While four semi-finalists decide their chess relationship, let’s get acquainted to them a little closer. 

 

Antoaneta Stefanova

 The best Bulgarian women player was born on the 19th of April 1979 in Sofia in the family of the artist Andon Stefanov, a keen chess player.  When she was five, her father showed the rules of chess to her and her elder sister Ani. Player-born Antoaneta loved the game instantly and already at seven became the women champion of the city. Then she won the World championship in her age group. At 15 she participated in the men’s championship of the country, and in just 3 years reached the top ten of the world  women’s ratings. She obtained the title of men’s grandmaster.  Since early childhood the Bulgarian played for the national team, and not only for women’s team but also for men’s. In 2002 Stefanova won the Women’s European Championship.

2004 was a superb year for Antoaneta Stefanova. Splendidly going through the whole distance of the World Championship in Elista, she became the 10th Women’s World Champion. Until she turned 16 her father was coaching her, then she occasionally worked with several grandmasters. At the Championship-2004 she was helped by GM Vladimir Georgiev, and this cooperation proved to be fruitful. We see this star tandem in Khanty-Mansiysk, too.

Stefanova is fluent in several foreign languages (English, Spanish, Russian, Serbian-Croatian), loves reading (as she confessed in one interview, reading whatever comes her way), and names Kasparov and Fischer as her chess idols.

 

Harika Dronavalli

Harika Dronavalli was born on the 12th of January 1991 in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. World championship challenger Humpy Koneru and strong grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna also originate from this region.

Harika’s father wanted to interest her elder sister with chess, but it happened that our heroine was the one who really got a liking to the game. She rapidly achieved a lot in children tournaments. The first big success came at the Asian championship under 10 when she won the gold medal. At 12 Harika became the youngest women international master in Asia, and a little later – the youngest women grandmaster. She was the winner of the world championship under 14, 18 and 20, and started to participate in the adult events from the early age. She won the women championship of Asia, Commonwealth championship. Harika Dronavalli became the second Indian woman (after Humpy Koneru) to gain the grandmaster title.

At the World Women’s Championship in Turkish Mardin in 2010 Dronavalli managed to reach the quarterfinal, she already surpassed this success in Khanty-Mansiysk.

She names reading, movies and TV among her hobbies, her chess idols are Judith Polgar and of course Viswanathan Anand.

 

 Anna Ushenina

Anna Ushenina, who was born in 1985, started to play chess when she was 7 years old – her mother brought her to the chess club, painting and music sections to help her develop the feeling of beauty. Ushenina was thought to be a real wunderkind: at 15 she won the Ukrainian championship under 20, in a few years – women’s national championship, then she took the bronze at the Women’s European championship in Plovdiv. The young player seriously strengthened the national team, and step by step won even more medals: gold at Olympiad in Torino (2006),silver in Dresden (2008), bronze in Istanbul (2012), bronze of the world team championship in Ekaterinburg. Ushenina is one of the few Ukrainian sportsmen awarded a title of Honorary Master of Sports.

Anna lives in Kharkiv, likes to read detectives and listen to classical and pop music at her spare time.

 

 Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun is one of the leading players of the current Chinese team, from the generation of girls who came to chess because of the stunning success of ex-world champion Xie Jun.

She was born in 1991 and preferred to play with adults from the early childhood, often ignoring world youth championships. At 13the Chinese player won silver medal at the Asian Women’s Championship, and in 2010 won the national championship to become a constant participant of the tournaments of the highest rank.

In 2011 Ju Wenjun won the first “Hangzhou Women Grand Master Chess Tournament” and was second after her compatriot Zhao Xue at the women’s Grand Prix in Nalchik.

With every new world championship the results of the raising Chinese stars grew: in 2008 she went to the second stage, two years later she advanced to the quarterfinals, and the fight for the chess crown in Khanty-Mansiysk can become her big time.

Chess is the most important part of her life, Matt Damon is the favorite actor, she enjoys classical music, Chinese authors and prefers meat to fish.

 

Who of them will become the next Queen of the chess world?