Women's World Championship starts tomorrow

by Frederic Friedel
2/29/2016 – Ukrainian GM Mariya Muzychuk is the current title holder, having won the 2015 Knockout Women World Championship in Sochi. The Challenger is Hou Yifan of China, former World Champion 2010-2012, 2013-2015 (who did not participate in Sochi). The venue is Potocki’s Palace in Lviv, Ukrain – a city that has 30 GMs. The opening ceremony is on Tuesday, round one on Wednesday. Preview.

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Women's World Chess Championship 2016 in Lviv, Ukraine

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) will take 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.

The venue of the Championship is Potocki’s Palace, built in the 1880s, and currently
serving as one of the residences of the President of Ukraine [photo: Andrey Okhrimets]

The drawing of colours will be conducted during the opening ceremony, which will
take place at 6 p.m. on 1st of March in Lviv Opera House [photo Oleksandr Samoylyk]

The colours will be reversed after game four (the player getting the white colour in game one plays game five with the black pieces). The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. The winner of the ten-game match is the first player to reach 5.5 points or more. If the scores are level after the regular ten games, after a new drawing of colours, four tie-break games will be played, with 25 minutes for each player and an increment of ten seconds after each move.

If the scores are level after the four rapid games, then, after a new drawing of colours, a match of two games will be played with a time control of five minutes plus three seconds’ increment after each move. In case of a level score, another two-game match will be played to determine a winner. If there is still no winner after five such matches (i.e. after ten games), one sudden-death (Armageddon) game will be played.

The prize fund for this match is 200,000 Euros and will be split between the players as follows: 60% for the winner and 40% to the loser if the match ends within the tenregular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, she will receive 55% and loser 45%.

Mariya Olegivna Muzychuk is the current Women's World Chess Champion, having won the title in the 2015 Knockout Women World Championship in Sochi (where Hou Yifan did not participate). She is also a two-time champion of Ukraine (2012, 2013), World Team and European Team champion with Ukraine in 2013 and bronze medal winner of the 2012 and 2014 Chess Olympiad with Ukraine.

Hou Yifan, who earned the right to challenge Mariya Muzychuk after coming first in the Grand Prix Series 2013-2014, arrived in Lviv a week before the start of the Championship, in order to adapt to the time difference between Ukraine and China. She has brought a team of six – manager, trainer, parents and Chinese Chess Federation representative, all staying in Leopolis Hotel.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi brought Yifan sweets and a coin depicting King Danylo for her 22nd birthday on February 27. Lviv, which has has 30 GMs, celebrates its 760 anniversary during the Championship.

On the FIDE rating list of February 2016 Hou Yifan, 2673, holds the first position among women, while Maria Muzychuk, 2554, shares fourth place with Alexandra Kosteniuk. The two have played twice against each other in the past, at the Gibraltar tournament in 2012 and during FIDE Women Grand Prix in Monaco 2015. Both games were hard-fought, but in both of them Hou Yifan defeated her opponent.

The final crosstable of the FIDE Women Grand Prix in Monaco 2015

In the months before the tournament Maria Muzychuk played in the men's edition of the Ukrainian Championship in December 2015. In an unprecidented move the the games of Muzychuk were not made public, in order not to give Hou Yifan access to her games.

Schedule: the games of rounds 1–10 will take place from March 2nd to 16, with breaks after every two rounds. There is an extra rest day on March 15 before the final game. Tiebreaks, should they become necessary, take place after another rest day on March 18.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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idratherplay960 idratherplay960 3/1/2016 07:56
I trust Magnus's judgement. When asked about the best womens player he furrowed his brow as if it was a ridiculous question and even stated that it was clear as day that there is Yifan and everyone else. He wasn't even aware she was no longer women's world champion and dismissed it as what it is, a technicality that has no bearing on who the real number one is. It takes 1 to know 1!
gmwdim gmwdim 3/1/2016 04:36
@Checkravuh Humpy already got her chance in 2011, and got crushed.
ff2017 ff2017 3/1/2016 03:06
@ ex0 That may be true, but I for one will be watching this match much more closely than the candidates when the two overlap.
ex0 ex0 3/1/2016 11:21
The fact that it starts tomorrow, but that i only heard about it today and that Chessbase only reported on it today should tell us all something.. no one gives a **** about this match and i don't think anyone would be betting against Hou Yifan.
fightingchess fightingchess 3/1/2016 10:40
the fact this will become a one sided match or a close one will depend on mariya's preparation and if she has managed to close the gap.
Checkravuh Checkravuh 3/1/2016 04:54
Humpy should go for it.. She is the only one who beat Hou. Go Humpy !
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/1/2016 03:28
looking for fighting chess!
thlai80 thlai80 3/1/2016 02:39
If Mariya can withstand Yifan onslaught in the 1st few games so much so that it strikes doubt on her preparation, Mariya would stand a chance to beat Yifan. Else, it will be Yifan to take, though I held Mariya higher regards to Anna Ushenina and Koneru Humpy, who both got dismantled and obliterated by Yifan.

