Anna Ushenina won the Women’s World Championship in 2012 despite a ferociously tough draw. She had to win mini-matches against the higher-rated Anna Muzychuk, Natalia Pogonina, Nadezhda Kosintseva and Ju Wenjun to reach a final against former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova. Although she let a lead slip when she lost the final classical game – her first loss of the event – she managed to keep her cool in the rapid play-off to take the title back to Ukraine.
Anna’s heroics in 2012 were a return to the form that saw her cap a fine junior career by winning the adult Ukrainian Championship in 2005 and breaking into the world Top 10 as a 21-year-old in July 2007. Many of Anna’s best performances have come in team events, with her debut for Ukraine standing out – as first reserve in 2006 she scored an undefeated 7/10 to help Ukraine to team gold medals. Her long-standing trainer Gennady Krugovoy once explained that her team results were better as the Ukrainian Chess Federation lacked the funds to help players and coaches attend individual events. Perhaps that also explains the slow erosion of Anna’s rating since that high in 2007.
The 2013 World Championship match was a great
disappointment for Anna. Her team struggled with the living conditions in China
and she lost her title after a 5.5-1.5 defeat to Hou Yifan.
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