GM Anna Muzychuk

Full name
Anna Muzychuk
Born
Feb 28, 1990 (age 30)‎
Place of birth
Lviv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Federation
Ukraine
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Bio

Ukrainian GM Anna Muzychuk is easily among the world’s best female chess players. She’s the fourth woman to achieve a 2600 rating and has won three world titles for shorter time controls: two Women's World Blitz Chess Championships (2014 and 2016) and one Women's World Rapid Chess Championship (2016). Muzychuk has also won two national championships. She won the Ukranian Women’s Championship in 2003 and—after playing with the Slovenian chess federation for 10 years—in 2014 during her next try when she returned to her home country.

Muzychuk made her first top-10 appearance on FIDE’s Top 100 Women list in January 2009 and hasn’t lost that distinction. As one of the elite names in women’s chess, Anna Muzychuk is a household name in Ukraine. She was featured with her younger sister, GM Mariya Muzychuk, on a Ukrainian postage stamp when Mariya won the 2015 Women’s World Chess Championship.

Early Chess Career (1992 To 2002)

Anna Muzychuk was introduced to the game as early as two years old by her parents, who are professional chess coaches. By three years of age, she knew how to play chess.

Her first major tournament showing came at five years old, when Muzychuk took second place in the under-10 girls section of the championship of Lviv region, which is located in western Ukraine. Then she accumulated several youth medals leading up to and including 2002, when she turned 12 years old. In under-10 girls sections, she took gold in the European (1998 and 2000) and Ukrainian (2000) championships, silver at the European (1997) competition and bronze at the world (2000) event. In under-12 girls sections, she won gold in both Ukrainian and European championships of 2002, along with silver medals at European (2001) and world (2002) competitions.

Muzychuk became a Woman FIDE Master (WFM) in 2001 and a Woman International Master (WIM) in 2002.

Ukrainian Women's Champion (2003 To 2006)

At just 13 years old, Muzychuk accomplished one of the biggest accomplishments of her entire career by winning the 2003 Ukrainian Women’s Championship. She didn’t get a chance to defend her title the next year, however. In 2004, the Slovenian chess federation offered her a 10-year contract. The federation supported her during that time as she became the strongest female chess player in the country.

Muzychuk kept racking up youth medals during this period of her career. In under-14 girls sections, she took gold at the European (2003 and 2004) championships while winning silver at the world (2004) competition. In the under-16 girls section at the world championship (2005), she won gold. She also took gold at the Ukrainian under-20 girls championship (2004) at only 14 years old.

European Women's Blitz Champion (2007 To 2011)

Still a junior in 2007, 17-year-old Muzychuk had an impressive three days at the European Women's Rapid and Blitz Championships—to say the least.

She won the European Women's Blitz Championship by a full point and tied for first in the European Women’s Rapid Championship, finishing second. Her title in the blitz portion came over two players—WGM Cmilyte Viktorija (2467) and WGM Javakhishvili Lela (2460)—ranked higher than Muzychuk (2456), the 17-year-old prodigy playing for Slovenia.

Muzychuk became an IM in 2007 and started the quest for GM the next year, when she earned her first norm and individual gold for board one at the 2008 European Club Cup. Then, in 2010, she finished the early part of her career on a high note by winning the World Junior Girls Championship.

Anna Muzychuk at the 2008 Chess Olympiad
Anna Muzychuk at the 2008 Chess Olympiad. Photo: F. Hoppe.

In 2011 Muzychuk had two particularly notable performances. She finished undefeated with 7/11 points at the Shenzhen Women’s Grand Prix Tournament, but it was only good enough for second place behind GM Hou Yifan, who scored 8/11. Then Muzychuk had the best individual performance at the 2011 European Team Championship. Playing as the top board for Slovenia, she remarkably scored 8.5/9 points with a tournament performance rating of 2782. Those two tournaments were the final GM norms Muzychuk needed to qualify for the prestigious chess title.

