Thursday, 3 March 2016

Ukrainian Spring Waltz

GM Hou Yifan
     Spring has started with a very interesting event to follow- Women's World Chess Championship
Match in Lviv, Ukraine.
     It is one of the most awaited "clash of titans" for me- GM Mariya Muzychuk (2563) vs GM Hou Yifan (2667). I think that none of the latest crown matches were as interesting as this one.
     I've known Mariya for many, many years, as we were constant opponents at the European and World Youth Championships. Coming from a chess family, it was no surprise that she was always among the best ones in her age group. Lots of hard work, ambition and preparation- will it be enough to keep the crown?
     On the other hand, her opponent- the Chinese Hou Yifan is no doubt the strongest woman in chess at this moment, competing successfully on top men's level. I admire her very calm and seemingly "easy" way of playing high level chess.
     I am no oracle, but if I would be, I'm not sure whom I'd place my bets on.

     Round 1

     The first round was a calm draw in a Giuoco Piano. The Chinese had no problems in equalizing with black and the draw was agreed as early as move 31.
     I am sure that both sides have their own strategy for the match and the 1st game might have seemed less ambitious only because of this. I think it was some sort of tapping and getting to know how's the opponent feeling and what's her current form.
     It was interesting for me to observe how Mariya's behavior during the game has changed. If she was usually very intense and even had some nervous tics like tapping with her legs, it was a completely different player I saw now. She had a smiling, confident and seemingly relaxed look for the whole game.

Mariya Muzychuk (left) vs Hou Yifan (right)
     The 2nd round will start at 3pm local time, though we'll be able to follow it only a half hour later due to the anti cheating measures.
     I am curious- what's Ukrainians' strategy with black in this match? We will know in a few hours!

P.S. I hope that the quality of broadcasting will be better today, as there were a lot of problems to be fixed yesterday...

(Photos taken from the official site of the event: )


  1. The 2nd game was most unfortunate for Mariya. She let herself get into horrific time trouble and blundered (27...Bc5?? instead of 27...Bxg3) in a position she most likely wound have held in normal circumstances.

    1. That's true, though I think that it was much more difficult for her to play that position. White has a very logical and easy way to find moves in this opening.