She beat Anna Muzychuk, 1.5-0.5, in the rapid tiebreaker games on Friday.

Tan Zhongyi is the new queen of chess. 

Friday, in Tehran, she beat Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, 1.5-0.5, in a two-game rapid playoff to become the Women’s World Champion. Tan, who is from China, and Muzychuk had ended their four-game regulation match tied at two points apiece. In Friday’s playoff, they drew their first game, in which Muzychuk had White, then Tan won the second when Muzychuk blundered in a difficult position and walked into a mating net. 

The championship was organized by the World Chess Federation, otherwise known as FIDE, the game’s governing body. Tan earned $48,000, after fees, for winning; Muzychuk takes home $24,000. 

The Women’s World Championship was a 64-player knockout tournament, the same model as in a tennis tournament, that started on February 10. Tan was the ninth seed — the top woman without the full grandmaster title (she is a woman’s grandmaster) — while Muzychuk was the second seed. 

On her way to the title, Tan knocked off the top seed, her compatriot, Ju Wenjun, and the fourth seed, Harika Dronavalli of India.

Muzychuk had to beat two former Women’s World Champions, Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, to get to the final.  She was bidding to become the second woman in her family, after her sister, Mariya, to be the Women’s Champion. Mariya held the title from 2015-2016.

Tan is the fifth woman from China to the Women’s Champion, succeeding Hou Yifan, another compatriot, who did not play in the tournament in protest of the format. (Hou said that only a match should determine the champion because the knockout tournament format does not allow a player to recover from mistakes and is therefore too random.) 

Indeed, to retain her title, Tan will have to play Ju, the winner of the Grand Prix, in a match. The dates and venue are yet to be announced. 

Here are the games from the playoff. In Game 1, Tan was in a bit of trouble, but Muzychuk made enough small errors to let Tan escape with a draw. Game 2 was very tense and it was only at the end, when Muzychuk blundered that the outcome became clear. 

