Women's WCh. G2: Hou Yifan draws first blood

3/3/2016 – If the first game of the match seemed to have both players circling each other as boxers in a ring, feeling each other out, in the second game, no punches were pulled. A fascinating Open Spanish was the name of the game, and the complications were such that both players consumed most of their time before move 20. See the game with grandmaster commentary.

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2016 Women's World Chess Championship

The Women’s World Chess Championship Match 2016 between the current World Champion Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine and Challenger Hou Yifan of China (former World Champion 2010-2012, 2013-2015) takes place in Lviv, Ukraine, on March 1-18, 2016. The first game is scheduled to start at 3 pm local time on 2nd of March 2016. You can watch the games live in our broadcast window at the bottom of this page.

Game two

Photos by Vitaliy Hrabar for the official site

The first moves 1.e4 e5 were made by Valeriy Sushkevych, the President of the National
Paralympic Committee, and Yaroslav Hrybalskyi, the Head of Lviv Regional Department of
the Ukrainian Rehabilitation Fund for Disabled.

Opening preparation in a match is unlike any other since both players will face each other repeatedly, day in, day out. For the second time in as many games, 1.e4 was played, eventually ending in an Open Spanish. In a sense this is almost a surprise in itself, since not only have both players avoided their own pet Sicilians, but even 1.e4 can be considered a bit surprising in view of the recent Grand Prix in Tehran, when only one game started with it as noted by GM Adrian Mikhalchishin.

In spite of having clearly prepared for it, both players were soon caught so deeply in the complications, that unsurprisingly severe time trouble was the consequence. This led to mistakes and the Chinese player came out on top with strong play.

Both players came well-prepared, and Mariya Muzychuk cannot fault her opening with black

As a special treat, we bring two grandmaster analyses of the second game, each providing their own brand of insight.

Game two analyzed by GM Alejandro Ramirez

[Event "WCh Women 2016"] [Site "Lviv UKR"] [Date "2016.03.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Muzychuk, Mariya"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C80"] [WhiteElo "2673"] [BlackElo "2554"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2016.03.02"] 1. e4 e5 {Taking a page out of her opponent's book?! Mariya is not known for being an 1...e5 player either, and is much more used to playing a Sicilian.} 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 {The few times that Muzychuk has defended the black side of the Spanish, she always chose the open variation with 5...Nxe4.} 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Be3 {Not the mainline, which nowadays is arguably 9.Nbd2 slightly over 9.c3, but still a move that has been seen more and more in recent years.} Be7 10. c3 O-O 11. Nbd2 Qd7 12. Bc2 Nxd2 13. Qxd2 Bg4 14. Bf4 $5 {A fascinating strategical decision. Hou Yifan decides that she does not want to retain the integrity in her pawn structure, and allows Muzychuk to shatter it. On the flipside, the Chinese player obtains the pair of bishops and the potential of playing f4-f5.} Bxf3 {Otherwise the bishop on g4 looks silly.} 15. gxf3 Rad8 16. Rfd1 {The position has many dynamic factors. If Black was able to set up a pawn on f5, a knight on e6 and push c6 she would be better, without a doubt. Those maneuvers, however, take a long time, and Hou Yifan needs to make sure she is in time to react with something active.} Qe6 (16... f5 $2 17. Bb3 $16) 17. Qe3 Rd7 {Defending the pawn on c7, but the move looks slightly clumsy.} (17... f5 $2 18. exf6 Qxf6 19. Bxc7 {is not possible just yet.}) (17... Na5 $5 {Is a very interesting suggestion by the computer, aiming at playing Nc4 and a quick f5.} 18. b3 c5 { doesn't look good for White.}) 18. Bg3 g6 $2 {This move I have to condemn. I don't see any scenario where the move g6 is useful for Black, as the move truly does little to diminish White's ambition to push f4-f5. If Black was preventing some kind of Qd3 move, she should have waited until White committed this move to defend against the checkmate.} (18... f5 19. exf6 Qxf6 20. a4 { looks good for White. Notice that Qxf3 is impossible, and the opening of the queenside is dangerous.} Qxf3 21. Qe6+) (18... Na5 {again, was probably better. }) 19. a4 Nd8 {Muzychuk has a clear plan, but it is simply too slow} (19... b4 20. a5 bxc3 21. bxc3 $14) (19... Na5 $5) 20. axb5 axb5 21. f4 f6 {Otherwise f5 follow} 22. exf6 Qxf6 23. Qe2 $1 {A nice geometrical motif} (23. f5 gxf5 24. Be5 Qe6 {is some computer line that is not immediately obvious to me why it works.}) 23... c6 {Black has to defend b5.} 24. Qg4 {And this is the point. There is no way to defend the rook on d7 without allowing f5.} Rb7 25. f5 $16 Bd6 26. Ra6 $1 {Putting pressure on the sixth rank. White has play al l over the board} Rg7 $1 {Swinging the rook into action is the best chance.} 27. fxg6 Bc5 $2 (27... Bxg3 28. Qxg3 hxg6 (28... Qe6 $5 $16 {and the game keeps going as Black will take on g6 next move.}) 29. Rxd5 $18 cxd5 30. Rxf6 Rxf6 31. Qe5) 28. Kg2 {Protecting f2} hxg6 $2 (28... Bxf2 29. Rf1 $18) (28... Qe7 {was better, but Black's position is quite bad.}) 29. Rxd5 {Now it is all over} Bxf2 (29... cxd5 30. Rxf6 Rxf6 31. Qg5 {costs Black material}) 30. Bb3 $1 {Other moves won too, but this is a nice finishing blow} Ne6 31. Rd6 Bc5 32. Qxe6+ { A relatively one-sided game in which Hou Yifan showed excellent positional mastery.} 1-0

