A little bit of History
The first Women’s World Chess Championship took place in London, 1927, during the first Chess Olympiad, and had the Czech chessplayer Vera Menchik (1906 – 1944) as its winner. She successfully defended her title in six events: 1930, 1931, 1933, 1937 and 1939.
Being one of the first women to achieve big feats in a sport dominated by men (as almost all the sports in that period), in 1929, Menchik was even scorned by Vienna-born GM Albert Becker during the Carlsbad tournament. Becker suggested that all the players that lose to her should be a member of the “Vera Menchik club”. Ironically, Becker happened to be the first member of that club. And he wasn’t the only one. Many world-known chess players, such as Jacques Mieses, Frederick Yates, Friedrich Sämich, Edgar Colle and even the ex-World Champion Max Euwe were part of this club as well.
[ Vera Menchik: first Women’s World Champion]
Vera Menchik died at a very young age (38 years old), victim of one of the London bombings that occurred in the Second World War. As an homage to her, the Women’s Chess Olympics trophy is known, as of today, as the “Vera Menchik Cup”.
Since then, there were fifteen more Women’s World Chess Champions. Strangely enough, the best female chess player of all time, hungarian Judit Polgar, is not included in this group; although, one can suppose that the motive is due to the fact she had never disputed the title. On another hand, her sister Susan Polgar brought honor to her family by winning the 96’s World Championship. Recently, the current best female chess player, Chinese Hoy Yifan, won the title; but, after winning the title for the second time, she seems to have lost her interest for the most important Women’s Chess title – motive for her controversial attitude in the last World’s Chess tournament hosted in Iran.
Finals: Tan Zhongyi x Anna Muzychuk
In the end, the quality of the World’s Championship games prevailed above the controversies happening outside the chess boards. And, after a lot of sweat, Chinese Tan Zhongyi and Ucranian Anna Muzychuk (sister of the former World Champion Mariya Muzychuk) met to battle in the finals.
After the draw at the end of the classic time control (4 games) and a victory to each player, the title was decided via tie-break (short-time control games).
[Tan Zhongyi x Anna Muzychuk]
In the first tie-breaker game, Muzychuk, as white, had an advantage after improving a line against the Petroff Defense in a game that, curiously, was a copy of another game between Anna and her sister Mariya. Still, Zhongyi was successful on defending herself and, taking advantage of Anna’s mistakes, saved half point. By the way, this was one of the best Zhongyi’s skills during this World tournament: the Chinese managed to find, during the event, numerous resources (both offensive and defensive) against her opponents.
In the second game, Tan Zhongyi, playing as white, didn’t have any big advantages – incidentally, at a particular move (the 19th), black had a better position. Nevertheless, through another imprecision made by Anna, Tan managed to tangle the position until the serious, ultimate mistake was made by the Ucranian (you can check it by clicking here). Victory for Tan Zhongyi! Long live the new World Champion!
[The ultimate mistake made by Anna Muzychuk]
Tan Zhongyi is the fifth Chinese World Champion. Xie Jun, Zhu Che, Xu Yuhua and Hoy Yifan are the other four champions. This leaves us with a few questions: Are we really distant from having a chinese Men’s World Champion? Will Hou Yifan be back to the Women’s World Championship dispute and confront her compatriot?
Written by Equipe Academia de Xadrez Rafael Leitão in March 6th, 2017