Reports | December 01, 2012 23:34

Anna Ushenina is the new Women's World Champion

Anna Ushenina is the new Women's World Champion

Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) defeated Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) in Saturday's rapid tie-break to become the new Women's World Champion. 27-year-old Ushenina drew the first rapid game with Black and then won with White. It was the final day of the Women's World Championship, a knockout event held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia that started on November 11th with 64 players. 

Anna Ushenina | Photos courtesy of FIDE

Event Women's World Championship | PGN via TWIC
Dates November 11th-December 2nd, 2012
Location Khanthy-Mansiysk, Russia
System 64-player knockout
Players The top 10 on rating is Hou Yifan, Humpy Koneru, Anna Muzychuk, Zhao Xue, Kateryna Lahno, Nadezhda Kosintseva, Viktorija Cmilyte, Marie Sebag, Valentina Gunina, Pia Cramling
Rate of play

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 from move one

Tie-breaks 2 rapid games (25 minutes + 10 seconds increment), 2 blitz games (10 minutes + 10 seconds increment), 2 blitz games (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment), 1 sudden-death (5 vs 4 + 3 seconds, increment frome move 61).


I did not set any goals. I just wanted to play well,

said Anna Ushenina when she was asked about her expectations before the start of the Women's World Championship. Well, that's what she did!

Especially after losing the 4th classical game, leading 2-1, it must have been hard for the Ukrainian to play the tie-break final, but in the end she had stronger nerves than Stefanova, a former World Champion.

The first tie-break game was an Anti-Meran, and Stefanova tried a pawn sacrifice that was recently played by Radek Wojtaszek. Ushenina decided to decline it and instead play it safe. She got a slightly passive position, but managed to reached a drawish endgame. Stefanova tried to win it for long, but in vain.

PGN string

In the second game, a Semi-Slav, Ushenina got a slight plus out of the opening and then found an excellent 21st move to transform the advantage. The endgame was nice for White, but only after Black's weakening 35th move it became winning.

PGN string

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 equalized 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 Ushenina, who took over the title from Hou Yifan at this tournament. Because the Chinese won the Women's Grand Prix earlier this year, she will get a chance to win back the title in a match with Ushenina next year.

At the press conference Ushinenina was joined by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Jambow's picture

Congrats to Ushenina and a strong fighting spirit.

RealityCheck's picture


Theo's picture


PP (nl)'s picture

I have to admit that I did not really follow this tournament and I not check who she played. But isn't it a bad sign if somebody with an 2452 ELO rating becomes world champion?

Xenyatta's picture

Well, she is now 400 rating points below Carlsen. On the other hand, she has won the Women's World Title, and accomplished this by winning 6 straight matches.

Her next match, to defend her title, will be a considerable challenge.

Ushenina is ranked 37th in the World among Women players.

Bronkenstein's picture

3 times hurray for Anna, the new champ =)

silvakov's picture

She was number 8 in the world in 2007 with a +2500 rating, and considering we must have about 10 women in the world who manage to maintain a constant +2500 rating, she could easily reach the top 10 again soon. Of course, it's hard to imagine she's playing in the level of Yifan, Koneru or even Anna Muzychuk, but in a knock-out like that a 100-hundred-points difference in the rating scale isn't that much.

osbender's picture

I just checked the stats on chessgames and A. Muzychuk has even score with Koneru out of 7 games (with Muzyhuk having black pieces in all 7!) and even score with Yifan out of 6 games (with Muzychuk having black pieces in 5 of those). The ratings of Yifan/Koneru/A. Muzychuk are very close, so I don't know why you put Yifan/Koneru on different level from Muzychuk.

To me it's absolutely unclear who among those 3 is the 2nd strongest women in the world right now. Given absolutely disastrous results of Koneru against Yifan, without a doubt the most interesting title match would have been between A. Muzychuk and Yifan.

However, Ushenina eliminated Muzhychuk along with D. Cory, Pogonina, N. Kosintseva, Wenjun, and Stefanova and is an absolutely deserving winner. I have no idea how she managed to get her rating to 2450. In this tournament she played several absolutely classic games, positionally steamrolling her higher rated opponents. Check out her white games against N. Kosintseva, 3rd and last games against Stefanova, and a black game against Pogonina (where she allowed the draw because that was all she needed). That's a very strong GM playing.

Thomas's picture

"I have no idea how she managed to get her rating to 2450."
I checked her Elo record - one reason might be that she sometimes cannot win or even loses against opponents rated 2200-2400. And her current low rating is partly due to one very bad result (3/10, Elo -19) in the Turkish League.
+1 for osbender's last paragraph, let's judge her by the content of her games rather than by her official rating!

To all those complaining about the format: It seems that this "knockout lottery" got far more coverage at Chessvibes and elsewhere than the Women GP Series, and far more comments (obviously including those complaining about the format). So even if the format isn't ideal, it still is crowd-pleasing?

Xenyatta's picture

Muzychuk has had several flameouts in these Women's KO events. If her nerves don't crack, she will be a formidable rival for Hou.

