On Tuesday, 15 of the 16 participants in the Airthings Masters in the Champions Chess Tour were presented. On the list was Magnus Carlsen, in addition to the Russian Alexandra Kostenjuk.
– It is super fun! She is, first of all, a very strong grandmaster in chess. There are not that many women with. There are some, but not many. She has done very well in fast chess, says chess commentator Maud Rødsmoen, and adds:
– That she is with is very positive for the representation. It is important that many different people are involved.
Chess expert Heidi Røneid also rejoices over the news. She says that chess has historically been characterized by discrimination against women.
– We often get feedback on why there are not so many women who play chess. It is so important that they are profiled in top tournaments like this, both for the representation and so that girls can have role models to look up to, says Røneid.
Kostenjuk will thus be the first woman to take part in this year’s Champions Chess Tour, and only the fourth overall. Last year, Ju Wnjun, Hmupy Koneru and Hou Yifan participated in various tournaments
Airthings Masters, which starts on 19 February and ends on 26 February, has a total of NOK 16 million in prize money for the winner.
– Magnus has very good chances. I will stay if he does not win, says Rødsmoen, who thinks Kostenjuk can end up in the middle layer of the tournament.
However, Kostenjuk is not a new name in the chess world. The Russian grandmaster has previously been mentioned after several modeling assignments earlier in his career.
– I want people to see that there is a fun side to chess. It can be as exciting as football or tennis. Things are changing. I’m smart, so I can play chess, and I’m not so ugly, so I can be a model, she said in an interview with English Daily Mail in 2008, and referred to it as a hobby.
Rødsmoen sees no problems with the model past, despite the focus that has been on appearance in women’s jackets. She believes there is room for everyone in chess.
– I think people can do what they want, but I think she is such a good chess player that she can draw attention in other ways too maybe. It is difficult to live completely off chess when you are not in the top 100, and she is not Some live off books and others are chess coaches on the site. For some it is a necessity, says Rødsmoen.
Colleague Røneid agrees with his colleague and believes that there should be a place for everyone in chess.
– She can do what she wants around it, and of course, a difference between going out to be a model and involuntary. Whether women and men are proud of how they. Feel free to do it for me. – People are welcome in the chess community.
Participants in Airthings Masters
Jan Kryztof Duda
Liem Quang Le
Vincent KeymerHans Nieman
New in the tournament is that a new points system similar to football is introduced, where the winner gets three points, while there is one point for each draw and zero points for the loser of a game.
Wesley So and Teimur Radjabov, who both caused trouble for Magnus Carlsen last year, are not in this year’s tournament. Many believe that the duo played cynically last year and only played draws to advance from the group stage to the quarterfinals. Now there is a bigger difference between a win and a draw, as there is usually only a half point difference in a win and a draw.