Anna Ushenina of Ukraine claimed the women’s World Championship crown, defeating Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria in the first set of tie-break games in Khanty Mansiysk.
After a 2-2 deadlock in the normal games, the stage was set for an exciting finale and Ushenina came up triumph winning the second game under rapid time control after the first game had ended in a draw.
The Ukrainian won 60000 USD for her efforts in the championship and gets to play the next World Championship against Yifan Hou of China next year as part of the new cycle in the women’s World Championship.
The 64-players championship ended in a tie-break much like the men’s World Championship earlier this year where Vishwanathan Anand won defeating Boris Gelfand of Israel in the rapid tie-break.
The Indian challenge in the championship had lasted till the semi-finals where D Harika went down to Stefanova after an intense struggle.
Speaking about the match, Ushenina did not mince words while calling it a gruelling schedule.
“The match was very interesting, but we were clearly tired and made many mistakes. In the third and fourth games we exchanged blows -- first I took the lead, then Antoaneta equalised the score. In the first tie-break game white stood better, but I held a draw. In the second game black was slightly worse, but Antoaneta was very short on time, defended inaccurately and gave me a chance to win,” said the new women’s world champion.
Ushenina thanked everyone involved with her for the title. Speaking about the support she got, Ushenina said, “My parents, friends and many people from all over the world supported me during the championship, and I am very thankful to them. It was a big pleasure. The final match with Antoaneta was definitely the hardest part. Each game of it was extremely important.”
It may be recalled that the big favourites in the championship Yifan Hou, Koenru Humpy and Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine had crashed out as early as in the second round, leaving the field wide open. Stefanova was the last remaining big star who fought on till the end but could not match the guile of Ushenina in the tie-break.
In the first tie-breaker Ushenina had to find some correct moves before she equalised and an unsuspecting Stefanova was subjected to a new idea in the second tie-break game. Ushenina gained huge lead on time and exerted pressure to lead the game in to a rook and pawns endgame with two extra pawns. Stefanova resigned when there were no chances left.
Ushenina’s victory will bring in a huge change in Ukraine’s women chess but Indians, Koneru Humpy and D Harika have to wait another two years before they can have a shy at the title.