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Check mate or chic mate? The world women's chess championship is underway in Siberia

By Kate Baklitskaya
15 November 2012

All the strongest grandmasters of the world are battling for supremacy under a knock out system.

Welcome to Siberia - 2012 World Women Chess Championship opening ceremony in Khanty Mansiysk. Picture: chess2012.ugrasport.com

Based on the ratings, Humpy Koneru from India, who occupies the top place in the ratings, and current world champion Hou Yifan from China are favourites to take this years champion's title.  

Among the other favourites of the championship are a number of Russian chess players.  

The Russian national team won the World Chess Olympiad in September. 

The best known Russian chess players are Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina, Svetlana Matveeva, Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva.

This tournament is held in the city's Chess Academy designed by Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat. 

2012 world women chess championship 2012 world women chess championship

Spectacular - Siberian Chess Academy designed by Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat, and 2012 World Women Chess Championship opening ceremony. Pictures: chess2012.ugrasport.com

The city of Khanty-Mansiysk already has the status of an unofficial chess capital of the world. It claims that the density of top chess events here is higher than anywhere. 

In Khanty-Mansiysk in the last seven years were held four Chess World Cups, and in 2010, the city hosted the World Chess Olympiad. Almost every school in this Siberian region town has chess as favourite extra class activity, thanks to the programme called 'Chess in Schools'.

2012 world women chess championship

2012 World Women Chess Championship

2012 world women chess championship

2012 world women chess championship

Top to bottom: Humpy Koneru, India, current world champion Hou Yifan from China, Carolina Lujan from Argentina and Arousa Pourkashiyan from Iran. Pictures: chess2012.ugrasport.com 

At the opening ceremony of the 2012 World Women's Chess championship, Natalia Komarova, the Governor of Khanty-Mansiysk, stressed that 42 Internet chess centres were opened in the region and now 'every person has the opportunity to join the sport'.

'We have ten international grandmasters and 12 international masters constantly working in our area. 

'But we are not only after sports achievements. It's already proven that chess helps kids to develop and grow smarter, to make them more competitive and adaptable to future life.'

She believes hosting the event will encourage more investment and tourists into the region.

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