Best of 2015: Best female player

12/31/2015 – The year 2015 is almost over, so we thought it's time to let you vote for your highlights of this year. To begin with, we want you to vote for the best female player of the year. The following article presents a number of players who currently shape the chess world and whose achievements in 2015 stand out. Who is your player of the year 2015?

ChessBase 15 - Mega package ChessBase 15 - Mega package

Find the right combination! ChessBase 15 program + new Mega Database 2019 with 7.6 million games and more than 70,000 master analyses. Plus ChessBase Magazine (DVD + magazine) and CB Premium membership for 1 year!



To vote you need to login with your ChessBase Account. The final result of the vote will be revealed in a week but during the next days more polls about various aspects of chess will follow. However, now it's your turn to vote for the "Player of the Year 2015". Here are the candidates:

Hou Yifan: the former Women's World Champion from China is the world's number 1 female player. She played (and hold her own) aginst the top elite in Wijk aan Zee, at the Dortmund Sparkassen tournament and the World Cup. She is steadily heading towards the 2700 barrier. Next year she will face Mariya Muzychuk and play for the title of Women's World Champion.

Koneru Humpy: The number 2 female player has not been particularly active this year. But she made it to the quarterfinals of the Women's World Championship and finished second at the Grand Prix in Monaco.

Mariya Muzychuk: The current Women's World Champion is currently number 3 on the women's ranking list. She had a very successful year, winning the Women's World Championship and gaining 34 Elo-points over the year.

Alexandra Kosteniuk: She is currently number 4 in the world and the Women's World Champion in rapid play.

Ju Wenjun: China's number two is currently number 5 in the world.
Ju played in the Gibraltar Open, the Women's World Championship and a number of events
in China, but in 2015 has been less active than in previous years.

Anna Muzychuk is currently number 6 in the world. She played in the strong open
in Gibraltar, and lost in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Championship against Pia Cramling.

Nana Dzagnidze: The Georgian player is currently number 7 in the world. She mainly played in team events this year. 

Pia Cramling: is currently number 10 in
the world. The Swedish veteran played a lot of open tournaments this year and did fairly well.
She also qualified for the semifinals of the Women's World Championship.

Antoaneta Stefanova: the Bulgarian is currently the world's number 11. She played a lot this year,
including the strong open tournaments in Gibraltar and Qatar.

Harika Dronavalli is currently number 12 in the world. The Indian qualified for the semifinals of the
Women's World Championship where she lost narrowly against Mariya Muzychuk. She also
successfully participated in a number of strong open tournaments such
as Gibraltar, Abu Dhabi, the Isle of Man open and Qatar.

Zhao Xue: the Chinese number 3 is currently number 13 in world. She won the
New Zealand Open and made it to the quarterfinals of the Women's World Championship.

Alexandra Goryachkina: the Russian Champion is currently number 16
in the world, the number 1 on the girls ranking list, and this year she has won an amazing 50
points to break the 2500 Elo-barrier.

Natalia Zhukova: the Ukrainian is currently number 20 in the world. She won the European Women's Championship.

Nino Batsiashvili: the Georgian Champion is currently number 21 in the world.
She drew Carlsen in Qatar and won over 30 Elo points this year. She won
silver at the European Women's Championship.

Natalia Pogonina: the Russian is currently number 34 in the world. She lost in the finals
of the Women's World Championship against Mariya Mzuzychuk.

Photos by Amruta Mokal, Alina l'Ami, André Schulz and Pascal Simon

Current Elo standings:

Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

gmwdim gmwdim 1/3/2016 06:50
The only player other than Hou Yifan to deserve consideration is Mariya Muzychuk, for obvious reasons.
genem genem 1/1/2016 09:26
Alexandra Kosteniuk is rated #4 among Women presently on Jan/01 2016 --- impressive staying power for the former Womens' World Chess Champion, and young mother.
Derek880 Derek880 12/31/2015 04:56
Not even sure if this can go to anyone besides Hou Yifan. She is the Serena Williams of women's chess right now. Clearly dominant and on a different level than any of the other ladies.
Wade1961 Wade1961 12/31/2015 03:40
The best player is Hou Yifan, but the player who has impressed me is Harika Dronavalli.
MonsterofRook MonsterofRook 12/31/2015 03:27
First of all Chessbase... this is a pretty pathetic attempt to 'sell' your candidates for this award. Clearly you spent all of 5 minutes doing the research and then another 10 minutes writing it up. In a number of cases all you seem to be able to say in favour a candidate is that she 'entered some tournaments' and 'did quite well'. This really is top notch punditry!

Secondly, it's pitiful to see how many comments here are about the way these ladies look. This isn't a beauty pageant you are supposed to be picking a player based on those 'who currently shape the chess world and whose achievements in 2015 stand out'.

Thirdly, 'ubernomics' I completely agree with you about Natalia Zhukova's behaviour at the European Women's Championship. Morally, she didn't deserve to win that title after she (not on her own it should be added) made those false accusations against Mihaela Sandu. Zhukova shouldn't be on this list for that reason alone.

Of course the 'obvious' candidate is Hou Yifan. She is the strongest active female player in the world. But... we aren't being asked to re-confirm the authenticity of the ELO system. Hou is head and shoulders above the rest on rating but she also gets opportunities that most of the others don't get.

