Best of 2016 - Female Player of the Year

by ChessBase
1/3/2017 – In the first voting about the highlights of 2016 we asked for the player of the year. In the second voting we ask for the "Female Player of the Year 2016". A lot of players stood out through their play and their successes in 2016 but which player left the deepest impression on you? Have a look at our list of candidates and choose your female player of the year 2016!

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To vote, please log in with your ChessBase Account. The result will be published after the last of the five votings. Here are our candidates for the female player of the year 2016 (in alphabetical order). 

Harika Dronavalli

World Ranking January 2016: 12
Elo January 2016: 2511

World Ranking January 2017: 7
Elo January 2017: 2539

Harika's chess year 2016 began with the strong open in Gibraltar in which she won against Nigel Short and drew against Fressinet, Bruzon and Rapport. Later in the year she won the Women's Grand Prix tournament in Chengdu and at the Isle of Man Masters she managed to beat Women's World Champion Hou Yifan.

Valentina Gunina

World Ranking January 2016: 17
Elo January 2016: 2496

World Ranking January 2017: 11
Elo January 2017: 2524


A lot of women players have an uncompromising style, but Valentina Gunina is particularly uncompromising. Sink or swim! She won the Women's Grand Prix tournament in Batumi and scored 8.0/10 at the Chess Olympiad in Baku, winning gold for the best individual result on board two. Gunina finished 2016 by winning the "London Chess Classic Super Rapid Play" with 9.0/10, ahead of many top grandmasters.


Hou Yifan

World Ranking January 2016: 1
Elo January 2016: 2673

World Ranking January 2017: 1
Elo January 2017: 2651

Ever since Judit Polgar retired from tournament chess, Hou Yifan has been the top women player and has led the women's ranking list by a clear margin. She started 2016 by playing in group A of the Tata Steel tournament, scoring 5.0/13. In March she played against Women's World Champion Mariya Muzychuk for the title and won convincingly. In 2016 Hou Yifan played a number of strong tournaments and mainly competed against male grandmasters but suffered slight setbacks. Her last event 2016 was a rapid match against Vladimir Kramnik in Medias, Romania. Hou Yifan lost clearly but won twice against the former World Champion.

Ju Wenjun

World Ranking January 2016: 5
Elo January 2016: 2548

World Ranking January 2017: 2
Elo January 2017: 2583

Ju Wenjun is currently number two on the women's ranking list. In 2016 she won the Grand Prix tournaments in Tehran and in Khanty-Mansiysk, which helped her to win the Grand Prix series 2015/2016 and to become challenger of the Women's K.o.-World Champion who still has to be established.

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh

World Ranking January 2016: 70
Elo January 2016: 2392

World Ranking January 2017: 28
Elo January 2017: 2452

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh was the newcomer in the Grand Prix series and surprised with a couple of strong performances. In Tehran she finished second, in Khanty-Mansiysk third. At the Women's Rapid World Championship at the end of the year she finished fourth. On the Fide World Ranking list for girls the Iranian is currently number three.


Alexandra Kosteniuk

World Ranking January 2016: 4
Elo January 2016: 2550

World Ranking January 2017: 5
Elo January 2017: 2549

For years former Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk has been a constant in chess, as one of the top women players and as an ambassador for the game. At the Women Grand Prix in Batumi she finished second, in Khanty-Mansiysk she shared third place, but at the Russian Championships she finished first to become Russian Champion 2016.

Anna Muzychuk

World Ranking January 2016: 6
Elo January 2016: 2537

World Ranking January 2017: 3
Elo January 2017: 2558

Anna Muzychuk, the older of the two Muzychuk sisters, made headlines at the end of the year, when she won both the Women's Rapid and the Women's Blitz World Championships in Doha. But her chess year 2016 began with the open in Gibraltar where she defeated grandmasters Fressinet and Salem. She shared third at the Grand Prix tournaments in Batumi and Chengdu, and at the Chess Olympiad in Baku she did not lose a single game and achieved an Elo performance of almost 2630.


Mariya Muzychuk

World Ranking January 2016: 3
Elo January 2016: 2554

World Ranking January 2017: 6
Elo January 2017: 2546

Mariya Muzychuk started the year 2016 as Women's World Champion but lost the title to Hou Yifan. In 2016 Mariya Muzychuk was not as successful as in 2015 but remained in the top ten and is currently number six in the world.


