Defending champion Ju Wenjun won her opening game as the Women’s World Chess Championships got underway in Khanty-Mansisyk in Russia today.
The 27-year-old Chinese player, who took the title off her compatriot Tan Zhongyi in May, now leads 1-0 against her first round opponent, Australia’s Kathryn Hardegen.
The competition format is similar to the International Chess Federation (FIDE) biannual World Cups in that each round consists of two classical games, and if needed, a rapid/blitz tiebreak on the third day.
There are five such rounds before a final that will be played over four classical games, and is scheduled for November 19 to 23.
The 2018 Women's World Championship was opened yesterday in the concert and theatre complex of the Ugra-Classic in the presence of the Governor of the Ugra region, Natalia Komarova, and the Russian who became the new FIDE President on October 3, Arkady Dvorkovich.
Ju made a draw during the Opening Ceremony at the Ugra Chess Academy in the 80,000 population town in Western Siberia, and picked black pieces for herself and all other odd-numbered competitors.
Most rating favourites won their games, although Germany’s Elisabeth Pazhtz lost to Mobina Alinasab, a player rated significantly lower than herself.
Dvorkovich, the former Russian deputy prime minister, had good news for Ju and her fellow players on the eve of the Championships as he told TASS that FIDE intended to raise the prize money for both the men’s and women’s events.
"One of the FIDE tasks is to up the budget of prize winning money," Dvorkovich said.
"It goes both for the women and men’s championships for the chess crown.
"It is necessary to raise the prestige of the tournaments,
"The women’s championship has at the moment a very modest sum in prize money."
The men’s World Chess Championship - which starts in London on Friday (November 9) with reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway playing against US challenger Fabiano Caruana - offers 1 million euros (£877,000/$1.14 million) in prize money.
The total prize fund for the Women’s World Championship is $450,000 (£346,000/€395,000), with $60,000 (£46,000/€52,000) going to the winner.