Juni 13, 2024

Swiss Wednesday Women’s Series: February recap

The Swiss Queens Wednesday Series, launched in partnership with the International Chess Federation (FIDE), is an initiative aimed at boosting women’s participation in chess. Hosted on the FIDE Online Arena, and open to all women with FIDE or Arena titles, the series celebrates FIDE’s 100th anniversary by emphasizing gender diversity in chess and creating a community where female chess players can connect and grow together both personally and professionally. 

With tournaments every Wednesday and a weekly prize fund of USD $1000 per tournament, the series has attracted some of the strongest players from around the world (with over 30 countries each week!). Let’s take a look at the first five winners:

Week 1: Martha L. Fierro Baquero

International Master Martha L. Fierro Baquero from Ecuador made her mark by winning the inaugural edition with an impressive score of 9/11. With the 3+1 blitz time control, by the time players get to the endgame, they very often have seconds left on their clocks. In her game against Teodora Injac, Martha (playing as Black) found a brilliant way to overwhelm the white Bishop. Can you find the continuation?

You can view the whole game here.

 Week 2: Valentina Gunina

In the second week, the newly crowned Women’s World Blitz Champion, Grandmaster Valentina Gunina, dominated the field with 9.5/11. 

As expected from her games, there was a lot of attacking action on the board. Take this one against the young Narva Mai as an example:

Black only has one good move here, but in the game, she played 23…Bd7?. How did Valentina continue? 

The game went on for another 36 moves, with constant pressure from Black. However, White emerged victorious in the end. You can view the full game here.

 Week 3: IM Anastasia Bodnaruk

We witnessed Anastasia emerge as a formidable force when she won the 2023 Women’s World Rapid Championships in a field of Grandmasters. Now once again, Anastasia cemented her place at the top in Women’s Chess by winning the third edition of the Swiss Queens Wednesday. She bounced back from a loss in the first round to end up with 9.5/11 – including a final showdown win against Valentina Gunina in the last round. In what was truly a spectacle of a game, Anastasia dominated her opponent, all while keeping great time management. View the game here.

 How did White finish off the game?

 Week 4: Gunay Mammadzada 

The fourth edition was the strongest yet, with two blitz giants – Valentina Gunina and Alexandra Kosteniuk participating. However, it was IM Gunay Mammadzada who emerged as the final victor with Kosteniuk and Gunina in second and third place, respectively. 

Mammadzada had a few great results, including a 9th-round win against Gunina, but it is her last game against the Georgian player Meri Arabidze that could be an interesting endgame study. In this position, Gunay played 50…Rd2 and the game ended in a draw. What was a better alternative that Black missed?

Gunay could have sealed the deal with 50…Rd1+ 51. Kg2 (51. Kf2 b3 52. Rxd3 b2 53. Rb3 Rh2!) 51…Rc1! 52. Rxd3 Rc3! 53. Rd3 b3 54. Kf2 Rc2 55. Ke3 b2

Week 5: IM Polina Shuvalova

The final February edition once again saw an incredibly tough field, and this time, Polina Shuvalova, who had been participating every week so far, took the spotlight as the final winner. 

In the 10th round, Shuvalova beat former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. In another crazy game, Shuvalova gave up her advantage in time trouble and entered a drawish endgame only to win on time in the end! 

However, let’s rewind a bit to the point where Polina gained the advantage that she kept for almost the whole game. Black just played 16…Nxc5 (16…fxe5 was much stronger), which allowed Shuvalova to get the upper hand. White to play:

After 17.exf6 gxf6 18. Bxc5 Bxc5 19.Rxe6 Polina won a pawn for which Alexandra had no real compensation.

Be sure not to miss any of the upcoming Swiss Queen’s Wednesday Action! You can join the next edition on March 13th here