Hou Yifan

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Hou.
Hou Yifan
Hou Yifan 4 September 2012.jpg
Hou Yifan in 2012 at the 40th Chess Olympiad, Istanbul
Full name Hou Yifan
Country China
Born (1994-02-27) 27 February 1994 (age 20)[1]
Xinghua, Jiangsu, China[2]
Title Grandmaster (2008)
Woman Grandmaster
Women's World Champion 2010–2012 2013-present
FIDE rating 2663 (September 2014)
Peak rating 2663 (September 2014)
Hou Yifan
Chinese 侯逸凡

Hou Yifan (Chinese: 侯逸凡; pinyin: Hóu Yìfán About this sound pronunciation ) (born 27 February 1994, Xinghua, Jiangsu, China)[2][3] is a Chinese chess prodigy. She is the Women's World Chess Champion, the youngest ever to win the title, as well as the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of Grandmaster.

At the age of 12, Hou became the youngest player ever to participate in the FIDE Women's World Championship (Yekaterinburg 2006) and the Chess Olympiad (Torino 2006).[4] In June 2007, she became China's youngest National Women's Champion ever. She achieved the titles of Woman FIDE Master in January 2004, Woman Grandmaster in January 2007, and Grandmaster in August 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest Women's World Chess Champion in history by winning the Women's World Championship in Hatay, Turkey at age 16.

She lost her title in 2012 but regained it in 2013. In the August 2014 FIDE rating list she became the third woman to ever enter the world top 100 rankings (after Judit Polgár and Maia Chiburdanidze) and ranked as the No. 1 girl player in the world,[5] the No. 2 female player , the No. 5 junior player of either gender, and the No. 87 player of either gender.

Career[edit]

Hou started playing chess regularly at the age of six, but was already fascinated by the game when she was three years old. Hou's father, Hou Xuejian, a magistrate,[6] often took his young daughter to a bookstore after dinner. He noticed that the little girl liked to stare at glass chess pieces behind the window. He later bought his daughter her first chess set. The 3-year-old was able to beat her father and grandmother after a few weeks. In 1999, her father engaged a chess mentor, IM Tong Yuanming, for his 5-year-old daughter.[7] Tong later said that Hou was an unusual talent, showing "strong confidence, distinguished memory, calculating ability and fast reaction".[7]

In 2003, Hou played against the chief coach of the Chinese National men's and women's chess teams, Ye Jiangchuan, for the first time. The chess master was surprised that the 9-year-old could identify almost all of his weak moves. "Then I knew she was an exceptional genius", Ye said. That year, Hou became the youngest member of the national team and won first place at the World Youth Championship for girls under age ten. In June 2007, she became China's youngest ever national champion.[7]

She was admitted to the National Chess Center, an academy for young talented players from all over the country,[8] in Beijing when she was ten,[9] with leading Chinese grandmasters Ye Jiangchuan and Yu Shaoteng as her trainers.[10][11] In order to better support her chess career, her family relocated to Beijing in 2003. Hou's mother, a former nurse, accompanies her daughter on the international tournament circuit.[6] Hou is homeschooled[6] and lists her interests as reading and studying, and her favorite chess player as Bobby Fischer.[8][12]

Chess writer Leonard Barden has said that she could rival Judit Polgár as the best ever female player.[13] Of her own career, Hou said in 2007: "I took up chess because I was fascinated by the pieces – I just liked it. In the future, I want to be a professional chess player or maybe study to be a doctor".[12]

Results[edit]

2003[edit]

Hou Yifan's first major tournament was on 31 August–12 September 2003 at the Chinese Team Chess Championship (Men's) in Tianjin.[14] She scored 3/7 with a 2246 performance rating.[15]

She won her first international tournament when she came first (9½/11; +8 =3 -0, TPR 2121) in the girl's under-10 section of the World Youth Championship in Halkidiki, Greece in October–November 2003.[16] In November, she made her debut in the National Women's Chess Championship, held at Shanwei, Guangdong.[17] She finished in 14th place with 3½/9 with a performance rating of 2202.[18]

2004[edit]

On 1 January 2004, she received her first International FIDE rating of 2168, which automatically qualified her for the title of Woman FIDE Master. In April, she competed at the Chinese Team Chess Championship (Women's) in Jinan, Shandong.[19] She scored 1½/7 having faced an average opposition rating (Rc) of 2316.[20]

In November, she finished joint first (with Yu Yangyi, Jules Moussard and Raymond Song) but third on tiebreaks in the boy's under-10 section of the World Youth Championship, held in Heraklio, Crete (9/11; +8 =2 -1; TPR 2119).[21] At the 11th Asian Women's Championship in Beirut, Lebanon from 4–11 December 2004, she came 11th with a score of 4½/9 (+4 =1 -4; TPR 2278). The event was won by Wang Yu with 6½/9.[22]

2005[edit]

Hou Yifan, when she was 11, at the 2005 World Team Chess Championship, Beersheva, Israel

