“We are not the Ukrainian ‘Kosintseva Sisters’! We are the Muzychuk Sisters!”

Interview with Ukrainian WGM Mariya Muzychuk who will compete at the “6th International Ladies’ Chess Gala” at Berlin on November 25th, 2011
By: Rene Gralla, Hamburg, Germany

The event has become a tradition already: the annual “Ladies Chess Gala” that is organized by the German daily “Neues Deutschland” (ND) at Berlin. One of the favorites at this year’s 6th edition of the rapid chess tournament on November 25th, 2011, will be 19-years old Ukrainian WGM Mariya Muzychuk (ELO 2469). The student of physical culture at the University of Lviv was ranked as the fifth-highest girl player in the world in November 2010.

Next week Mariya Muzychuk wants to repeat the success of her older sister, WGM Anna Muzychik, 21, who has won the 3rd International Ladies’ Chess Gala in 2008. At the venue in Berlin, the building of the daily “Neues Deutschland” at the square Franz Mehring no. 1 in the eastern part of the German capital near the train station Ostbahnhof, Mariya Muzychuk will face the reigning US-Ladies’ Champion WGM Anna Zatonskih (ELO 2502), the German Ladies’ Champion 2011, WIM Sarah Hoolt (ELO 2294), and German WGM Elisabeth Pähtz (ELO 2461). Mariya Muzychuk has been interviewed by Hamburg-based author René Gralla. Herewith the German version of the interview that has been published by the Berlin-based daily “Neues Deutschland”: www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/211383.was-meine-schwester-kann.html

More information about the 6th International Ladies’ Chess Gala at Berlin:


RENÉ GRALLA: Your sister Anna Muzychuk has won the 3rd International Ladies’ Chess Gala at Berlin in 2008. This year you follow in the footsteps of your sister – by competing at the 6th International Ladies’ Chess Gala 2011. Do you plan to repeat the success of your older sister – by winning the tournament on up-coming November 25th at Berlin?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I’m happy that my sister has won this tournament in 2008, now she is on the 4th place in the women rating list. This year the organizers invited me to participate in the International Ladies’ Chess Gala 2011 and I think that I have good chances to become the winner of this tournament.

R.GRALLA: You are a very strong chessplayer and your sister Anna Muzychuk is a very strong chessplayer. Is there something like a family gene of chess in your family?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I can say that not only my family, but almost all of my relatives can play chess. My parents were the first coaches of me and my sister and now they both are merited coaches in Ukraine. Currently we are the strongest players in our family but even now our parents give some advice for improving our chess skills. I am very thankful to my relatives for their support.

R.GRALLA: Can one assume that the talent for playing great chess is inheritable – by thinking of the example of you and your sister Anna? And there is one more striking example: the Russian sisters Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintseva!

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: There are some more examples like the Polgar Sisters or the Mamedjarova Sisters. In my opinion it is difficult to say if the chess talent can be inheritable. Anyway, the talent is not everything you need to be a good chessplayer. Without hard work, persistance and the wish of improving a person will never achieve good chess results.

R.GRALLA: You are dubbed as being the Ukrainian “Kosintseva Sisters” …

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: … I have heard this phrase many times, but for me it sounds like a joke! We are just the Muzychuk Sisters!

R.GRALLA: Who has taught chess to you? Your father? Or your sister?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: My parents taught me to play chess when I was 2 years old and at age 3 I already knew all the peaces on the chessboard. I took part in my first tournament at 6 and soon chess became not only like a hobby for me. Now I am mainly training with my sister.

R.GRALLA: Was it difficult to grow up and to work hard to become an excellent chessplayer – whilst always trailing your older sister Anna? Anna was champion of Ukraine (girls U 10) in 2000, you were champion of Ukraine (girls U 10) in 2001. Anna was champion of Ukraine (girls U12) in 2002, you were champion of Ukraine (girls U12) in 2004. And so on …

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: Of course it is difficult to become an excellent chessplayer, because it needs a lot of work and every day training. My sister is a good example for me. In 2001 I had a dream to go abroad and that’s why I became the champion of Ukraine (girls U 10). This win gave me an opportunity to play in the European Championship at my age group. After this tournament I started to practice chess much more seriously.

R.GRALLA: There must have been a good deal of rivalry between you and your sister with regard to chess, we assume?! Are we right?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: We are more sparring partners than rivals in chess. I always want Anna to play chess stronger and she is always helping me to become a better player.

R.GRALLA: Can we assume that you always feel more like being sisters – rather than being rivals?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: During the tournament we always give some advice about the playing to each other and we don’t feel the rivalry. We have wonderful relations and for me it is difficult to imagine that the sisters can be the rivals at all.

R.GRALLA: Do you train together, Anna and you?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: We usually train together at home. Our parents also help us in chess.

R.GRALLA: What happens when you have to confront your sister Anna during a tournament? Do you fight it out? Or do you draw?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: Long ago we were used to play serious games but the last games usually ended in a quick draw. Just two years ago I remember the KO-tournament when we both were qualified to the final. So, we had to play the match and decide who will become the winner.

R.GRALLA: Ukrainian women are strong in chess. This year’s International Ladies’ Chess Gala 2011 at Berlin is one more striking example: the two top favorites have been born in Ukraine, namely you (with ELO 2469) and Anna Zatonskih (ELO 2502) who plays for the USA today and who is actually ranked the15th-highest women player in the world and who has been born in Ukraine too before moving to the USA. How come that Ukrainian women are that strong in chess?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I am glad that there are so many strong chessplayers in Ukraine and that there will be two women players in this tournament who were born in Ukraine. I think this happens because we have quite good chess traditions in our country and we have – apart from female chess players – many strong male chessplayers.

R.GRALLA: Apart from playing chess: What are you doing actually? Are you studying?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I am second year student of Lviv State University of Physical Culture – with special focus on chess – at Lviv State University. As I have to compete in many tournaments every year I can’t go to the university regularly. But after coming home I have to pass all my exams.

R.GRALLA: What do you plan to do after your studies in your professional life? Do you want to work in the field of your studies?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I have chosen this university because at the moment chess has the first priority in my life. Actually I don’t see myself eventually becoming a chess trainer, I think that my studying there will help me to improve my playing.

R.GRALLA: Do you want to become a chess professional?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I can say that I am a chess professional already. When I won the Ukrainian chess championship in 2001 (girls U10) I understood that chess will play an important role in my life and I have practiced chess almost every day since that time.

R.GRALLA: Do you do some physical exercise – apart from the mental sports of chess?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I do some physical exercises, but not regularly. Sometimes I have the wish to run in the morning or to go to a fitness center. But I really like almost all the sport games.

R.GRALLA: You seem to play table-tennis?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: It is my favourite sport game apart from chess. I started to play it when I was ten years old, but I have always played tennis just for fun. I have never taken table-tennis lessons like many people think. During chess tournaments table-tennis is the best recreation for me.

R.GRALLA: In table-tennis you seem to like to attack – with a rather mean top-spin as we have seen on photos in the web! Do you adopt that attacking style by applying mean top-spins in chess too?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: I like to attack in table-tennis, but I think it is difficult to compare table-tennis and chess. I can’t be always active in chess, so I have some kind of another attacking style … 🙂

R.GRALLA: You and your sister Anna seem to play a special version of a Gambit – a Gambit that has been dubbed the “Muzychuk Gambit”. At least that Gambit has been mentioned in the web. Would you like to tell us something more about that Gambit?

MARIYA MUZYCHUK: To be honest I don’t know anything about that so-called “Muzychuk Gambit”. In order to answer that question I first need to check what was written in the web…


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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