The Women’s World Championship is underway in Tehran, Iran with 63 women vying for the world title. Apart from the pre-tournament controversy, the event would begin on a somber note after the unfortunate passing of Romanian Cristina Adela Foisor. She passed away just over two weeks ago on January 22nd at age 49. The organizers could not fill the position, so her opponent Olga Girya will automatically advance.
Despite the absence of the world champion Hou Yifan and perennial top-tier Indian player Humpy Koneru, the event will be hotly-contested. Some of the players scored well in the Gibraltar Masters and will be coming will high expectations. Anna Muzychuk, the winner of World Rapid and Blitz, will be one of the front-runners as will China’s Ju Wenjun, the tournament’s top seed.
There will be several former world champions in the field including Alexandra Kosteniuk, Zhu Chen and Anna Ushenina. Unfortunately, the last knockout winner Mariya Muzychuk declined her invitation. There will be three Iranians playing host, but looking to make and impact in front of the supportive country of nearly 78 million. Mitra Hejazipour will be joined by FIDE selections Atousa Pourkashiyan and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Iran’s rising star.
Ju Wenjun, shown here at 2016 Women’s Grand Prix in Tehran, will be top seed. While the tournament lists her at 2583, her live rating is currently over 2600. Photo courtesy of chessdom.com