In February, she competed at the 4th Aeroflot Open (Group C) in Moscow,[23] where she scored 2/5.[24]

In April, she finished fifth with a score of 7/11 (+6 =2 -3) (tied for fourth) at the 3 Arrows Cup 2005 ladies tournament in Jinan, China. In that tournament, she defeated international master Almira Skripchenko and achieved a performance rating of 2393.[25]

From 28 June–6 July at the 2nd China-France Youth Match at Shenzhen, Guangdong, Hou Yifan scored 3/8 (+2 =2 -4). The Chinese team (Zhou Jianchao, Zhao Jun, Zhao Xue and Hou) won the match 19–13.[26]

In July, at the Festival Open International des Jeunes in Saint-Lô, France, she came second out of 75 players with 6/8, behind Wen Yang.[27][28] In 18–29 July at the World Youth Chess Championship in Belfort, France, Hou Yifan, seeded 8th came in 5th in the Boy's Under-12 Section with 8/11 (+5 =6, TPR 2171).[29]

In October, she managed to qualify for the World Women's Chess Championship to be held in March 2006. Despite being rated only 2220 and ranked women's number 28 in her own country, she qualified by winning the Chinese Women's Zonal (3.5) tournament, scoring 6/9 points with a performance rating of 2401, ahead of several better-known Chinese players. The sixth World Team Chess Championship was staged in Beersheva, Israel from 31 October-11 November.[30] China fielded two teams – the men's and women's, which was only the second time in the championship history where a women's team competed in what has traditionally been a male team event.[31] This was Hou Yifan's first major team tournament and she was the youngest participant there at 11 years of age.[32]

She played as second reserve and finished with 0/3.[33] The Chinese women's team drew one match and lost all their others (+0 =1 -7) finishing last.[34] The tournament was won by Russia, with China (men's) coming in second and Armenia third.[35][36][37]

In December Hou came second at the China Women Selective Tournament in Beijing for the 37th Chess Olympiad to be held in May–June 2006 in Turin, Italy. She scored 16½/28 and gained a whopping 121 elo-points. She made the Olympiad team with Wang Yu and Shen Yang, the other top finishers.[38][39]

2006[edit]

Hou reached the third round (the last 16) of the Women's World Chess Championship in March 2006.[40] Despite being rated 2269 and seeded 56th out of 64 players,[41] she defeated IM Nadezhda Kosintseva (rated 2480) of Russia 1½–½ in the first round, then the former 2000 European champion WGM Natalia Zhukova (2432) of Ukraine 2–0 in the 2nd round,.[42] She was beaten 0–2 by IM Nino Khurtsidze (2430) of Georgia in the third round to finish with a performance rating of 2504.[43][44]

In May–June 2006, China came third winning bronze at the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy. Hou Yifan scored 11/13 (+10, =2, −1), all played on the fourth board, at her Olympiad debut.[45] For her winning percentage of 84.6%, she won a silver medal for fourth (reserve) board performance, and her performance rating of 2596 was the third highest overall.[46][47]

The Chinese Championships for men and women took place in Wuxi, Jiangsu, 25 June–6 July 2006. Ni Hua took the men's title and Li Ruofan the women's. Hou Yifan came fourth in the women's category V (2369) event with a score of 7/11 (+5 =4 -2) and a performance rating of 2477.[48]

In July–August, she performed badly at what has been traditionally the strongest women's tournament, the North Urals Cup in Krasnoturinsk, Russia.[49] Although seeded third, she failed to win a game scoring 3/9 (+0 =6 -3) with a performance rating of 2357. She finished 8th out of 10 players.[50]

In 10–20 August, she played in the China-Russia Summit Match in Ergun, Mongolia. The tournament was a two double round robin Scheveningen, one for men and one for women (category VIII (2444)). Russia won the men's event 26½–23½ but China won the women's section 28-22, winning the match 51½–48½. Hou Yifan was the highest scoring female player on tiebreak with 6½/10 (+5 =3 -2).[51]

China and France played for the Trophée MULTICOMS in Paris 4–9 September 2006. This was also a Scheveningen team match with six men and three women in the teams. France edged out China 20–16 in the men's event. The women's section was a complete mismatch in terms of Elo ratings in favour of the Chinese and they confirmed this over the board winning 12½–5½. The overall result was China 28½ France 25½. Hou Yifan was again the highest scoring female player with 5/6 and a performance rating of 2498.[52]

In October in Yerevan, Armenia at the World Junior Chess Championship (Girl's section) she went on to take second place on tiebreak with a score of 9/12 (+6 =4 -2; tied for first on points behind her compatriot Shen Yang. Her rating performance was 2469.[53][54]

2007[edit]

