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Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship Match

Yifan Hou6/9(+3 -0 =6)[games]
Mariya Muzychuk3/9(+0 -3 =6)[games] Chess Event Description
Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship Match (2016)

Two-time Women's World Champion Hou Yifan (the 13th Women's World Champion, since 2010), qualified as challenger by winning the FIDE Women's Grand Prix series of 2013-2014 that ended with FIDE Women's Grand Prix Sharjah (2014)). She played this match against the 15th Women's World Champion, Mariya Muzychuk. Chief arbiter: Carol Jarecki. Deputy chief arbiter: Anastasia Sorokina.


The duration of the event was officially from Tuesday 1 March to Friday 18 March 2016. The first round commenced on 2 March 2016, and the last round on 14 March. Scheduled rest days were after every two rounds up to Game 8, with rest days after Game 9 and Game 10.


The match was held in the Palace of Counts Potockis in Lviv in Ukraine.


A best of ten-games match. The first player to reach 5.5 or 6 points would win the match. If the match ended in a 5-5 tie, tiebreakers would be played.

Time control

The time control for each game was 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.


1. Four rapid games starting with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.

2. If four rapid games were tied, then a 2-game blitz match would be played with a time control of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment after each move.

3. If the score was still level, then another 2-game blitz match would be played.

4. If there was no winner after 5 such matches (total 10 games), one Armageddon game would be played to determine the winner. White would receive 5 minutes, Black would receive 4 minutes. If the game reached 60 moves, both players received a 3 second increment per move from move 61 - if the game was drawn, Black would win the game and the match.


The prize fund of the match would be 200,000 euros (over $217,000), net of any applicable local taxes. As the match was being played in Muzychuk's home country, Hou Yifan was entitled to 10,000 euros. The remaining 190,000 euros would be divided 60%/40% in favor of the winner if the championship ended within the 10 regular games. If the tie-break was needed, the winner would receive 55% and the loser 45%.


The games were webcast live at

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Yifan Hou 2667 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 6 Muzychuk 2563 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 3

Muzychuk had White in Game 1 and steered the opening into the Giuoco Piano (C50, C53 or C54). White diverged with 9.a4, but after multiple exchanges leading to a drawn Q+P ending with symmetrical pawns, the game was agreed drawn by move 31.

Yifan Hou had the White pieces in Game 2 which featured a Ruy Lopez (Open). With Hou's <14. Bf4>, Muzychuk emerged from the opening with at least equality but after some tentative moves by her, Hou gained a couple of tempi with a queen retreat and advance, both attacking loose points in Black's queenside and center, to launch a powerful attack against Black's king that forced Black's resignation after 32 moves.

Muzychuk with White in Game 3 opened with a Closed Catalan and managed to gain a small advantage with her two bishops. However this didn't trouble Hou and the game was agreed drawn after 36 moves when exchanges reduced it to opposite colored bishops with a symmetrical three pawns each formation on the king side.

Muzychuk with Black in Game 4 was undeterred by her second round loss and again played the Ruy Lopez Open (C83), with the game following Caruana vs Wei Yi, 2016 until Muzychuk diverged from Wei Yi's <13...Qd7> (Caruana crushed Wei Yi in this game) by exchanging knights with <13...Nxd4>. Both players seemed to have home prepped this variation which lead to a short tactical melee with the game ending in a forced draw on move 21.

Yifan had White again in Game 5, and opened with an English. Muzychuk defended with a solid Caro-Kann system (A11) that yielded no chances for either player. After multiple exchanges, a draw was agreed on move 33 in a symmetrical rook ending.

In Game 6, both players used an aggressive variation of the Giuoco Piano (C50), with Muzychuk temporarily gaining the upper hand. However she failed to press for a strong advantage with <19. f6>, exchanged into a disadvantageous endgame with <27. Qe3>, and then lost the game with <33. Bc2?>.

Game 7 brought Yifan half a point closer to her goal. Yifan's Knight opening was met with Muzychuk's favored Ruy Lopez Open Variation. A long game ensued but with both playing careful and accurate chess there were no real chances for either player, with the game agreed drawn after 81 moves.

Yifan needed one win or two draws to win back the crown while Muzychuk needed to win two of her next three games just to force the match to tiebreak, although she could still win the match if she won the final three Classical games. But Yifan Hou was too strong.