4th Woman To Reach 2600 (2012 To 2015)

Muzychuk became a GM in 2012 and, in July of the same year, reached her peak rating of 2606. She became the fourth woman—following GMs Judit Polgar, Humpy Koneur and Hou Yifan—to reach the 2600 milestone. GM Ju Wenjun did the same in March 2017, extending the list to five women in history.

Another notable performance in 2012 came when Muzychuk took bronze at the Women’s European Individual Chess Championship. Two years later, in January 2014, she finished fourth in the Tata Steel Chess Challengers event. It turned out to be a spectacular year for Muzychuck, who started to settle into the prime of her chess career.

In April 2014, Muzychuk won the Women’s World Blitz Championship, her first world title. She won the event with 23/30 points, leaving the rest of the field far behind. Second-place finisher GM Nana Dzagnidze managed just 20.5 points despite beginning the final day of the competition at the same place as Muzychuk. Note that in the Women's World Rapid Championship, Muzychuk finished in third place, only half a point from the lead.

The other primary accomplishment for Muzychuk in 2014 came after her 10-year contract with the Slovenian chess federation ended. Before playing for Slovenia, she had taken the 2003 Ukrainian Women’s Championship but didn’t get to defend her national title the next year. Yet Muzychuk played the event in 2014, taking the Ukrainian Women’s Championship. It represented her second national title in as many consecutive events—despite being 11 years apart.

In 2015 Muzychuk helped Ukraine win silver at the Women’s European Team Chess Championship.

Women's World Rapid & Blitz Champion (2016 To 2020)

Muzychuk kicked off 2016—another highlight year in her career—by taking the women’s top prize in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. She tied for ninth overall in the 250-player field that was made up of more than 70 grandmasters. Muzychuk also helped Ukraine win silver at the 2016 Women’s Chess Olympiad as she took individual gold for the best performance on board one.

Anna Muzychuk receives individual gold at 2016 Chess Olympiad
Anna Muzychuk receives individual gold at 2016 Chess Olympiad. Photo: A. Kontokanis, CC 2.0.

Later in 2016 Muzychuk won the Women’s World Rapid Championship and defended her Women’s Blitz World Championship title just two days later. Her rapid title came in dominating fashion. She started with 7/8 points and cruised to victory by adding a win and three draws to finish with 9.5/12 points. The title was clinched with a round to spare, and Muzychuk finished a full point ahead of GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who won silver. Muzychuk’s blitz title was closer. After three draws and a loss to start the tournament, she pulled together five consecutive wins to take first with 13/17 points. Her score was a half point ahead of the two players in second place, GMs Valentina Gunina and Kateryna Lagno.

Muzychuk narrowly missed being able to become the “triple” world champion (winning all three world titles—classical, rapid and blitz) in the Women’s World Chess Championship 2017. After reaching the final without playing in a single tiebreak match, she met GM Tan Zhongyi in the four-game final. It went to tiebreaks, and Tan won the second game along with the world championship.

Unfortunately, Muzychuk didn’t defend her rapid and blitz world titles. In 2017 she relinquished those titles by boycotting the tournament in Saudi Arabia, due to the country’s rules regarding women.

Recent highlights include Muzychuk finishing the 2019 Women’s World Blitz Championship in second place and the best game award at the 2020 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. Her brilliancy in the final round of the tournament came against Israeli GM Ori Kobo.

Present and Future

Still only 30 years old, Muzychuk has seemingly done enough to fill an entire lifetime of chess accomplishments. With multiple national and world (rapid/blitz) championship titles to go along with the distinction of being one out of five women to reach 2600, there’s no question she’s an elite player in women’s chess—both now and historically.

Anna Muzychuk at the 2018 Chess Olympiad
Anna Muzychuk at the 2018 Chess Olympiad. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

What’s next for Muzychuk? Perhaps it’s doing something she almost did in 2017, by winning the women’s world championship for classical chess. Whatever happens, quite exceptionally, it doesn’t really matter. She already has done more than enough to cement her chess legacy. Thankfully, she seems poised for much more.

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