In January 2007, Hou achieved a respectable fifth place in Group C (Cat. 10, 2486) of the Corus Chess Tournament with a score of 7/13 (+4 =6 -3) and a 2513 performance rating.[55][56][57] This result, together with WGM norms she had earned at the 2005 Zonal 3.5 Women's Championship, the 37th Chess Olympiad and the 2006 Chinese Championship (Women's) won her the WGM title, formally conferred by FIDE in late January 2007.[58]

Hou Yifan at the 2007 Corus Chess Tournament

At the Aeroflot Open in February 2007, a few weeks before Hou's 13th birthday, she played in the A1 group for the first time. Hou started well with two wins out of two, defeating first the Russian IM Nikita Vitiugov (rated 2604) and then the 2001 European Champion, GM Emil Sutovsky of Israel (rated 2629). However in the third round she was defeated by the Russian Championship runnerup, Dmitry Jakovenko, and managed only one draw in her next five games. She rallied in the final round with a victory against the Greek grandmaster, Vasilios Kotronias, and finished with 3½/9.[59][60][61]

In March, at the 1st Ruy Lopez International Festival (cat. XV (2607)) in Zafra, Hou performed badly to finish last with 2/7 (+1 =2 -4). Her performance rating was 2462.[62][63]

In April, she came in second at the China Women Selective Tournament in Ningbo for the 2007 Asian Indoor Games to be held in October. She scored 8/14 (+6 =4 -4).[64]

From 1–11 May 2007, at the 8th Russian Team Chess Championship (Women's) in Dagomys, Hou played for Southern Ural Chelyabinsk on board one and scored 6½/10 (+5 =3 -2).[65][66] At the 1st World Women's Team Chess Championship in Ekaterinburg later that month, Hou was part of the winning China national team that also included Zhao Xue, Ruan Lufei, Shen Yang, and Huang Qian. Hou Yifan played on board two in every round and scored 7½/9 (+7 =1 -1), winning the gold medal for that board. Her performance rating was 2559.[67][68][69]

In June 2007, she won her first Chinese Women's Chess Championship in Chongqing. Hou was 13 years old at the time, breaking WGM Qin Kanying's (who was 14 when she won the title in 1988) record as the youngest champion. Hou scored 9/11 (+7 =4 -0). Second and third place went to Zhao Xue and Shen Yang, respectively.[70]

In July, she improved on the previous year's performance at the North Urals Cup in Krasnoturinsk, finishing in 7th place out of 10 players. She scored 4/9 (+3 =2 -4) with a performance rating of 2436. The tournament was won by Zhu Chen and with Zhao Xue in second place.[71][72][73]

In 4–15 August, she competed in what was then her strongest closed tournament – the 5th Győrgy Marx Memorial (Cat. 14, 2582) in Paks, Hungary. Being the lowest rated player and the only non-Grandmaster (out of Pentala Harikrishna, Peter Acs, Csaba Balogh, Ferenc Berkes and Viktor Korchnoi), she finished in last place in the double round robin event with 3/10 (+1 =4 -5; TPR 2444).[74][75]

At the UK-China Match in Liverpool 3–9 September 2007, China defeated the UK team with a comfortable score of 28–20. Hou played for the men's team and scored 2½/6 (+1 =3 -2) with a performance rating of 2540. The average rating of her opponents (Rc) was 2598.[76]

In late September, she came first at the 2007 Chinese Women's Zonal (3.5) tournament in Tianjin with a score of 8/9 (+7 =2 -0).[77] In October 2007, she competed at the 12th European Club Cup in Kemer, Turkey for team Southern Ural Cheliabinsk. Hou played on board two for the team, which finished fourth in the women's tournament. In the individual women's standings, Hou came in fifth with a score of 5/7 (+3 =4 -0) and a performance rating of 2547.[78][79]

From October 26 to November 3, she competed for Team China at the 2nd Asian Indoor Games in Macau. The national team won team gold in the classic chess mixed team event with 11 match points (18½ game points out of 24). The Chinese team were Zhao Xue, Xu Yuhua, Hou Yifan, Wang Hao, Ni Hua and Bu Xiangzhi.[80] Hou Yifan won an individual gold medal for her board two display with a score of 5½/6 (+5 =1 -0; 91.7%) and a performance rating of 2596.[81][82]

2008[edit]

In the January Corus 2008 chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Hou competed in Group B where she finished in a tie for 7–10th place (9th by tiebreak) achieving 6/13 (+3 -4 =6) with a performance rating of 2598. She scored victories over three grandmasters, including a 23 move win over former World Champion challenger Nigel Short.[83]

In February 2008, Hou gained her first Grandmaster norm (GM norm) at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow by finishing in 31st place with a score of 4½/9 (+2 =5 -2, TPR 2605).[84][85] This was followed in March 2008 with a victory at the 1st Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament (cat. IX (2461)) in Istanbul, Turkey where she finished a point ahead of the rest of the field on 7/9 (+5 =4 -0) with a performance rating of 2674.[86][87] Her victory in this tournament earned her a GM norm conditional on FIDE ratifying then WGM Zhao Xue's attainment of her GM title. Eventually however this GM norm was not used in her official grandmaster title application.[88]

Hou Yifan at the 2008 World Junior Chess Championship, Gaziantep, Turkey where she gained a GM norm.

