Goryachkina, Zhu Lead 1st Leg FIDE Women’s Grand Prix

Halfway the tournament, GM Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia and WGM Zhu Jiner of China are sharing the lead at the first leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan. The top two players of the Grand Prix will qualify for the next FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament.

The women’s world championship cycle is underway again with the start of the Grand Prix in Kazakhstan. At the start, there was an oddity about the location: the opening ceremony took place on Saturday, September 17 in the capital, then still called Nur-Sultan, the name it got in March 2019 after the country’s long-term president Nursultan Nazarbayev. The next day, the first round of the tournament took place in Astana, as the city was renamed back to what it was between 1998 and 2019.

The women’s Grand Prix works very similar as the old system for FIDE’s ‘general’ Grand Prix. 16 players compete in four round-robin tournaments with each individual player only playing in three of the four tournaments, which have 12 players each. Players score Grand Prix points, and the top two players in the overall GP standings after four legs will qualify for the FIDE Women Candidates Tournament 2023-24.

Getting pairing number one, top seed Goryachkina had the luxury of starting with two white games. The 23-year-old GM, who is the world’s number two behind GM Hou Yifan, took down her compatriot GM Polina Shuvalova in the first round and also beat the former Russian, now Polish player IM Alina Kashlinskaya, and China’s GM Tan Zhongyi.

Kashlinskaya had been under pressure as she lost her compensation for the isolated d-pawn, but the draw was still in hand when she blundered:

A good first half for Aleksandra Goryachkina. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

Zhu is doing surprisingly well, with the same, undefeated score as Goryachkina so far: three draws and three wins. A big one was her game with GM Zhansaya Abdumalik which she won rather quickly even though she didn’t think she had a good position out of the opening.

Zhu Jiner Zhansaya Abdumalik
Zhu Jiner vs. Zhansaya Abdumalik. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE. 

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk has been struggling so far, partly because she has something else on her mind: getting her luggage, which never arrived in Kazakhstan. In the sixth round, she got a gift from IM Elisabeth Paehtz:

Paehtz Kosteniuk Astana 2022
A sad moment for Paehtz, who had a complete blackout in this game. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

FIDE Women GP Astana 2022 | Round 6 Standings

FIDE Women GP Astana 2022 standings

All games rounds 1-6

The FIDE Women’s Grand Prix First Leg (of four) takes place September 18-29, 2022, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The format is a round-robin tournament with 12 players. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus a 30-second increment starting on move one. The prize fund is 80,000 euros. Official regulations. 

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