It was a demonstration of preparation and form by Hou Yifan

Game two analyzed by GM Adrian Mikhalchishin

[Event "Women's World Championship "] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Muzychuk, Mariya"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C83"] [WhiteElo "2667"] [BlackElo "2563"] [Annotator "Adrian Mikhalchishin"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2016.03.03"] [SourceDate "2016.03.03"] 1. e4 {A curiosity considering this is the second game with 1.e4 when you notice that in the recently held FIDE Grand Prix in Teheran just one game out of 66 started with 1e4!} e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 { Mariya started to play the Open Spanish last year, but the question is whether this is a good choice against Hou Yifan. Mariya's seconds probably noticed the Chinese champion got nothing from the opening in her match against Humpy Koneru.} 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Be3 {So this is what Hou Yifan's team has prepared for the match. It was tested many times succesfully by the great Paul Keres.} Be7 ({Another try is the positionally risky} 9... Nc5 10. Nc3 $1 Nxb3 11. cxb3 $1 Be7 12. Rc1 Qd7 13. Ne2 Rc8 14. Nf4 O-O 15. Bc5 { and I had some positional problems, Smagin,S -Mikhalchishin,A /Moscow 1989}) 10. c3 O-O ({Very risky here is the variation attacking the e5 pawn.} 10... Nc5 11. Bc2 Nd7 12. Re1 Ndxe5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Bd4 Nc6 ({better was} 14... Ng6) 15. Bxg7 Rg8 16. Qh5 $1 Kd7 17. Bh6 Bg5 18. f4 Bxh6 19. Qxh6 Kc8 20. f5 Bd7 21. Nd2 Rb8 22. Nf3 {with big advantage, Miranovic,R -Mikhalchishin,A ,Cetinje 1992 }) 11. Nbd2 Qd7 12. Bc2 ({More usual here is} 12. Re1 f5 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. a4 Bg4 15. h3 Bh5 16. axb5 axb5 17. Ne4 Rad8 18. Ng3 Bxf3 19. Qxf3 Ne5 20. Qf5 Nc4 21. Bd4 {with slightly better play, Smirnov,P (2624)-Krasenkow,M (2672)/Warsaw 2005/CBM 108 (29)}) 12... Nxd2 13. Qxd2 {[#]} Bg4 ({A typical Open Spanish plan is} 13... Na5 14. Nd4 c5 15. Qd3 g6 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Bh6 Rf7 18. Qg3 Kh8 19. h4 Rg8 (19... Nc6) 20. Rad1 Nc6 21. Rfe1 Bd8 {White kept very tiny advantage, Giri,A )-Pruijssers,R ,Amsterdam 2015}) 14. Bf4 {A novelty} ({ The previously tried} 14. Qd3 {promised nothing.} g6 15. Bh6 Rfe8 16. Rfe1 Bf5 17. Qd2 Bxc2 18. Qxc2 Nd8 19. Rad1 Ne6 20. h4 c5 21. h5 Rad8 22. a4 bxa4 23. Ra1 Rb8 {0-1 Kokarev,D (2638)-Short,N (2664)/Kolkata 2015/CBM 165 Extra (47)}) 14... Bxf3 15. gxf3 Rad8 {[#]} ({Very interesting could be} 15... Bh4 16. Rfe1 Rfe8 17. Rad1 Rad8) 16. Rfd1 $1 {Hou Yifan spent a lot of time here and found the correct set up.