In April 2008, she competed in Mérida, Spain at the 2nd Ruy Lopez Chess Festival tournament. In the category XV (2616) round robin event she finished 7th out of 8 players with 2/7 (+1, =2, −4) and a rating performance of 2467.[89][90]

In May–June 2008, she became the Chinese Women's Champion for the second consecutive time with 9/11 points (+7 =4 -0) in Beijing and a performance of 2599.[91][92] At the July 2008 First Saturday GM Tournament in Budapest, Hou was top seed, but came in second place with 9/12, missing a GM norm by half a point. Her performance rating was 2574.[93]

In August 2008 she competed in the World Junior Chess Championship held at Gazientep, Turkey where she competed in the boy's section for the first time in her career. She was the only girl in the boy's section and was the 16th seed on the entrant's list.[94] Hou finished joint 3rd–7th on 9/13 (+6 =6 -1), achieving a performance rating of 2661[95] and her second GM norm.[96]

In September 2008, FIDE referred to her as a "GM-elect",[97] indicating that her Atatürk norm had been confirmed. This meant that Hou Yifan qualified for the grandmaster title in August at the age of 14 years 6 months 2 days, making her one of the youngest grandmasters in history, as well as the youngest female. She is one of the very few players to achieve the Grandmaster title without first gaining the International Master title, and the first female player to do so.[citation needed]

In August–September 2008, she competed in her second Women's World Chess Championshipat Nalchik, Russia. She had qualified by being one of the six highest rated players from the average of the July 2006–January 2007 period. In this knockout tournament, she was seeded 3rd out of 64 players. She defeated WGM Mona Khaled (Egypt) 2–0 in the first round and WGM Bathuyang Mongontuul (Mongolia), 2–0 in the second. In third round, she had to go to rapid playoffs to eventually beat IM Elena Sedina (Italy) 3–1 (1–1, 2–0). In the quarterfinals she defeated Armenian IM Lilit Mkrtchian 1½–½, followed by Indian GM Humpy Koneru, the second seed, in the semifinals (4–2 overall, 1–1, 1–1, 2–0). She lost the final to Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, 2½–1½. Nonetheless she became the youngest ever finalist for the Women's World Championship title, earning an automatic International Master (IM) title and a "runner-up 9-game grandmaster norm", her fourth GM norm overall.[98]

Hou participated at the 1st World Mind Sports Games in Beijing from 3–18 October as a member of the Chinese team, winning the bronze medal in the Women's Individual Blitz event, the gold medal in the Mixed Pairs Rapid event (with Ni Hua), the silver medal in the Women's Teams Blitz event, and the gold medal in the Women's Teams Rapid event. In mid-late October, playing board one for team Spartak Vidnoe in the 13th European Club Cup held in Kallithea, Greece she scored 2/4 (+1 -1 =2, TPR 2448) helping her team to a 2nd place finish. Very shortly thereafter she played in the Cap d'Agde Rapid tournament from 24 October to 1 November,[99] losing to former world champion Anatoly Karpov in a tiebreaker match at the end of the qualifying stage, despite winning the second tiebreak game.[100]

At the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden from 12–25 November, she played at no. 1 board in the Chinese women's team.[101] Although her team did not win a prize, she still placed third in the individual board prize.[102] She played in every round with a final result of 7½/11 (+5, =5, −1, TPR 2563).[103]

At the 79th FIDE Congress, held on 16–26 November 2008 in Dresden, Germany, her GM title was approved making her the 27th Chinese Grandmaster.[104] Her three approved GM norms were:[105]

2009[edit]

Hou Yifan competed in the Grandmaster Group B of the 71st Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee from 16 January to 1 February 2009.[106] She was seeded 12th out of 14 players and finished joint 9th–10th with a performance rating of 2620.[107] Between 7–19 March, she finished third in the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Tournament in Istanbul, scoring 8/11 (+6=4–1) with a 2648 performance.[citation needed]

From 12–23 May, she competed at the 8th Asia Continental Chess Championship at the Subic Exhibition and Convention Center, Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Olongapo City, Philippines.[108] She scored 7½/11 with a 2640 performance, finishing 7th out of 86 on tiebreak. By finishing in the top 10 she qualified for the 2009 World Cup.[citation needed]

From 9–15 August 2009 at the Jubilee Open, Zürich, she won the "best female player" prize by coming joint 17th with 6½/9.[109][110] From 19 August-1 September at the NH Hotels Risings Stars vs Experienced, Amsterdam, she finished with a score of 3½/10. She was defeated in the first round at the Chess World Cup 2009, Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, 20 November-15 December 2009.

