Prize Ceremony European Team Chess Championship

The smiling faces of our team, who won Gold at the European Team Chess Championship, in Novi Sad 2009. From left to right: Valentina Gunina (Board 4), Alexandra Kosteniuk (Board 1), Nadezhda Kosintseva (Board 3), Tatiana Kosintseva (Board 2), Yuri Dokhoian (coach), and Marina Romanko (Board 5).

One more photo taken during the prize ceremony (from the Organizer’s site):


Women’s chess was celebrated these last 10 days. Thanks to all fans and friends who have cheered for us during the whole championship. We dedicate this victory to you all. You can see from our smiles that all our efforts were not in vain. It is a sweet victory, and one which benefits us all, and the game of chess in particular.

I will go back home in a few hours, and I am already preparing for you full video reports of most of my games. They were all of a very high level and contained many interesting moments, nice sacrifices, deep strategical moves, and of course some mistakes on both sides. I look forward to sharing some of those experiences with you.

After a short training stay at home, in less than 2 weeks I will fly to the Moscow World Blitz Championship, to which I have been invited and which will be the strongest blitz tournament I will ever have participated in, I’m looking forward to it!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com
www.kosteniuk.com
www.youtube.com/chessqueen

Medals at the European Team Chess Championship

Here are the official medals given out to the best players at the European Team Chess Championship 2009, in Novi Sad, women’s section:


1st Board:
Gold: Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia)
Silver: Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria)
Bronze: Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine)

2nd Board:
Gold: Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia)
Silver: Lilit Mktrchian (Armenia)
Bronze: Sophie Milliet (France)

3rd Board:
Gold: Nadezhda Kosintseva (Russia)
Silver: Sopiko Khukhashvili (Georgia)
Bronze: Lilit Galojan (Armenia)

4th Board:
Gold: Ekaterini Fakhiridou (Greece)
Silver: Joanna Dworakowska (Poland)
Bronze: Olga Vasiliev (Israel)

5th Board:
Gold: Joanna Majdan (Poland)
Silver: Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia)
Bronze: Valentina Gunina (Russia)

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com
www.kosteniuk.com



Russian Women win Gold at European Team Championship


Dear Chess friends,

I am so pleased to let you know that just a few moments ago my team, the team of Russia, won what is probably one of the strongest and most important team competitions of the year, the European Team Championship.

It was a race until the last moment with Georgia. We had an individual point advantage before the last round, but it was critical we win our last match against Armenia. We managed to win, and so ended up the championship with 8 won matches out of 9 (see full rankings), that’s 16 match points, and more individual match points than anybody (26 points, see individual results). Second came in Georgia, with 16 match points (that’s 7 won matches and two drawn matches), but only 24 individual points.

I played all my games on Board 1, my team members are, in order of boards, Tatiana Kosintseva, Nadezhda Kosintseva, Marina Romanko and Valentina Gunina. I’d like to thank them all for supporting the team and helping us get gold.

The championship was extremely hard fought, and almost all my games have been interesting. I scored 6 out of 8, that’s 4 wins (against Monica Calzetta Ruiz, Kateryna Lahno, Zeinab Mamedjarova, Jana Jackova) and 4 draws (against Nana Dzadnidze, Szidonia Vajda, Monica Socko, and Elina Danielian). I missed winning opportunities in a few games, and played out some nice combinations, so you can be sure I will soon publish some new videos both for my Chess Killer Tips podcast and for my YouTube channel “ChessQueen”.

I’ll write much more after the prize ceremony.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Champion
www.chessblog.com



Happy Chess Halloween (3)
One more Halloween pic for you. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to use it on your blogs and sites.
Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Russia and Georgia Leading in the ETC Women’s

Russia today beat the Czech Republic 3-1
(from left: Kosteniuk, T. Kosintseva, N. Kosintseva, Romanko)

Hello to all!

Just a short post to let you know that the 8th round was played today in Novi Sad at the European’s Team Championship, and tomorrow morning will be the final 9th round.

Contending for the gold in the women’s section is Russia and Georgia, both having 14 match points. Russia has 2 individual points more, which may turn out to be useful in case of a tie-break.

The standings before the last round are on www.chess-results.com.

Here below you can see my game against Jana Jackova. I’m playing white, again in a Ruy Lopez, and playing against a Marshall attack (I like to play the Marshall myself, so this was tough playing against one of “my” openings). Well the game was decided not in the opening, but later in the middle game and in the end-game. That’s why I advise my students not to spend too much time on the opening, but rather concentrate on middle games and endgames. The important thing about the opening is that you should enter the middle game in any “playable” kind of position, then try to show your mastery in the middle and end game.

Again, I’m playing white: Kosteniuk – Jackova


Here’s another picture of the same team, but 2 days ago (the photos are from the organizer’s site).

(from right: Kosteniuk, T. Kosintseva, N. Kosintseva, Romanko)

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com
www.kosteniuk.com



Happy Chess Halloween (2)


By popular demand I’m posting another Halloween pic. I repeat my offer from 2 days ago (see below) to give an autographed prize to anybody who sends me their best Halloween chess photo(s) – I will select up to 3 prizes from all entrants.

Tomorrow I will post a re-mastered series of my Halloween chess photos.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com




ETC – Round 7 & Mamedjarova – Kosteniuk


Hello dear chess amateurs of women’s chess!

Today was the 7th round at the European Team Championship in Novi Sad. On the first table, my team Russia beat Azerbaijan 4-0, on the second, Georgia beat Israel 3-1, and on the third, Armenia beat Romania 3.5-0.5.