} ({Weaker would be the automatic centralization} 16. Rad1) 16... Qe6 17. Qe3 Rd7 ({Still better was} 17... Bh4 {with the idea Nc6-e7.}) ({ but typical for the Open Spanish and best was} 17... Na5 18. b3 c5 19. Bg3 Nc6 20. Bf4 f5) 18. Bg3 g6 {A bit too much prophylaxy} ({Still playable was} 18... Na5 19. f4 f5) 19. a4 {[#]} ({Also possible here was the very unusual positional idea} 19. f4 f5 20. b4 Kg7 21. Bb3 {increasing pressure on d5.}) 19... Nd8 $2 ({It was big mistake to allow the opening of a-file. Correct was} 19... b4 20. a5 Rb8 (20... bxc3 21. bxc3 Nd8 22. f4 f6 23. Rab1 fxe5 24. fxe5 c6 25. Rb6 Nb7 26. Rxa6 Bc5) 21. f4 f5 {with just slight advantage.} 22. Bd3) 20. axb5 axb5 21. f4 f6 22. exf6 Qxf6 ({Swapping the queens with} 22... Qxe3 23. fxe3 {was no better.} Bxf6 24. e4 b4 25. Ba4) 23. Qe2 ({There was more than one way to obtain an advantage. The most obvious was} 23. f5 gxf5 24. Be5 Qe6 25. Kh1 Bf6 26. Rg1+ Kh8 27. Qc5 Qe7 28. Bxf6+ Qxf6 29. Qxb5) 23... c6 24. Qg4 $1 Rb7 25. f5 {Starting the decisive assault.} Bd6 {[#]} 26. Ra6 $1 { Played in typical Chinese style: creating a lot of unusual tactics.} ({More normal was} 26. Kh1) 26... Rg7 27. fxg6 Bc5 $6 ({White would have a serious advantage after} 27... Bxg3 28. Qxg3 Qe7 29. Kf1 hxg6 30. Re1 Qb7 31. Raa1) 28. Kg2 ({The alternative was} 28. Kh1) 28... hxg6 29. Rxd5 $1 Bxf2 ({Nothing really changed after} 29... Ne6 30. f3) 30. Bb3 $1 {The decisive entrance of the Spanish Bishop into the game.} Ne6 31. Rd6 Bc5 32. Qxe6+ 1-0


Press conference after game two

Current standings

Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 G10 Pts
Mariya Muzychuk
Hou Yifan


March 2 Wednesday 15:00 Game 1
March 3 Thursday 15:00 Game 2
March 4 Friday Day Off  
March 5 Saturday 15:00 Game 3
March 6 Sunday 15:00 Game 4
March 7 Monday Day Off  
March 8 Tuesday 15:00 Game 5
March 9 Wednesday 15:00 Game 6
March 10 Thursday Day Off  
March 11 Friday 15:00 Game 7
March 12 Saturday 15:00 Game 8
March 13 Sunday Day Off  
March 14 Monday 15:00 Game 9
March 15 Tuesday Day Off  
March 16 Wednesday 15:00 Game 10
March 17 Thursday Day Off  
March 18 Friday 15:00 Tie-break games
March 18 Friday 18:00 Closing Ceremony

All games start at 3 p.m. local time, which is an hour ahead of European time, two ahead of Britain, and seven ahead of New York. You can find the starting time at your location here.