2010[edit]

In January, she finished with 4½/9 at the Moscow Open. In February, she finished with 4/9 at the Aeroflot Open. In April, she won the third Kuala Lumpur Open 7.5/9 (+6 = 2, TPR 2730).[111] In August she won the 2010 Women's Grand Prix in Mongolia.[112]

In October, she was on board two for Cercle d'Echecs de Monte Carlo in the 15th European Club Cup for Women held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She helped her team to a gold medal win with a 4.5/6 score (+3 =3, TPR 2651).[113]

In November, she won the women's individual gold medal in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. She finished with 8½/9 and with a performance rating of 2798.[114] She won another gold medal from the women's team event, representing China as the first board, along with her team mates Ju Wenjun, Zhao Xue, Huang Qian and Wang Yu,[115] beating Uzbekistan 2½–1½ in the final.

In December she won the Women's World Chess Championship 2010 in Hatay, Turkey, making her the youngest women's world champion in history. Her compatriot Ruan Lufei was her opponent in the finals. After four games at classical time controls, the score was tied at 2-2, but Hou won the rapid playoffs 3–1 to take the title.[citation needed]

2011[edit]

In January 2011 she was due to take part in a the Gibraltar Chess Festival, but pulled out because of a family illness.[116] In April, she won the First Women Master Tournament in Wuxi.[117]

In June, she took part in a tournament in India, the AAI International Grandmasters Chess Tournament 2011.[118] She finished with a dismal last place, but in August, she rebounded to win clear first place in the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012 tournament in Rostov, Russia.[119] She then went on to win the second Grand Prix stage in Shenzhen in September 2011.[120]

In August, she took part in the Chess World Cup 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. She was one of the two female participants in the 128-player single-elimination tournament. Her opponent for the first round was Sergei Movsesian, to whom she lost 2–0, resulting in her elimination.[121]

In October she played on board one for team Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo in the 16th European Club Cup for women held in Rogaska Slatina, Slovenia. Her top rated team placed a disappointing 4th place, with Hou scoring 4/6 (+4 -2, TPR 2526)

Hou successfully defended her women's world champion title in the Women's World Chess Championship 2011 in Tirana, Albania against Koneru Humpy. Hou won 3 games and drew 5 in the ten-game match, winning the title with two games to spare.

In December, Hou played for China in the Women's World Chess Team Championship in Mardin, Turkey. The 5 person team, arranged according to rating, consisted of herself, WGM Ju Wenjun, GM Zhao Xue, WGM Tan Zhongyi and WGM Zhang Xiaowen. China was the clear winner with 16 match points, having lost but one match to Ukraine in the 8th round and winning the rest, ahead of the runner-up Russia by three match points. Georgia grabbed bronze with 12 match points. Hou contributed 5 points from the seven games she played (Wenjun played the first board for Round 1 and Round 2).[citation needed]

2012[edit]

Hou started 2012 by taking equal first place at Tradewise alongside Nigel Short at the Gibraltar Chess Festival scoring 8/10 (+7 -1 =2) with a tournament performance of 2872. She came second on tiebreak when she lost the 2 game blitz playoff against Short by 1.5–0.5.[122] She scored 5/7 against the 7 GMs she played rated 2700 or higher. This included 4 wins against Zoltan Almasi (2717), Judit Polgar (2710), Le Quang Liem (2714) and Alexei Shirov (2710), 2 draws against Michael Adams (2724) and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2747), whilst her only loss came against Krishnan Sasikiran (2700) in a close endgame of Q (with a pawn up) versus R+R with black.[123]

From 6 to 13 March, she played and finished joint 2nd-8th in the 2012 Reykjavik Open 7/9 (+5 =4, TPR 2677). From 27 March to 7 April, she participated in the 2012 China Chess Individual Tournament Group A, the determiner of China's National Champion. She finished joint 7th–9th, 7th by tiebreak. 5/11 (+1 -2 =8; TPR 2560).

From April 13 to April 19, Hou played in the 2012 Bangkok Chess Club open. Seeded third by rating, she finished 14th, 6/9 (+4 -1 = 4; TPR 2500).

From 29 May to 7 June, she played in the 3rd Hainan Danzhou Grand Master Chess Tournament that traditionally showcased the top 10 highest rated Chinese players, although the two highest rated players at the time Wang Hao and Li Chao did not participate. Seeded 6th by rating, Hou finished in 10th and last place with 3/9 (−3 =6, TPR 2507).[citation needed]

From June 9 to June 22, Hou played in the 4th leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012 held in Kazan, Russia. Coming immediately off the heels of the recently completed Chinese Men's super tournament in Danzhou, she started off slowly with 2 points in the first 5 rounds before closing strongly with 4 wins in the final 6 rounds. She finished joint 3rd–4th. 7/11 (+5 -2 = 4; TPR 2604).

