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    1948 World Chess Championship 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2015 Capablanca Memorial 2015 Chinese Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2015 European Team Championship 2015 London Chess Classic 2015 Millionaire Open 2015 Poikovsky 2015 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Blitz Championship 2015 World Cup 2015 World Junior Championship 2015 World Open 2015 World Rapid & Blitz Championship 2015 World Team Championships 2016 2016 Candidates 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 2Mind Games 2016 60 Minutes A. 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    Entries in Mariya Muzychuk (14)

    Tuesday
    Mar152016

    Women's World Championship: Hou Yifan Wins Game 9 To Regain Her Title

    In a dog-bites-man story, Hou Yifan won game 9 to finish off a relatively easy Women's World Championship match against Mariya Muzychuk. Muzychuk had won the title by winning a knockout event last year; Hou had skipped the event due to another commitment.  Hou earned the match by winning the previous Grand Prix cycle, and regained the title she held from 2010-2012 and from 2013-2015 by defeating Muzychuk 6-3, winning three games, drawing six and losing none.

    Going into the last game Muzychuk needed a win, as the match was a best-of-ten contest and Hou needed only a draw to regain her title. Hou tried to keep things safe on the white side of an old-fashioned Classical Sicilian with 6.Be2, but Muzychuk managed to inject some life into the game. Unfortunately for her, Hou played very well, neutralized Black's initiative on the kingside, and her typical queenside break through won the day. Muzychuk made no egregious errors; her opponent simply won a masterpiece on the way to reclaiming the crown. (The last three games can be replayed here, with my light annotations to the finale.)

    Congratulations to the new/old champion!

    Wednesday
    Mar092016

    Women's World Championship, Round 6: Hou Wins, Leads by 2

    The favorite is a favorite for a reason. Women's #1 Hou Yifan took advantage of FIDE k.o. champion Mariya Muzychuk's poor play in game 6 of the Women's World Championship to take a 4-2 lead in this best-of-10 game match. With (at least) 1.5 points in the next two games, Hou can end the match two games ahead of schedule and claim the women's championship title for a fourth time.

    Neither woman has achieved much with the white pieces in this match, and that pattern held in game six as well. What Muzychuk did achieve was almost as important, however: a position with play. The position after 15.d4 was complex and non-traditional, and both players made some errors in the resulting middlegame. What decided the game, and probably the match, was White's knight on h4. Muzychuk failed to maintain an initiative on the kingside, and in the end her knight was stranded on that awful square. Her position was "officially" lost after her blunder on move 33, but even before and aside from that White's position was a disaster.

    The game, with my notes, is here; game 7 is scheduled for Friday.

    Tuesday
    Mar082016

    Women's World Championship, Game 5: Another Easy Hold For Black

    With the exception of Hou Yifan's impressive win with White in game 2, the match has consisted of short draws where Black has had no problems at all. Game 5 continued that trend, and Muzychuk held her second straight game with the black pieces without any difficulty at all.

    After getting nothing with White in an Open Ruy, Hou switched to 1.c4 and went for the relatively rare 5.Qa4, probably hoping to surprise Muzychuk. It seems that Muzychuk was the better prepared player, and her 8th move was a novelty. Hou failed to put Black under any pressure, and soon Black enjoyed a very slight edge, though the position soon reverted to equality. After 23...Nd5 mass exchanges ensued, and the players called it a day after 33 moves in a dead drawn rook ending. (The game, with my notes, is here.)

    Hou leads 3-2 with five games remaining.

    Sunday
    Mar062016

    Women's World Championship, Game 4: Muzychuk Shows Her Homework and Gets an Easy Draw

    Through the first three games Hou Yifan had the better of the play in every respect. In her one White game she outplayed Mariya Muzychuk in fine style, while with Black she had drawn both games quickly and comfortably. In today's game, by contrast, it was Muzychuk who achieved what she wanted, drawing with supreme easy with Black in just 21 moves.

    As in game 2 it was an Open Ruy, but instead of 9.Be3 Hou went for the old main line with 9.c3. After 9...Be7 she played 10.Bc2, a relatively rare move that had been used by Fabiano Caruana (successfully, against Wei Yi) a couple of months ago in Wijk aan Zee. She continued to follow his play through move 13, and this was a bad idea. This was too high-profile a game for Team Muzychuk to have missed - and too recent a game as well - and indeed they hadn't. Muzychuk made most of her moves quickly, following the variation that the engine spits out almost the moment 13.Nd4 is entered.

    It was good, competent prep by Muzychuk, but poor preparation (or poor judgment by her team in thinking that Muzychuk could have missed the Caruana game and failed to analyze it) by Hou, squandering a precious white game. Game 5 is on Tuesday; meanwhile, today's game, with my notes, is here.

    Sunday
    Mar062016

    Women's World Championship, Round 3: A Relatively Comfortable Draw for Hou UPDATE: Annotated Game Available

    Once again Hou Yifan achieved a short and comfortable draw with Black against Mariya Muzychuk, thereby maintaining a one point lead after three games of the 2016 Women's World Chess Championship. It wasn't quite as comfortable as her draw in round 1, but she was never in any serious trouble either.