Women's World Chess Championship 2016 live broadcast

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DeepGreen DeepGreen 3/8/2016 04:27
The comment by Adrian is not sexist: Some people are way too sensitive and politically correct these days. One can't say anything that might be interpreted in a negative way without being labelled as sexist, racist, etc.

"Females are physically weaker than men"
"Females are smaller than men"
"Females are weaker in chess than men"
"Blacks have lower IQ than asians"
"Blacks perform better in long distance running than any other race"

These statements are not racist or sexist. They're facts. Of course there are exceptions, but these are generalizations, and as such, they're accurate.
KevinC KevinC 3/5/2016 01:21
@fons, thank you for that information. I saw that movie when it first came out, but I did not remember that line at all. Again, thank you.
fons fons 3/5/2016 03:54
@ KevinC:

This claim was made popular by being said in the movie The Social Network. It exactly says: "Did you know there are more people with genius IQs living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States?"

I found an article about it on skeptics.stackexchange.com.
The claim is not true.
fons fons 3/5/2016 03:46
"18...g6 A bit too much prophylaxy"

GM Dejan Bojkov explained the g6 move:

"Muzychuk did not like 17... Na5 due to 18. b3 c5 19. a4 Nc6 20. axb5 axb5 21. Ra6 and White is more pleasant. One key point here is that 21... Ra8 is strongly met with 22. Qd3!"

That was a move earlier, but I suspect something similar motivated the move.
KevinC KevinC 3/5/2016 03:22
@DJones, I doubt that 1/4 of their people are geniuses especially considering that to be a genius you are typically in the top 2% of all IQs. Feel free to back your statistic up with some proof, but in the meantime, it looks pretty manufactured.
firestorm firestorm 3/5/2016 03:14
It is a sexist comment because it a general (and derogatory) comment about everyone of that gender.

Regarding the baffling attempts by a few to say it is justifiable because he has worked with women, and so therefore he must know what he's talking about- no, its just a sweeping derogatory comment based on gender, made all the worse because his experience should tell him not to make sweeping dismissive comments. Many years ago I was asked to coach a 13 year and when I looked at their recent games, in one they played a simple prophylactic move instead of anything active- and could explain why. Yes, you've guessed it- female chess player. So maybe you can say "girls do play prophylactic chess" ...
sxb103 sxb103 3/4/2016 05:51
If it's not true it's sexist. If it is generally true then it's not sexist and is an interesting comment. I am guessing it's the latter based on his experience.
mozartiano123 mozartiano123 3/4/2016 03:02
Well, some ppl calling the comments sexist do not have any experience with girls' chess.

What Mikhalchisin said is what he thinks, and he grabbed that from years of experience working along with female chess players. Do not forget that he is a chess coach. So he understand chess and girls who play chess a little bit more thant most of us.

Chess is a game of pattern, a chess player is a person who can recognize patterns and the pattern that he has found throughout his life is that girls do not like to play prophylactic chess. What is wrong with saying that? Of course he knows that they will play it sometimes, but his experience states that they do not do it very often.

Wll, But, I forgot that in the modern world one cannot say what he really thinks, because somebody with very low self confidence will feel offended by those words.

The comparisons of what he said with racial injuries is just ridiculous, to say the least.
jackie jackie 3/4/2016 02:17
Encouraging to see that the comments have been changed. It was ugly. Hopefully in the chess world we can try to be more inclusive, and less offensive.

