Kosteniuk Crowned Isolated Chess Queen as Krush Recovers from COVID-19

On Saturday, March 21, Botez Live and US Chess Women hosted the Isolated Queens Swiss, a blitz tournament on chess.com open to female players of all ages. 85 players participated including over 30 streamers, who gave running commentary on their twitch channels. Women and girls from six continents played, many practicing social isolation to stymie the scourge of COVID-19. One of our most beloved American players, Grandmaster Irina Krush played in quarantine while recovering from coronavirus. On Friday night, March 20, the seven-time US Women's Champion revealed to her many fans and friends that she had been diagnosed with COVID-19. That post is public, and can be read here. Feeling somewhat better the next morning, Irina jumped into the stacked blitz event.

 I was tired of laying around unproductively for a week...was it hard to play? It was fine...I mean, of course I wasn't being super evocative in my twitch stream, since I had to conserve my breath, and I probably would've had a stronger reaction to my bad moves under other circumstances :)

This was Irina's very first time streaming. "I felt I should have gotten a prize just for figuring out how to stream. It was definitely my biggest creative achievement of the tournament, and maybe top ten of my life :)" Irina did end up getting 7.5/10 for joint 2nd, and perhaps more vitally, an afternoon of absorption. On March 26th, after this article was posted, Irina wrote another heartfelt update on Facebook about her health. "The virus has not been an easy opponent, but I am hopeful that this wave will recede too."

[pgn] [Event "Isolated Queens Saturday Swiss"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.03.21"] [White "annamaja7- FM Anna Maja"] [Black "Irochka83- GM Irina Krush"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B59"] [WhiteElo "2154"] [BlackElo "2304"] [PlyCount "154"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Be3 a5 10. a4 Nb4 11. Kh1 d5 12. exd5 Nbxd5 13. Nxd5 Nxd5 14. Bc5 Be6 15. c4 Nf4 16. Qxd8 Rfxd8 17. Bxe7 Re8 18. Bf3 Rxe7 19. Rfd1 g5 20. g3 Nh3 21. Kg2 g4 22. Bd5 Ng5 23. Nc5 Rc8 24. Nb3 b6 25. Rac1 Rec7 26. c5 bxc5 27. Nxa5 Rb8 28. b3 Kg7 29. Rc3 Rd8 30. Rcd3 e4 31. Bxe4 Rxd3 32. Bxd3 Bd5+ 33. Kf1 Nf3 34. Nc4 Nxh2+ 35. Ke1 Nf3+ 36. Kf1 Re7 37. Bc2 Nh2+ 38. Kg1 Nf3+ 39. Kf1 Nd4 40. Bd3 Nxb3 41. Ne3 Bf3 42. Nf5+ Kf6 43. Nxe7 Bxd1 44. Nc6 Bf3 45. Nd8 Ke7 46. Bxh7 Kxd8 47. Ke1 c4 48. Bg8 c3 49. Bh7 Nd4 50. a5 Kc7 51. a6 Kb6 52. Bd3 Nb3 53. Bc2 Nd4 54. Bd3 f6 55. Bc4 Nc6 56. Bd3 Nb4 57. Bf5 Kxa6 58. Bb1 Kb5 59. Bf5 Kc5 60. Kf1 c2 61. Bxc2 Nxc2 62. Kg1 Kd4 63. Kh2 Kd3 64. Kg1 Ke2 65. Kh2 Nb4 66. Kg1 Nd3 67. Kh2 Nxf2 68. Kg1 Ne4 69. Kh2 Ke3 70. Kg1 Nxg3 71. Kh2 Nh5 72. Kg1 Kf4 73. Kf2 g3+ 74. Kg1 Kg4 75. Kf1 Nf4 76. Kg1 Nh3+ 77. Kf1 g2+ 0-1 [/pgn]
The multi-stream event was anchored by myself with one of the most popular chess streamers in the World, WFM Alexandra Botez, as we provided educational content of key games. Botez said,
I cannot explain how excited I am that so many ladies decided to participate! I'm already seeing many new streamers who want to continue to stream. This is huge because I think as chess grows on Twitch, it will attract more eyeballs and get more people and funds into the game - a big win for chess fans and professionals everywhere.

One of the most exciting games in the whole event saw two of America's top female players face off in a sharp King's Indian Defense.

[pgn] [Event "Isolated Queens Saturday Swiss"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.03.21"] [White "Irochka83-Irina Krush"] [Black "Magician4MA-Carissa Yip"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E98"] [WhiteElo "2274"] [BlackElo "2494"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Ne1 Ne8 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12. Bf2 g5 13. c5 Rf6 14. Rc1 h5 15. a4 Rg6 16. cxd6 cxd6 17. Nb5 g4 18. Bh4 a6 19. Na3 Bf6 20. Bxf6 Nxf6 21. Qc2 Ne8 22. Qc3 Rg7 23. a5 Ng6 24. Nc4 g3 25. h3 Qh4 26. Bd1 Bxh3 27. gxh3 Qxh3 28. Rc2 Nh4 29. Qd2 Rc8 30. b3 Nf6 31. Qe2 Kh7 32. Qd2 Rcg8 33. Nxd6 g2 0-1 [/pgn]
Yip told CLO that this was her favorite win of the event, pinpointing moves like 15. a4 and 22. Qc3 as too slow on Irina's part, allowing Yip a classic KID crush, punctuated by the devastating 26...Bxh3!
Being up tempi in the KID is really important, and she was just too slow to counterattack on my queenside.

Irina graciously said it was the best game she saw all event too, even if against her. "It was a nice game by black, very thematic for the KID." This was a key win on the way to Carissa's scorching 7-0 start, which also included a win against the other GM in the tournament, eventual champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.

[pgn] [Event "Isolated Queens Saturday Swiss"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.03.21"] [Round "?"] [White "Magician4MA"] [Black "ChessQueen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C43"] [WhiteElo "2506"] [BlackElo "2674"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Nd7 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. Qh5+ Ke7 8. Qe2 Kf7 9. Qh5+ Ke7 10. Qe2 Kd6 11. Bf4+ Kc6 12. Bxe4 dxe4 13. Nc3 a6 14. Qc4+ Kb6 15. Bxc7+ Qxc7 16. Nd5+ Ka7 17. Qxc7 h5 18. a4 Rh6 19. Qf4 Bd6 20. Qe3 Rg6 21. g3 Nf6 22. Nxf6 Rxf6 23. O-O-O Bg4 24. Rd2 Rc8 25. Kb1 Bf3 26. Re1 Rf7 27. c3 Rf5 28. Rc2 Be7 29. c4 Bb4 30. Rec1 Rf6 31. c5 Bg4 32. d5 a5 33. c6+ b6 34. Ka1 Bd6 35. Rc4 Rf3 36. Qxe4 Rxf2 37. c7 Re2 38. Qd3 Be5 39. R1c2 Re1+ 40. Ka2 Be2 41. Qd2 Bxc4+ 42. Rxc4 Rf1 43. d6 Rff8 44. Qd5 1-0[/pgn]
Yip's appearance in Isolated Queens was only her second time streaming at https://www.twitch.tv/carissayip, but she already has a strong following. Her fans would have to settle for second place this time, as she faltered in the last three games, starting with a loss to talented Georgian player WFM Lile Koridze.
[pgn] [Event "Isolated Queens Saturday Swiss"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.03.21"] [Round "?"] [White "LileKoridze"] [Black "Magician4MA"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2345"] [BlackElo "2509"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. Be3 Ng4 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bc1 f5 11. Bg5 Qe8 12. Nd5 Qf7 13. dxe5 Ngxe5 14. exf5 Bxf5 15. Qd2 Rfe8 16. Rad1 Nxf3+ 17. Bxf3 Nd4 18. Qf4 Be5 19. Qh4 Nxf3+ 20. gxf3 Rf8 21. f4 Bxb2 22. Rfe1 Rae8 23. Be7 Bc2 24. Rd2 Bc3 25. Nxc3 Bf5 26. Rdd1 Qxc4 27. Bxf8 Rxe1+ 28. Rxe1 Qxc3 29. Qe7 1-0 [/pgn]
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-M9tbAnAHL/ You can find Carissa's entire stream from Isolated Queens here.  Former Women's World Champion, Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk, aka "Chess Queen" scored 8/10 to take clear first and a $700 prize. Kosteniuk archived the entire show on her twitch channel, and finished with a victory over IM Karina Ambartsumova. 
[pgn] [Event "Isolated Queens Saturday Swiss"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.03.21"] [Round "?"] [White "karinachess1"] [Black "ChessQueen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A15"] [WhiteElo "2507"] [BlackElo "2678"] [PlyCount "134"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 e6 5. O-O Be7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. d4 Ne4 8. Nxe4 Bxe4 9. Bf4 d6 10. Qc1 Nd7 11. Rd1 h6 12. Qc3 Qc8 13. Rac1 Qb7 14. Ne1 Bxg2 15. Nxg2 f5 16. Be3 Bf6 17. Qc2 Rae8 18. d5 Bd8 19. dxe6 Rxe6 20. Bd4 Qe4 21. Nf4 Qxc2 22. Rxc2 Re4 23. f3 Ree8 24. Kf2 g5 25. Nd3 Rf7 26. b3 a5 27. Re1 Bf6 28. Bxf6 Nxf6 29. Nb2 Rfe7 30. Nd1 g4 31. e3 gxf3 32. Kxf3 Ng4 33. h3 Ne5+ 34. Kf2 Nd3+ 35. Ke2 Nxe1 36. Kxe1 Kg7 37. Kf2 Kf6 38. Rd2 Re6 39. Nc3 c6 40. Rd3 Rd8 41. Kf3 Ke5 42. Ne2 Rg6 43. Nd4 Rc8 44. Ne2 d5 45. Nf4 Rd6 46. cxd5 cxd5 47. Rd4 Rc2 48. a4 Rc3 49. b4 Rc4 50. Nd3+ Kf6 51. bxa5 bxa5 52. Kf4 Rxd4+ 53. exd4 Rb6 54. g4 fxg4 55. hxg4 Rb3 56. Nc5 Rb4 57. Ke3 Kg5 58. Nd7 Rxa4 59. Nb6 Ra3+ 60. Ke2 Kxg4 61. Nxd5 h5 62. Nf6+ Kg5 63. Ne4+ Kf4 64. Nf2 h4 65. d5 Ke5 66. Nd3+ Rxd3 67. Kxd3 Kxd5 0-1 [/pgn]
It's fitting that Kosteniuk won this innovative event, as she has always been ahead of the curve, from her website to her branding to starting a podcast over a decade ago. Saint Louis WIM Thalia Cervantes was also among the players tied for second, with Lile Koridze of Georgia, Nastya Rakhmangulova of Ukraine and Carolyn Gaug of North Carolina.
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US Women's Champion Jennifer Yu, and WGMs Tatev Abrahamyan, Sabina Foisor and Katerina Nemcova were also playing in the event, and many of them were streaming for their very first time, or returning to twitch after a busy year.

