The Women's World Chess Championship (WWCC) is played to determine the women's world champion in chess. Like the World Chess Championship, it is administered by FIDE.
Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. The game is played by millions of people worldwide. Chess is believed to be derived from the Indian game chaturanga sometime before the 7th century. Chaturanga is also the likely ancestor of the Eastern strategy games xiangqi, janggi, and shogi. Chess reached Europe by the 9th century, due to the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The pieces assumed their current powers in Spain in the late 15th century; the modern rules were standardized in the 19th century.
The World Chess Championship is played to determine the world champion in chess. Since 2014, the schedule has settled on a two-year cycle with a championship held in every even year. Magnus Carlsen has been world champion since he defeated Viswanathan Anand in 2013. He successfully defended the title in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and is next due to defend the title in late 2020.
The Fédération Internationale des Échecs or International Chess Federation is an international organization that connects the various national chess federations around the world and acts as the governing body of international chess competition. It is usually referred to as FIDE, its French acronym.
Unlike with most sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee, where competition is either "mixed" (containing everyone) or split into men and women,in chess women are both allowed to compete in the "open" division (including the World Chess Championship) yet also have a separate Women's Championship (only open to females).
The International Olympic Committee is a non-governmental sports organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Created by Pierre de Coubertin and Demetrios Vikelas in 1894, it is the authority responsible for organising the modern Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
The Women's World Championship was established by FIDE in 1927 as a single tournament held alongside the Chess Olympiad. The winner of that tournament, Vera Menchik, did not have any special rights as the men's champion did—instead she had to defend her title by playing as many games as all the challengers. She did this successfully in every other championship in her lifetime (1930, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939).
The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete. FIDE organises the tournament and selects the host nation.
Vera Frantsevna Menchik was a British-Czechoslovak-Russian chess player who became the world's first women's chess champion. She also competed in chess tournaments with some of the world's leading male chess masters, with occasional successes including two wins over future world champion Max Euwe.
Menchik died, still champion, in 1944 in a German air raid on Kent. The next championship was another round-robin tournament in 1949–50 and was won by Lyudmila Rudenko. Thereafter a system similar to that of the men's championship was established, with a cycle of Candidates events (and later Interzonals) to pick a challenger to face the reigning champion.
Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.
A round-robin tournament is a competition in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn. A round-robin contrasts with an elimination tournament, in which participants are eliminated after a certain number of losses.
Lyudmila Vladimirovna Rudenko was a Soviet chess player and the second women's world chess champion, from 1950 until 1953.
The first such Candidates tournament was held in Moscow, 1952. Elisaveta Bykova won and proceeded to defeat Rudenko with seven wins, five losses, and two draws to become the third champion. The next Candidates tournament was won by Olga Rubtsova. Instead of directly playing Bykova, however, FIDE decided that the championship should be held between the three top players in the world. Rubtsova won at Moscow in 1956, one-half point ahead of Bykova, who finished five points ahead of Rudenko. Bykova regained the title in 1958 and defended it against Kira Zvorykina, winner of a Candidates tournament, in 1959.
Elisaveta Ivanovna Bykova was a Soviet chess player and twice Women's World Chess Champion, from 1953 until 1956, and again from 1958 to 1962. She was awarded the titles of Woman International Master in 1950, International Master in 1953, and Woman Grandmaster in 1976.
In chess, a draw is the result of a game ending in a tie. Usually, in tournaments a draw is worth a half point to each player, while a win is worth one point to the victor and none to the loser.
Olga Nikolaevna Rubtsova was a Soviet chess player and the fourth women's world chess champion.
The fourth Candidates tournament was held in 1961 in Vrnjacka Banja, and was utterly dominated by Nona Gaprindashvili of Georgia, who won with ten wins, zero losses, and six draws. She then decisively defeated Bykova with seven wins, no losses, and four draws in Moscow, 1962 to become champion. Gaprindashvili defended her title against Alla Kushnir of Russia at Riga 1965 and Tbilisi/Moscow 1969. In 1972, FIDE introduced the same system for the women's championship as with the men's: a series of Interzonal tournaments, followed by the Candidates matches. Kushnir won again, only to be defeated by Gaprindashvili at Riga 1972. Gaprindashvili defended the title one last time against Nana Alexandria of Georgia at Pitsunda/Tbilisi 1975.
