1087 Queen Street West is the address where the challenger of world champion Ding Liren and the challenger of world champion Ju Wenjun will be determined until April 22. For the first time, the FIDE World Chess Federation will hold the women's eliminatory in the same place as the men's. Opinions are still divided on whether they are treated like queens or second-rate athletes.

“We want to increase the visibility of female chess players. We know that millions of viewers are watching the candidate competition. We want role models who inspire girls and we want to highlight the importance of the women's tournament,” explains FIDE general director Emil Sutovsky to FAZ. While 500,000 euros will be distributed among the eight men, the compensation for the eight women will be of 250,000 euros. According to Sutovsky, it is “important to take into account that the prize money in women's tournaments is constantly increasing and the difference with the prizes in the open category decreases from year to year.”

The open class is open to both sexes.

There are no men's tournaments in the official language. The open class is open to both sexes. But while the eight candidates have an average Elo rating of 2745, the eight candidates have an average rating of 2517. The best, Alexandra Goryachkina of Russia, is ranked 365th in the world with 2553 Elo, just behind world champion Ju Wenjun, who is ranked 339 with 2559 Elo.

Increasing incentives in women's competitions ensure that professional players concentrate precisely on these competitions. At the end of May a women's tournament will be held for the first time in Stavanger and the prize money will be the same as in Magnus Carlsen etc While the pay gap is slowly closing, the sports gap between the genders is actually growing. The Elo ratings of top women have been declining for twenty years and are falling even more sharply than the recently deflationary numbers for men's top spots.

The political explosiveness is likely to contribute to the visibility of the candidate tournament. In the previous World Cup cycle, the rules were changed at short notice to avoid encounters between Ukrainian and Russian players. FIDE, headed by Russian politician Arkady Dvorkovich, did not repeat this. This time Anna Muzytschuk not only has to compete against Goryachkina, but also against Kateryna Lagno, who was her training partner and teammate, but who switched from the Ukrainian association to the Russian one in 2014.

Lagno and Goryachkina participated in three tournaments in Moscow that were exploited for propaganda purposes in October 2022 and January 2023. Their initiator, Sergei Karjakin, is an ardent supporter of Russian President Putin and the attack on Ukraine. FIDE suspended him for six months because his inflammatory statements had damaged the reputation of chess. The former World Cup contender has repeatedly visited Russian positions in occupied territory. By contrast, 44 Russian chess personalities called on Putin to end the invasion in March 2022. Neither Lagno nor Goryachkina signed the open letter.

In early March, FIDE threatened to move the competition to Spain if all sports participants did not get their visas approved within a week. The suspicion that Canadian authorities did not want to allow Russian players in particular into the country was rejected by Vlad Drkulec, president of the Canadian Chess Association, in an interview with FAZ. His association was only informed at short notice. It turned out that the visa authorities were working to delay the deadline, but they expedited all procedures after the chess association intervened.


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