Hou Yifan: Player’s profile of the new Chess World Champion

After the chess player Hou Yifan from China was able to regain the crown in women’s chess, we will take a closer look at the remarkable career of the 19 year-old chess talent whose name is written 侯逸凡 in

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Hou Yifan: Early successes among girls and boys

On February 27th 1994, Hou Yifan was born in Xinghua which is located in the Chinese province Jiangsu. In her early years already, the little girl achieved major successes such as the gold medal at the U10 World Championship in 2003. While she won in the girls division, she was able to rank 3rd among the participating boys. In 2007, she established a new record in China: At only 13 years old, she won the Chinese women’s national championship. Therefore, she made history as the youngest championship victress of all times. Also, she won the Atatürk International Women Masters in Istanbul in May 2008 with a score of 7.0 points out of 9 matches. In August 2008, the shared 3rd rank at the U20 Junior World Championship followed – as a 14 year-old among male juniors! The same year, Yifan participated at the Chess Olympics as a top-rated member of the Chinese women’s national team and scored 7.5 points out of 11 rounds.


Youngest title holder of the general grandmaster title

In September 2008, Hou Yifan earned the general grandmaster title. She reached the third standard at 14 years, 6 months, and 2 days old at the Women’s World Championship. Before, she already held the women’s grandmaster title and was then the youngest title holder of the general grandmaster title so far. Therefore, she replaced Wesley as youngest title holder, but was ‘interrupted’ by Anish Giri in February 2009. In Gibraltar, she scored 8.0 points out of 10 duels at the Tradewise Chess Festival, but then lost the tournament victory to the Englishman Nigel Short after two blitzchess duels. At thei very tournament, Hou Yifan achieved a success against the best female chess player of the world, Judith Polgar.


Hou Yifan’s successes at the Chess World Championship

At the Women’s Chess World Championship, Hou Yifan achieved early successes: In 2007, she made it to finals, but was then defeated by Alexandra Kostenjuk at 1.5:2.5 points. Two years later, a triumph in the Turkish city Antakya followed when Yifan beat her fellow countrywomen Ruan Lufei at 5:3 and became 13th Chess World Champion of women – as well a the youngest world champion of all times. The year after that, the title defence in Tirana followed against the Indian Koneru Humpy at 5.5:2.5 points. At the World Championship 2012 in the Russian city Chanty-Mansujsk that was carried out in knock-out-system, Yifan sensationally failed against Monika Socko and dropped out. Instead, Anna Ushenina became World Champion, who in September 2013 hopelessly lost to Hou Yifan at the world championship in Taizhou at 1.5:5.5 points.


written by Michael, translated by Birthe