Anna Muzychuk vs. Tan Zhongyi
Women's World Championship | Tehran IRI | Round 6.5 | 03 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 e5 After being destroyed in her last game in which she used the French Defense, Tan switches openings.
2. Nf3 Nf6 The Petroff, or Russian, Defense. It has the reputation of being super solid and hard to beat. Tan is clearly not trying to be too ambitious in the first game of the tiebreaker.
3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 For a long time, 5. d4 was considered the best move. But after many systems were extensively analyzed almost out to a draw for Black, top players turned to this move. It has become the most popular reply to the Petroff.
5... Nxc3 6. dxc3 The broken pawn structure does not pose any problems for White because the number of pawns on each side remains balanced. Indeed, White now has access to the d and e files for her rooks.
6... Be7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 White prepares to castle queenside, which sometimes can be a prelude for an attack on the kingside. There is actually some venom in this system.
8... Qe8 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. O-O-O Ne5 Black tries to trade pieces as quickly as possible -- before White can try to get something going on the kingside.
11. Nxe5 dxe5 The most significant element of this exchange is that Black now has a mobile kingside majority. If all the pieces were magically removed from the board, Black would probably be able to win a king-and-pawn endgame. But there is a long way to go before White has to worry about that.
12. c4 This pawn is not really going anywhere. It made more sense for White to lash out on the kingside.
12... Qa4 13. Kb1 Be6 14. f3 Rfe8 Black is trying to shore up her defenses on the e-file as White will soon build pressure there.
15. Qe2 Qa5 16. Bd2 Qc5 17. Bc3 f6 18. Qe4 g6 White has made real progress and forced some positional concessions from Black. The computer now suggests 19. h4 and it is not hard to see why. White will begin to attack the kingside.
19. Qxb7?! In one move, White loses a lot of her advantage.
19... Bxc4 20. Bxc4+ Qxc4 21. Rd7?! This move does not accomplish as much as it appears to do.
21... Bd6 22. Rd1 Rab8 23. Qd5+ Forced. (23. Qa7?? Qc3!)
23... Qxd5 24. Rxd5 Rbd8 25. Rxd8 Rxd8 26. a4 White still has a small edge because of her superior pawn structure, but it is hard to win a game like this.
26... Rd7?! This helps White. Why not 26... Kf7?
27. Ra5 c5 This looks ugly. To be forced to play this suggests that Black has gone astray.
28. Ka2 Rb7?! An error. Either 28... Kf7 or 28... f5 were better.
29. Rb5?! White returns the favor. Instead, 29. Ra6 Rd7 30. Rc6, and Black is really tied down.
29... Rc7 30. Ba5 Rc6 31. Kb3 c4+!? A nice idea.
32. Kc3 e4! The correct follow-up.
33. fxe4 Bxh2 Trades help Black and she has also created activity for her pieces.
34. Kd4?! Of course, 34. Rb7 should be played.
34... a6 35. Rb7 Bg1+ 36. Kc3 Bh2?! 36... Bf2! With the nasty threat of 37... Be1.
37. Bb6! White's bishop re-enters the game, and Black is once again in a precarious position.
37... Bg3 38. Be3 Both players must have been running low on time, but after 38. a5, White would have had a really significant advantage.
38... Re6! A good move.
39. Kd4 f5 40. exf5 gxf5 Black's pawns are a mess, but her pieces have a lot of activity and that gives her just enough compensation.
41. Bg5 h6 42. Bd2 f4 43. Kxc4 Re2 44. Bc3 Rxc2?! It was better to take the pawn on g2, but this move is understandable.
45. Rg7+ Kf8 46. Rh7 Rxg2 47. Rxh6 Ke7 48. Kd5 Re2 49. Rh7+ Ke8 50. Be5 Rh2 51. Rxh2? White miscalculates (if she had time). This is now a draw.
51... Bxh2 52. Ke4 Kd7 53. Bxf4 Bxf4 54. Kxf4 Kc6 White is one tempo too slow. If her pawn were already on b4, she would win. But now, after 55. b4 Kd5, Black is just in time. The rest was easy.
55. Ke5 Kc5 56. a5 Kb5 57. Kd5 Kxa5 58. Kc5 Ka4 59. b4 Kb3 60. Kb6 Kxb4 61. Kxa6
Tan Zhongyi vs. Anna Muzychuk
Women's World Championship | Tehran IRI | Round 6.6 | 03 Mar 2017 | 1-0
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 The Slav Defense, just as Muzychuk played in her two regulation games. Since she drew the last one rather easily, she evidently did not feel any need to change what she did last time.
3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Tan is the first to vary. In the last regulation game, she played 4. Qb3, but that did not bring any advantage.
4... Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 White moves to eliminate Black's "bad" bishop (which is no longer bad since it is outside the Black pawn chain) before she can play h6 and preserve it.
6... dxc4 Trying to highlight one drawback of White's plan. It is going to be harder to win this pawn now the knight can no longer go to e5.
7. Nxf5 exf5 Black's broken pawn structure is not a major problem. The pawn on f5 restrains White's center, as does the pawn on c6. And Black will have the d and e files for her rooks.
8. e3 White no longer wants to fianchetto her bishop
8... Nbd7 9. Bxc4 Nb6 Best. Black mus make sure that White cannot form a battery along the a2-g8 diagonal with her queen and bishop.
10. Be2 Bd6 11. Bf3 O-O 12. O-O The opening is over and Black has achieved full equality.
12... Re8 13. Qc2 Qd7 14. b3 Re7 This is not a mistake, but I don't understand this move. It certainly looks very artificial; 14... Rad8 certainly made more sense.
15. Na4 Rae8?! This is bizarre. There was nothing wrong with 15... Na4; the pressure down the b-file would always be manageable.
16. Nc5 This is a great position for the knight.
16... Qc8 17. Bd2 Nbd5 18. Rac1 Ne4 19. Bg2 Despite Black's odd moves, her position is still quite good.
19... g6 20. b4 Qc7 Black is having trouble finding a plan. She is basically sitting and waiting, while White has found somethign to do on the queenside.
21. Nxe4?! An error in planning. As the computer shows, 21. b5 was good. After 21... Bc5 22. Be4 fe4 23. Qc5 Rc8 24. Qa7, White has won a pawn.
21... fxe4 22. b5 Ba3 Just in time to prevent material loss.
23. Rb1 cxb5 24. Qb3 Qd6 25. Qxb5 Rc8 26. Qb3 Kg7 27. Bc1 Bxc1 28. Rbxc1 Rc6 29. Rxc6 Qxc6 30. Qa3 Qb6?! The first small error; 30... b6 was better.
31. Rc1 Qb4? An error; 31... a6 was better.
32. Qxa7 Nc3 33. Rf1 Qc4 Though Black has ganied activity for her pieces, a pawn is a pawn. If White can consolidate, Black will be in trouble.
34. Qa3 Re6 35. Re1 Ra6 36. Qe7 Rxa2 37. Bxe4 b5 38. Bf3 b4 Black's b-pawn seems like it could win the game for Black, but...
39. Qe5+ Kh6?? A blunder that ends the game. But even after 39... Kg8 40. d5, White would still have an edge.
40. g4! Black cannot stop checkmate.
40... f6 41. Qxf6 Ra5 42. h4


Dylan Loeb McClain is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He was a staff editor for The New York Times for 18 years and wrote the paper’s chess column from 2006 to 2014. He is now editor-in-chief of He is a FIDE master as well.