For me there are two good candidates here. Mariya Muzychuk's World Championship win as 8th seed must give her a big claim (that was the biggest Women's event this year - it's not her fault that Hou Yifan decided to skip it) and she has backed that up with some other strong performances such as being the top performer in the European Women's Team Championship in Reykjavik which the editorial above doesn't even mention...

The other strong contender is Alexandra Goryachkina who is improving rapidly at the moment. Winning the Russian Women's title by a clear point is not an easy task and she played exceptionally well to win that against a very, very strong field. She also scored 7/8 in the European Women's Team Championship to help Russia win that title.

On balance I think that I'll be voting for Mariya Muzychuk
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 12/31/2015 02:57
still, Ho yi fan the best of women with harika coming second!
nokia x nokia x 12/31/2015 01:56
hou yi fan
yesenadam yesenadam 12/31/2015 12:54
Raoul says "Some could argue Hou Yfan is way better as a player than any other female player, and that is sure. But Hou Yfan withdrew from 2015 world contest for her personal interests: taking part to male tournaments where prizes are much higher. It was her decision, just as it was Fisher's decision not to play 1975"..blah blah.
Rubbish. FIDE changed the date on her. On the World Champion! Amazing. Imagine if they did that to the male champion. But it would just never happen. Now she gets people like you blaming her for it.
I'm a huge fan of Hou, but this year I vote Goryachkina.
p.s. Again there's the ambiguity if this is "best player" or "player of the year". It says both in different places. That is unfortunate; they don't mean at all the same thing to me.I took it in the second, more interesting sense; maybe "player that provided the most excitement this year".
Jason Rihel Jason Rihel 12/31/2015 12:45
Can we drop the canard that Hou Yifan is not the World Champion? Until she loses a match to Muzychuk, there is no question. Her situation is not the same as Fischer. She refused to play in the silly Knockout 'championship', while Fischer refused to play a match against Karpov. Magnus Carlsen doesn't play in the FIDE knockout event, either, of course because he knows it is not easy to survive such a format. Indeed, there has never been a repeat winner in the knockouts.

Given Hou Yifan's demolition of Koneru and Ushenina in matches, I fully expect her to regain, I mean keep, her title this coming year.
Burlingtonberty Burlingtonberty 12/31/2015 11:23
I think we should give the male prize to Magnus, because he is the most attractive.
fightingchess fightingchess 12/31/2015 10:11
is this a beauty competition?
thlai80 thlai80 12/31/2015 09:20
Hou Yifan doesn't improve much in 2015. Mariya however pull the next gear winning the KO world championship and has consistently improved up to world #3. If any, Mariya was the talk of the town in 2015. She held her own facing Yifan, and beat Humpy. Mariya of today makes the coming world championship closer than ever before, though not to say Yifan will not beat her eventually. For Hou Yifan to stand out from her own shadow and move beyond 2700 level. So, to me it is between Yifan and Mariya, and in terms of achievement in 2015, Mariya slightly bested Yifan. The rest do not worth mentioning.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 12/31/2015 08:31
Mariya Muzychuk, because she won this year world championship. Some could argue Hou Yfan is way better as a player than any other female player, and that is sure. But Hou Yfan withdrew from 2015 world contest for her personal interests: taking part to male tournaments where prizes are much higher. It was her decision, just as it was Fisher's decision not to play 1975 world championship against Karpov, whom he would have very likely lost to, and just as it was Kasparov decision to organize and easily win a non-FIDE world championship for keeping more money as the winner (here again some could argue he would win also a unified world championship back then, and that is almost sure, as well as it is sure that FIDE is a ravenous predatory, which you defend from; all of this is true, but even a very corrupted organizaton like FIDE is the only guarantee to have an objectively recognized strongest player to crown as the world champion, and avoid that tomorrow morning I wake up and proclaim myself the undisputed world champion).
muralikrishna muralikrishna 12/31/2015 08:00
Hampy!!! The inspiration! for so many chess kids in India!!!
boiette boiette 12/31/2015 07:17
We're talking about 2015 achievements here. I choose Alexandra Goryachkina!

Other standouts like Yifan and Humpy have had great results and are the best.

But let us focus on 2015 results only. Goryachkina has indeed improved exponentially, and
remarkably played well this year, not to mention being 2015 Russian champion.

Way to go Alexandra! Keep it up!
fartpants fartpants 12/31/2015 05:39
No it doesn't have to be said.
tom fox tom fox 12/31/2015 03:13
Hou Yifan
ubernomics ubernomics 12/31/2015 02:15
P.S. - Best looker award goes to Mariya, too. It has to be said.
ubernomics ubernomics 12/31/2015 02:13
Hou Yifan simply flatlining through twelve months of tournaments at 2670 TPR may be enough to win.

But probably Mariya for three strong tournaments, the last being the FIDE World Championship (unfortunately followed by a fourth, a subpar Ukrainian Championship, which somewhat weakens her case.)

Pia wins the ever-green prize (she's still around?? and top ten, no less. Physically, doesn't look like she ever ages, either.)

The Bad Sportswoman Award of 2015 goes to Natalia Zhukova, for the disgraceful accusation incident. Boo hiss! Thumbs down!!

Top junior award (under age 18) goes to Goryachkina, the junior most likely to crash the top ten (although in her case not on track to become legitimate contender or world champion.)
avemaria avemaria 12/31/2015 02:10
Hou Yifan is my pick
Only female player which can compitionner with men players.

Great player
tom_70 tom_70 12/31/2015 02:00
Hou Yifan has to be a top contender. She enters the top men's tournaments and holds her own. What other active female player can say that?