    Game 4 is coming up in a few hours, and my analysis of both games will hopefully show up before day's end.

    UPDATE: Here are my annotations to the game.

    Thursday
    Mar032016

    Women's World Championship, Game 2: Hou Wins With White in an Open Ruy

    It's so far, so good for the favorite in the 2016 Women's World Chess Championship, as Hou Yifan dispatched Mariya Muzychuk pretty convincingly on the white side of an Open Ruy. Hou's 14.Bf4 was a rare move, allowing Muzychuk to damage her (White's) kingside pawn structure in return for the bishop pair and some kingside attacking possibilities (notably f3-f4-f5).

    The idea may have been for one game only, but in this case it proved effective. Hou also wisely avoided any immediate commitments to a kingside attack, and moves like 16.Rfd1 and 19.a4 forced Muzychuk to burn a lot of time worrying about White's queenside possibilities as well. Muzychuk's decision to play 19...Nd8 was ill-advised, and although Hou's inaccurate 26th move gave Muzychuk one chance to save the game, Black was overwhelmed from that point on. Muzychuk managed but a single cheapo at the end of the game, which came after Hou's 32nd move won a piece. (My analysis of the game is here.)

    The players have Friday off, and resume on Saturday and Sunday.

    Wednesday
    Mar022016

    Women's World Championship, Game 1: Hou Draws Easily With Black

    One game down, (up to) 11 to go. The first one was a bit of a snoozer, which is common in the early games of a world championship match. The players are settling in, seeing what openings the other player has prepared, and are checking their own form before taking any serious risks. Thus today's easy draw was a good result for the player with Black - Hou Yifan - but as both she and the defending champion (and underdog) Mariya Muzychuk played very cautiously there's probably no broader lesson to be learned just yet.

    My annotations to game 1 of the match are here. Game 2 is tomorrow/today (Thursday).

    Monday
    Feb292016

    Women's World Championship Starts Wednesday

    Mariya Muzychuk is the current title-holder but a huge underdog against three-time champion and women's #1 Hou Yifan in their Women's World Championship match, which starts Wednesday in Lviv, Ukraine. (The games start at 3 p.m. local time = 7 a.m. ET.) It is a best of ten game match, with the usual rapid and blitz tiebreaks in case of a 5-5 tie.

    Anyone out there think Muzychuk has a non-trivial chance?

    Sunday
    Apr052015

    Women's World Championship Finals, Day 4: Mariya Muzychuk The New Women's World Champion

    Another year goes by, and there is yet another women's world chess champion. There have been nine champions during this millennium - or eight, if one counts Hou Yifan's different reigns, of which there is likely to be a third starting late this fall. But let's give credit to the women who were in the arena in Sochi, and in particular to the one who came out the winner: Ukraine's Mariya Muzychuk. Her opponent, Natalia Pogonina, needed to win today to force tiebreaks, and while she took every chance and every reasonable risk she could, Muzychuk managed to keep control pretty much from start to finish. If anything, Muzychuk missed various chances to gain more, but as a draw was sufficient she preferred control to the pursuit of the full point.

    So congratulations to the winner, who is the second straight Ukranian to win the knockout title. For her sake, hopefully she will fare better than her predecessor (Anna Ushenina) when she faces Hou Yifan in a title match later this year.

    Friday
    Apr032015

    Women's World Championship Finals, Day 2

    There's bad news and good news for Natalia Pogonina's fans. The bad news: she lost today against Mariya Muzychuk and trails their (best of) four game match 1.5-.5. The good news: she trailed in her last three matches as well before winning them, so she can shrug it off as business as usual and come back raring to go. It's not too late for her to win the women's world championship.

    Today's game was somewhat strange, in my estimation, as both players - especially Pogonina - seemed to persistently underestimate the importance of controlling the e5 square. In fact, she needn't have allowed White's f4 break in the first place. She stood better in the early middlegame, and one slightly ugly but strong way of keeping control was 27...g5, to be followed by ...Ng6 (and ...Bxg3 the moment White breaks the pin on the knight). Such a position would be almost unloseable for Pogonina.

    Instead, she allowed White to achieve 28.f4, after which the pressure would always be on Black to hold. A computer might thrive on this task, but not a human, and very soon Muzychuk had a winning advantage. She missed a chance to deliver an earlier knockout with 45.Ndf5!, when after 45...gxf5 46.R1xf5 Qe7 47.Rh6 Black will get picked apart one piece and pawn at a time. Black's slight material advantage is useless, as the bishop on b7, the knight on c5 and the rooks are playable no-to-almost no role in the defense whatsoever.

    Muzychuk missed this opportunity and one or two more chances later on to put a quicker end to the game, but the trend was always on her side and her position was just too much easier to play. Pogonina lasted until move 58 before throwing in the towel.