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You can find Tatev's full stream of Isolated Queens here.  But the event was not only about our highest rated stars. One of the most brilliant people in the event was a high school senior from the Philadelphia area, Sofiya Lysenko, who founded Girls Code Chess. Sofiya has been internationally recognized by Intel ISEF, Google, and software engineering communities for her research and projects in medicine, machine learning, and computing.

The Science Fair Champion pointed out that both chess and STEM fields teach critical skills in strategy and leadership.

Computer science and data science, especially, allow anyone with the ability to code to contribute to quickly to the solving of internationally scaled challenges.

Sofiya highlighted the community oriented feel of Isolated Queens:

There were people coming to my stream being very supportive and then passing onto others, collectively creating a community that transcended just even the network of women players, but also spectators, parents, coaches, and many other girls for which the event was uplifting, inspiring, and exciting.
Rusa Goletiani playing Laurel Aronian at a g2GM grant program in New York City

Young women from our US Chess Women programs also played, including Laurel Aronian, whose mom Dr. Karen Aronian was recently interviewed on Dan Lucas's One Move at a Time. Laurel told CLO the event inspired her:

Playing in the tournament made me realize that I definitely needed some fresh openings and that there were many other options that I could use if I wanted to see different positions.

Another participant and Girls Club Room regular was 7-year-old Zoey Moore. Zoey's mom Dawn said:

Zoey has really been improving her game. She made the top 10 girls and top 100 boys and girls for her age! She hasn’t played too much online so being able to play with such an esteemed group was a real joy for her.
Jen playing Zoey at the Girls Club Room in December of 2019, Photo Dawn Moore

Rapidly improving chess streamer Gold Dust Tori at twitch.tv/golddusttori also had a blast at the event, while defeating her first titled player in a blitz tournament.

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Another emerging streamer, Naycir, echoed Tori's enthusiasm.

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It was only after Kosteniuk took the crown that I realized the essence of the event: we were all feeding off each other's energy, from our homes. Isolated Queens, but as connected as pawns.

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Class prize winners for top scoring streamers included FM Anna Maja, WGM Evgeniya Doluhanova for Under 2200, WIM Jesse February in Under 1800, Claudia Santeramo and Rebecca Loren for Under 1400. Isolated Queens was made possible thanks to the generous donations of Ian "Maprail" Silverstone, Open Field Media, Kevin Wong as well as the moderators and donors to Botez Live throughout our US Chess Women Saturday series. On Saturday, March 28th we'll break from our regular US Chess Women programming for a very special event: Femme Batale 2, a team match to raise money for coronovirus relief. Tune in at 3 ET and find full details here.

Quick Links: 

Replay with commentary from Jen and Alexandra on Botez Live

Tatev's Replay

Carissa's replay

Chessqueen's replay (Russian)

Tori's replay

Sofiya's replay

Event Preview on CLO 

Next week's Femme Batale

More info on US Chess Women