The first game of the Women’s World Championship Match between Mariya Muzychuk and Hou Yifan finished in a draw after 31 moves and 3 hours of play.
Hou Yifan had black pieces and decided to switch from Sicilian, which has been played in the last game between the same opponents in Monaco, and chose 1…e5. Soon Italian game (or Giuoco Piano) appeared on the board and the Women’s World Champion didn’t manage to get any edge out of the opening. After many exchanges the game was converted into the drawish ending.
Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi and one of the most promising young players of Ukraine 6-year-old Kalyna Furmanova made the honorary first move, e2-e4, with the white pieces.
“I am really pleased that so many people came to support me. I can’t say that I am satisfied, neither that I am disappointed. Actually, it’s my first match, where we played with no visitors inside, before I had only training matches”, – noted Mariya Muzychuk, the current Women’s World Champion.
“I believe that’s normal beginning of the match. There will be many more interesting games. Really, 1..e5 is rare move in my practice, but anyway this move is quite popular”, – Hou Yifan said.
“Normally the first games in matches have such peculiarity that players tend to play with big amount of reliability. They are not always confident in their own preparation, that’s why they play really safely. It can be traced in previous games of Hou Yifan. The Chinese player is playing at the opponent’s territory, so she’s especially cautious. Mariya Muzychuk had two moments, where she could play g4, what corresponds to her style of play. This would make the game really sharp and one would expect a decisive result. But Mariya didn’t take the risk,” – commented GM Adrian Mikhalchishin after the end of the game.
The next game of the match will take place tomorrow March, 3 at 15.00 in Potocki Palace.
After the start of the game there was a press conference with Mayor Andriy Sadovyi. He said: “The Women’s World Chess Championship Match has begun – this year chess queen will be chosen here in Lviv. I’d like to thank the organizers for the honour to make the first move. I believe everyone will enjoy the games. We want chess to become the dominant sport in our city, and in Ukraine. It’s a big responsibility to have this Match here and today is a very important day in the history of our city. There were no chess events of this level in Ukraine. I think this is a good start for Lviv and we hope to host other chess tournaments in the future, especially now, when every school of the city has chess lessons.”