Who was the female player of the year?

by André Schulz
1/6/2018 – After the "Move of the Year", the "Endgame of the Year", and the "Game of the Year" we now ask you to vote for your chess personalities of the year. To start: Who was your "Female Player of the Year"? Vote here.

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Who was your female player of the year?

In recent years, more and more women play chess and more and more women play better chess. Today, a lot of female players can compete with their male colleagues and it might be only a matter of time until female players make it to the very top. But one thing is certain: female players play fighting chess, often more so than their male colleagues.

We picked ten female players who had outstanding performances or results in 2017. From this list you are asked to vote for the  Female Player of the Year 2017

To vote, please register with your ChessBase account. The result of the poll will be published soon.

bestfemalplayer2017

Our shortlist:

Zhansaya Abdumalik

Zhansaya Abdumalik was born on January 13th, 2000, in Kazakhstan. In a few days she will turn 18 but she already has had a large number of successes. When she was six years old she started to play chess seriously. In 2008 she became U8 Asia Champion and U8 World Champion. In 2010 she shared first at the U10 World Championship and finished second on tie-break. In 2011 she became U12 World Champion and finished first at the Asian Championship. In 2015 she won bronze at the U20 World Championship for girls but in 2017 she won the title and became U20 World Champion (Girls). Zhansaya Abdumalik wants to become World Champion — not Women's World Champion but just "World Champion".

Zhansaya Abdumalik | Photo: Pascal Simon

Aleksandra Goryachkina

Aleksandra Goryachkina was born on September 28th, 1998, in Orsk, in Russia. In 2008 she won the U10 World Championship for girls, and in 2011 the U14 World Championship for girls, the latter with 9.0/9. In 2012 she also won the U18 World Championship for girls. On European level Aleksandra Goryachkina secured herself the title of U12 European Champion (Girls), and 2012 she won this title in the category U18 (Girls). In 2013 and 2014 she became U20 World Champion (Girls). On top of that in 2015 and 2017 Aleksandra Goryachkina became Russian Women Champion.

Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: Pascal Simon

Harika Dronavalli

Harika Dronavalli hails from Gorantla, a small city north of Bangalore. She war born on January 12th, 1991. When she was eight she learned to play chess and in the years to come she won six medals at Junior World Championships. In 2004 she became U14 World Champion (Girls), in 2006 U18 World Champion (Girls), and in 2008 U20 World Champion (Girls). In 2000 and 2001 she won silver in the U10w und U12w. In 2002 she won bronze in the U12w. Harika played in the Women's knock-out World Championships 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2017. In the last three World Championships Harika has always reached the semfinals. Since 2003 she has been playing for the Indian women's national team and after Humpy Koneru's withdrawal from tournament chess she is the number one on the Indian women's ranking list.

Harika Dronavalli | Photo: Pascal Simon

Hou Yifan

Hou Yifan, born on February 27th, 1994, in Xinghua, China, and is currently the world's best women player and has been the world's number one women player ever since Judit Polgar declared her withdrawal from tournament chess in 2014. When she was 13 years of age she won the Chinese Women's National Championship in 2007. When she was 14 years old she played in the open World Junior Championship 2008, played an Elo-performance of 2661 and finished on the shared third to seventh place.

In the same year, when she was still 14 years old, she secured the grandmaster title and for a while was the "world's youngest grandmaster". In 2012 Hou Yifan shared first place with Nigel Short at the Gibraltar Open, but then lost the tie-break match against the English grandmaster. Hou Yifan played five times in the FIDE World Cup. At the Knock-out World Championship 2008 she lost in the final against Alexandra Kosteniuk.

But in 2010 Hou Yifan became the 13th Women's World Champion and at the same time the youngest woman to earn the title in the history of chess. In 2011 she defended the title but in 2012 lost it when she lost at the Knock-out World Championship against Monika Socko. In 2013 Hou Yifan regained the title after winning a match against Anna Ushenina.

