Top seeded Grandmaster Koneru Humpy will start her campaign against Cecile Van Der Merwe of South Africa in the first round of the women's World Chess Championship that gets underway in Elista (Kalmykia) in Russia, at the City Chess complex on Friday.
Women Grandmasters Dronavalli Harika and Subbaraman Meenakshi have tough nuts to crack in the first round of the championship as they have been pitted against higher rated International Masters, Viktorija Cmilyte of Lithuania and Iweta Radziewicz of Poland, respectively.
The 64-players knock-out event will witness some of the best women players in action over next 19 days, fighting it out for the winner's purse of US $60,000 (approximately Rs 2.7 million).
Grandmaster Maya Chiburdanidze of Georgia is the only former champion in the fray following the absence of defending champion Zhu Chen of China and her compatriot and former champion Xie Jun.
The stakes are high right from the first round as the 32 losers to bow out will get US $3750 each while the rest will advance to the next round with an assured prize of US $5,500. The total prize pool is US $450,000.
The championship will be played on knock-out basis with a two-game mini match in each round except the final, which will be of four games.
Round 1 pairings: Koneru Humpy (Ind) vs Cecile Van Der Merwe (RSA); Dinara Khaziyeva (Can) v/s Alisa Galliamova (Rus); Maia Chiburdanidze (Geo) vs Arouche Farida (Alg); Asma Houli (Alg) v/s Svetlana Matveeva (Rus); Kateryna Lahno (Ukr) vs Luciana Morales Mendoza (Per); Anna Hahn (USA) vs Pia Cramling (Swe); Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) vs Tan Zhongyi (Chn); Shadi Paridar (Iri) vs Zhao Xue (Chn); Xu Yuhua (Chn) vs Sopio Tkeshelashvili (Geo); Svetlana Petrenko (Mda) vs Natalia Zhukova (Ukr); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) vs Maria Sergeeva; Carolina Lujan (Arg) v/s Ekaterina Kovalevskaya (Rus); Irina Krush (USA) v/s Maritza Aribas (Cub); Jana Jackova (Cze) vs Almira Skripchenko (Fra); Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) vs Jennifer Shahade (USA); Huang Qian (Chn) v/s Tatiana Kosintseva (Rus); Hoang Thang Trang (Vie) vs Le Kieu Thien Kim; S Meenakshi (Ind) vs Iweta Radziewicz ([I1ra<hi Thanh An (Vie) vs Ketino Kachiani-G (Ger); Olga Alexandrova (Ukr) vs Ana Matnadze (Geo); D Harika (Ind) vs Viktorija Cmilyte (Ltu); Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus) vs Lela Javakhishvili (Geo); Elena Sedina (Ita) vs Elina Danielian (Arm); Wang Pin (Chn) vs Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger); Tatjana Vasilevich (Ukr) vs Xu Yuanyuan (Chn); Monika Socko (Pol) vs Lilit Mkrtchian (Arm); Nino Khursidze (Geo) vs Ekaterina Polovnikova (Rus); Natasa Bojkovic (Scg) vs Wang Yu (Chn); Natalija Pogonina (Rus) vs Marie Sebag (Fra); Maia Lomineishvili (Geo) vs Irina Slavina (Rus); Joanna Dworakowska (Pol) vs Peng Zhaoqin (Ned).