I like Humpy, but she cracked. It seems her nerves are not cut out for Title chess.

Maybe if Ushenina trains hard, she can gain a credible result against Hou. Get a win in one of the games, and hold the margin to -2 or so.

Xenyatta's picture

Currently, there are 18 women with ratings 2500+.

But it is fair to say that only 10-12 of the women do maintain a 2500+ rating with consistency

FIDE Top Women
Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Year
1 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2705 0 1976
2 Koneru, Humpy g IND 2610 0 1987
3 Hou, Yifan g CHN 2606 6 1994
4 Muzychuk, Anna g SLO 2586 0 1990
5 Zhao, Xue g CHN 2565 0 1985
6 Dzagnidze, Nana g GEO 2555 0 1987
7 Lahno, Kateryna g UKR 2553 0 1989
8 Kosintseva, Nadezhda g RUS 2539 0 1985
9 Cmilyte, Viktorija g LTU 2524 0 1983
10 Sebag, Marie g FRA 2521 0 1986
11 Gunina, Valentina m RUS 2517 0 1989
12 Cramling, Pia g SWE 2516 0 1963
13 Kosintseva, Tatiana g RUS 2515 0 1986
14 Harika, Dronavalli g IND 2512 0 1991
15 Khotenashvili, Bela m GEO 2504 0 1988
16 Ju, Wenjun wg CHN 2501 0 1991
17 Kosteniuk, Alexandra g RUS 2501 0 1984
18 Ruan, Lufei wg CHN 2501 0 1987
19 Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2491 0 1979
20 Zhu, Chen g QAT 2491 0 1976
21 Zatonskih, Anna m USA 2489 1 1978
22 Paehtz, Elisabeth m GER 2482 0 1985
23 Pogonina, Natalija wg RUS 2478 0 1985
24 Danielian, Elina g ARM 2476 0 1978
25 Muzychuk, Mariya m UKR 2476 0 1992
26 Hoang, Thanh Trang g HUN 2470 0 1980
27 Galliamova, Alisa m RUS 2468 0 1972
28 Girya, Olga wg RUS 2467 0 1991
29 Huang, Qian wg CHN 2465 0 1986
30 Tan, Zhongyi wg CHN 2464 0 1991
31 Atalik, Ekaterina m TUR 2461 0 1982
32 Krush, Irina m USA 2459 4 1983
33 Mkrtchian, Lilit m ARM 2457 0 1982
34 Javakhishvili, Lela m GEO 2455 0 1984
35 Dembo, Yelena m GRE 2454 0 1983
36 Munguntuul, Batkhuyag m MGL 2453 0 1987
37 Ushenina, Anna m UKR 2452 0 1985
38 Zhukova, Natalia g UKR 2451 0 1979
39 Hunt, Harriet V m ENG 2450 0 1978
40 Peptan, Corina-Isabela m ROU 2447 0 1978
41 Socko, Monika g POL 2445 9 1978
42 Moser, Eva m AUT 2443 0 1982
43 Skripchenko, Almira m FRA 2441 0 1976
44 Cori T., Deysi wg PER 2438 9 1993
45 Guo, Qi wg CHN 2432 0 1995
46 Bodnaruk, Anastasia m RUS 2429 9 1992
47 Khurtsidze, Nino m GEO 2428 0 1975
48 Alexandrova, Olga m ESP 2427 7 1978
49 Zaiatz, Elena m RUS 2427 0 1969
50 Ding, Yixin wg CHN 2426 0 1991

Jambow's picture

But isn't it a bad sign if somebody with an 2452 ELO rating becomes world champion?

Yes very much so the knockout elimination minimatch is a system that brings high degree of luck into the equation its a flawed system at best. That being said Ushenina played very well obviouisly but if I were her I would petition FIDE to increase the match length to five and have it completed in two phases. Same for mens and maybe the best players will play but there to smart to sully their reputation on a high chance afair.

osbender's picture

I think the format is fine as it is. Yes, it does have the downside that the strongest player has less chances of winning (compared say to round robin or longer matches). But it is much more interesting to watch than any other format because every game is decisive. This championship and men's World Cup were absolutely gripping to watch. Compare this to the snooze fests of men's Candidates matches and WC match.

IMHO current women's system where the winner of the knockout plays the winner of GP in a longish match is the best possible compromise between excitement and objectivity. The winner of the GP is guaranteed to be one of the very top players, so there will be no legitimacy concerns regardless of who wins the WC match. I wish men simply copied this system instead of dancing to the tune of primadonna top players.

Anonymous's picture

when you win so many match, whatever the format, you can't talk about luck

Abbas's picture

Its nice to see Ushenina such a beautiful lady wins the Women's world chess title.

blueofnoon's picture

Ushenina will be challend by Hou Yifan in longer match. We will see if she is real champion or not.

PP (nl)'s picture

Still. Ushenina is about 400 (!!) ELO points rated under the strongest chess player in the rankings...

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