In 2015 she did not play in the Knock-out World Championship but one year later, in 2016, she regained the title again after winning a match against Mariya Muzychuk. Soon after Hou Yifan declared that she wanted to shift her focus to the strongest tournaments, not necessarily events for women. Hou Yifan is one of the few women players who are regularly invited to top tournaments. At the Grenke Chess Classic 2017 she won against Fabiano Caruana, amongst others, and finished in fourth place amid the world class field. In 2017 Hou Yifan won the Biel International Chess Festival's GM tournament.

Hou Yifan | Photo: Pascal Simon

Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun was born on January 21th, 1991, in Shanghai. Since 2008 she has played in five Chess Olympiads and in five World Team Championships for the Chinese women's national team. In 2010 and 2014 she became Chinese Women's National Champion. In 2014 in Sharjah (ahead of Hou Yifan who had the same number of points as Ju Wenjun) and 2016 in Tehran she won the Women's Grand Prix without losing a single game. In 2014 she became grandmaster — after having achieved no less than six GM-norms. In 2018 Ju Wenjun will play against the current Women World Champion Tan Zhongyi for the title. 

At the Gibraltar Open 2017 she was the best women's player and she finished tenth, ahead of players such as Caruana, Short, Svidler, and others. At the most recent Knock-out World Championship in Tehran Ju Wenjun reached the quarterfinal where she lost against Tan Zhongyi. In December, Ju Wenjun won the World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh. Currently, she is number two on the women's world ranking list.

Ju Wenjun | Photo: Pascal Simon

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk, born on April 24th, 1984, in Perm in Russia, has been part of the international chess circuit for many years. She was five years old when she learned chess and at the age of ten she became European Champion U10 (Girls). In 1996 she became European and World Champion U12 (Girls). At the Knock-out World Championship 2001 she lost in the final against Zhu Chen and became Vice World Champion. But in 2008 she won the title after winning in the final against Hou Yifan. In 2004 Alexandra Kosteniuk also became Women's European Champion.

In 2005 and in 2016 Alexandra Kosteniuk won the Russian National Championship for Women and in 2013 she was the first woman who won the Open Swiss National Championships. In 2014, Kosteniuk became Vice Women's World Champion in Rapid Chess, sharing first with Kateryna Lagno who won on tiebreak. In 2017, Kosteniuk won the European Blitz-Championship in Monte Carlo. She has also worked as a model and actress and helped to popularise chess.

Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Pascal Simon

Lei Tingjie

Until December 2017 Lei Tingjei from China, born March 13th, 1997, was still the world's best women junior player. But on January 1, 2018, she is no longer on the junior's list but instead number eight on the women's world ranking list over all. In 2015 she played in the Women's Knock-out World Championship but lost against Humpy Koneru. At that time she had already won the women's tournament of the Moscow Open. In 2017 Lei Tingjie won the Chinese Women's National Championship and the Chinese Women Masters.

Lei Tingjie | Photo: Qarai.org.cn

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk was born on February 28th, 1990, in Lviv. She is the older sister of Mariya Muzychuk, the Women's World Champion of 2015. When Anna Muzychuk was two, her parents taught her to play chess. In 1998 and in 2000 Muzychuk won the European Championship U10 (Girls), in 2002 she also won the U12 European Championship U12, in 2003 and in 2004 followed titles in the U14 European Championships (Girls). In 2005 she also won the world title at the U16 World Championship (Girls), and in 2010 she won the World Championship U20 (Girls).

In three European Championships for girls and in two World Championships for girls Anna Muzychuk won silver. In 2000 she won bronze at the U10 World Championship for girls. In 2014 and in 2016 Anna Muzychuk won the Ukrainian Women's National Championship.

In 2012 Anna Muzychuk won bronze at the Women's European Championship, and in 2007 she became European Women's Champion in Blitz and European Women's Vice Champion in in Rapid Chess. In 2014 she won the Women's World Blitz Championship, and in 2016 she became Women's World Champion in blitz and in rapid chess. In 2017 she won the Women's European Championship in rapid chess but in 2017 she decided not to play in the Women's World Championships in blitz and rapid chess in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in protest of the countries treatment of women. Earlier in 2017, at the Women's World Championship in Tehran, she had lost against Tan Zhongyi in the final. In 2016 Anna Muzychuk was best female player at the Gibraltar Open.