Preliminary rankings show Russia and Georgia leading with 12 team points, followed by Armenia and the Czech Republic, with 10.

There are still 2 rounds to be played, so anything can still happen. Tomorrow Russia plays the Czech Republic and Georgia plays Bulgaria.

All results can be found on the site www.chess-results.com
and
All games and photos come from the organizer’s site.

Here is the game I played today against board 1 of Azerbaijan, Zeinab Mamedjarova:


Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com

Happy Chess Halloween!

Dear Chess Fans,

I would like to wish you a nice Chess Halloween this October 31st.

If any of you will celebrate Halloween with chess in any way, and if you send me a photo of your celebration that day, which includes chess in any fashion, carved in a pumkin, or a frightening chess move, or in your chess costume, I will send an autographed prize to the best submission I get!

Very best chess wishes to you,

Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com

Kosteniuk – Lahno Preview

Dear friends,

I would just like to show you the game I played today in the European Team Championship. I beat Ekateryna Lahno from the Ukraine in a Ruy Lopez Opening. I will comment this game fully after the tournament is over, as there are three very important rounds left.

I am playing white in this game, Kosteniuk – Lahno:


Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Champion
www.chessblog.com

Commented Chess Blitz Sutovsky – Kosteniuk



Hello dear chess lovers!

I just posted a new YouTube video with my second chess blitz game against Grandmaster Emil Sutovsky (FIDE ELO 2607 at the time) from the 2006 Tal Memorial. I had already commented my first blitz game against him last year.

I have lots of other blitz and serious games commented on my YouTube channel, named “chessqueen”.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com


October-09 AK Grand-Prix Puzzle Contest

Hello everybody!

It’s time for the October Puzzle Contest and 3 more interesting puzzles of the Alexandra Kosteniuk GRAND-PRIX CHESS PUZZLE CONTEST. As usual till the end of this month you can send me your solutions by email. On the 1st of November I will announce 3 winners who sent me the most complete and correct solutions.

I remind you that from August 2009 on, once a month here on www.chessblog.com I will give you 3 chess puzzles to solve, ranging in difficulty from easy to difficult. They will be challenging and interesting for everyone. I hope you will try to solve them on your own without help from the computer. At the end of each month I will announce 3 winners who will get 3 chess prizes (1 for each).

At the end of this year, on December 31, 2009 I will announce the Grand-Prize winner who will get the top chess prize. The Grand-Prize winner will be determined by the number of times participated, and of course the maximum number of correct answers.

The more you participate in my puzzle contests, the more chances you will have to win, and of course solving my puzzles will be useful to you and will help you improve at chess.

Please answer only by email and not putting the solution in the comments to this post, give a chance to everyone to enjoy solving the problem on their own. And in the email, please mention whole variations to the end, do not only give the first move, special credit will go for completeness of the solution. When several variations are present, write them all. And please write as the subject of the email October 2009 Puzzle Contest. Good luck!

Here they are:

(Above) Puzzle 1. White plays and wins.
Category Intermediate.


(Above) Puzzle 2. White to move.
White plays and wins. Category Intermediate.


(Above) Puzzle 3. White to move
White plays and wins. Category Difficult.


Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion



Kosteniuk – Calzetta Preview

Hello dear chess fans!

I usually don’t comment games while the tournament is still raging, but I received some requests (from Twitter and from Facebook) to show them the game of the first round of the European Team Championship in Novi Sad, which I played against Monica Calzetta Ruiz of Spain.

There are two ways to watch it.

1) Copy and Paste the pgn moves as below in my PGN PLAYER:

[Event "17.EWTCC 2009"]
[Site "Novi Sad"]
[Date "2009.10.22"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"]
[Black "Calzetta Ruiz, Monica"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Be7 4. d4 d6 5. dxe5 dxe5 6. Bd5 Bg4 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. Qe2 Nf6 9. Nbd2 Bd6 10. Nc4 O-O 11. h3 Bh5 12. Bg5 Qe7 13. g4 Bg6 14. Nfd2 h6 15. Bh4 Rab8 16. f3 Bc5 17. Nb3 Bb6 18. O-O-O Qe6 19. Bg3 Nd7 20. h4 f6 21. g5 fxg5 22. hxg5 h5 23. Rxd7 Qxd7 24. Nxe5 Qe6 25. f4 Be8 26. f5 Qe7 27. g6 Qg5+ 28. Kb1 Be3 29. Rxh5 Qxg3 30. Qc4+ 1-0

2) Have a look at the game, in the following diagrams:

Before 7. Bxc6+ to weaken Black’s pawns


Before 13. g4 to start an attack on the King’s side


Before 21. g5! to continue the attack on the King’s side


Before the nice exchange sacrifice 23. Rxd7!!


The ending position, after 30. Qc4+. Mate is unavoidable


I will comment this game in more detail after the tournament has ended, most likely on YouTube.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Champion
www.chessblog.com
www.kosteniuk.com


European Team Championship 2009 Starts!

Click on logo above to go to Organizer Site

NEW: LINK TO LIVE GAMES ROUND 2 October 23, 2009
LINK TO LIVE GAMES ROUND 1 October 22, 2009

Dear chess friends,

Tonight was the opening ceremony of the 17th European Team Chess Championships, which are taking place in Novi Sad, Serbia. The tournament will be very tough, as 14 teams are fighting for the gold, among which some very strong teams, such as Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, and Armenia.