About two months after the match, Yifan Hou declared that she would abandon the Women's Championship cycle. She called for a reform of the system, with qualification tournaments, a Candidates tournament, and the winner to play the reigning World Champion.


Official site:
ChessBase 1:
ChessBase 2:
Wikipedia article: Women's World Chess Championship 2016

Previous: Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2015) (Hou did not participate, Muzychuk became the 15th World Champion). Next: Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2017) (Hou did not participate, Tan Zhongyi became the 16th World Champion).

 page 1 of 1; 9 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. M Muzychuk vs Yifan Hou ½-½312016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchC50 Giuoco Piano
2. Yifan Hou vs M Muzychuk 1-0322016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. M Muzychuk vs Yifan Hou ½-½362016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchE01 Catalan, Closed
4. Yifan Hou vs M Muzychuk ½-½212016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
5. Yifan Hou vs M Muzychuk ½-½332016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchA11 English, Caro-Kann Defensive System
6. M Muzychuk vs Yifan Hou 0-1382016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchC50 Giuoco Piano
7. Yifan Hou vs M Muzychuk ½-½812016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
8. M Muzychuk vs Yifan Hou ½-½442016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchA46 Queen's Pawn Game
9. Yifan Hou vs M Muzychuk 1-0462016Muzychuk - Hou Women's World Championship MatchB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: a child prodigy who has done it all. Hey even her acne disappeared! I wonder if there is a documentary out, about her career and life? Perhaps there is something like that in Chinese. Anything on utube?
Mar-16-16  detritus: Hou is taking part in the Norway Chess qualification tournament at the end of the month. If she qualifies (over Hammer, Grandelius, and Tari), then Norway Chess takes place from 16th to 29th of April. That overlaps with the present April 20-May 4 schedule of the third leg of the women's Grand Prix. If Hou qualifies for Norway Chess, either the GP event has to be pushed back or Hou will be out of the current women's GP cycle.
Mar-16-16  Kaspablanca: The funny thing is that Hou can lose(if she considering in playing in the KO championship)and Mariya can win the KO champion and face one more time with Hou being the Chinese player again the "challenger":
Mar-16-16  Kaspablanca: Bear in mind that in case the champion lose in the KO tournament that makes her the challenger fo face the "new champion" Only in womens chess thanks to FIDE:)
Mar-16-16  stst: Don't need to say anything further... it's a mess system for the WCC - totally illogical and ridiculous.. . How/Why the Champ needs to go through such "cycles" again? If really so, it's a Q for FIDE. (FIDE: "Well, we like it, we like to see these girls being ... around!!")

For men, the champ just sit (well, of course not !!) and wait for the challenger. The champ does not go through any cycle, nor, candidates, etc -- until... he's beaten and a new champ is crowned.

But keep this silent, else FIDE may get excited and "invent" similar system(s) to .... these guys as well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <Bear in mind that in case the champion lose in the KO tournament that makes her the challenger fo face the "new champion" Only in womens chess thanks to FIDE:)>

Hou challenged here not because she won the previous match but because she won the last Grand Prix

Mar-17-16  Kaspablanca: alexmagnus: You are wrong, Hou challenged here because she "lost" her title because she declined to participate in the KO tournament that Mariya won, because she comitted to play in Hawwai, as she was the champion that made her the automatic challenger, thatīs why i say that she plays in the KO tournament and lose she then is the challenger and will play the winner of the KO tournament, that was the reason Hou played with the KO tournament and "world champion" Ushenina.
Mar-17-16  sonia91: <Kaspablanca> alexmagnus is right, Hou qualified to this match as winner of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2013-14:
Mar-17-16  Kaspablanca: sonia91:In that article dont say Hou qualified this match because she won the grand prix, i still think she qualified because she was the world champion as she declined to defend her crown in the KO tournament that Mariya eventually won, thatīs the FIDE rules, if you or any member here have prove of the contrary iīd like to post a link saying so, bear in mind that Hou faced Ushenina as a challenger after Hou lost a mini match in the KO tournament, tournament that Ushenina won and declared as world champion but had to defend her title to the challenger Hou Yifan.
Mar-17-16  sonia91: <Kaspablanca> yes, it does; just read more carefully (it's in the fifth paragraph anyway or try ctrl+f and search "grand prix")

