Hou Yifan today became the 13th Women’s World Chess Champion. The 16-year-old grandmaster from China beat her compatriot Ruan Lufei in the rapid tie-break of the final with a score of 3-1.
The 2010 Women’s World Championship, organized by the Turkish Chess Federation, took place December 2-25 in Antakya, Hatay, Turkey. The format was a knock-out competition with five rounds of matches, comprising two games per round, with the winners progressing to the next round. More info here.
Only the very best can find their top form at the most difficult moments. Today Hou Yifan, just 16 years old, showed that she belongs to a small list of very best female chess players. A list on which she gets the same number as Kasparov in the men’s: 13. Before Hou Yifan, the Women’s World Chess Champions were 1. Vera Menchik (1927–1944), 2. Lyudmila Rudenko (1950–1953), 3. Elisabeth Bykova (1953–1956 and 1958–1962), 4. Olga Rubtsova (1956–1958), 5. Nona Gaprindashvili (1962–1978), 6. Maya Chiburdanidze (1978–1991), 7. Xie Jun (1991–1996 and 1999–2001), 8. Susan Polgar (1996–1999), 9. Zhu Chen (2001–2004), 10. Antoaneta Stefanova (2004–2006), 11. Xu Yuhua (2006–2008) and 12. Alexandra Kosteniuk (2008–2010).
Although the games still reveal some nerves, Hou Yifan today managed to keep her head cool enough to beat Ruan Lufei 3-1 in the rapid tie-break of the final. In the first game she missed a few wins with Black, and in the second game she almost blew a winning knight ending. Because Ruan Lufei simply missed the idea to give her knight for the last two white pawns, Hou Yifan won this one anyway. The third was a more or less correct draw and then in the fourth game, after Ruan Lufei’s somewhat surprising choice of the Bird (3…Nd4) Ruy Lopez, Hou Yifan simply outplayed her opponent from the start.
And so three weeks of top women’s chess has come to an end. Ruan Lufei was the revelation of the tournament, and Hou Yifan the deserved champion. She will be one of the participants of the 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, from Monday 24 January to Thursday 3 February 2011. Almost all top female players have been invited there this year, so they’ll have some opportunity to take revenge soon!
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Photos © Turkish Chess Federation