Click on banner above to see all Results

You can see below that many very strong players are participating. I’m playing in the Russian team, which is composed of:

Board 1: GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, ELO 2516
Board 2: GM Tatiana Kosintseva, ELO 2536
Board 3: IM Nadezhda Kosintseva ELO 2493
Board 4: IM Marina Romanko ELO 2453
Board 5: WFM Valentina Gunina ELO 2437

Tomorrow my team will play against Spain.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com

Announced players are (in order of starting rating):

As soon as the tournament will start, you’ll be able to click on the player’s name to see their individual results.

Kosintseva Tatiana

Dzagnidze Nana

Muzychuk Anna

Stefanova Antoaneta

Sebag Marie

Kosteniuk Alexandra

Kosintseva Nadezhda

Danielian Elina

Lahno Kateryna

Dembo Yelena

Paehtz Elisabeth

Socko Monika

Ushenina Anna

Javakhishvili Lela

Mkrtchian Lilit

Rajlich Iweta

Zhukova Natalia

Romanko Marina

Khukhashvili Sopiko

Gaponenko Inna

Khotenashvili Bela

Gunina Valentina

Moser Eva

Bojkovic Natasa

Khurtsidze Nino

Zawadzka Jolanta

Zdebskaja Natalia

Milliet Sophie

Peng Zhaoqin

Maric Alisa

Jackova Jana

Peptan Corina-Isabela

Calzetta Ruiz Monica

Houska Jovanka

Vajda Szidonia

Michna Marta

Gara Anita

Gara Ticia

Majdan Joanna

Vojinovic Jovana

Vega Gutierrez Sabrina

Borsuk Angela

Kachiani-Gersinska Keti

Schuurman Petra

Dworakowska Joanna

Sedina Elena

Voiska Margarita

Nikolova Adriana

Chelushkina Irina

Cosma Elena-Luminita

Krivec Jana

Galojan Lilit

Bensdorp Marlies

Leconte Maria

Rakic Marija

Stojanovic Andjelija

Medic Mirjana

Collas Silvia

Zimina Olga

Lakos Nikoletta

Motoc Alina

Ohme Melanie

Aginian Nelly

Videnova Iva

Guichard Pauline

Golubenko Valentina

Muhren Bianca

Makropoulou Marina

Kulovana Eva

Botsari Anna-Maria

Rudolf Anna

Mamedjarova Zeinab

Pitam Ella

Voicu Carmen

Pares Vives Natalia

Llaneza Vega Patricia

Schoene Maria

Sandu Mihaela

Vasiliev Olga

Boric Elena

Igla Bella

Nemcova Katerina

Robles Garcia Claudia

Kopinits Anna-Christina

Fakhiridou Ekaterini

Raeva Elitsa

Jelica Mara

Rozic Vesna

Srebrnic Ana

Andriasian Siranush

Mamedjarova Turkan

Kazimova Narmin

Pertlova Sona

Schut Lisa

Franciskovic Borka

Cedikova Katerina

Isgandarova Khayala

Mammadova Gulnar

Novak Ksenija

Stiri Alexandra

Solic Kristina

Porat Maya

Koskoska Gabriela

Milovic Aleksandra

Stojanovic Marija R

Regan Natasha K

Lauterbach Ingrid

Brunello Marina

Ambrosi Eleonora

Grigoryan Meri

Exler Veronika

Savola Laura

Newrkla Katharina

Novkovic Julia

Dedijer Sanja

Chevannes Sabrina L

Chierici Marianna

Blagojevic Lidija

Johnsen Sylvia

Jonoska Katerina

Puuska Heini

Bayrak Asli

Dedijer Mira

Haug Marianne Wold

Rautanen Sari

Malokas Nermina

Sop Selen

Misovic Sanja

Gjorgjieva Ivana

Reppen Ellisiv

Sasmazel Burcu

Soylemez Cansu

Carlsen Ellen Oen

Stojkovska Monika

Walta Paivi

Bejatovic Bojana

Menzi Nezihe Ezgi


Beautiful Autumn in Moscow


I arrived in Moscow after my Greece Simul and the FIDE Congress, and immediately felt at home. Seeing the beautiful autumn colors in the trees, feeling the cool autumn air gave me so many positive emotions, driving around Moscow this sunny day was a joy.

This time of the year in Moscow is wonderful. It’s still sunny, the air is pure and the skies are blue. We know winter is coming soon, but we still can enjoy the autumn. Quite a change from Miami, which doesn’t seem to have any seasons, I miss those 4 well-defined seasons.


This is a wall of the Kremlin. You can feel the power.


This is Moscow big avenue called
Novy Arbat. That’s where a very large Moscow bookstore is located. I’m not sure if it’s the biggest bookstore, but that’s where I go to buy all my chess books, I’ve bought there all the recent ones, such as Kasparov’s Predecessor series, and several more books about openings according to Kramnik and Anand.

We’re driving to that bookstore because at 5 PM they are having the presentation of my new book, “Diaries of a Chess Queen” (Russian version).

That’s me giving a simul in the shop, and I did something new I had never done before, as I went around, I would comment the game as it went, and the comments were heard in the whole shop, that was a great idea, spectators liked that very much.







That’s me before I started signing autographs.

If you’re interested in buying my book (either Russian or English version), you can order them both on chessqueen.com. The Russian version can be shipped immediately, and the English version will come out on December 1. Anybody who orders before December 1 gets a free autograph by me.

I wrote more about my books on yesterday’s post.

Feel free to write to me with any questions, I will be glad to answer them.

