Women’s World Championship 2015: Interview

Mariya Muzychuk: Is this really my happy day?!



The young Ukrainian Mariya Muzychuk became the second finalist of the World Championship, defeating Harika Dronavalli 2.5-1.5. Despite visible tiredness she agreed to give an interview to the official site.

Anastasia Karlovich: Mariya, congratulations with getting to the final! Was it a hard day?

Mariya Muzychuk: All my tie-breaks were hard, and not only here. I never have easy tie-breaks! Today it started well, I won the first game as Black and thought it would be easier with White. However, my opponent surprised me with her opening, so I had to trade one of my bishops, spent a lot of time and miscalculated in an unclear position.

– Did you have an advantage at some point during that game?

– I am sure I did, and maybe it was a pretty big advantage, but it is hard to play perfectly when you don’t have time.

After the game I was very disappointed because I expected to make at least a draw. That affected my play in the third game. I played rather poorly and in the end blundered 46.Qh8+. It was hopeless for me, but luckily in the end I managed to transpose to a drawn pawn ending.

– What was your first thought when you saw 83.Qe3?

– My first thought was: is this really my happy day?! I knew the resulting position, I knew it was a draw.

– You won the last game quite convincingly…

– I played White, and Harika surprised me in the opening again, but I don’t think she made the right choice because White had the initiative, and it is all that matters under such time control. I got a stable advantage from the start and tried not to spoil it until the end.

– Your sister watched all your games closely today. What did she advise you during the breaks?

– The breaks were very short, about ten minutes, so we could not discuss much. I just asked her opinion about what should I play in the next game and stuff like that.

– But did you make the final choice?

– Yes, of course. I took her advice into account, but I know better which positions I like and which I do not, etc.

– Tomorrow is a rest day. What are you planning to do?

– I don’t know yet. I am incredibly tired right now, did not recuperate after the tie-break. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll walk and maybe go up to the mountains. I hope to have a good rest.


Natalia Pogonina: One needs very good nerves to endure it

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The last Russian participant of the World Championship defeated Pia Cramling on tie-break and will now play in the final match for the chess crown. We met Natalia shortly after her dramatic victory in the second rapid game.

– Natalia, congratulations with advancing to the final match! Could you tell us please how you managed to defeat Pia?

– I did not expect the move order that happened in the first game, and after 9.e4 was playing on my own. I knew the general ideas, but not the concrete lines.

My trainer told me later that she could sacrifice a pawn with a big advantage. I saw that sacrifice, but thought, well, I will consolidate and defend somehow, and a pawn is a pawn… But she didn’t go for it, and then there was the move repetition and a draw.As for the second game… I did not expect 8…Bb4 at all. She also combined it with short castling, and we arrived at a Hedgehog-type position. I am not sure whether such positions are easier to handle with White or Black in a rapid game. In any case, I rarely play them, so Pia surely has more experience in this structure than me.But she got short on time, her position started to come apart (possibly due to time trouble mistakes), and I got very close to a victory. And then… I hallucinated about something, did not calculate two moves ahead, and instead of having an extra queen got an endgame with the opposite-colored bishops and an extra pawn.
– How did you adapt to basically starting the game over?

– Well, at least I had a pawn… Of course having the h-pawn with the light-squared bishop made it more difficult. Still, defending without any thinking time except those ten seconds per move is very hard in a practical game. And I had won such positions even in classical games… Of course, objectively it was a draw.

I just needed to keep fighting and look for my chance. If she defends – no big deal, I was prepared to play the 10-minute games if necessary. I did not let myself to regret about missing a win.

– You are in the World Championship final right now. What are you feeling?

– No feelings yet. I keep thinking about the last game, all the previous games, and I also think that tomorrow is a day off. It is very hard to play in such a rhythm, with three comebacks and three tie-breaks in a row. One needs to have very good nerves to endure it. I think everyone who works here also needs some rest.

– Will you treat yourself during the day off? Shopping, perhaps?

– I haven’t been to the mountains yet, so this is my plan for tomorrow. I look forward to the new sights, it must be exciting.

– You are here for 20 days already. What do your family members think about your absence?

– They are all rooting for me, only my 5-year-old son always asks: mammy, when will your tournament end?

– Well, now you at least know exactly what to tell him! By the way, did you buy the return ticket before the championship?

– Actually, it is very convenient now, as my son is with my mother in Stavropol, which is like 8 hours on a train from here. And there are never any problems with train tickets, so I did not care about buying the return ticket…

 Pia Cramling: I am very happy before each next match


 Pia Cramling was eliminated in the semifinal of the Women’s World Championship, but is still happy with her overall performance and the choice of the venue.With emotions still running high minutes after finishing the tie-break, Pia started talking about the games even before we had a chance to start the recorder.Pia Cramling: You know, in the first game I made some mistake, and the position immediately became equal. Maybe when she played 9…b6, I should not take on d5, this was my mistake.Goran Urosevic: Maybe e4 was very ambitious?

Pia Cramling: Perhaps, I don’t know. But it’s possible to play 9.e4. Just 9…b6 I have not seen before. So she surprised me and I made mistake.

Then in the second game somehow I didn’t have harmony with my pieces. But at one moment, I thought it was completely fine for me. At one point I played 40…b5, but I don’t think I should play that. She went 40.Re1. This position was playable for me. But I played 40…b5… The problem was the time. It was difficult position plus I had much less time. I don’t know how I survived, because it was completely lost. But then she had this time trouble as well and made some mistakes too.

Then it was I guess a draw ending! I was so tired and did not have a control. It was a tricky position as well. When you keep the rooks… And I blundered the g5-pawn, which of course I am not allowed to blunder. If I could have managed to keep that pawn, it would have been another story.

Goran Urosevic: During the championship you eliminated some very strong players: Gunina, Muzychuk, and you went to the semifinals. What is your overall evaluation of your performance here?

Pia Cramling: You know, I am very happy. I did all my best now. Last time I went to the semifinals too and lost in the first game. I am very happy before each next match, happy that I can continue playing. I am really happy that I got a chance to play against Gunina, Anna Muzychuk. Now I qualified to play FIDE Grand Prix. This makes me very happy. It was my dream.

Goran Urosevic: This is great. Congratulations. At one of the press conferences you said that in order to become the world champion you still have to eliminate some of your weaknesses. Can you say about your weaknesses, basing on these games?

Pia Cramling: I simply did not have energy. I did not play the right moves in critical moments. Today I was simply tired. I can see that… when I played match against Anna, for instance, I was in a better shape. And all this tension… And Natalia plays very strong. She plays solid chess and doesn’t make big mistakes. To have had a chance I really had to be in better shape.


Goran Urosevic: How do you feel after two weeks in Sochi?

Pia Cramling: I am very tired. I am just very happy to go home now. I would like to mention that it has been a very well organized championship. I would love if it would be held every year.

But I understand that it is very difficult to find sponsors. The format is also nice, of course if you are not knocked out in the first round. In other words, the format is good for the media.

Goran Urosevic: Thank you so much, Pia, and good luck in future games.



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