There is no longer a safe place in Ukraine: the Muzychuk sisters

KOLKATA: On February 24, the Muzychuk sisters — Anne and Married – woke up to the grim reality of war reaching their doorsteps with Russia bombing Lviv, a city in the west Ukraine. The two great Ukrainian masters had to leave their homeland and travel to Spain via Germany.
“We are still in Spain now,” Ana told TOI during an interaction on Friday. “We have our parents, grandparents, friends all there. Although we are in contact with them, there is no safe place in Ukraine now and you are worried all the time. Just a few days ago, a bomb landed very close to our apartment,” she said.
But it was the failures that may have kept the sisters going. And maybe they were born to play the game, much like the Hungarian Polgar sisters – Judit, Susan and Sofia.
“Our case is quite similar to the Polgars as we started playing chess when we were two years old,” said younger sister Mariya. “Our life was very different from that of other children because we spent all our time playing chess, which often caused us to miss school,” she added.
“Our parents were chess players and became professional coaches and it was their idea. But it wasn’t imposed on us and we were free to choose other fields if we didn’t like chess. somehow we both liked it,” smiles Anna.
The sisters, however, brought good news to their war-torn compatriots by playing a big part in winning Chess Olympiad gold in August this year. “It’s very special because we had won individual medals before, but it was one of our dreams to win the first team gold,” said Mariya, 30.
Her two-year older sister, however, felt happy that the results went well despite not having time to prepare as a team. “It was strange to see that we were representing Ukraine, but all the players came from different parts of Europe (due to the war),” Anna said.
The sisters have always been bold in their positions. In 2017, Anna, a three-time world rapid and blitz champion, refused to defend her titles in Saudi Arabia to protest the treatment of women there. Her younger brother also withdrew from the Women’s World Chess Championship in Iran in protest at the requirement to wear the hijab.
“It was a tough decision to give up my titles back then. But it’s not that we wanted to be popular and do something for people to talk about. We’re just ourselves and do what we think. to be the right thing to do, but at the same time, we never do anything wrong to others,” Anna said.
Although she then raised a controversy, Mariya has no regrets. “I’m really grateful for so many people supporting our booth,” she said.

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