 10 seconds increment)"

I think that 10 minutes + 10 seconds increment are perhaps 'faster rapid', and, not 'blitz'.

Carabanchel's picture

There is still no pairings for tomorrow on the main page of the event!?! It's not normal....

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