Also look at

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: Same, by the way, with the Ushenina match, there Hou played as the Grand Prix winner too. In the Humpy match the roles were reversed - Hou was the reigning KO champion and Humpy the GP winner (to be more exact, Hou won both KO and GP, and Humpy qualified as GP second).
Mar-17-16  Kaspablanca: One of two; either i was wrong all this time or FIDE changed the rules because i am sure i read somewhere that if the reining world champion were disqualified in the KO tournament that made her the automatic challenger to play the winner in of the KO tournament.
Mar-18-16  Eduardo Leon: <Kaspablanca> You were wrong all the time, I'm afraid. The reason why Hou didn't play in the last KO tournament was that they changed the schedule at the last minute, and she already had other professional commitments.
Mar-19-16  Kaspablanca: Eduardo Leon: I knew Hou played in Hawaii and thatīs why she didnt play in the last KO, what i meant was the reason Hou played Ushenina as a challenger and not as a champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <what i meant was the reason Hou played Ushenina as a challenger and not as a champion.>

There it was the same. Hou got eliminated in the KO (by Socko IIRC), Ushenina won the KO and became champion. Hou becae challenger because she won the Grand Prix. It's actually interesting - so far Hou won all three editions of the Grand Prix (twice it made her the WC challenger, once she was reigning champion anyway).

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <Hou got eliminated in the KO (by Socko IIRC)>

Yes, it was Socko, beating Hou in the second round in rapids (2:0)

Mar-31-16  dumbgai: If the cycle repeats itself one more time, where Hou loses her title in a knockout tournament and then defeats the "new champion" in a match, will she be the most successful <world championship challenger> ever?
Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <and then defeats the "new champion" in a match>

First she has to qualify for the match by winning the Grand Prix :)

But as for the most successful challenger... Hm, what was Botvinnik's (or any of that five participants') status 1948? He challenged and won in 1958 and 1961.

Hou challenged and won twice so far - against Ushenina and Muzychuk (against Humpy she was the defending champion).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: New in Chess 3/2016, the latest no., has a big interview with Hou. She explaines a lot of what is discussed here, concluding that she'll most likely NOT participate in women's world championships any longer, since FIDE insists making them knock-out-tournaments (which she claims is prone to arbitrary results).

She also tells about this match, which she sees as having been extremely favoourable to the Ukrainian player as far as conditions outside the board are concerned. She mentions quite a few incidents where the officials + Muzychuk launched one silly complaint after the other. So she was happy to leave Lviv.

What is the truth and what is not, I don't know, but the interview is worth reading.

Aug-29-17  Rookiepawn: "We are equal, so I demand privilege. If you don't give me privilege, then you stand against equality, you are a Nazi, you should be banned, etc. etc."

Just a matter of changing meanings. If you want equality, and have some self-respect, then cease to demand an uneven playfield because that is the opposite of equality.

We reached a point in which those who enjoy privilege cannot stop moaning. Conditions are not equal: they are clearly against men.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: If they treat the women's title like a lottery then the clearly best player like Hou has every right to walk away from such nonsense. She can sit back and play arranged matches against the lottery winner(s), and beat the pants off of them, as she has done every time so far. It's the best of both worlds for world no. 1 Hou Yifan--play a longer match for the title and be acknowledged as being the world champion.
Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: <concluding that she'll most likely NOT participate in women's world championships any longer, since FIDE insists making them knock-out-tournaments (which she claims is prone to arbitrary results).>

Now if she could just sit Carlsen down and explain that to him.

Aug-29-17  markz: <Kaspablanca: One of two; either i was wrong all this time or FIDE changed the rules because i am sure i read somewhere that if the reining world champion were disqualified in the KO tournament that made her the automatic challenger to play the winner in of the KO tournament.>

You are wrong all the time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: Hou didn't complain about "arbitrary" results when she herself was winning it (reaching the final in 2008 and winning in 2010). Only after being eliminated by Socko in 2012 (after playing well below her level, as attested by many of those who understand enough chess to judge it) did she change her mind.
Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: Because it's not an arbitrary result... not an objectionable one, anyway, when the best player wins.

But even if the best player does win, Battle Axes in a Dark Cellar is still not a good test of skill.

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