Mariya Muzychuk Wins Women's World Championship

Mariya Muzychuk Wins Women's World Championship

| 58 | Chess Event Coverage

IM Mariya Muzychuk is the new Women's World Champion. The Ukrainian lady beat WGM Natalija Pogonina in the second game of the final, which proved decisive after draws in games 3 and 4.

Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

In what has been described as a duel between “Miss Tactics” and the “Comeback Queen”, WGM Natalija Pogonina of Russia failed to make another comeback after losing the second game of the final.

The other games were drawn, and so IM Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine can now call herself world champion!

World Champion Mariya “Miss Tactics” Muzychuk.Photo Nastja Karlovich.

Witnessed by her older sister GM Anna Muzychuk (25), Mariya (22) won that spectacular second game in great fashion, as was reported here. This game turned out to be decisive for the final.

In the third game Pogonina had the white pieces again, and deviated from the first game on move 11. It was an aggressive and sharp setup that yielded a full piece, but meanwhile Muzychuk got three pawns for it.

Game 3 starts. | Photo Nastja Karlovich.

“I did not expect 11.Ng5 from Natalia, as she never played it before, and I had to recall everything at the board. It took about half an hour, but I think I did not forget anything,” said Muzychuk.

On move 26 Pogonina missed a good chance for an advantage, and Muzychuk took over the initiative. Eventually a rook ending was reached with an extra pawn for Black. Pogonina held it without too much difficulty.

Tiredness begins to accumulate, especially with extensive amounts of preparation. I think the same is true for my opponent, who needs to works just as much,” said Pogonina.

“Tiredness begins to accumulate.” | Photo Nastja Karlovich.

In the last game Muzychuk was never in danger of losing. In fact she was better for basically the whole game, while skillfully avoiding any serious complications. In the ending she could even win, but right at that point she noticed a line that would force the draw.

Anna Muzychuk, who reached the world #3 spot and became a GM, has always been more in the spotlights than her sister. Winning in Sochi is by far Mariya's best achievement.

Ironically, Anna, who was eliminated in the quarter finals, won 0.4 rating points according to the live ratings website, whereas Mariya, the newly crowned world champion, will leave Sochi losing 2 points.

Mariya's biggest supporter: sister Anna. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

As a result, women's chess is now in a strange situation: the best player ever (Judit Polgar) has retired, the new number one (by a big margin) lost her world title (Hou Yifan) and the world #12 is the new champion.

At the same time Mariya Muzychuk can only be praised for such a fantastic tournament. She played the best chess, and had the strongest nerves. Or, as the world #7 put it:


2015 Women's World Championship | Final

Name vs Name Score
Muzychuk,M (UKR, 2526) - Pogonina,N (RUS, 2456) 2.5-1.5


At the press conference Muzychuk said: “First of all I would like to thank my sister, who helped me with all chess and non-chess issues. Now I realize how big of a problem it would be if she returned home. I am very happy she decided to stay.

“Alexander Beliavsky assisted me from home during the championship. I know how hard it is to look for new ideas and new variations every day, so I am very grateful to him.

“During the final I also received help from Evgeny Miroshnichenko. I am very grateful to my parents, of course, who did so much for me, and to my most devoted fans – aunt and grandfather, who always watch my games online.

“Thanks for all letters and instant messages I was receiving during the event. There were so many of them, and they gave me inspiration and sense of support.”

The Women's World Championship took place March 17-April 7 in Sochi, Russia. World Champion GM Hou Yifan did not defend her title; she took part in the Hawaii Chess Festival instead.

The total prize fund of the championship was U.S. $450,000. Every player got $3,750, those who made it to round two got $5,500, for round three it was $8,000, round four $12,000, round five (semifinals) $20,000, the silver medalist $30,000, and the winner $60,000.

As the winner of the Grand Prix, Hou Yifan is allowed to challenge Mariya Muzychuk in a world championship match which is supposed to take place 13-31 October 2015.

Previous reports:

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