An interview with Anna Muzychuk
met Anna at the recent European
Women's Championship that was held in Dresden. Sitting across
from us at one of the giant circular tables which fed the players
at breakfast, lunch and dinner, she spoke to us confidently in
English, nicely picking up the jokes and ribbings that go when
chess players get together at tournaments. "You are how
old?" we asked incredulously when we heard the 2400 rating
category. "I became 14 on February 28", she replied.
That's exactly two months younger than our special friend Kateryna
Lahno, who is well on the way to international stardom. Both
girls hail from Ukrain, a country that has, in recent years,
given us Ruslan Ponomariov, the youngest FIDE world champion
Karjakin, who at 12 became the youngest (by far) grandmaster
in the history of the game; and of course Kateryna Lahno, who
at 14 is number seven in the world's women's rankings. "Are
you and Katy friends?" we ask. Anna's trainer speaks up
for the first time: "They are konkurents!" Rivals in
After she had returned to her home town of Stryj in the Lviv
Region of Ukraine Anna scanned some pictures from her family
album for us. It was then that we discovered that there is a
second talent in the making: Anna's 11-year-old sister Mariya,
who is already playing at a 2000+ level. We asked Anna about
the secret of her success and the course her chess career has
ChessBase: Anna, you are incredibly
strong for your age. How did it all begin, when did you learn
Anna: When I was two years old I could put
the beginning position on the board, and at three I could play
chess with all the chess rules. When I was five I took part in
my first chess tournament (championship of our sport school)
and won the second place. At the same age I played in the Championship
of Lviv region (girls U10) and managed to win the second place.
The little champions of the future. Anny with her younger
sister Mariya in 1995.
Who taught you the game?
My parents were my first teachers. They are professional coaches
(they graduated from the Lviv State Institute of Physical Culture)
and they taught me how to play chess. My parents work in the
sports school and train me and my sister.
The whole family at a festival in the sports school: father
Oleh, mother Nataliya, Anna and Mary in 2002.
Do you go to school or do you study at home?
I am currently in the 8th form of the Stryj Gymnasium. At school
I have an individual plan. When I return from the tournament
I pass the exams. In spite of many tournaments I don't have big
problems at school. My parents help me with my studies in different
subjects, and English I learn with a tutor.
Anna in the national costume and with her WFM title in 2002
Do you work very hard? Apart from your parents, who are
your chess trainers?
I practise chess about six to eight hours a day. The last two
years Roman Kozel has been helping us. His rating is 2347. Currently
he lives with us. I have also had three weeks of training with
GM Orest Gritsak. He is 2541 and has worked with Vassily Ivanchuk
for a long time.
Can you afford proper professional training?
Not really. To have full Grandmaster training, like some of
the other players have, costs about $1200 a month. That is too
expensive for us.
The sisters at home in 1999
So how do you improve your playing strength?
I used chess programs. I use Fritz 7 to check my ideas, find
plans and analyse positions. In Dresden I got a copy of Fritz
8 after I commented my game on Radio ChessBase. I have installed
it on my computer. I cannot say that I know chess programs perfectly,
but as a user I don't see something any problems.
Her favourite toy, a pink elephant
Do you like playing against computers?
It is more interesting for me to play with people than with
computers, and that's why I very rarely play against a chess
The sisters in the official national sports jackets (in 2003)
Do you play on the Internet? Against other people?
No, I have also never played on the Internet. D do not have
an account for Playchess.
You will have one in a few minutes. What are your next tournament
Now I am preparing for WGM tournament in Hungary (Szombathely)
which begins on the 19th of April.
The family at a press conference, after Anna had won the
Ukrainian Women's Championship in 2003.
And your long-term plans in chess?
I definitely want to become Women's Chess Champion, and maybe
the World Champion also.
Anna with her "Best Sportsman 2000" award
Who are your favourite chess players?
My favourite chess playera are Garry Kasparov and Judit Polgar.
Dynamic chess is what I want to have in every position. I had
one interesting story with Judit Polgar. In a free day of European
Championship 1998 she gave a simultaneous. I liked one of her
games and the next day I played the same variation. I won the
most important game and finnaly become the champion.
Anna in Vienna on her way back from the 1998 European Championship
Apart from chess what are your hobbies?
I have little free time, but I like to play table-tennis, go
swimming or go for walks very much. Sometimise I help my mother
about the house.
Ping-pong gal. Anna shares this hobby with her hero Judit
Sister Mariya is the attacking player with a mean top-spin
Together in a doubles these girls are definite a force to
Title: WIM / Grandmaster of Ukraine
Elo rating on the 1.04.2004: 2387
- The champion of Ukraine in 2000 (girls U10) and 2002 (girls
- The European champion in 1996 (girls U8), 1998 (girls U10),
2000 (girls U10), 2002 (girls U12) and 2003 (girls U14)
- The 2nd place in the European Championship in 1997 (girls
U10), 1999 (girls U10) and 2001 (girls U12)
- The 2nd place in the World Championship in 2002 (girls U12)
- The 3rd place in the World Championship in 2000 (girls U10)
- The winner of Women's Ukrainian Championship in 2003
- The champion of Ukraine in 2004 (girls U20)
Elo rating on 1.04.2004: 2063
- Champion of Ukraine in 2001 (girls U10) and 2004 (girls
- The 3rd place in the European Championship 2001 (girls U10)
- The 2nd place in the World Championship in 2001 (girls U10)
- The 2nd place in the European Championship in 2002 (girls
- The European Champion in 2002 (girls U12)