While the color switch seems to be in good favour to balance the advantage of whoever gets to play white in the 1st game, the double rounds with same color for game4 and game5 could prove fatal to either player if the result of 4th game is not a draw.

All in all, this is one of the most anticipated women's world championship match in years and look forward to a good match, hopefully without controversies.
Hawkman Hawkman 2/29/2016 11:58
"This should be a decent match, Muzychuk has proven herself to have superior nerves to Humpy and has surpassed her sister Anna."

Agreed. I also think she has as much fighting spirit as any woman in the world.
firestorm firestorm 2/29/2016 11:23
Match? Slaughter.
ff2017 ff2017 2/29/2016 10:30
Interestingly there is no hometown consideration in the prize fund, unlike the Ushenina-Hou match where 5% of the prize fund was given to Ushenina to account for playing the match in an opponents home country.

@Mr TambourineMan In Chinese naming custom, the family name comes first, followed by individual's name. So Hou is the family name and she is Yifan. In Chinese, she would name herself Hou Yifan. In western tradition, they reverse, calling her Yifan Hou.

This should be a decent match, Muzychuk has proven herself to have superior nerves to Humpy and has surpassed her sister Anna. I think once Yifan tires of women's chess, the fight for the women's title will fall to the fearsome foursome of Humpy, Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, Ju Wenjun and perhaps Nana Dzagnidze to make it a fivesome.

Also, Hou is pronounced "hoe" exactly like the gardening tool, not "who" nor "how" nor any other permutation.
idratherplay960 idratherplay960 2/29/2016 10:23
Go Yifan! She had a rough second half of her TATA steel event but still showed she is quite capable of playing top level chess. She also always always always acts with class. When asked about the fact that Maria's games were kept hidden she shrugged it off and showed grace. She has all confidence and talent and above all a strong positive mindset.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 2/29/2016 10:01
Just one Q. They write the name "Mariya Olegivna Muzychuk". Is it so that one then knows that Oleg is Mariya´s father? Also How is it How Hou? And Hou is first name, not and Yifan is first but for some reason we dumb westerners say Hou Yifan only why? It sounds better than Yifan Hou. Now I stop Writing meaningless Word you understand the question I event can form befor someone say Who is on first base, "Right!" no no his on second....
Zvonet Zvonet 2/29/2016 09:07
I still cannot believe that both the Ukrainian Chess Federation and Muzychuk were not fined or even reprimanded for not allowing the broadcast and subsequent publishing of Muzychuk's games from the last Ukrainian championship (http://en.chessbase.com/post/secret-championship-in-ukraine). I find this kind of behavior completely unacceptable and unfair towards Hou Yifan. It threatens to set a completely idiotic trend, which hopefully will not spread to other Federations. Nothing personal against either the UCF or Muzychuk, but this secrecy thing was a disgrace on their part.

Hopefully, all this moronic paranoia and politicking will not affect Hou in any bad way, and that she will be able to show her great class and chess strength, and prevail convincingly in the upcoming match.
Pawncatcher Pawncatcher 2/29/2016 07:28
Yifan is the clear favorite and I am sure that she will win
Denix Denix 2/29/2016 07:03
Yifan will win
gmwdim gmwdim 2/29/2016 06:49
Rooting for Hou, but also hoping Mariya puts up a better fight than Humpy and Anna Ushenina.