I’m leaving today to Serbia to play in the European Team Championship, which will take place in Novi Sad, from October 21 to October 31st. I will play on board 1 of Russia, and my team mates are, in order of boards after me, Tatiana Kosintseva, Nadezhda Kosintseva, Valentina Gunina, and Marina Romanko. Useful links: Official Page of the Organizer, Results Page. My team is the highest rated women’s team in the championship and boasts an average of 2500 ELO. It’s going to be close though, with very strong teams of Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, and Armenia. We’ll keep you posted on developments. I’ll try to keep you posted as much as possible! Wish me luck!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com


Dnevniki Presentation Moscow


Hello everybody,

I’m in Moscow today, at at 5 PM local time I will give a Press Conference to present my new book “Diary of a Chess Queen” at the biggest Moscow bookstore on Novy Arbat Street.


The Russian edition is out (its official title in Russian is «Дневники шахматной королевы») and I’m very happy of how it turned out. It’s the story of my whole career from when I started to play chess at 5 years old, till after I became women’s world chess champion. Apart from a careful selection of my very best 64 games, commented in detail, I give my inside story about how it is to become a chess professional, and how it is to rise to the top, with all the difficulties that accompanied my path, through triumph and disappointment.





The English edition is being printed right now by Mongoose Press and will hit the shelves on December 1, 2009. You can order both versions right now at www.chessqueen.com, and I will gladly autograph your copy to you or your loved one at no cost to you.

Note that the English edition will be shipped as soon as I get it in stock, in time for Christmas delivery. The Russian edition is available immediately.




Feel free to write to me if you have any questions.

Best chess wishes to you!
Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.kosteniuk.com
www.chessblog.com

Abolish Women’s Тitles? Ridiculous!

Hello everybody!

As the co-chairman of the FIDE Commission on Women’s Chess, as a person who has been playing competitive chess for more than 20 years, and also as the current women’s world chess champion, I feel obliged to write a reply to the Wall Street Journal article which caused a great amount of discussion lately.

The author of this article, Barbara Jepson, might very well be a professional journalist, but I have never heard of her as a chess player, and she calls for abolishing women’s chess players titles, probably knowing close to nothing about professional chess herself. What’s more, her demand is supported by Irina Krush, who in this article says “I don’t see their benefit”. “Women’s titles are really a mark of lower expectations.”

I also keep receiving the same question again and again “Why there are separate titles and tournaments for women and men chess players?” The main simplistic argument of these people is that “Obviously chess is not a physical game at all so I dont see why male and female players can’t all play together”, and “I’d like to see a woman be the overall world champion!”.

CHESS IS A SPORT!

For people who don’t play professional chess it’s sometimes tough to understand that chess is a sport, maybe an intellectual one, but still a sport.

Let us first try to clarify the definition of the word sport:

1. Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.

2. An active pastime or recreation.

From this characterization, we understand that sports should meet some basic requirements. Any kind of sports consists of physical activity, skills, rules and a competitive element. Since the aspect of physical activity conveys the basic obstacle in our question, we shall leave its discussion for the end.

Does chess have a clear set of rules?

Without any doubt, chess has a precise set of rules. Acceptable regulations define a true course of the game, and some actions are under an interdiction.

Sport is a competition of skills, and chess is a competition of skills too?

To master chess skills one needs at least 10 years.

Can chess be competitive?

Chess is a battle of 2 players, so there is always an intense competition, in each chess game.

Is physical strength involved in chess competitions?

Chess demands a lot of intellectual strength, to play chess well one needs to keep focus and concentration for many hours during a chess game. It’s known that intellectual work requires some energy if we will take into consideration that a chess game in average lasts 4-5 hours and an average professional chess tournament lasts for 9 days, it will become evident that chess players have to be in a very good physical shape to compete on the highest level and physical strength is required at some point to be able to keep your intellectual abilities on the same high level for a long period of time. It’s also a proven fact that thinking does use up calories, and many of them. For example, during the last world championship, which for me lasted 3 weeks from be start to winning the final, I lost over 5 kilos, only playing chess, not running or doing any other kinds of physical sports. I was able to hold on well thanks to the rigorous physical training program I had gone through the 6 months previous to the championship.

Can we define chess as a sport? Yes!

Proceeding from our definition of sports, chess includes many of its components. Chess is a competition with a variety of strategy and tactics, which the skilled player will use on his way to success with much greater efficiency. Chess is not a competition of direct physical strength, but it requires a lot of intellectual strength in which physical strength should be used.

I repeat again that for non chess players, or people who have never played chess competitively, it’s almost impossible to explain how physically demanding the game of chess is, and how hard and physically and psychologically challenging is to compete in top-world competitions.

On many chess blog, as well as in many different other sources the difference between women’s and men’s chess has been discussed many times, and it seems always to be discussed on the surface, either led by ignorance of what professional chess really is, or what sacrifices it requires, or by wish-thinking that women should be as strong as men at chess, even at the highest professional level of competition.

