World Women’s Champs Begins: “I Look Forward to the Sun” [UPDATED]

Irina and Sabina at the recent Batumi Olympiad, Photo David Llada

Good luck to Sabina Foisor and Irina Krush, our two US Chess representatives at the Women’s World Championships, which begin on Saturday November 3rd in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Update after round one: both Sabina and Irina drew their first games, with Stefanova narrowly escaping defeat against Sabina. Scroll down to play through them.

Top seeds in the event include reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun of China, Humpy Koneru of India, Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia and Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine.

Both Irina and Sabina arrived safely in Khanty. Krush arrived well in advance to adjust to the time zone, but said she is wearing three layers of clothing to combat the frigid temperatures “I am looking forward to playing and also look forward to seeing the sun again, whenever that may be :)”

Sabina arrived in a great mood, as she and other participants were met at the airport with plenty of fanfare.

Sabina plays Grandmaster Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria in round one and told CLO:

It’s an honor to play former World Champion Stefanova. I am preparing hard and will give it my best! It’s also exciting to play in the World Championship for the 3rd time. Hopefully this 3rd time is going to the the charm.

In round one of their matches, both Sabina and Irina drew. Sabina had a great position with lots of chances, and Stefanova narrowly escaped with the draw. Both will play black tomorrow, when a win will propel them into a group of 32, while a loss will mean elimination. A draw means playoff time on Monday morning.

Krush, pictured above with Sabina Foisor at the Batumi Olympiad, had a great Olympic result, earning the silver medal for her performance on board two. In the Women’s World Championship, Irina is seed #32, meaning she plays seed #33, IM Inna Gaponenko.

When I asked Irina about her best games at the Olympiad, she picked out two: her victory over GM Harika Dronavalli, which she called “technically speaking the cleanest (win.)” The strategic gem was also described in Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez’s report.

As soon as black got a position with an isolated pawn, in which she was going to suffer the entire game, coach Robert Hess exclaimed: “This is such an Irina position!”

 

She also pinpointed her win over Normin-Erdene of Mongolia as a thriller (read more about this game in GM Ramirez’s report). “I made a poor move or two before time control and after move 40, thought I was losing. But by sacking two pawns I got back into the game. Was definitely a really close fight, and the game had some interesting variations that didn’t appear.”

Get in the spirit to root on #TeamUSA in Khanty-Mansiysk.

You can follow the games live on the official website, or in post-game coverage. Today in Chess, World Championship edition, hosted by Jennifer Shahade of US Chess, featuring Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan will cover Women’s World Championship games. Find the show daily on https://uschesschamps.com/ and play it on demand at the Saint Louis Chess Club YouTube channel.

Also look for a match one report by Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi on CLO, with comments from Sabina Foisor.

 

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