2001 FIDE World Chess Championships
Women's Final (Zhu-Kosteniuk)
GM Zhu Chen (CHN) vs. WGM Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS)

Game One

Kosteniuk was impressive in her win over Zhu as she has now won four games in a row! Another Petroff defense took center stage and the Russian star showed her youthful energy by offering a weakened kingside for the two bishops. Her plan became apparent as her pieces swarmed the board and the Chinese GM could not contain the onslaught. Actually, it would be black's king that would be exposed and Kosteniuk exploited this tactically. Faced with a material deficit, an advanced enemy pawn, and an exposed king, Zhu resigned.

Kosteniuk-Zhu,  1-0
Score:  Zhu 0--Kosteniuk 1

Game Two

Kosteniuk had her four-game winning streak snapped when she was crushed by Zhu. In a wild opening, Kosteniuk wasted precious time with the queen and Zhu secured a positional advantage. After stifling black's queenside play, Zhu launched an attack starting with 24.g5!? fxg5 25.Qg2. The Russian tried to prevent white from opening up attacking routes, but her pieces became entangled. Using a series of pins, Zhu pounced on Kosteniuk and wrestled a piece away from her. This instantly dashed any chances of Kosteniuk's magical win streak, and with a piece deficit, she had to concede defeat.

Zhu-Kosteniuk, 1-0
Score:  Zhu 1--Kosteniuk 1

Game Three

The Kosteniuk-Zhu match was a total disaster for white as Zhu exploited the opening  inaccuracies of Kosteniuk. The game bolted out of the gate with a Poisoned Pawn Sicilian, but Kosteniuk didn't appear in the mood for such a game and played 8.Nb3. It appeared that the Russian star attempted to steer into the path of game 1 (without a knight on d4), but black wrested the initiative after 16… d5! After the devastating 24… Qa5!, white was under heavy fire and had to find running room for her king. After the cursory checks ran out for Kosteniuk, Zhu was on her like a hungry predator. Zhu chased her king across the board to the kingside, and after Kosteniuk got tired of running, she gave up.  After two crushing losses, this could demoralize the young Russian.

Kosteniuk-Zhu, 0-1
Score:  Zhu 2--Kosteniuk 1

Game Four

The Zhu-Kosteniuk showdown was highly anticipated as the hometown fans were rooting for a comeback by Kosteniuk after she was recuperating from two one-sided losses. Zhu, on the other hand, was trying to close out the match and open a new chapter in a Chinese chess dynasty. Kosteniuk employed the Dutch defense and Zhu got a comfortable position with a bulwark knight planted on e5. A "hide-and-seek" game with queens occurred as Zhu was trying to trade queens and Kosteniuk was trying to attack with her queen. Most of the ICC spectators, (including GM Dreev) felt white was slightly better after 37.Rec1 (although 37.fxg5 was discussed).  The "hide-and-seek" game continued when Zhu played 40.Qc3? It was at this point that the young Russian reeled off 40… Nb3! Obviously startled, the Chinese GM lost the exchange after 41.Qxb3?? when the suggested 41.Qd3 may have given her a fighting chance. Remarked GM Dreev, "Zhu Chen did not find Qd3 though there could be not so lost position as now." Down the exchange and facing a central pawn avalanche, Zhu could've resigned, but played on a few more moves. The match will now be settled on tiebreaks. Stay tuned!

Zhu-Kosteniuk, 0-1
Score:  Zhu 2--Kosteniuk 2


How is it said that the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis match is the "Fight of the Century"? They should have been in Moscow for the tiebreaks in the woman's FIDE championship! These women battled four grueling games for (arguably) the most exciting match in the tournament. Tensions were high in this duel as every game in the match had been decisive, so there certainly would be no quick draws. Would it be Zhu's tenacity or Kosteniuk's resilience that would win the match? Here's what happened:

Game 1: Zhu trotted out the Queen's Gambit and the game exploded from the start. Kosteniuk fell a bit behind in development and after Zhu's 17.Qh5, castling kingside was not an option. Zhu's powerful position caused Kosteniuk to look for simplifications, but she got lost in the hazy tactics and missed 19.Bxg6! Even at this point, her position was lost! The Chinese GM proceeded to mop up and sealed the game with a queen sac, 40.Qxc8! leading to mate or the win of more material. The Chinese are known to be fierce tacticians and it was evident that Kosteniuk was out of her league in this game.

Zhu-Kosteniuk, 1-0
Tiebreak Score: Zhu 1-- Kosteniuk 0.

Game 2: Kosteniuk would come roaring back in this match as she played the 6.f3 against the Najdorf Sicilian. Zhu's 9… h5!? made clear that Chinese dragons breathe fire! However, her hyper-aggressive approach had some obvious drawbacks. After sacking the exchange for a kingside attack, Zhu faced a collapse of her queenside after 24.c5! Nevertheless, she forged ahead for a mating attack. While there was many tactical traps for Kosteniuk, she remained composed and Zhu's tricks would have no magic.

Kosteniuk-Zhu, 1-0
Tiebreak Score: Zhu 1-- Kosteniuk 1.

Game 3: The two players would repeat the opening  moves from Game 4… a Dutch. Kosteniuk played an optimistic 10… g5!? initiating  a sequence of maneuvering by both players. Material was finally exchanged at move 16 and after 20… c5, the board would erupt into an explosive firefight. After the smoke cleared in the center of the board, it was apparent that Kosteniuk's early pawn advances left her king naked. In an impressive display by Zhu Chen, she probed using long-range strikes, sent the king  running for cover, and delivered mate on e8 with a knight! Impressive!

Zhu-Kosteniuk, 1-0

Tiebreak Score: Zhu 2-- Kosteniuk 1.

Game 4: In a must win for the Russian phenom, she sought to repeat the result in the 2nd tiebreak using the same line, but altered her course with 14.Nd5 instead of 14.Na4. This apparently gave Zhu more mobility on the kingside, and she began to roll her pawns with 16… f5, 17… f4 and 18… h3. Kosteniuk's queenside campaign was much too slow and she was unable to harass the centralized black king. The critical blow came with 25… e4! (correctly predicted by ICC players) and black's attack was a raging fire. The pressure mounted and white fell to simple tactical shots. The game became laughable when Zhu promoted a pawn for a second queen. Finally, Kosteniuk resigned and shrieks of joy were made for the 2001 FIDE Women's Champion… GM Zhu Chen!!

Tiebreak Score: Zhu 3-- Kosteniuk 1.
Final Match Score: Zhu 5--Kosteniuk  3.

GM Zhu Chen

Congratulations GM Zhu Chen!!

Results (all rounds)

PGN Download--All Games from Women's Final