RATING FACTS

Here are the facts: there is only 1 woman in the top 100, and only 18 women in the top 1000:

Ratings from September 2009, ranking versus all players.
  • women # 01 Judith Polgar overall # 47
  • women # 02 Humpy Koneru overall # 228
  • women # 03 Hou Yifan overall # 261
  • women # 04 Zhao Xue overall #508
  • women # 05 Tatiana Kosintseva overall # 558
  • women # 06 Pia Cramling overall # 560
  • women # 07 Nana Dzagnidze overall # 562
  • women # 08 Anna Muzychuk overall # 578
  • women # 09 Antoaneta Stefanova overall # 636
  • women # 10 Marie Sebag overall # 687
  • women # 11 Alexandra Kosteniuk overall # 727
  • women # 12 Maia Chiburdanidze overall # 811
  • women # 13 Hoang Thang Trang overall # 866
  • women # 14 Natalija Pogonina overall # 869
  • women # 15 Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant overall # 886
  • women # 16 Nadezhda Kosintseva overall # 945
  • women # 17 Danielian overall #983
  • women # 18 Zhu Chen overall #995
The overall low rankings of women overall in the world of chess at first seems shocking, but there are reasons for that:

HISTORICAL

Historically chess has been considered a men’s game. Men have been playing chess professionally for more than 100 years, women started to consider chess as a profession only in the late 1980′s, precisely with the start of decent prizes for women’s tournaments and precisely thanks to the fact titles were being awarded to women, and there was an incentive – both financial and prestigious – to try to become a strong chess player.

ROLE MODELS

It is important to note that socially having role models of one’s sex is also a factor that makes chess more attractive as a profession. A boy can say “I would like to become World Chess Champion like Bobby Fischer”, and that would be accepted readily. But a girl cannot say that, or at least it will not be taken seriously by her peers, parents or educators. It would be much more acceptable for a girl to say “I’d like to be an exceptional chess player like Judith Polgar”. Then, when she reaches the level of Judith, who says she cannot go higher? Setting a goal of being the world’s #47 (which is Judith’s world ranking) is not bad, it’s simply an intermediate goal towards that of being #1.

If we abolish women’s titles, then to be logical you should abolish the Women’s country championships, such as the recent Women’s US Chess Championship, recently played in St. Louis, which was won brilliantly by Anna Zatonskih. Why should she be awarded the title of U.S. (Women’s) Champion? She should probably fare somewhat worse in the men’s U.S. Championship. The answer is: to be a role model and to get encouragement to go higher still!

SOCIAL

Due to these historical and social reasons fewer girls begin to play chess and even fewer continue to play chess professionally. I talked to many people from different countries around the world and all these people keep saying that girls first compete on the same level as boys, but when they reach 14-16 years old they stop playing chess competitively, they prefer to go and study for college or University or consider doing other things in life. Why? Because the chess profession for women in many countries is not considered to be a profession and many girls just cannot consider to become professional chess players/arbiters/trainers because they don’t know anything about the existence of these professions or consider it not to be well paid enough (that’s true!) and that’s only one of the directions where my FIDE Women’s commission which I co-chair is starting to work on.

We should also understand that competitive sports is not something that many women like to do since it’s very nervous and physically demanding, and requires constant travel.

PHYSIOLOGICAL

Don’t forget physiological reasons: men can much easier afford to focus only on one thing in life. If a boy decides to play chess professionally, or at least give it a few years to “try his luck”, he can think only about chess, wake up and go to bed with only chess in his mind. On the other hand, one cannot contest that girls by their nature must have a different approach to life, probably mostly due to their biological “clock”, girls must start early to think about founding a family or else it will be too late, and those are precisely the young years that you need to become strong at chess. I am sure there were many young girls with enormous talent who could have gone very far in chess but were not ready to take the “risky” path into a professional chess player’s profession, and instead elected a “safer” college-work-family solution.

Of course it is possible for a girl to either manage to do everything at once, study chess, found a family, and be successful at chess competition, but that’s incredibly hard to do and requires a lot of sacrifices. It’s also possible to postpone founding a family until later years, but again that is quite a risky proposition.

PHYSICAL

Physical strength and therefore the ability to concentrate and thus not to make mistakes is higher in men’s chess and that’s also another reason why, in the long term, men are showing greater results. Many great champions have spoken about that, including the 12th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov.

AND… NUMBERS!

One most important factor which the WSJ lady forgets about is the purely statistical reasons. A recent study was conducted by Merim Bilalic, Kieran Smallbone, Peter McLeod, and Fernand Gobet, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, which suggests that 96% of the statistical difference in playing abilities between the sexes can be explained by the greater number of male chess players (Link). Here is an abstract of that paper:

A popular explanation for the small number of women at the top level of intellectually demanding activities from chess to science appeals to biological differences in the intellectual abilities of men and women. An alternative explanation is that the extreme values in a large sample are likely to be greater than those in a small one. Although the performance of the 100 best German male chess players is better than that of the 100 best German women, we show that 96 per cent of the observed difference would be expected given the much greater number of men who play chess. There is little left for biological or cultural explanations to account for. In science, where there are many more male than female participants, this statistical sampling explanation, rather than differences in intellectual ability, may also be the main reason why women are under-represented at the top end.

So this shows that to get more strong women playing chess, we need to have many more women STARTING to play chess, and here we get to a point totally ignored by our WSJ journalist:

ENCOURAGEMENT

People need encouragement for their efforts, they need rewards, or else they will not try to perform at their best. In all areas of life, school, hobbies and sports, to stimulate progress, teachers and trainers have set up levels where participants can be rewarded for their intermediate success, so they get confidence and start tackling the NEXT step. Without those rewards, few would consider entering many activities. And all those rewards need to be is REALISTIC to be effective.

Every kid hobby and sports schools know this and make sure to reward their students with awards, trophies, and diplomas, at all levels, and split by boys and girls, and how different are those from handing out women’s titles? They don’t indicate “lower expectations”, they simply reward for one step completed. Nobody has ever said that WGM is equivalent to GM, everybody knows it’s not the case, WGM is just a step towards IM then GM, to make sure the player does not lose interest as it is so hard to attain the higher titles.