From July 16 to July 19, Hou played in the 5th leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012 held in Jermuk, Armenia. She won the event with a 7/11 score (+4 −1 =6, TPR 2598). This victory added to her victories in Rostov 2011 and Shenzeng 2011 makes Hou the winner of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012 and secured for herself the challenger spot for the Women's World Chess Championship 2013.[citation needed]

At the 40th Chess Olympiad held in Istanbul, Turkey from 27 August to 10 September 2012, Hou Yifan led the Chinese women's chess team to a second place, silver medal finish. Hou won the gold medal for individual performance on board 1 with a 2645 TPR, 6.5/9 score (+4, =5). During the competition she was presented with the Caissa Cup, which honors the female player with the best chess results during the year.

From October 8 to October 17, Hou played in the European Chess Club Cup 2012 as a member of team, Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo. She played board 1 with 4.5/6 score (+4 -1 =1, TPR 2609) and her heavily favored team swept the round robin competition with a 7-0 score.

From October 19 to October 27, Hou played in the main even of 16th Univé Hoogeveen Chess Festival as part of the Univé Crown Group, a four player double round robin tournament. The average rating of the participants was 2695, making this a category 18 tournament. Hou finished in last place with a 2/6 score (-2 =4, TPR 2605).[citation needed]

In an interview in Kazan she said that she was going to start studying international relations at Beijing University in September. She said that she was glad China was moving away from its one-child policy, she would have liked to have had a brother or sister, and she knew of women who had been forced to have abortions.[124]

In November 2012 she was knocked out in the second round of the Women's World Chess Championship 2012. As the winner of FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012 she earned the right to challenge the new champion in the Women's World Chess Championship 2013.[125]

2013[edit]

Hou was invited to participate in the 2013 Tata Steel Chess Tournament Grandmaster A group in Wijk aan Zee from 12–27 January. This was a Category 20 event, and her first supertournament participation. She was the lowest Elo rated player at 2603 and seeded 14th. She surpassed initial expectations by finishing 11/14 with a 5.5/13 score (+3 -5 =5, TPR 2688) including a draw against then World Champion Viswanathan Anand. She competed in the 2013 China Chess Individual Tournament Group A in Xinghua, China from April 16 to the 27th. She finished in a six way tie for 4th to 9th place, 4th by tie breaks, with a 5.5/11 score (+3 -3 =5, TPR 2609).[126]

From May 2 to May 16, Hou competed in the 1st leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2013–2014 held in Geneva, Switzerland. She was the highest rated player in the event but finished 8th/9th, including a loss to the Women's World Champion 2012-13, Anna Ushenina. Her score was 5/11 (+3 -4 = 4, TPR 2470). From 11 to 14 June, she played a four game match with David Navara for the CEZ Chess Trophy 2013. All four games ended in draws, so the winner would be decided by tie breaks. After each player won with white in the blitz portion, an armageddon game won by Hou, as black, gave her the trophy. Her performance rating for the classical games was 2707.[citation needed]

From June 30 to July 3, Hou was part of the team representing China in the 4th Asian Martial Arts Games held in Incheon, South Korea. She won a gold medal in the classical portion of the event with a 6.5/7 score (+6 =1). In August, she took part in the Chess World Cup 2013 in Tromsø, Norway. She was one of four female participants in the 128-player single-elimination tournament. Her opponent for the first round was Alexei Shirov. After two draws in the classical portion of the match, they proceeded to tiebreaks. Hou won the first rapid game with white and lost the second with black. In the next tiebreaker set she lost both games resulting in her elimination.

As the winner of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2011–2012, Hou won the right to challenge Anna Ushenina in a 10 game match for the world title. Scheduled from September 10 to the 27th, the Women's World Chess Championship 2013 was played in Taizhou, Jiangsu, China. She won the match in 7 games with a 5.5-1.5 score (+4 =3, TPR 2730) regaining her championship title.[127]

From 19 to 26 October, Hou played in the European Chess Club Cup 2013 as a member of team, Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo. She played board 1 with 5/6 score (+4 =2, TPR 2736) and for the second year in a row, her team swept the round robin competition with a 7-0 score. From 12 to 18 December, she played in the SportAccord World Mind Games in the chess discipline. The tournament consisted of three events: rapid, blitz and the basque system. In the rapid event, Hou scored 5/7 (+3 = 4) capturing the silver medal. In the blitz event, she won the gold medal with a 21.5/30 score (+19 -6 =5). Particularly noteworthy was that during the second day of the blitz event, Hou achieved a near perfect 9.5/10 score. In the final event played under the basque system, Hou won the silver medal on tiebreaks with a 7/10 score (+7 -3).[citation needed]

2014[edit]

From 11–22 March, Hou competed in the 2014 China Chess Individual Tournament Group A in Xinghua, her birthplace. She again played against the men in the open section rather than in the women's section. She finished in 7th place with a 5.5/11 score (+2 -3 =6, TPR 2558).[128]

