In the last game of the match, Natalia Pogonina needed a win at all costs, and the question was whether Mrs Comeback herself would be able to pull off a fourth miracle in the tournament. Unfortunately, the task was made all the harder as she had Black, and White only needed a draw, and Muzychuk pretty much shut down Natalia in the game. At the end, a new champion was crowned.
Final – game four
The final game of the final match: would a champion be hailed, or would the Comeback Queen strike again?
Pogonina certainly understood how desperate her situation was, and the opening had to have had silent cries of dismay echoing inside her head. Mariya Muzychuk’s decision to play the Scotch Four Knights caught her off guard, and possibly afraid of her preparation to boot, Pogonina opted for a strange sequence 5…Bc5 and then 6…Bb4, giving up a tempo in order to force Mariya out of whatever it was she had planned. It certainly worked, but at what cost?
The fans in attendance
The opening was completely in favor of White, and though she was never quite teetering on the edge of victory, nor was she ever in any kind of trouble.
1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.c3 f6 4.d4 exd4 5.xd4 c5 6.e3 b4 This is a truly bizarre idea, and hard to recommend. It does have the virtue of avoiding the opening preparation of the opponent, but at what cost? 7.d3 e5 7…xc3+ 8.bxc3 d6 9.b5 d7 10.xc6 bxc6 11.d3 c5 12.f3 g4 13.h3 xe3 14.xe3 f6 15.e2 0-0 16.0-0 fe8 17.f3 g5 18.c4 e6 19.xe6 xe6 20.ad1 0-1 (64) Andrianatos,A (1390)-Kouros,A (1322) Nikaia 2012 8.0-0 0-0 9.d5 xd5 10.exd5 e8 11.e2 f8 12.d2 d6 13.h3 h6 14.ae1 a6 15.f4! Not only has White completed her development, but she is already beginning to give Black a hard time. d7 16.f3 c5 17.f2 xe1 18.xe1 d7 19.g4 In spite of needing only a draw, one cannot fault Muzychuk’s willigness to come out swinging first. e7 20.g2 h4 21.xh4 xh4 22.f2 f6 23.g3 a5 24.d2 g5 25.g2 25.f5 25…b5 26.b3 g6 27.a3 gxf4+ 28.xf4 b4 29.axb4 axb4 30.d2 h5 31.f3 hxg4 32.hxg4 f8 33.c6 xc6 34.dxc6 e6 35.xb4 xc2 36.c4 b2 37.d5 g5 38.f4 g7 39.e7 a8 White better, and Black must certainly realizes that the only chance is for Muzychuk to blunder horribly. 40.e3 h6
The first congratulations, but not the last!
That’s the smile of a World Champion
With this magnificent victory, after fourteen classical games, not to mention the grueling tiebreaks, Mariya Muzychuk became the 15th Women World Champion against all odds. Perhaps a sign that she was not one of the weaker candidates is that for her monumental effert, the end result was…. a loss of two Elo!
Report by Albert Silver and Eteri Kublashvili
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili, Anastasia Karlovich, and Vladimir Barsky