Easy guide for those who struggle with such follows:
If you replace with, for example, 'Jew' or 'African American' and the utterance sounds racist, then it's sexist, and thus offensive. Not tricky at all.

Quick point of education - feminism is to advocate equal opportunities for females. Not so radical, not so scary. It is simply equal rights advocacy. And one does not have to be female to advocate for such.

Class dismissed.

'Nuff said. Back to the chess... :)
Paul Goodwin Paul Goodwin 3/4/2016 10:48
I agree with willemjvdw's comment. It's unfortunate that the feminist morons who have contributed nothing of value in the comments here won't hesitate to stoop so low as to attack a respected GM with vast experience in women's chess (besides chess in general). Thank you Mr. Mikhalchishin and also Mr. Ramirez for helping elucidate some of the finer points of the games in this match, which my female friends also appreciate. I hope the ChessBase team would be stricter with moderation and weed out some of these obnoxious, spiteful commentators here in the discussion section who bring nothing but hatred and negativity to this site.
DJones DJones 3/4/2016 09:18
This is just a preamble to the future of global elite chess. China has more geniuses than the USA(320M) has people. Let that sink in for a minute.
willemjvdw willemjvdw 3/4/2016 08:00
Unfortunately gmwdim comment is so typical of the age we live in. Adrian Mikhalchishin has done a lot for woman chess, just read his wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Mikhalchishin

His comment is not sexist it's a critique based on his vast experience coaching woman since 1978 incl. the Polgar sisters. As a coach, his main goal is to discover the weaknesses of his students and try to improve them. Criticism is a good thing as helps us to improve

Calling someone a sexist based on very little information says a lot about you and very little about him.

Adrian / Chessbase please keep up the good work, a true Chess fan will appreciate his insightful & instructive comments.
thlai80 thlai80 3/4/2016 06:57
If Mariya couldn't gain anything in game 3, game 4 and 5 would be a torrid time for her with two successive blacks. She could be down -2 after 5 games and may not be able to last longer than Anna Ushenina.
Denix Denix 3/4/2016 06:33
Nice to see original annotations by Adrian Mikhalchishin, injecting his own experience of the game into the analysis.
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 3/4/2016 05:57
Now that's more like it.

Hou in fine form in Game 2.
jajalamapratapri jajalamapratapri 3/4/2016 04:34
Mikhalchishin's sexist comments are really idiotic. And then this huge ad for his DVD's. Out of the 4.5 screens on my computer only 4.5 are about the match, the rest is ads. And not a word about this crazy 30min transmission delay!
jackie jackie 3/4/2016 02:06
"Black people don't play prophylactic chess"
"No! Never the white person's way 17...a5 It is too much prophylactic!"

Not acceptable? Of course not. I think we can all agree.
"Hispanics are bad at opening theory." "Asians are bad at tactics." "Native Americans cannot play rook endgames."
Of course one does not write in this way. It's racist. It's discriminatory. And plainly so.

"Girls don't play prophylactical chess." is of course equally unacceptable.

The writer is an idiot, fair enough, we can all see that.
But Chessbase should not be repeatedly publishing sexist material.
And writing of a world championship match.

gmwdim gmwdim 3/3/2016 10:42
@kassy It's in the annotations by GM Adrian Mykhalchyshyn, who is described as "a very active author of ChessBase Magazine and ChessBase DVDs." And ChessBase decided to put those annotations here.
ventricule ventricule 3/3/2016 07:53
These sexist comments are a real shame.
gmwdim gmwdim 3/3/2016 07:34
"Girls don't play prophylactical chess."

More sexist comments from Chessbase.
Aighearach Aighearach 3/3/2016 07:16
It seems that the Ukrainian game publication drama was just because Muzychuk is Ukrainian and not because of any special opening preparation that would warrant secrets. Too bad, I was hoping she was a rising star, but she's just starstruck and exited to be there. :/
woodpushkin woodpushkin 3/3/2016 12:58
Good instructive game analysis. Thanks for posting. Yes chess love.