Anna Muzychuk | Photo: Pascal Simon

Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova is from Sofia, in Bulgaria, where she was born on April 19th, 1979. When she was four years old her father taught her to play chess. At 13 years of age she already played in the Bulgarian Women's National team at the Chess Olympiad in Manila 1992. The same she also became U14 European Champion (Girls).

In 1995 Antoaneta Stefanova became Bulgarian Women's Champion and in 1998 she established herself among the women's top players. In 2000 she played on the men's team at the Chess Olympiad, and in 2002 Antoaneta Stefanova became Women European Champion. In 2004 she won the Knock-out World Championship and became the 10th Women's World Champion in the history of chess. In 2012 she won the Women's World Rapid Championship and after losing in the final against Anna Ushenina she also was Women's Vice World Champion in classical chess. In 2008 she won the Women's Rapid Tournament at the IMSA Mind Games and in 2017 she won the women's tournaments in blitz and rapid at the IMSA Mind Games.

Antoaneta Stefanova | Photo: Pascal Simon

Tan Zhongyi

Tan Zhongyi was born on May 29th, 1991, in Chongqing, China. In 2000 and 2001 she won the U10 World Championships (Girls) and in 2012 she also became U12 World Champion (Girls). When she was 17 years old she played in the Knock-out World Championship 2008 but was eliminated in round 2. The same happened at the Knock-out World Championship 2015. But in 2015 Tan Zhongyi had won the Chinese Women's National Championship and the Asian Women's Championships in Rapid Chess. At the Chess Olympiad 2016 in Baku Tan Zhongyi won gold with the Chinese national team. In 2017 Tan Zhongyi became the 16th Women's World Champion in the history of chess after winning the final of the Knock-out Women's World Championship in Tehran against Anna Muzychuk.

Tan Zhongyi | Photo: Pascal Simon

So there you have it. Pick your favourite in the poll above!

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

Other 2017 "best of" polls




André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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ff2017 ff2017 1/9/2018 09:06
Got to be Hou Yifan, she won Biel. That tournament win supersedes the totality of the achievements by any other female player in 2017.
Nite4k Nite4k 1/9/2018 03:24
For their courage in fighting for gender equality in chess, I split my vote between Anna Muzychuk for surrendering her women's world title in Rapid and Blitz by refusing to play in Riyadh in protest of being forced to wear an abaya garment and Hou Yifan for resigning in 5 moves in Gibraltar Masters in protest after being paired with only female opponents in open tournament where men outnumbered women. Despite their courage, chess still has a long ways to go in ensuring gender equality....
kenneth calitri kenneth calitri 1/7/2018 05:03
Ju Wenjun gets my vote.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 1/7/2018 09:31
Who’s on first?
fixpont fixpont 1/7/2018 07:52
Women are still weak in chess, there is no new Judit Polgar on the horizon so far, but they overall ratings and strength have been increasing but in a much slower rate than i expected a decade ago they would. I vote for Ju Wenjun regardless.
Gregory Bradley Gregory Bradley 1/7/2018 04:34
I believe she (Hou Yifan), showed courage throwing the game. Clearly its not about her ability to play, so what would drive a Super GM of her status to do something contrary to why she travel to the location to play in the fist place??

If we can't see that we have an incredibly talented, balance human being who believes that fighting for principles on the board and off are important, then we again find ourselves back in a day when chess was ruled by very unstable personalities who thought about chess very narrowly. I believe Hou Yifan is a gift to chess ... not just to women's chess. I also believe if we pay more attention to why she did it, we just might feel a little of the frustration she felt.......... maybe we might develop a deeper capacity to understand.

All The Best
geeker geeker 1/6/2018 10:24
I like Hou Yifan but can't bring myself to vote for her due to the thrown game at Gibraltar.
alitamur alitamur 1/6/2018 07:38
Anna Muzychuk for her refusal to play in the World Rapid Championship in Riyadh. Because sometimes it is not the moves made on the board that matters most.
idratherplay960 idratherplay960 1/6/2018 07:08
Sabina Foisor had the most special 2017
Heavygeardiver Heavygeardiver 1/6/2018 04:40
Well they all should get it! But for Moxie, I give it to Goryachkina!
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