Any parent who reads this will understand how important it is to stimulate his or her child and always welcome the distribution of prizes and diplomas to the best in any group in which their child participates, even if it’s not an Olympic level, or if it happens to include only girls.

As you have seen from the rating table above, abolishing all the women’s titles, such as Woman Grand Master (WGM), and WIM (Woman International Master), and logically all the women titles below that, would just make it less interesting for women players to play, why – they can’t even get recognition for success over their peers? Of course it’s not total success, they still have a long way to go to become GM’s and overall world champion, but the concept of abolishing titles is absurd.

WOMEN-ONLY CHAMPIONSHIPS

If we would accept the reasoning that women’s titles should be abolished, we should also abolish all women-only championships, and all professional women chess players (well, maybe a handful would survive) would lose the little prize money FIDE and organizers offer them the opportunity to get.

I am very familiar with scholastics chess events, all over the world, and if girl-only categories would be eliminated, we would have even fewer girls starting to play chess, and as I believe the study mentioned above has a lot of truth it in, fewer numbers of girls starting to play chess will undoubtedly lead to fewer women that earn the highest levels in chess. There are exceptions, yes, but the fact is that more women starting to play chess will give more women chess champions.

I’m sure I can add many more reasons explaining why women for the moment are weaker than men in chess. But here is a very interesting fact:

OLYMPIC GAMES

I’ve been studying the question of having chess admitted into the Olympic Games, either the Summer Games or the Winter Games. According to the IOC regulations women are not allowed to compete in men’s events. I confronted this question directly when I was playing in the 2008 Mind Sports Games in Beijing. That competition was affiliated with the International Committed, and played totally as per their rules. I wanted to build a mixed team, where I would be playing in the men’s team, but the rules were strict and I was not allowed to do so. Point 3.2 says: In accordance with normal IOC practice, women shall compete only in Pair Events (Woman) and Women events.

So why does nobody ask this question to the IOC, why a woman cannot compete in any kind of IOC sport, like, for example, shooting? Do all sports in the Olympic family have inherent male superiority? Should we say that in the Olympic Games are accepted only sports in which men are so superior to women that they are not allowed to participate together?

Since chess wants to become a member of the olympic movement we should understand that soon we will need to deal with this issue and possibly women will not be allowed to compete in men’s tournaments.

I also must point out that compared to the IOC, the FIDE is a very democratic body which let women participate in men’s tournament and also allows them to get men’s titles. So women who have achieved a lot in women’s chess can go on and continue improving their chess level playing in men’s competition. That is a tremendous advantage we women have in chess, as we know one sure way to improve it to play people a little stronger than oneself, and with time and study, the levels will keep getting close to each other.

So it turns out that women in chess have more rather than less opportunities given to them to improve, and this is what we need to get more girls and women to play chess.

WOMEN’S TITLES

The first woman who received the title of Grand Master (men) was Nona Gaprindashvili in 1978, I was the 10th woman in history to get that title in 2004, and since then already 10 more women have made the mark, that means progress is coming quite fast, considering that women have only started playing chess professionally not long ago. I also am encouraged and expected this trend to continue in the future.

Only 21 women so far have achieved the highest men’s title in chess – Grandmaster (Men) while there are 1,224 men with such a title.

That however doesn’t mean that we don’t need women’s titles. Women know very well that a WGM is less valuable than a GM, and so what? It’s still a nice recognition for success achieved so far. If no WIM nor WGM titles existed at all, there would be many countries without any titled women players at all, I bet those countries would even not consider sending teams to the Olympiads, or sending their best representative to an international tournament, sponsors would be harder to come by, they would have many fewer opportunities for simuls, thank you dear Wall Street Journal reporter, you certainly want to help women’s chess!

The WSJ reporter writes that FIDE “persists in the anachronistic and demeaning practice of awarding separate titles for women at lower levels of accomplishment.” Nobody has ever said that WGM is the same as GM, everybody knows it’s a different title and obviously it has different requirements.

On the contrary, all the encouragement is needed to:

1) Convince girls as well as boys that chess is a fun game worth trying
2) Encourage girls along the way with girls-only tournaments, prizes, trophies
3) Of course allow girls to play also in boys tournaments, which leads to faster progress since at the top levels boys may be rated higher and have more experience
4) Give titles to girls and allow them to play in any tournament they please so they can fight for any titles they can get

That’s exactly what we’re doing now, and time will prove we are right. The proposal of abolishing women’s chess titles is absurd, sounds more like a title for a “yellow” newspaper rather than the Wall Street Journal to attract attention, and would hurt rather than help getting more girls and women to play chess.

My goal, as the current women’s world chess champion, and as a chess educator, is to get every girl on the planet interested in chess. And for that I need the same thing every educator has at his fingers – the power to encourage, the power to congratulate, and the power to offer all opportunities that chess has to offer, including titles, however small they are.

I have put my whole life into chess, from the age of 5 I have loved the game, and love it up to this day. I have earned all the FIDE titles that have been available, both women’s titles and men’s titles, WIM, WGM, IM, GM. I am starting to give the love of chess to my tiny daughter of 2 years old, and I hope she will love it also and will play chess, as I know it teaches skills very useful in school, and later on, in life. I will do all I can to support women’s chess, in a positive way, not by attacking or making provocative statements just to attract attention, but in actions.

So if you have a free moment this week-end, please teach a girl you know to play chess and show her how wonderful a game it is.

