Can you play like the Women's World Champion?
It has been slightly over a month since the top female chess players fought for the 2016 Women’s World Champion crown in the Ukrainian city of Lvov. The championship match was supposed to consist of 10 games, but only 9 games were needed to determine a champion. Who was it?
1) Ukrainian GM Mariya Muzychuk - World Champion 2015
2) Chinese GM Hou Yifan - World Champion 2010, 2011, 2013
The correct asnwer is... GM Hou Yifan! She is the 2016 Women's World Champion.
Hard-fought match in progress.
(source: http://lviv2016.fide.com/ official website)
Don't forget that both young ladies are still in their early twenties. It's incredible to see how fast one can learn to understand chess and become an elite player. Overall, the match was very interesting and each game was hard fought. I recommend you to review their games via the official website or: http://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2016-wwcc
Let's get to our business now:
Have you ever thought that you're comparably strong to these girls? Or maybe even better than them? Well, here I give you the chance to compare your skills to the 2016 Women's World Champion GM Hou Yifan. Just a small reality check :). Below are 4 positions from the exact games of the championship match and your goal is to find the best continuation - the one that Hou Yifan playes. How many positions can you play like her?
1) Hou, Yifan - Muzychuk, Mariya (game 2)
White to Move
Mariya played 17...Rd7 in her last move, most likely aiming to double her rooks or free up d8-squre for some kind of knight transfers. How would you react to it? What do you think Yifan should play here? Pick a move (and hopefully a plan too).
2) Muzychuk, Mariya - Hou, Yifan (game 6)
Black to Move
In this rather defensive position, Mariya's last move was 32.Bc2. Imagine you're playing a world championship match, what would you do? Feel free to take your time.
3) Muzychuk, Mariya - Hou, Yifan (game 8)
Black to Move
The center was closed with Mariya's last move 14.c5. White has clear space advantage now and black pieces seems somwhat paralyzed. White's next direction? Attack on the kingside. Well, you're Black and its your move. What to do? What could Yifan play?
4) Hou, Yifan - Muzychuk, Mariya (game 9)
White to Move
In their last moves, grandmasters exchanged rooks on the c-file. White has an apparent advantage here as her pieces are better placed. However, pawn on b4 is also hanging. What would you play?
So, how do you think you did? Were you able to find the precise continuation? Let's see.
Don't forget to check all the 4 answers by clicking on each of the 4 dots in the right upper corner of this game viewer. If you feel like to came up with a better move, feel free to share it in the comment section! :)
Tips For Coaches:
1. Analyze games of the top female players! There is so much to learn from their excellent understanding of their positions and their chosen plans.
2. Show pictures of the best female players, youtube videos, tell stories about their begginings. When children are more familiar with the players, the become more engaged with the game and more interested.
3. Motivate girls to join your club and play chess! After they do, give them a little extra care to secure they keep on playing. We need them! :)
Thoughts? Leave a response below! I will be glad to learn from your insights and answer your questions.