Koneru, Lei Beat Muzychuk Sisters As Women’s Candidates Tournament Takes Off

Koneru, Lei Beat Muzychuk Sisters As Women's Candidates Tournament Takes Off


It wasn’t a good first day for the Muzychuk sisters at the 2022-23 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament in Monaco, as both lost their games as Black. GM Humpy Koneru found a nice tactic to quickly beat GM Anna Muzychuk, while GM Lei Tingjie defeated GM Mariya Muzychuk later in the day. The quarterfinals continue on Wednesday, October 26, starting at 6 a.m. PT / 15:00 CEST.

You can watch the 2022-2023 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament on our Twitch channel. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

With the 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament, FIDE is saying goodbye to the idea that the general and female world championship cycles ought to be as similar as possible. The format for the women’s tournament has been drastically changed: it’s now a knockout, with the eight players divided into two pools.

Furthermore, we are only seeing one pool this week, played in Monaco, while the other pool is scheduled to start November 28 in Uzbekistan. That the first pool has Ukrainian players, and the second one Russian players, is not a coincidence.

The quarterfinals and semifinals consist of four-game matches, while the final, to be held in the first quarter of 2023, will be six classical games. In case of a tie at the end of each round, a rapid/blitz tiebreak will be played. The eventual winner will be the challenger in the next title match with Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun in the summer of 2023.

2022-23 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament | Participants

Player Rating Rank Champion Location Qualification method

Aleksandra Goryachkina 2584 2

Uzbekistan 2020 World Championship runner-up
Humpy Koneru 2574 3

Monaco Women’s Grand Prix 2019–2021

Kateryna Lagno 2563 4

Uzbekistan Women’s Grand Prix 2019–2021
Lei Tingjie 2535 6

Monaco Women’s Grand Swiss 2021
Anna Muzychuk 2534 7

Monaco Women’s World Cup 2021
Mariya Muzychuk 2527 8 2015 Monaco Rating per January 2022
Alexandra Kosteniuk 2521 9 2008 Uzbekistan Women’s World Cup 2021
Tan Zhongyi 2514 11 2017 Uzbekistan Women’s World Cup 2021

The first half of the knockout bracket began play on Tuesday in the glamorous Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo in Monaco. The prize fund is 70,000 euros, while another 110,000 will be at stake in next year’s final. The main sponsor is the Societe des Bains de Mer (SBM), a company that owns and manages the Monte Carlo Casino, the Opera de Monte-Carlo, and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

Women's Candidates 2022 opening
Mariya Muzychuk and Lei Tingjie at the drawing of lots, where Faberge-like eggs were used. Photo: Michal Walusza/FIDE.

For her first black game, Mariya Muzychuk adopted the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, which was “a big surprise,” said Koneru afterward. With her 13th and 14th move, the Indian GM took an interesting approach, which involved a pawn sacrifice.

According to Koneru, taking the h-pawn was a risky decision as Muzychuk’s king remained stuck in the center. That quickly led to decisive tactics.

Koneru Anna Muzychuk Monaco 2022
A good start for Koneru vs. Anna Muzychuk. Photo: Michal Walusza/FIDE.

Lei played quite an impressive game as well. Especially the pawn break 16.e4 was interesting, since she weakened her structure and also gave up the bishop pair! However, chess is a concrete game and in this case, in the resulting position White would either win the b7-pawn or achieve the strong d4-d5 pawn break.
“I knew this position was better for me, but I tried to find a way to break through. I spent a lot of time on 16.e4, which might have some risk too,” Lei said afterward.

As it went, she did win the b7-pawn and continued playing energetically to win a fine game. “My opponent spent a lot of time in the opening and I think she was quite nervous,” said Lei. “I think this game was good!”

Lei Tingjie Mariya Muzychuk Monaco 2022
Lei Tingjie: “I think this game was good!” Photo: Michal Walusza/FIDE.

The 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament is an elite event featuring eight top female players, who compete in a knockout format for their share of the €250,000 prize fund and the right to play the Women’s World Championship match against Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun. The tournament’s first quarterfinals began October 25, with the final happening in the first quarter of 2023. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. A draw offer before move 40 is not allowed.


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