Anna Ushenina, the classical World Champion in 2012, defeated Valentina Gunina in the final, leaving the score 7-4 in her favor. The Ukrainian outplayed her rival and was a deserved winner: a better opening preparation gave her the upper hand in most of the games, and she was also more accurate. Taking an early lead in the match was also an important factor that conditioned the rest of the final.
Valentina was in general faster, as it is characteristic of her. But speed alone was not enough to prevail in this match and, in fact, none of the games was decided by the clock. Only in the last of the 3+1 games, when the Russian seemed to be gaining momentum, the comeback looked possible, but in a dramatic turn of events, a mouse slip when she was delivering checkmate in one move made her blunder her queen instead. After this blow, the remaining games became almost irrelevant.
"It's a really interesting tournament and a very hard one because everyone is very strong. I enjoyed being part of it," said Anna Ushenina in a post-match interview.
Leaderboard after the first of the four Grand Prix tournaments:
|GM Anna Ushenina||UKR||12 GP points|
|GM Valentina Gunina||RUS||8 GP points|
|GM Alexandra Kosteniuk||RUS||6 GP points|
|WIM Vaishali Rameshbabu||IND||5 GP points|
|GM Katerina Lagno||RUS||2 GP points|
|GM Ju Wenjun||CHN||2 GP points|
|WIM Munkhzul Turmunkh||MGL||2 GP points|
|WGM Le Thao Nguyen Pham||VIE||2 GP points|
"Need for speed"
In this thrilling and innovative event, the players face each other under three different time controls. First, they play under "rapid" format, where each player has 5 minutes to think, plus one second being added to her clock after each move. Then, the match continues under "blitz" format, with the time going down to 3 minutes per player, plus one second added per move. Finally, the match concludes with the "bullet" games, the fastest of all time controls, and very popular in online games: the players have only 1 minute each, plus 1 second added per move. The adrenaline rush as the players have less and less time to think their moves as they get closer to the final and decisive games or their matches, and they are forced to make decisions by pure reflex, often making more than one more per second.
About the FIDE Chess.com Women's Speed Chess Championship
The Grand Prix will consist of four legs, with a total of 21 participants: the 12 players who qualified through the Swiss and Playoffs, plus 9 players nominated by FIDE and Chess.com.
Each of the 21 players participates in three out of four Grand Prix legs.
Each Grand Prix leg is 16-players playoff, and will last five days (including one rest day after the semi-finals). The dates are June 24-28, July1-4, July 7-11, and July 14-18.
All matches in each Grand Prix leg are divided into three segments:
30-minute segment of matches with time control 5 minutes + 1 second per move
30-minute segment of matches with time control 3 minutes + 1 second per move
10-minute segment of matches with time control 1 minute + 1 second per move
In each Grand Prix leg, every player scores GP cumulative points according to her position in the final standings (for details, please check full tournament regulations on the FIDE website). The two players who score the most number of GP cumulative points in all three Grand Prix legs qualify for WSCC Super Final.
Each one of the Grand Prix legs has a total prize fund of 10,300 USD, with 3,000 going to the winner.
WSCC Super Final
The two best players of Grand Prix will play the Women's Speed Chess Championship Super Final match on the International Chess Day, July 20th, at 7 AM PDT.
The match will be divided into three segments:
90-minute segment of matches with time control 5 minutes + 1 second per move.
60-minute segment of matches with time control 3 minutes + 1 second per move.
30-minute segment of matches with time control 1 minute + 1 second per move.
Games that start but "run over" the overall countdown clock count towards the final score. The player who accumulates the most cumulative points wins the match.
The final has a prize fund of 10.000 USD, with 6,500 going to the winner, and 3,500 to the runner up. These amounts are free of taxes.
Photo: David Llada