Photos: A 22-year-old grandmaster wins the Women’s World Chess Championship

Chinese grandmaster Hou Yifan has been crowned the Women’s World Chess Champion.

On March 14, in the elegant Potocki Palace of Lviv, Ukraine, 22-year-old Hou beat Mariya Muzychuk for the top title in a 46-move game. Muzychuk, a 23-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster, won the championship last year.

Female chess players may be overlooked on the global stage, but locals fans and media flocked to the event for a glimpse of the players. “The Chinese delegation team imposed security measures, afraid that locals would find a way to help the Ukrainian player,” says photographer Misha Friedman, who dedicated nearly a week to photographing the nine-game contest. “I used to be a chess player. That’s how I got the access.”

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Champion Hou Yifan was named a grandmaster at the age of 14. (Misha Friedman)
Local artist makes a drawing of Hou Yifan’s father. (Misha Friedman)
A medical team is on site at all times
A medical team was on site at all times. (Misha Friedman)
Hou Yifan and Maria before the game
Hou Yifan and Muzychuk before the game. (Misha Friedman)
in top level chess, games often take over four hours and can end at any moment.
Games often take over four hours. (Misha Friedman)
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To prevent possible outside help, the game is broadcast with a 30 minute delay. (Misha Friedman)
Spectators watch the broadcast while the playing hall is closed to the public
Spectators watch the broadcast while the playing hall is closed to the public. (Misha Friedman)
Julianna, 9, waiting for the authograph session.
Julianna, 9, waiting for an autograph. (Misha Friedman)
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A member of the Chinese delegation photographs Hou Yifan meeting fans. (Misha Friedman)
children play chess in central square Lviv
Children play chess in Lviv’s central square. (Misha Friedman)
Members of the chinese delegation watch the game broacasted in their team room.
Members of the Chinese delegation watch the game broadcast. (Misha Friedman)
Local fans and grandmasters analyze the game
Local fans and grandmasters analyze the game. (Misha Friedman)
Hou Yifan signs authographs for local fans
Hou Yifan signs autographs for local fans. (Misha Friedman)
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Games are played behind closed doors. (Misha Friedman)
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