2016 Women’s Chess Championship (Lviv, Ukraine)

FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship pitted Women’s World Champion Mariya Muzychuk against former Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan (2010-2012, 2016-2015). Despite Muzychuk holding the crown, Hou came in as a huge rating favorite at over 100 Elo points stronger. The 10-game match took place in Lviv, Ukraine from March 1-18, 2016.

Muzychuk enjoyed the home advantage, but was not able to solve Hou Yifan and promptly feel behind after a loss in the second game. Hou also won games six and nine for the margin of victory 6-3. The match victory raised question about the future of the women’s cycle with alternating years featuring the championships in a knock-out format.

2016 Women World Chess Championship
(Mariya Muzychuk vs. Hou Yifan)
Player
ELO
Nation
Flag
Player
ELO
Nation
Flag
Muzychuk
2563
UKR
Ukraine
Hou
2667
CHN
China

While many are befuddled at the strange women’s cycle, the head-to-head match appears to be one format that has stood the test of time. The match still doesn’t coincide with the overall world championship cycle. In addition, the championship match drew very little publicity and there was no real storyline to evoke excitement. Perhaps it was due to forgone conclusion that Hou Yifan was the superior player and that the match was a formality to her reclaiming her title.

What is clear is that something needs to be done to reinvigorate the women’s circuit and championship cycle. The Women’s Grand Prix keeps the marquee players interested and it presents a financial incentive that is more than they can garner at other professional tournaments. Thus, women have an advantage of gender-segregated tournaments, but despite a number of talented young players, it is clearly not developing a sustainable system.

This match was anti-climatic, but Hou Yifan is the deserving champion.
Photo by Vitaliy Hrabar.

Hou Yifan is champion once again, but what does this mean? She will get a seeding in the World Cup, but will she have to defend her title next year in a knock-out or will this be a qualifying tournament? It is being suggested that the women’s cycles conform to a more stable format where the champion is not defending the championship in a knockout crap shoot every other year. It appears that the knock-out as a qualifying tournament along with a Candidates tournament will help build up the anticipated match and perhaps draw more interest.

2016 Women’s World Chess Championship
March 1st-18th, 2016 (Lviv, Ukraine)
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
pts.
Muzychuk
½
0
½
½
½
0
½
½
0
3
Hou
½
1
½
½
½
1
½
½
1
6
Official Site: https://lviv2016.fide.com/

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.

2 Comments

  1. Congrats to the returning champ! Well fought by the former champ and hometown heroine.

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