After four tournaments in Monte Carlo, Tehran, Batumi and Chengdu, it is in the sub-arctic city of Khanty-Mansiysk that the fifth and final leg of the 2015-16 Women’s Grand Prix takes place The winner of the overall grand prix earns the right to challenge the new 2017 Women’s World Champion. (Please note: That will not be the current champion Hou Yifan as she has confirmed she will not be playing in the 2017 Knockout World Championship.)
A group photo of the participants and officials in Khanty-Mansiysk. | Photo courtesy FIDE.
For those more financially inclined, the prize fund is very impressive—The winner of each individual leg will win 10,000 euros. However, it is those who finish in the top four in the overall series who have the juiciest prizes to look forward to:
Yes, here, it’s really the winners who take it all.
Let’s check the current standings:
|Ju Wenjun||253 ⅓|
|Anna Muzychuk||223 ⅓|
First place nets 160 points (120+40 bonus points), second place 130 (110+20), third place 110 (100+10), and fourth place 90 points.
Only those highlighted in bold are playing in Khanty-Mansiysk which means there are only four players, Ju Wenjun, Gunina, Kosteniuk and Dronavalli, that can possibly overtake Humpy Koneru’s grand prix score of 335. The heavy favorite both to win the tournament and the grand prix has to be Ju Wenjun. At 2580, she is the second highest-rated female in the world.
Ju Wenjun is doing well in the cycle—Will we have an official and an unofficial
world champion from China at some point? | Photo courtesy FIDE.
For Ju Wenjun, simply finishing second is enough to guarantee her the grand prix victory. Third place may be sufficient but only on the condition that Gunina doesn’t snatch the top prize in Khanty-Mansiysk. Fourth place would be enough for Ju Wenjun to scrape past the required 335 points, but she would then need the other three leaders to finish outside of the top two places. A dangerous scenario!
Realistically, only first place in Khanty is sufficient for Valentina Gunina, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Harika Dronavalli to even have a shot to be the challenger.
Of course, this is just theory because in practice there are eight other highly motivated and tough competitors in our challengers’ way.
|GM Ju Wenjun||2580||253 ⅓|
|GM Alexandra Kosteniuk||2555||195|
|GM Harika Dronavalli||2543||190|
|GM Valentina Gunina||2525||205|
|IM Natalia Pogonina||2492||170|
|IM Nino Batsiashvili||2489||115|
|IM Lela Javakhishvili||2461||75|
|IM Almira Skripchenko||2455||100|
|IM Olga Girya||2450||75|
|GM Natalia Zhukova||2448||90|
|IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh||2435||130|
|GM Bela Khotenashvili||2426||70|
Light the blue touch paper and stand well back!
With such high stakes, it was only natural that we could expect some fireworks over the chess board. I anticipated aggressive direct chess combined with nerves and tension.
After six rounds, it is the “lucky newcomer” (so called because it is her first visit to Khanty!) Nino Batsiashvili who has seized the lead with 4.5 out of 6.
Khanty-Mansiysk Women GP | Round 6 Standings
– See more at: http://www.westgodavarichess.in/2016/11/27/womens-grand-prix/#sthash.GD9C3MqB.dpuf