Nona Gaprindashvili is a Georgian chess player and the first woman to be awarded the FIDE title Grandmaster. She was the sixth women's world chess champion (1962–1978) and is the strongest female player of her generation.
Georgia, known until 1995 as the Republic of Georgia, is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometres (26,911 sq mi), and its 2017 population is about 3.718 million. Georgia is a unitary parliamentary republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy.
Alla Shulimovna Kushnir was a Soviet-born Israeli chess player. She was awarded the FIDE titles of Woman International Master (WIM) in 1962 and Woman Grandmaster (WGM) in 1976.
In 1976–1978 Candidates cycle, 17-year-old Maya Chiburdanidze of Georgia ended up the surprise star, defeating Nana Alexandria, Elena Akhmilovskaya, and Alla Kushnir to face Gaprindashvili in the 1978 finals at Tbilisi. Chiburdanidze proceeded to soundly defeat Gaprindashvili, marking the end of one Georgian's domination and the beginning of another's. Chiburdanidze defended her title against Alexandria at Borjomi/Tbilisi 1981 and Irina Levitina at Volgograd 1984. Following this, FIDE reintroduced the Candidates tournament system. Akhmilovskaya, who had earlier lost to Chiburdanidze in the Candidates matches, won the tournament was but was still defeated by Chiburdanidze at Sofia 1986. Chiburdanidze's final title defense came against Nana Ioseliani at Telavi 1988.
Chiburdanidze's domination ended in Manila 1991, where the young Chinese star Xie Jun defeated her, after finishing second to the still-active Gaprindashvili in an Interzonal, tying with Alisa Marić in the Candidates tournament, and then beating Maric in a tie-breaker match.
It was during this time that the three Polgar sisters Susan (also known as Zsuzsa), Sofia (Zsófia), and Judit emerged as dominant players. However they tended to compete in men's tournaments, avoiding the women's championship.
Susan Polgar eventually changed her policy. She won the 1992 Candidates tournament in Shanghai. The Candidates final—an eight-game match between the top two finishers in the tournament—was a drawn match between Polgar and Ioseliani, even after two tiebreaks. The match was decided by a lottery, which Ioseliani won. She was then promptly crushed by Xie Jun (81⁄2–21⁄2) in the championship at Monaco 1993.
The next cycle was dominated by Polgar. She tied with Chiburdanidze in the Candidates tournament, defeated her easily in the match (51⁄2–11⁄2), and then decisively defeated Xie Jun (81⁄2–41⁄2) in Jaén 1996 for the championship.
In 1997, Russian Alisa Galliamova and Chinese Xie Jun finished first and second, but Galliamova refused to play the final match entirely in China. FIDE eventually awarded the match to Xie Jun by default.
However, by the time all these delays were sorted out, Polgar had given birth to her first child. She requested that the match be postponed. FIDE refused, and eventually set up the championship to be between Galliamova and Xie Jun. The championship was held in Kazan, Tatarstan and Shenyang, China, and Xie Jun won with five wins, three losses, and seven draws.
In 2000 a knock-out event, similar to the FIDE men's title and held alongside it, was the new format of the women's world championship. It was won by Xie Jun. In 2001 a similar event determined the champion, Zhu Chen. Another knock-out, this one held separately from the men's event, in Elista, the capital of the Russian republic of Kalmykia (of which FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is president), from May 21 to June 8, 2004, produced Bulgarian Antoaneta Stefanova as champion. As with Polgar five years prior, Zhu Chen did not participate due to pregnancy.
In 2006 the title returned to China. The new champion Xu Yuhua was pregnant during the championship.
In 2008, the title went to Russian grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk, who, in the final, beat Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan 21⁄2–11⁄2, then aged 14 (see Women's World Chess Championship 2008).
