CHINA’S world champion in classical format Hou Yifan, who tops the women’s rapid and blitz rankings, was conspicuous by her absence in Doha.
Russia’s Kateryna Lagno is the defending world rapid champion and is second behind Yifan on both rapid and blitz lists while Anna Muzychuk will defend her blitz title.
Several other top players, including world No.2 Ju Wenjun, No.4 Koneru Humpy, No.5 Alexander Kosteniuk and No.7 Dronavalli Harika, are also in the fray.
Russian Grandmaster Valentina Gunina, who won the Super Rapidplay in London last week, will be another player to watch out for.
The women’s event is much smaller with only 36 players and fewer rounds (12 in rapid and 17 in blitz). The top prize is $10,000 in each category. DSP