Februar 24, 2024

Hou Yifan out for revenge against Lagno in 2023 Julius Baer Women’s Speed Chess Championship

Chess.com’s top event for women, the $70,000 Julius Baer Women’s Speed Chess Championship, is back next month and this time with a big-name sponsor and six of the strongest players on the planet.

Defending champion GM Kateryna Lagno and the near-legendary GM Hou Yifan, the world number-one for eight years and last year’s runner-up, have confirmed they will resume their speed chess rivalry. Both will battle it out in the main event from November 13 to 22, which is supported by the Swiss private bank Julius Baer.

The stellar lineup also includes the highly-decorated GMs Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina. Kosteniuk and Gunina are two of the finest and fastest women players, and both former champions.

India’s GM Harika Dronavalli, the runner up to Hou in 2021, will also return alongside fellow countrywoman IM Vaishali Rameshbabu, the fast-rising 22-year-old from Chennai and sister of the prodigy GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu.

Two more spots are available from what promises to be an exciting qualification event,  open to all titled women, from November 8 to 9. This year, however, the format for the first stage is slightly different.

The Julius Baer Women’s Speed Chess Championship is being brought into line with the Speed Chess Championship and the Junior Speed Chess Championship which means the qualifier will see a 14-round Swiss on day one followed by a top-8 double elimination bracket on the second day. The winner of each bracket on day two will advance from the qualifier to the main event.

Play will begin at 9 a.m. ET / 15:00 CEST on both days.

The main event starting November 13 will see an eight-player single elimination bracket, with seedings determined by a Chess.com panel. The six players listed above have been directly invited, and will be joined by the two qualifiers.

All matches will be played over 5+1, 3+1 and 1+1 time controls. The exact schedule will be confirmed later.

Antje Hembd, Head Global Sponsoring & Partnership Julius Baer: “We are thrilled to support the Women’s Speed Chess Championship for the first time and to help to empower women and create a more equitable, diverse and exciting chess landscape. This year Julius Baer has been included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GE). This inclusion shows our commitment to advance to the topic and to share our results transparently – supporting our Diversity & Inclusion vision to foster an inclusive environment built on care.” 

This year’s Julius Baer Women’s Speed Chess Championship is the fifth edition of the event, which has seen a series of thrilling finals since it first burst onto the scene four years ago.

GM Elina Danielian, who reached the main event as a qualifier, won the inaugural WSCC in 2019 defeating Gunina 15-13 in the final.

Danielian was dethroned in 2020 by GM Anna Ushenina, who beat Kosteniuk in the final. Hou then took the title in 2021, toppling Dronavalli, before Lagno won it against Hou in 2022.

You can watch the live broadcast on Chess.com/TV or on our YouTube and Twitch channels. Find out more about the 2023 Julius Baer Women’s Speed Chess Championship in our event guide here.