By IM Michael Rahal (Barcelona, Spain) March 20th, 2023
The 2023 FIDE Women's Candidates Final will be disputed in Chongqing (China) from March 27th to April 6th. Chinese Grandmasters Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi will face each other in a six-game classical chess match.
The winner will receive 60,000 Euros and the right to challenge the current Women's World Champion, Ju Wenjun, for the title in July.
Rated 2545, Grandmaster Lei Tingjie qualified for the Women's Candidates Tournament by clinching the 2021 FIDE Gran Swiss in Riga with one round to spare.
The winner of the 2015 Moscow Open and silver medallist in the 2016 Women's World Rapid Championship, she has represented China on several occasions with outstanding performances: among others, a gold medal at the 2016 Asian Nations Cup in Dubai and the 2018 Batumi Olympiad.
Photo: Michal Walusza
Currently ranked fourth and ninth on the Chinese and World rating lists, respectively, Lei Tingjie recently secured her spot in the final by convincingly winning the 2022 Monaco Pool A Women's Candidates tournament, defeating Mariya Muzychuk in the quarter-final and her sister Anna Muzychuk in the semi-final.
Former Women's World Chess Champion in 2018, Grandmaster Tan Zhongyi was a child prodigy, winning the World Youth U-10 Girls Chess Championship in 2000 and 2001, followed by the World Youth U12 Girls Chess Championship in 2002.
Currently rated 2526, she stands in fifth place in the Chinese rankings and number twelve overall in the world. Winner of the Women's World University Chess Championship in 2012 and the 2014 Asian Women's Blitz Championship, she broke through in 2015, becoming the Chinese Women's Champion, amongst several other phenomenal results.
Photo: Lennart Ootes
Having qualified for the Candidates thanks to her brilliant third place in the 2021 Sochi Women's World Cup, she won her place at the final with a compelling result in the 2022 Khiva Pool B Women's Candidates tournament: she consecutively defeated none other than Kateryna Lagno and Aleksandra Goryachkina.
Scheduled for six games plus a tie-break (if necessary), and with a 60.000 euro first prize on the line, the winner will also gain the right to challenge the current champion, Ju Wenjun, for the title in July.
According to my database, Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi have faced each other on twenty-eight occasions, with a total score of 16,5 to 11,5 for Tan Zhongyi. However, and more to the point, most of the games have been played at a fast time control, whereas this match will feature six classical games.
Strategically positioned as a gateway to China's west, Chongqing is China's major modernized manufacturing base, a financial center and an international transport hub in Western China.
Photo: Jay Huang
Home to more than 32 million people, it was an obvious choice for hosting the event as both players were born in the city.
In addition, it's an important center of chess activity in the country, abode to many important chess clubs and academies. A fun fact - both Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi are teammates at the Chongqing Sports Lottery Chess Club.
Official website: womenscandidates.fide.com/