My guess is that an objective chess journalist would be expected not to pick sides or have favorites in tournament matches, but that is the beauty of running my own site and never claiming to be an objective chess journalist! Back in April of 2015, GM Mariya Muzychuk of the Ukraine shocked the professional chess world by knocking out favored GM Koneru Humpy of India and winning the Women’s World Chess Championship title through the somewhat maligned knockout system.
Unfortunately, the same politics that has cast a dark cloud on the 2016 Candidates Tournament has also overshadowed a fight to the finish as former champion GM Hou Yifan has outplayed Mariya to officially reclaim her position as Women’s World Chess Champion in Lviv, Ukraine. I emphasized the word officially because it is clear from the way that many in the professional chess community treated Mariya during her time as champion were not entirely convinced that she was worthy of the honor. Personally, I am sad to see her go because I felt that she brought a special energy to women’s chess. Hou Yifan earns excellent reviews for her friendliness and even more praise for her dominating chess, but it feels as though the professional chess world never really moved on from her as the World Champion when Mariya was awarded the honor in 2015.
Despite the fact that Hou was the clear favorite to win the match, Mariya made it apparent early on that she was not going to make it easy. After dropping games 2 and 6, Mariya found herself in an early hole but that was all she surrendered to the dominating Chinese player before Hou reclaimed the title in point increments from drawn games.
Congratulations to the new Women’s World Chess Champion, GM Hou Yifan of China! An exceptional performance in Lviv caps her return to the highest position in women’s chess. Play through all of the games from the match below: