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    Entries in 2015 Women's World Championship KO (13)

    Wednesday
    Mar182015

    Women's World Championship, Round 1, Day 2

    Our summary of day 2 of the Women's World Championship in Sochi, Russia, will have three parts. First, we'll summarize the results of the top 16 players; second, we'll review the U.S. results; finally, we'll list the matches that will move on to tiebreaks tomorrow.

    At the top of the pile, the first six seeds advanced to the second round, and only one of the players, Anna Muzychuk, surrendered a draw. It was not a happy day for the 7th seed, however, as GM Zhao Xue (2527) lost to Marisa Zuriel (2219), and from a winning position at that. Winning, but complicated. Both sides made serious errors, but Zuriel played better overall and deserved the victory, which leveled the match.

    The eighth seed went in the opposite direction. Mariya Muzychuk lost the first game of her match against Yuanling Yuan, but won with absurd ease today. Yuan played the Dutch and Muzychuk went for a sideline with an early h4. It's playable but not a refutation of the Dutch, but apparently Yuan lacked experience of this line and was lost as early as move 10 (maybe even sooner).

    Seeds 9-12 all advanced, but unlucky #13 was bounced. GM Elina Danielian was unable to take revenge for yesterday's loss, and so Yaniet Marrero Lopez advances to round 2. Seeds 14 and 15 both advanced, and 16th seed Alisa Galliamova was able to do what Danielian couldn't: she won her rematch (against Carolina Lujan) and goes to tiebreaks.

    The first thing that can be said about the U.S. recap of round 1 is that there promises to be a U.S. recap of round 2 as well, but it will be brief. Irina Krush won the match by drawing her black game with Sophie Milliet. She did so pretty comfortably, allowing a Bxh7+ sac that was only enough for a draw (at best). In the end Krush could have played for a win, but taking a perpetual was the simplest and most effective way to guarantee promotion to the second round. The other U.S. women lost their matches 2-0: Tatev Abrahamyan to Harika Dronavalli and Camilla Baginskaite to Valentina Gunina.

    Finally, here are the matches that will go to tiebreaks tomorrow:

    • Galliamova - Lujan
    • T. Kosintseva - Gomes
    • M. Muzychuk - Yuan
    • Socko - Daulyte
    • Paehtz - Arabidze
    • Shen Yang - Kashlinskaya
    • Zhao Xue - Zuriel (be sure to catch your "Zs" watching this match)
    • Melia - Sukandar
    • Huang Qian - Kovanova
    • Goryachkina - Mkrtchian

    Tuesday
    Mar172015

    Women's World Championship, Round 1, Day 1

    The first round of a knockout tournament is usually about culling the herd. In a 64-player Swiss system tournament the first round pairings have #1 play #33, #2 play #34, #3 play #35 and so on. That's already pretty effective, but in a knockout #1 plays #64, #2 plays #63 and so on. As one nears the middle the gap between the favorite and the underdog is minimal, but especially in the battle between the upper and low quartiles the expectation is that the underdog will fare as well as an old and injured wildebeest will against a hungry lion in its prime.

    So how did the lions and wildebeests do in the first game of round 1 of the women's world championship? (Pro tip: the women in your life might like being referred to as lionesses, but refer to them as wildebeests at your own risk. My advice is not to.) The underdogs did reasonably well. The favorites swept the top seven boards, but the underdogs won on boards 8 (Yuan Yuanling saved a long-lost position and even won against Maria Muzychuk) and 16 (Carolina Lujan won convincingly against Alisa Galliamova) while making draws on boards 9, 13 and 14.

    Among U.S. players, Irina Krush is the favorite against Sophie Milliet, and she won the opening game of their mini-match, though it proved more difficult than it needed to be. Camilla Baginskaite is a significant underdog against Valentina Gunina, and her loss with White doesn't bode well for her chances of staying for the next round. Finally, Tatev Abrahamyan struggled for most of the game against her higher-rated opponent, Harika Dronavalli, but was within range of a draw in a difficult rook ending. Had she played 54.Re1, she could have drawn, but to do so she would have needed to spot a key idea a couple of moves later. After 54.Re1 Rxe1 (other moves allow White an easy draw) 55.Kxe1 Kb3 56.Kd2 Kxa4 the natural moves 57.Kxd3 and 57.g3 both lose, in both cases to 57...Kb3. It turns out, however, that 57.Kc3! and 57.g4! both draw. The first move draws because after 57...d2 58.Kxd2 Kb3 59.Kc1 the king gets to the corner (or traps the Black king in front of the pawn), while in the latter case White plays f4 on the next move and his g-pawn will queen in time to make a draw. Presumably missing both of these defensive ideas, Abrahamyan played 54.Rc1? instead and lost a few moves later.

    The tournament format is to have six knockout rounds, with the first five rounds consisting of two classical games (one with each color) followed by increasingly rapid tiebreaks, if necessary. The finale will be a best-of-four classical match, likewise followed by tiebreaks as needed.

    Saturday
    Mar142015

    Coming Soon: The Women's World Championship

    The action begins this coming Tuesday in Sochi, Russia, and is a 64-player knockout tournament which will determine a new women's world champion. (The current champion, Hou Yifan, won't be playing, but she will have a title match in October against the winner on account of her victory in the last Women's Grand Prix series.) The official website is here, and a helpful grid and summary of relevant information is available on the event's Wikipedia page.

    Predictions? I'll be patriotic and say the next champion will be Irina Krush.

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