If you have any constructive and civilized comments, or simply “I agree”, or “I disagree with your reasoning because of…”, feel free to post below.

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion


Caissa and Golden Organizer Award


Hello everybody!

During the second part of todays’ executive board meeting I reported on the Commission on Women’s Chess. I’m very happy to announce that the FIDE Presidential Board approved today both my proposals for the Caissa Award and the Golden Women’s Tournament Organizer Award, so already in 2010 we will give these awards to the best women player of 2009 and the best organized women chess tournament of 2009. Below you will find the full information about these awards.

KOSTENIUK CAISSA AWARD PROPOSAL: APPROVED!

From the Co-Chair of the Fide Commission For Women’s Chess Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk:

FIDE CAISSA AWARD

The CAISSA AWARD will be awarded annually, every year in the Spring to the best female player of the preceding year.

The voting will consist of 2 stages.

The first phase:

Any women chess player, rated above 2300 ELO, who played more than 10 rated games in the previous year (for example 2009), can apply to get this award, by sending her application to alexandra@kosteniuk.com with cc to: “WOM Fierro Martha” before February 10 of the voting year (for example 2010).

She should indicate her best results of the previous year (for example 2009) and number of rated games and exact results of each tournament played.

The second phase:

Out of the valid received applications, candidates shall be proposed by the members of the FIDE women’s commission based on a voting system (each member of the women’s commission can suggest up to three candidates, with the 1st place getting 5 points, 2nd place getting 3 points and the third place getting 1 point, by email to alexandra@kosteniuk.com with cc to: “WOM Fierro Martha” ) .

The winner will be the player who gets the greatest number of points. The co-chairmen will count the number of points for each candidate and will propose the winner to the PB before the 1st quarter Presidential Board of each year. The PB shall review the results, decide in case of a tie, and after the result is known, the winner of the Caissa award is to be notified and announced officially by FIDE. The decision of the PB will be final.

The winner is awarded with the FIDE CAISSA AWARD (for example 2010) and thus named the best female player of the year (for example 2009).

Prizes: Grand Prize: 1,000 euros and a statuette. (The prize comes out of the FIDE Commission on Women’s Chess)

Winners may receive additional prizes if sponsors come forward.

Winners must sign an affidavit and license and will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on the prize.



KOSTENIUK GOLDEN ORGANIZER PROPOSAL: APPROVED!

From the Co-Chair of the Fide Commission For Women’s Chess Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk:

PROPOSAL FOR NEW YEARLY FIDE GOLDEN WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER AWARD.

The organizers of tournaments with any time control and any system (except the official FIDE tournaments such as the World Championships, Chess Olympiads and so on) that have been held at least 3 times before the voting year with 10 or more female chess players took part in the tournament of the voting year can apply to get this award.

In order to receive this award the organizers should send an application with the following information:

1. Name, place, dates and rules of the tournament.
2. Number of female participants that took part in the event.
3. Number and quantity of prizes for the female participants and other financial conditions.

RULES FOR FIDE GOLDEN WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER AWARD 2010. Submission should be sent to alexandra@kosteniuk.com with cc to:”WOM Fierro Martha” starting from January 1, 2010 until February 20, 2010, about qualifying tournaments that took place in 2009.

By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest.

Who may enter:

The organizers of the tournaments with any time control and system (except the official FIDE tournaments such as the World Championships, Chess Olympiads, etc.) that have been held at least 3 times before and including 2009 with 10 or more female chess players took part in the tournament can apply to get this award.

Entry deadline:

All entries must be received by February 20, 2010.

Judging:

The winner shall be proposed by the members of the FIDE women’s commission to the FIDE Presidential Board based on a voting majority system. The name of the winner shall be announced by PB of FIDE on the 1st quarter Presidential Board of each year. The decision of the PB will be final.

The winner will be notified and awarded with the FIDE GOLDEN WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER AWARD 2010.

The organizer of this event will receive a prize of 1,000 euros (from the budget of the FIDE comission on women’s chess) which he/she should use for increasing the prize fund for women chess players in his/her next tournaments.


After the approval of the awards I was approached by the representatives of the “Lobortas & Karpova” Classic Jewelry House who expressed their readiness in developing a statuette for the Caissa Award. As soon as I will know the details I will let you know about it.

Today will be the second day of the Executive Board meeting and many more important matters and issues will be discussed I will let you all know how it will go.

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

2010 World Anand-Topalov match goes to Sofia



Hello everybody!

Blitz report from the 80th FIDE Congress, right now in Halkidiki:

During the first part of today’s FIDE executive board (I’m sitting on its Presidential Board) a very important decision took place. By the decision of the Congress, the world championship match 2010 between Anand and Topalov will be held in Sofia, in April 2010.


Silvio Danailov presenting the bid for the World Championship Match 2010

Silvio Danailov presented a guarantee letter from the prime minister of Bulgaria. There were two other bids for this match, from Turkey and Singapore, but they proposed a lower prize fund.

Congratulations to the city of Sofia, and I look forward to seeing the great games of this match!

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion


Commented Video Huss – Kosteniuk


After I posted my last commented chess game video against Gaponenko
two days ago, I got lots of emails of fans requesting more.

So I am happy to oblige with this new chess video of my 2003 game played in
Silvaplana, Switzerland, against International Master Andreas Huss.
At the time I was also International Master.

You can also watch it on my YouTube channel “chessqueen”.
Here is the direct link to this video. Feel free to embed into your web site.
Simply copy the HTML code from the YouTube page and paste it into your blog or web site.

