A long-awaited second pool of the FIDE Women’s Candidates has finally started in Uzbekistan, in the beautiful oasis city of Khiva. In the next two weeks, the chess world will follow exciting chess battles of leading world female players fighting for the second spot in the big final. The winner of Pool B will take on Lei Tingjie, who qualified from Pool A a month ago.
The opening ceremony was filled with local flair, including traditional tea and music, allowing players and guests to enjoy the amazing Uzbek hospitality.
Women’s Candidates Pool B – Introducing the players / Women’s Candidates Pool B – LIVE games
Alisher Sadullaev, the President of the Uzbekistan Chess Federation (pictured below), gave a welcoming speech. “I’m very happy to see those strong grandmasters here in Uzbekistan, probably for the very first time.” He also thanked FIDE for the great cooperation and expressed hope that it would be just the beginning of it.
Deputy governor of the Xorazm region, of which Khiva is the capital, Sanatbek Salayev, was another guest at the opening ceremony. Radiating genuine warmth, he expressed his happiness and pride in holding such a prestigious tournament in his region.
After the speeches, it was time to draw colours for each game. Traditionally dressed Uzbek ladies presented the players with beautiful caskets with chess queens hidden inside – one with black and the other with white. A player with the higher rating in each match-up had a right to choose.
Aleksandra Goryachkina, the highest-rated player in the event, picked a chest with the black queen inside, thus giving Alexandra Kosteniuk the white pieces in their first game.
In the second pair, it was Kateryna Lagno to take a pick. Again, the right to choose did not bring luck, as Lagno pointed to the box with the black queen inside. Tan Zhongyi will start her Candidates campaign with the white pieces.
The first games start on Tuesday, November 29, at 3 pm local time. Below you can find the schedule for the event (local times):
|November 28||Arrival dayTechnical meeting / 5:00 pmOpening Ceremony / 8:00 pm|
|November 29||Round 1 Game 1 / 3:00 pm|
|November 30||Round 1 Game 2 / 3:00 pm|
|December 1||Free day|
|December 2||Round 1 Game 3 / 3:00 pm|
|December 3||Round 1 Game 4 / 3:00 pm|
|December 4||Tie-breaks / 3:00 pm|
|December 5||Free Day|
|December 6||Round 2 Game 1 / 3:00 pm|
|December 7||Round 2 Game 2 / 3:00 pm|
|December 8||Free day|
|December 9||Round 2 Game 3 / 3:00 pm|
|December 10||Round 2 Game 4 / 3:00 pm|
|December 11||Tie-breaks / 2:00 pmClosing Ceremony|
Text: Anna Kantane
Photo: Eteri Kublashvili