From July 14 to July 24, Hou played in the grandmaster section of the prestigious Biel chess tournament. This was a six player category 19 event with an average rating of 2717 with Hou being the lowest rated player. She started with a win over Anish Giri and was tied for second entering the final round and could take joint first place by winning her final game against Pendyala Harikrishna. While she wound up losing the final game, Hou still had a successful tournament, finishing joint 3rd-5th with a 5/10 score (+2 -2 =6, TPR 2734).[129]

From August 1 to August 14, Hou participated in 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway as board one of the top seeded Chinese Women's team. The team rattled off six straight wins before succumbing to the second seeded Russian team with Hou losing her individual game, as black, to Kateryna Lagno. She ended the Olympiad with a 7/9 score (+6 -1 = 2, TPR 2671) leading her team to the silver medal. Her own performance was good enough to receive the silver medal for board one.[130]

Hou is the winner of FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2013–14. From April 8 to April 22, she played in the 4th stage in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Opening with 3 straight victories, she dominated from start to finish. Several times as white she eschewed her regular 1.e4 opening move and began with 1.c4 and 1.g3. She finished in 1st place with a 8.5/11 score (+6 =5, TPR 2695).[131] From June 18 to July 2, she played in the 5th stage in Lopota, Georgia. Leading from start to finish, she won with a 9/11 score (+7 = 4, TPR 2773), a full two points over her nearest competitors.[132] From August 24 to September 6, she competed in the 6th and final stage in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She finished joint first with Ju Wenjun with a 8.5/11 score (+6 =5, TPR 2686).[133]

Her highest official FIDE Elo rating stood at 2661, which was the second highest rating in history for a woman surpassing Koneru Humpy's 2623 (July 2009) peak rating.[134][135][136]

With the postponement of Women's World Chess Championship 2014 [137] she will instead play in Corsican Chess Circuit.[138]

2015[edit]

She has qualified for the Women's World Chess Championship 2015 as Grand Prix winner.

China Chess League[edit]

Further information: China Chess League

Hou Yifan has participated in the 2007 and 2008 seasons of the Chinese domestic league, officially known as the "Torch Real Estate Cup Chinese Chess League Division A". She played for Shandong Qilu Evening News Chess Team, who became the 2007 champions when they defeated the 2006 champion Beijing team, 3½ to 1½. In the 2008 season, there were 18 rounds in six different cities over a six-month period, from March to August. Hou's teammates were GM Bu Xiangzhi, GM Zhao Jun, GM Wen Yang, and WGM Zhang Jilin.[139]

Rating[edit]

Rated 2661 in the August 2014 FIDE rating list, Hou is the second highest rated female player and the highest rated girl player in the world. She is also the youngest person in any of the FIDE's "top players" lists. The lists are Top 100 players, Top 100 women, Top 20 juniors and Top 20 girls. On 1 July 2006, she was the youngest ever female player to enter the Top 50 Women (Number 8)[140] and Top 20 Girls (Number 2)[141] FIDE lists at age of 12 (rated 2488), since FIDE began releasing these lists in 2000.

Between the April 2006 and July 2006 FIDE rating lists, she gained an impressive 190 rating points from a rating of 2298 to a rating of 2488,[142] which made her the eighth highest rated female player, and the second highest rated girl, in the world.