Enjoy!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion
www.chessblog.com
Women’s Chess Blog

Kosteniuk visits Athens: Story & Photos


Hello to everybody!

I’m back to Halkidiki and am ready to tell you now about my trip to Athens.

First of all I want to thank the organizers of the event, the Petroupoli Chess Club and Michael Taylor for making this trip a reality. Everything was organized on the highest level one can wish for and I’m feeling very fortunate to meet people with such big hearts and such passion for the game of chess.

Now let’s return to the early morning of the 14th of October where I had to travel to Athens. I had a plane at 9 AM, so I needed to wake up at 6AM in order to get from Halkidiki to Thessaloniki. After getting to the airport I looked up at the departure flights screen and that’s what I saw:

Now try to guess what was the flight I was flying in.

There was a long line to check-in on my flight to Athens but I found a self-check in machine and in less than a minute I had my boarding pass. After that I went to have breakfast:



The flight from Thessaloniki to Athens is 50 minutes, at the airport of Athens I was greeted by one of the organizers of the simul – Michael Taylor.



From the airport we went directly to a wonderful hotel where I had a pleasure to stay – the hotel Grande Bretagne.


It is located right in the center of Athens on the Constitutional Square. I had a million dollar view from my hotel room:



On the top of the hill you can see the famous Acropolis.


The room for her Majesty. It’s nice to be the chess queen. ;)

After enjoying the hotel for a while,



we went to see the ancient part of Athens. I had a chance to climb onto the Ancient Steps to Mars Hill (Areopagus).



The Apostle Paul ascended these ancient steps to make his famous speech to the philosophers of Athens. The speech is recorded in Acts 17:22-32.



The Areopagus, as the area atop the rock was called, was a place of discussion of philosophers of the day.



Paul’s audience, chiefly Epicureans and Stoics, wanted to know what Paul had been proclaiming in the Athenian Agora, a public area a couple of hundred yards away where we went to walk later on and next to where we sat in a cafe where I had a chance to try the famous greek frappe.



After this cultural part of my trip to Athens we walked back to my hotel. I bought some chestnuts (or are they chessnuts?).



which are for me a sign of the coming autumn and then we head to the Petroupoli Square where the simul was scheduled for 6 PM.

The Athens Chess festival was taking place from October 10 to October 14. The organizers decided that the ultimate point of this festival would be my simul on the 14th of October. The whole week before the simul there were various tournaments, the winners of which got a chance to play in the simul. So every opponent I was playing against had to deserve this right to play against me. That’s why the simul was very hard and challenging for me. I faced 35 opponents, it took 5 hours for me to complete the simul. Below you will find the posts of the official Athens Chess Festival page on Facebook:

10/10/2009 The Athens Chess Festival started today! The weather was beautiful and 52 players ranging from new girl juniors to FIDE master Mr Christos Goritsas competed in the Open Blitz Tournament “Kosteniuk” in a friendly atmosphere with food, drinks and music. We especially want to thank the junior players of A.S.O.P. DIAS who worked so hard all day helping to make the chess playing environment perfect for everyone. We are also very grateful to the Mayor of Petroupoli and the President of E.S.S.N.A. for their enthusiastic speeches in support of chess as a cultural sport and to our local sponsors NOW and HRW for catering so well for everyone present. Congratulations to the 4 girls who won places in the simul on Wednesday with GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and we wish you all the best! A few hours now remain before Day 2 and the Junior Blitz Tournament!




11/10/2009 Petroupoli Square was filled with kids and excitement today as the Open Junior Blitz Tournament took place. In the heatwave, kind neighbouring shops and restaurants brought down umbrellas to the square and hundreds of bottles of water and caps were handed out to the juniors who played brilliant chess! A total of 16 medals and places in the Simul GM Alexandra Kosteniuk were awarded with 6 special places being given to junior girls. Bravo to all!



12/10/2009 A field of strong players including IM Nikolaos Kalesis played in the OPEN RAPID TOURNAMENT “Kosteniuk” this evening in Petroupoli Square and 3 more girls won places in Wednesday’s Simul!


13/10/2009 Tonight there was a great discussion at Petroupoli Chess Club on chess simuls, what impact they have and how they should be orchestrated. Very educational! Finishing touches are being made to Petroupoli Square in preparation for the arrival of Women’s World Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk tomorrow and her Simul and Press Conference!






As the opposite to my simul in Panama, during the simul in Athens was very cold. I started the simul like this:


In a few hours continued it like this:



and finished like this:





The last game of my simul finished in the following position:





You can see that my opponent just resigned in view of the following variation: 1. … Ke7 2. Re6+ Kd7 3. Re5+ Kc6 4. Be4+, winning the rook and the game. The final score of the event was +28=3-4.



The happy organizers – Michael Taylor and the president of the Petroupoli Chess Club.

After the simul I gave the press-conference where despite the late hour there were still many peope and many interesting questions were asked. The organizers promised me to send me a video-recording of the simul and the press-conference as well to send me all the games of the simul as soon as I have all of this available I will let you know.




With the president of the Petroupoli Chess Club and his wife.


Thanks again to the organizers for this wonderful chess festival and hope to see you all again next year!

Photos are copyrighted by Alexandra Kosteniuk and Michael Taylor. Please do not take them without permission. All you need to do is ask me for permission at alexandra@kosteniuk.com and mention the photos come from www.chessblog.com and that will be fine!

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s world chess champion
www.chessblog.com