The female candidates tournament will begin on Friday

The Women’s Candidates’ Tournament, an eight-player all-play-all that will determine the challenger Ju Wenjun in the next game of the Women’s World Championship, it will begin Friday in Kazan, Russia.

It was later one of the first decisions of the new FIDE leadership Arkady Dvorkovich took the place of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as president of FIDE: change the cycle of the women’s world championship and make it much more similar to the “general” cycle.

Alternating a title game with a knockout tournament has always been pretty strange, especially since they sometimes took place in the same year. In the end, the situation led to the best active player, Hou Yifan of China, to retire from the cycle in 2016. She said she liked knockouts but didn’t think she should have spawned the new world champion.

FIDE has now eliminated the knockout tournament and restored the Tournament of Candidates, which historically also existed in women’s chess. The first, in Moscow in 1952, was won by Elisaveta Bykova who would later defeat Lyudmila Rudenko become the third world champion.

Elisaveta Bykova
Elisaveta Bykova, third female world champion and winner of the first female tournament candidate. | Image: Wikipedia / Creative Commons 3.0.

The 2019 women’s candidate tournament, the first of its kind in 20 years, is held from May 30 to June 18 in Kazan, Russia. The format has been copied from what we know of the normal world championship cycle: eight players play a double round robin and the winner will then challenge the world champion, Ju Wenjun.

Ju Wenjun
World champion Ju Wenjun will follow the Tournament of Candidates with great interest. | Photo: Peter Doggers /

Hou Yifan, who has been studying for a Master of Science in Education at the University of Oxford since September 2018, unfortunately he had to refuse participation in this event, despite the fact that the new system liked it. He told

“I am unable to participate due to date conflicts since the game period is during the trinity period here in Oxford and it is very difficult to get permission to play a chess tournament, even if I have tried to negotiate. Except for the fact , I actually communicated with FIDE a few times in advance to discuss the possibility of changing the game dates, unfortunately it doesn’t work according to FIDE.

“For me, the schedule for my masters program in Oxford was announced much earlier, so with the FIDE decision I couldn’t make myself available to play in Kazan. However, if there were appropriate opportunities in the future, I would love it and make my best to be involved in appropriate chess tournaments and events. “

Hou Yifan
Hou Yifan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

But even without Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun (like the reigning world champion!) This first female women’s tournament will still be very strong. Six of the current top 10 are playing, as well as world numbers 11 and 13.

FIDE 2019 women candidates | The participants

# Rank Nation First name Rating Year of birth
1 3 Muzychuk, Mariya 2563 1992
2 4 Lagno, Kateryna 2554 1989
3 6 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2546 1984
4 7 Muzychuk, Anna 2539 1990
5 9 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2522 1998
6 10 Tan, Zhongyi 2513 1991
7 11 Dzagnidze, Nana 2510 1987
8 13 Gunina, Valentina 2506 1989

Tonight is the opening ceremony, but the complete pairings are already known. The draw was made on May 1st from Judit Polgar and Arkady Dvorkovich at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. Friday’s first round will look like this (with match numbers):

1. Gunina vs. 4. Lagno
2. Kosteniuk vs. 3. Goryachkina
5. Dzagnidze vs. 8. Tan Zhongyi
6. M. Muzychuk vs. 7. A. Muzychuk

According to the rules, representatives of the same country must play each other
the first round of each half of the tournament. This means that the Muzychuk sisters meet in rounds 1 and 8, and the four Russian players also play each other in rounds 1 to 3 and 8 to 10.

The game days are May 31 – June 2, 4-6, 8-10, 12-14 and 16-17. Tie-break (if necessary) and the closing ceremony will take place on June 18th.

The official promotional video of the tournament.

Organized by the Ministry of Sports of the Republic of Tatarstan, FIDE and the Russian Chess Federation, the candidate woman has a record fund of € 200,000 with a first prize of € 50,000. The winner will become Ju Wenjun’s challenger, with half a million euros up for grabs in the title game.

The tournament venue is the Nogai Hotel in Kazan, Russia. Kazan is the seventh largest city in Russia by population, with around 1.3 million inhabitants. Its beauty and rich history make Kazan often considered the “Third Capital of Russia” only after Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Kazan is a famous sports center in Russia, which hosted the 2013 Universiade and many
national hockey, boxing and swimming championships. It was one of the host cities of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and also held the 2011 nominee tournament, won by Boris Gelfand.

Shifts start at 15:00 local time, which is 14:00 CEST, 8 in the East, 5 in the Pacific. You can watch the Candidate Tournament games here as part of our live portal. The official website is here.

God never turns his back on us

Sweat soaked me in my shirt, the sun burned my skin and tears ran down my face as I realized my embarrassing situation. There I was at the cemetery, planning to visit my husband’s grave – and I was lost.

Really, I scolded myself, which fool can’t find her husband’s grave? What’s wrong with you? You have been here before.

That morning I had started with a note of hope, thinking of packing my sun hat, taking water to wash off the tombstone and buying flowers along the way.

Two miles down the road, I realized that the hat was at home, and when I stopped to buy artificial flowers, the shop didn’t have any, so it was two strikes against me.

Without hat and tormented, I repeatedly retraced my steps, reading the gravestones without results, making a weak effort to defend myself.

“You haven’t been here for two years, and you missed that time too.”

Somehow that didn’t help, because it simply stressed how easily I get lost.

Years ago, I took the wrong road on I-285 and ended up surrounding the whole city because I was so baffled that the idea of ​​going out and turning around seemed unthinkable.


Getting lost in life happens almost without realizing it. Maybe we get lost in alcohol, painkillers, violent video games, sexual escapes or pornography. Maybe we can’t find our way to common sense, even if there are road signs that show us home.

At the age of twenty, I was the quintessence of the lost sheep of Bible history, who moved away from the safety of my childhood as I immersed myself in a world of drinking, dating, drugs and despair.

God is a loving shepherd who tries to find the stray, even if he is only one animal among many others. It would be easy to hide behind the law of middle school, which says “You can’t beat them all”, but in his eyes every single person is precious.

According to tradition, Mary Magdalene was one of the lost sheep that Jesus saved when he freed her from seven demons.

When he went to Jesus’ grave and found that it was empty, he suffered a terrible shock, which came home to me when I got lost in the cemetery.

Please, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think Jef had been miraculously resurrected from the dead and then removed all traces of his grave.

Instead, I felt an intense desire, concern and pain, which she must have felt too, when she complained: “They took my Lord away and I don’t know where they put him”.

Here’s how I would feel if I were to lose my confidence now, or make a drastically wrong turn on the road of life.

“They took my Lord away” can apply to people who turn their backs on God and lose themselves in meaningless pleasures.

However, Christ was right next to Mary in the garden, hidden under a gardener’s disguise, and he is still there for us, no matter how far we have strayed, although he may be wearing a different disguise.

In many ways, God entered my life through my late husband, whose immense love for me mirrored divine love.

Now that he is gone, I cling ever more tightly to the Good Shepherd, who said: “My sheep listen to my voice and I know them and they follow me”.

I found the grave and tidied it up a bit, said some prayers and promised to return with a new bouquet of flowers. So I got into the car and managed to get home without getting lost.

I pray that one day we will meet again in paradise, where nobody will be hungry, thirsty or sunburned and every tear will be swept away. We will bask in the presence of the Good Shepherd, who offers his life for his sheep – and we will listen to his voice and rejoice.