Let me start with the Women's Masters. I have to say that I have genuine problems with this tournament for a few reasons.
- Women shouldn't have separate events, and lower expectations in chess. It is degrading, and somewhat discriminatory to set the standard of women's titles lower then that of men.
- The general attitude towards women in chess makes many feel unwelcome, and second class chess citizens. Like, for instance, withdrawing from a tournament after losing to a girl, like happened in the Australian Reserves.
- By treating women as inferior, the chess community reinforces this and continues to keep women as inferior.
It really is little surprise that the one woman who competed on an even level with men, Judit Polgar, denounced women's only events, and competed with the best players she could find.
Anyway, taking away the fact that it is a women's only event, the organisers, Gary Bekker and Jamie Kenmure have put together a very good field of players, but with only 1 Australian in the top section, but a second section is taking place, and the winner will apparently be given entry to next year's event. There hasn't been particularly good coverage of the event, so I haven't seen any games or even the results, though IM Leonid Sandler posted an article to the Russian news site with the first round games.
The Australian Junior Championship started today in Adelaide. There are 4 live boards showing the top games from the Under 18 and Under 16 Championship. The under 18 will be a fascinating affair with IM Ari Dale the top seed, but Australian Reserves Champion, Patrick Gong also in the tournament. Both came through the first round unscathed.
Meanwhile, the traditional year opener in the elite chess world, Wijk aan Zee starts tonight. As always, Wijk puts together a strong but interesting field. As well as Carlsen, Giri, Caruana and So from the top 10, there are a group of exciting players. Eljanov was the biggest mover in 2015 moving up to 13 in the world; China has 3 players in Liren Ding (12 in the world) Yi Wei (16 year old Chinese Champion) Hou Yifan (top female player ranked 68th in the world); 2015 World Cup winner, Sergey Karjakin plays; and last year's winner of the B tournament, David Navara has the honour of playing Carlsen in the first round!
It will be a tough first round for Carlsen. According to Chessbase readers, Navara's win against Wojtaszek was the best game of 2015!