Elisabeth Pähtz

World Ranking January 2016: 22
Elo January 2016: 2478

World Ranking January 2017: 21
Elo January 2017: 2468

For years Elisabeth Pähtz has been Germany's number one and she is also one of the best German players ever. As ambassador of chess she travels all over the world to the game. At the European Championship 2016 Pähtz was always in the top and in the end finished sixth.


Anna Ushenina

World Ranking January 2016: 44
Elo January 2016: 2434

World Ranking January 2017: 40
Elo January 2017: 2450

Anna Ushenina, former Women's World Champion, this year also became European Women's Champion. The Ukrainian also celebrated a number of other successes this year but winning the European Championship was her biggest success.

Photos by Alina l'Ami and Pascal Simon

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Kingpawnkid Kingpawnkid 1/6/2017 05:47
Hi Alan The Kosintseva sisters had some dissagreement with women's chess team director Sergei Rublevsky and not competing anymore on the national team
yesenadam yesenadam 1/5/2017 04:44
I agree, Blackacre, but CB did explain more clearly this year what it means -

"which player left the deepest impression on you?"

- but people still seem very confused. Last year there were several very different questions on the page, which was just silly. On the Male Player of the Year page users accuse others of stupidity if not voting for Magnus, others talk about what the vote "should be" (according to what, I dont know), others claim there's no possible criterion. Well, the question as stated above is a very clear criterion. Maybe if next year it's moved to immediately under the "Who is best player of the year?" where the actual voting occurs, in bold, there one year soon might be everyone voting on the same thing.
kamal208 kamal208 1/4/2017 03:59
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 1/4/2017 02:30
1 vote for Khade............
Alan Smith Alan Smith 1/4/2017 01:46
Whatever happened to the Kosintseva sisters? You never see them anymore.
kamal208 kamal208 1/4/2017 01:40
khademo shariah
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 1/4/2017 11:37
Why the hell Hou Yifan? I don't understand much of her achievements other than remaining no.1. My pick was a hard choice between Ju Wenjun and Harika Dronavalli. Chose Harika.
Boon-Swee Yen Boon-Swee Yen 1/4/2017 09:35
The author forgets to mention both Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun are members of Chinese team winning Olympic Gold at Baku.
thlai80 thlai80 1/4/2017 07:56
To me, its a toss between Ju Wenjun and Anna Muzychuk. Ju Wenjun for displacing Humpy #2, and winning the GP to be the world championship challenger. Anna Muzychuk had a good year, sterling performance for rapid and blitz world championship, but inconsistent classical performance.
kenneth calitri kenneth calitri 1/4/2017 04:43
Ju Wen Jun
Blackacre Blackacre 1/4/2017 03:02
It would help if ChessBase explained what it means by "Player of the Year." Best player? Most improved player? Most surprising player? As it is, people clearly are voting according to a variety of different criteria.
calvinamari calvinamari 1/3/2017 11:54
Certainly Hou Yifan should not be penalized for graduating to major open events as opposed to exclusively women's events.
Daniel Miller Daniel Miller 1/3/2017 09:40
Ju Wenjun without a doubt. To go from number 5 to number 2 in the world in anything , you have to pass three extremely strong people.
Cajunmaster Cajunmaster 1/3/2017 06:16
She has climbed the Great Wall!
walirlan walirlan 1/3/2017 06:10
Anna Muzychuk of course!
geraldsky geraldsky 1/3/2017 03:46
it should be Anna Muzychuk !
empleomatic empleomatic 1/3/2017 03:07
HOU YIFAN! undoubtedly is the best, and she will be the best Female Chess player of the world for many years!.
BarOni BarOni 1/3/2017 02:13
Anna Ushenina no doubt. I just don't know how to vote. Any help.
Capa143 Capa143 1/3/2017 12:54
Definitely Anna Muzychuk. Anna's performance in the rapid and blitz championship was spell-binding and the quality of her play throughout the year has been impressive.
Hou has essentially dropped out of women's chess (and isn't Hou her surname and Yifan her first name?).