An interview with Anna Muzychuk

by André Schulz
8/11/2020 – Anna Muzychuk is not only one of the best chess players in the world, she is also very charming. A short time before the outbreak of the Corona pandemic she visited the ChessBase office in Hamburg with Elisabeth Pähtz to record a video about the Taimanov Variation but also found time for a short interview about her career and her life as a chess professional.

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In March, Anna Muzychuk took part in the Women's Grand Prix in Lausanne but on her way to Lausanne she stopped in Hamburg to record a video about the  Sicilian Taimanov. This video is part of the latest ChessBase Magazine Extra and is well worth checking out.

But during her visit in Hamburg Anna Muzychuk also found time for a short interview. 

Elisabeth Pähtz, Anna Muzychuk

When and how did you learn to play chess?

A long time ago.  My parents are chess players and professional chess coaches, and they decided to teach me how to play chess when I was very young. When I was three years old I knew all the rules and could play a proper game.

When did you play your first tournament?

When I was four. It was a local tournament but of course most of the kids were much older than me. I was happy to finish among the top three and to get my first diploma.

How much time did you spend on chess in your childhood and your youth? How did chess and school go together?

I spent a lot of time with chess. When I was six, I won my first European Youth Championship (Girls U7). Later, I kept on being successful at European and World Youth Championships, and after some years my parents realized that chess might become my profession. Therefore they took an important decision that was not easy: they decided that I would no longer attend school on a regular basis. They thought it would be quicker and more effective if I studied at home and that this would allow me to have more time for chess.

Mariya and Anna Muzychuk

When did you start to work with computers?

 A few years later

By today's standards I started very late – I had my first own computer when I was eleven or so. But some people gave me opportunity to use their computers earlier, so if I remember correctly, I got familiar with chess programs when I was nine.

What are your biggest successes?

I won the Women's World Blitz Championship in 2014 and in 2016, and in 2016 I also became Women's World Rapid Champion (2016). In 2017 I finished second at the Women's World Championship to become Women's Vice-World Champion.

How would you describe your playing style?

I would say I'm quite a balanced player without big gaps in my chess education. But I prefer to play actively and attractively (smiles).

Anna Muzychuk as a teenager

What kind of training would you recommend for young players?

First of all, they have to like what they are doing. But to be successful in chess you really need to be ready to invest a lot of time. My suggestion would be to find a good and suitable coach, to keep on working and to keep on believing that you will become successful.

What do you like most in the life of a professional chess player?

Three things: the joy of a well-played game/move (or the joy of finding a nice idea at home); the possibility of visiting new countries and interesting places; and the chess community in general – thanks to chess, I've met a lot of friends and nice people.

Would you recommend young girls to follow in your footsteps?

That's a tricky question. Obviously, some things I did were right, and from time to time I give master classes/lectures to share my experience, to give advice and to encourage young players. At the same time I think everyone is an individual, and they should go their own way.

How is chess life in Lviv?

Chess has a long time tradition in Lviv. We have many GMs/WGMs living here. Almost half of the Ukrainian national team (men and women) is from Lviv.

When you were in Hamburg you went to the opera to watch Mozart's "Magic Flute". Are you an opera lover? Do you like to sing?

To be honest, we have a nice opera house in Lviv, but I do not visit it often. However, I really liked "The Magic Flute", and I am very grateful to my friend Elisabeth [Paehtz] who made me see it. Elisabeth is a decent singer and I'm good at filming her performances (smiles).

Anna Muzychuk and Elisabeth Pähtz prepare for a night at the opera.

Thank you very much!

Questions: André Schulz


Once upon a time on wooden boards...

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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