Rating list[143] Rating[143] Games[143] Change[144] National women's
ranking[144]
Women's world ranking
(Girl's)[144]
World ranking[145]
January 2004 2168 23 40 662–667
April 2004 2168 0 0 40 657–659 23776
July 2004 2153 7 −15 63 755–763 20601
October 2004 2153 0 0 43 782–788 27081
January 2005 2144 3 −9 44 834–845 28770
April 2005 2158 13 +14 42–43 763–769 26586
July 2005 2158 0 0 41 760–763 26896
October 2005 2220 25 +62 28 470–475 16973
January 2006 2269 12 +49 21 291–294 10606
April 2006 2298 6 +29 16 204–207 7959
July 2006 2488 41 +190 3 8 (2) 855
October 2006 2481 19 −7 4 10 (2) 942
January 2007 2509 30 +28 3 8 (2) 673
April 2007 2513 22 +4 2 6 (2) 646
July 2007 2523 25 +10 2 4 (2) 565
October 2007 2502 19 −21 3 8 (2) 742
January 2008 2527 67* +25 2 5 (1) 549
April 2008 2549 22 +22 2 4 (1) 386
July 2008 2557 35 +8 2 4 (1) 363
October 2008 2578 40 +21 1 3 (1) 267
January 2009 2571 15 −7 1 3 (1) 309
April 2009 2590 29 +19 1 3 (1) 220
July 2009 2584 21 −6 1 3 (1) 256
September 2009 2585 9 +1 1 3 (1) 254
November 2009 2588 30 +3 1 3 (1) 237
January 2010 2590 14 +2 1 3 (1) 240
March 2010 2570 18 −20 1 3 (1) 320
September 2010 2578 25 +8 1 3 (1) 311
November 2010 2591 23 +13 1 3 (1) 248
January 2011 2602 23 +11 1 3 (1) 206
March 2011 2602 0 0 1 3 (1) 209
May 2011 2612 20 +10 1 3 (1) 193
July 2011 2575 24 −37 1 3 (1) 335
September 2011 2578 33 +3 1 3 (1) 327
November 2011 2578 19 0 1 3 (1) 322
January 2012 2605 20 +27 1 2 (1) 211
March 2012 2639 10 +34 1 2 (1) 129
May 2012 2623 29 −16 1 2 (1) 165
July 2012 2617 15 −6 1 2 (1) 177
August 2012 2599 23 −18 1 3 (1) 235
September 2012 2599 0 0 1 3 (1) 236
October 2012 2605 9 +6 1 3 (1) 216
November 2012 2606 6 +1 1 3 (1) 214
December 2012 2606 6 0 1 3 (1) 219
January 2013 2603 4 -3 1 2 (1) 222
February 2013 2617 13 +14 1 2 (1) 183
March 2013 2617 0 0 1 2 (1) 181
April 2013 2617 0 0 1 2 (1) 180
May 2013 2617 0 0 1 2 (1) 183
June 2013 2595 11 -22 1 3 (1) 256
July 2013 2600 15 +5 1 3 (1) 226
August 2013 2609 7 +9 1 2 (1) 203
September 2013 2609 0 0 1 2 (1) 211
October 2013 2621 9 +12 1 2 (1) 175
November 2013 2629 6 +8 1 2 (1) 152
December 2013 2629 0 0 1 2 (1) 156
January 2014 2629 0 0 1 2 (1) 155
February 2014 2629 0 0 1 2 (1) 159
March 2014 2629 0 0 1 2 (1) 156
April 2014 2618 11 -11 1 2 (1) 187
May 2014 2629 11 +11 1 2 (1) 152
June 2014 2629 0 0 1 2 (1) 154
July 2014 2629 0 0 1 2 (1) 155
August 2014 2661 21 +32 1 2 (1) 87
September 2014 2663 9 +2 1 2 (1) 87
October 2014 2673 17 +10 1 2 (1) 72
  • bold, new peak rating
  • * Most number of games played in a quarter by a female player in FIDE rating history[140][141]

Openings[edit]

Hou Yifan primarily plays 1.e4 as White. As Black, she usually plays the Sicilian Defence (including the Najdorf, Dragon and Closed variations) as well as the French Defence against 1.e4, while against 1.d4 she plays the Nimzo-/Bogo-Indian and Queen's Indian defences.[146][147]

Notable games[edit]

G. Sargissian–Hou Y., 2008
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
e8 black rook
g8 black king
h7 black pawn
c6 white rook
g6 black pawn
f4 white pawn
h4 white pawn
c3 black pawn
e3 white knight
g3 white pawn
c2 white knight
d2 black pawn
e2 white king
c1 black rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Final position after 49...Re8

On 25 January 2008, Hou as Black beat GM Gabriel Sargissian (2676) of Armenia, longtime second of Levon Aronian, in the Corus (Group B) tournament, Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands:

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6

Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Nimzowitsch Variation (E15).

5. Qc2 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. e4 d5 8. cxd5 Bxf1 9. Kxf1 exd5 10. e5 Ne4 11. Nc3 Nxd2+

A novelty.

12. Nxd2 Qd7 13. Kg2 Nc6 14. Qa4 0-0 15. Rac1 f6?

16.Nd1 Nxe5 17.Qxd7 Nxd7 18.Rxc7 Bb4 19.Nf3 +/−; better was 15...Rfd8.

16. f4 fxe5 17. dxe5 Bb4 18. Rhf1 Rac8 19. Ne2 Nxe5 20. Qxb4 Nd3 21. Qb3 Nxc1 22. Nxc1 Rce8 23. Nf3 Qf5 24. Rf2 c5 25. Qd3 Qe4 26. Rd2 d4 27. Qxe4 Rxe4 28. Nd3 Re6 29. h4 Rc8 30. a4 a6 31. Nfe5 b5 32. a5 g6 33. Rc2 c4 34. Nb4 Rf8 35. b3 d3 36. Rd2 Rc8 37. Rd1 Rd6 38. Kf3 d2 39. bxc4 bxc4 40. Nc2 c3 41. Ke2 Rd5 42. Ng4 Rxa5 43. Nge3 Rd8 44. Rb1 Ra2 45. Kd1 Rb2 46. Ra1 Rdb8 47. Rxa6 Rb1+ 48. Ke2 Rc1 49. Rc6 Re8 0–1

If 50.Kd3, then Rxc2 follows. If 50.Rxc3, then d1=Q+.

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Li Ruofan
Women's Chinese Chess Champion
2007, 2008
Succeeded by
Shen Yang
Preceded by
Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Chess Champion
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Anna Ushenina
Preceded by
Anna Ushenina
Women's World Chess Champion
2013-present
Succeeded by
Incumbent