In 2010 the title returned to China once again. Hou Yifan, the runner-up in the previous championship, became the youngest ever women's world champion at the age of 16. She beat her compatriot WGM Ruan Lufei 2–2 (classic) 3–1 (rapid playoffs).
Beginning from 2010, the Women's World Chess Championship would be held annually in alternating formats. In even years a 64-player knockout system would be used, in the odd years a classical match featuring only two players would be held.The 2011 edition was between the 2010 champion Hou Yifan and the winner of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2009–2011. Since Hou Yifan won the Grand Prix, her challenger was the runner-up, Koneru Humpy.
In 2011 Hou Yifan successfully defended her women's world champion title in the Women's World Chess Championship 2011 in Tirana, Albania against Koneru Humpy. Hou won three games and drew five in the ten-game match, winning the title with two games to spare.
Hou Yifan was knocked-out in the second round in Women's World Chess Championship 2012, which was played in Khanty Mansiysk. Anna Ushenina, seeded 30th in the tournament, won the final against Antoaneta Stefanova 31⁄2–21⁄2.
The Women's World Chess Championship 2013 was a match over 10 games between defending champion Anna Ushenina and Hou Yifan who had won the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012. After seven of ten games Hou Yifan won the match 5.5 to 1.5 to retake the title.
After Hou declined to defend her title at the Women's World Chess Championship 2015, the title was won by Mariya Muzychuk, who defeated Natalia Pogonina in the final.
Hou defeated Muzychuk 6-3 to reclaim the Women's World Chess Championship 2016 title for her 4th championship in March 2016.
The following year Tan Zhongyi defeated Anna Muzychuk for the title at the Women's World Chess Championship 2017.
Tan lost the title defending it against Ju Wenjun (with Hou not participating at this event) at the Women's World Chess Championship Match 2018.
Due to various hosting and timing issues, the championships had varied from their intended annual calendar in recent years.FIDE held a second world championship in 2018 in order to get back on schedule.
After the 2018 championship the new FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich announced the format would be changed back to matches only. He said the many different champions the yearly system created discredited the championship title as a whole.The challenger to the current world champion will be the winner of the Candidates tournament held in June 2019.
|none||1944–1950||World War II|
|Year||Host country||Host city||World champion||Runner-up(s)||Won (+)||Lost (−)||Draw (=)||Format|
|Women's World Chess Championship (1927–1944)|
|1927||London||11 players||10||0||1||12-player round-robin tournament|
|1930||Hamburg||4 players||6||1||1||5-player double round-robin tournament|
|1931||Prague||4 players||8||0||0||5-player double round-robin tournament|
|1933||Folkestone||7 players||14||0||0||8-player double round-robin tournament|
|1935||Warsaw||9 players||9||0||0||10-player round-robin tournament|
|1937||Stockholm||25 players||14||0||0||26-player Swiss-system tournament|
|1939||Buenos Aires||19 players||17||0||2||20-player round-robin tournament|
|Vera Menchik died in 1944 as reigning world champion.|
|Women's World Chess Championship (1944–1950)|
|Women's World Chess Championship (1950–1999)|
|1950||Moscow||15 players||11½ points out of 15||16-player round-robin tournament|
|1956||Moscow||10 points out of 16||3-player (Rubtsova, Bykova, Rudenko) octuple round-robin|
|1969|| Tbilisi |
|1975|| Pitsunda |
|1981|| Borjomi |
|4||4||8||16-game match (draw)|
|1999|| Kazan |
|Women's World Chess Championship (2000–2018) (addition of the knockout format)|
|2000||New Delhi||1||0||3||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match)|
|2001||Moscow||2+3||2+1||0||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, plus tie-breaks)|
|2004||Elista||2||0||1||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, won early)|
|2006||Yekaterinburg||2||0||1||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, won early)|
|2008||Nalchik||1||0||3||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match)|
|2010||Hatay||1+2||1||2+2||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, plus tie-breaks)|
|2011||Tirana||3||0||5||10-game match, won early|
|2012||Khanty-Mansiysk||1+1||1||2+1||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, plus tie-breaks)|
|2013||Taizhou||4||0||3||10-game match, won early|
|2015||Sochi||1||0||3||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match)|
|2016||Lviv||3||0||6||10-game match, won early|
|2017||Tehran||1+1||1||2+1||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, plus tie-breaks)|
|May 2018|| Shanghai |
|Nov 2018||Khanty-Mansiysk||1+2||1||2+2||64-player knock-out tournament (4-game championship match, plus tie-breaks)|
|Women's World Chess Championship (2019–present) (return to match format only)|
|2019||TBD||10-game match (?)|
Xie Jun is a Chinese chess grandmaster. She had two separate reigns as Women's World Chess Champion, from 1991 to 1996 and again from 1999 to 2001. Xie is one of three women to have at least two separate reigns, besides Elisaveta Bykova and Hou Yifan. Xie Jun is the current president of the Chinese Chess Association.
