Mariya Muzychuk wins Women’s Championship!

Mariya Muzychuk, World Champion
Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

The Ukraine has a new champion! The embattled country has had its share of chess success in recent history with the greatness of Vassily Ivanchuk and the former FIDE World Champion of Ruslan Ponomariov. They can also lay claim to Sergey Karjakin who still hold the record for youngest chess Grandmaster in history (12 years, 7 months). The country has produced a number of Olympiad medals including men’s gold in 2004 and 2010 and women’s in 2006. Anna Ushenina won the Women’s World Championship via knockout in 2012 and are also led by the Muzychuk sisters, Anna and Mariya.

In the beginning of the tournament, there were a couple of favorites including top-seed GM Humpy Koneru, but it was Muzychuk who ended up wearing the crown… only this Muzychuk was not the second-seed, but the younger Mariya!! After Anna was eliminated by GM Pia Cramling of Sweden, she helped her sister in her preparations.

Mariya and sister Anna after advancing to the final.

Mariya and sister Anna after advancing to the final.

Perhaps Mariya had the toughest route to the crown. She was able to overcome WIM Yuan Yuanling (Canada), GM Monika Socko (Poland), GM Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), favorite GM Humpy Koneru (India) in the quarterfinals, GM Dronavali Harika in the semifinals and WGM Natalia Pogonina in the final encounter. The strength of her opposition is a testament to the will that she possessed during the tournament. There may have also been a political significance to the Ukrainian’s victory in Russia, but certainly this tournament was purely a celebration of women’s chess. Runner-up Pogonina captured the spirit perfectly:

This is quite an accomplishment for the 22-year old IM (now GM) who once had to endure her sister moving and representing Slovenia for several years. Her sister was supportive throughout her championship run. Her victory over Pogonina was an epic battle that featured fighting chess with twists and turns at every moment. Pogonina had come back in must-win situations before and was up to the challenge of equalizing after a loss in game two. Muzychuk closed the match out with two draws in games where she had winning chances.

The final game of the final match between Muzychuk and Pogonina. Photos by Eteri Kublashvili, Anastasia Karlovich, and Vladimir Barsky

The final game of the final match between Muzychuk and Pogonina.
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili, Anastasia Karlovich, and Vladimir Barsky.

So the crown goes back to the Ukraine after which it will remain until Muzychuk plays Hou Yifan for the title. Hou did not compete in the tournament due to a previous commitment, but earned the right to a challenge by virtue of winning the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix. The tournament had problems getting funding and was postponed on a couple of occasions. By that time Hou had already committed to play in the Hawaii Chess Festival (which she won). The match is scheduled for October 13th-31st 2015. Nevertheless, the world will adjust to a new champion and look forward to her competing in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix and FIDE World Cup next year.

Games of MARIYA MUZYCHUK

2015 Women World Chess Championship
March 16th-April 7th, 2015
Coverage
| Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 |
| Semifinals | Finals |

Official Site
Pairings, Games (TWIC), Photos

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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