Maia Chiburdanidze is a Georgian chess grandmaster, and the seventh Women's World Chess Champion, the youngest one until 2010, when this record was broken by Hou Yifan. She has won nine Chess Olympiads.
Alisa Mikhailovna Galliamova is a Russian chess player, who holds the FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is twice runner-up at the Women's World Chess Championship, in 1999 and 2006, and three-time Russian women's champion. She was known as "Alisa Galliamova-Ivanchuk" from 1993 to 2001.
Events in chess in 1993;
The FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2009–11 was a series of six chess tournaments exclusively for women, which formed part of the qualification cycle for the Women's World Chess Championship 2011. The winner of the Grand Prix was to challenge Hou Yifan—the 2010 world champion— in the third quarter of 2011. As Hou Yifan also won the Grand Prix, Koneru Humpy as the runner-up qualified for the championship match.
The Women's World Chess Championship 2001 took place from November 25 to December 14, 2001 in Moscow, Russia. It was won by Zhu Chen, who beat Alexandra Kosteniuk in the final by 5 to 3. The final was tied 2–2 after the classical games and decided in the rapid tie-breaks.
The 1972 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Nona Gaprindashvili, who successfully defended her title against challenger Alla Kushnir. This was the third consecutive title match between the two strongest female players of their time.
The 1975 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Nona Gaprindashvili, who successfully defended her title against challenger Nana Alexandria. This was Gaprindashvili's fourth title defense - and the last successful one.
The 1978 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Maia Chiburdanidze, who defeated the incumbent champion Nona Gaprindashvili At only 17 years of age, Chiburdanidze became the sixth and youngest Women's World Champion.
The 1981 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Maia Chiburdanidze, who successfully defended her title against challenger Nana Alexandria after a closely fought match, which ended in an 8-8 tie.
The 1984 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Maia Chiburdanidze, who successfully defended her title against challenger Irina Levitina.
The 1986 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Maia Chiburdanidze, who successfully defended her title against challenger Elena Akhmilovskaya.
The 1988 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Maia Chiburdanidze, who successfully defended her title against challenger Nana Ioseliani.
The 1991 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Xie Jun, who defeated the incumbent champion Maia Chiburdanidze in the title match.
The 1993 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Xie Jun, who successfully defended her title against challenger Nana Ioseliani in the title match.
The 1996 Women's World Chess Championship was won by Hungarian Zsuzsa Polgar, who defeated the incumbent champion Xie Jun in the title match. Polgar was seeking American Citizenship at the time.
The 1999 Women's World Chess Championship was won by former champion Xie Jun, who regained her title after defeating Alisa Galliamova. Previous to the match, reigning champion Susan Polgar had been stripped of her title after much controversy.
The Women's World Chess Championship 2000 was a change from previous championship cycle in that, for the first time, it consisted of a 64-player knock-out tournament which took place from November 27 to December 16, 2000 in New Delhi, India. Despite the change in format, the tournament was still won by defending champion Xie Jun of China, who beat her compatriot Qin Kanying in the final by 2½ to 1½.
While the World Chess Championship title, contested officially since 1886 and unofficially long before that, is in theory open to all players, it was for many years contested solely by men. In 1927, FIDE therefore established a Women's World Chess Championship exclusively for female players. Like the "open" title, the format for the women's championship has undergone several changes since then, the most important of which are described here.