Reports | September 21, 2013 21:33

Hou Yifan Finishes Convincing Match for Title

Needing only seven of the alotted 10 games, Chinese GM Hou Yifan won the lopsided 2013 Women's World Championship in Taizhou, China, by beating title-holder GM Anna Ushenina of Ukraine. Hou Yifan first won the title in 2010, then relinqueshed it last year by losing in the second round of the knockout-style event (which Ushenina won).

The title is contested annually but alternates between a large, elimination event, and a one-on-one match, as it was this year. Hou Yifan qualified as the challenger by winning the last Women's Grand Prix cycle.

Having dominated as Black throughout the match, Hou Yifan won for the first time as White to achieve the clinching score of 5.5-1.5. In a the first Najdorf of the series, Hou Yifan's king proved inviolate the whole game, while Ushenina's monarch was completely depleted of pawns. Facing invasions on the back rank, h-file, and White's well-poised knight, Ushenina conceded the game and the title.

PGN string

Hou Yifan also gained 10 rating points in the match, while Ushenina lost 10. The winner's purse is 120,000 Euros, while Ushenina takes 80,000 Euros in the loss.

GM Anna Ushenina, who was unable to win any games in the match

Hou Yifan discusses the final game with FIDE Press Officer Anastasiya Karlovich

All photos courtesy Anastasiya Karlovich.

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Mike Klein's picture
Author: Mike Klein
Chess.com

Comments

AngeloPardi's picture

At least !

Anonymous's picture

Nastja Karlovich, we love you!!

Anonymous's picture

I am wondering: how is it possible in a communist state to earn 120 thousand euros? Does Hou Yifan have to give it to the state?

Isaac Hunt's picture

The only thing communist in China is the Communist Party. They have a market economy since Deng Xiaoping.

Crow T Robot's picture

yes, it all goes to the state. LOL wow read a book dude!

Crow T Robot's picture

It goes to the state and then she stands in line for potatoes for 12 hours in her grey communist uniform. Yes sir that is how it works, lol.

JanisNisii's picture

50%. Or so I've heard from a Chinese player, but can't remember who, honestly.

Anonymous's picture

I believe 50% is correct. You may have heard it from Wang Hao. I heard him mention the figure during a tournament broadcast. Not much different than you or I paying taxes I guess.

Chess Fan's picture

If You Hifan is slated to anyone other than Judit Polgar or any of the Polgar sisters, I would be forced to make a call to the UN to prevent chess genocide and bloodshed.
Congrats to World Champion You HIfan, the Chinese wonder.

ff2017's picture

Well, besides Judit, there is one final female opponent where the chess spectator world cannot entirely be sure will fall to Hou .... Anna Muyzchuk!!

Chess Fan's picture

You may be right. But very good as she is, is she up to playing You Hifan? Remember what she did to the great Humpy, who I consider as the clear second best female player in the world (not including Judit and her sisters, who don't play in the women circuit anymore).

ff2017's picture

Well, personally that's exactly what I would like to find out!

Anonymous's picture

Humpy Koneru and Hou Yifan are certainly the best female players right now!

Michael Lubin's picture

That's Hou Yifan, not You Hifan! Yow!

RG13's picture

And remember what she did to 2700 rated Navara in their short match. Polgar is rated similarly to Navara.

Anonymous's picture

The Navara match was an exhibition minimatch where Navara resigned the Armageddon game when he no longer could win it. If I recall correctly Navara has lost dozens of similar minimatches. Didn't Polgar beat him 6-2 or something like that?

RG13's picture

I didn't mean to imply that she would beat Polgar in a match. However she should be able to play Polgar in a match and not embarass herself. A lot would depend on how much Polgar wants to prepare for her. So far they have only met once; it was a classical game that Yifan won according to chessgames.com Of course Judit Polgar has nothing to prove and Hou Yifan would be fortunate to have a similar career.

PeterV's picture

Thank you, China Girl. Great job!

observer's picture

A massacre.
It is clear that Ushenina is not, and never was, of women's World Championship standard.
Her obtaining that title was yet another ridiculous outcome of the hopeless knockout system.

And now they are going to have another knockout for the next Championship. Groan.
When do we ever get rid of Ilyumzhinov & Co.?

Anonymous's picture

Agreed, everyone just keeps saying that oh Ushenina had bad luck, she played below her normal level, it was supposed to be quite even, such things happen etc, when the simple truth is that Ushenina is another example of the knockouts being lotteries.

Thomas Oliver's picture

"everyone just keeps saying that oh Ushenina had bad luck ..."
Who is 'everyone'? I don't remember anyone here saying nice things about Ushenina (maybe there were a few isolated comments, I won't revisit all discussion threads).
As I like to take an apparent minority opinion, here is my pro-Ushenina (or I would say, objective and balanced) comment:

Yes, she qualified "the wrong way" - which isn't her fault. BTW it was apparently the first time in women's chess that a complete outsider (seeded only 30th) won the knockout - so she must have done a few things right, and all favorites did something wrong.

Yes, the WCh match was one-sided and overall an accurate reflexion of their relative strength. But even this cannot necessarily be concluded from the match score (alone). If a player falls behind, he or she may then suffer from "when it rains it pours". It seems that Ushenina couldn't cope with the pressure - Gelfand in a similar situation against Anand did a better job, and/or Anand did a worse job than Hou Yifan. Also, if one player dominates a WCh match, it doesn't necessarily or always mean that he is the far better player overall: Anand was far better than Kramnik in their WCh match - but not before and after that match.

Finally, the "problems" team Ushenina faced (I make the reasonable assumption that Khalifman didn't all fantasize) might have affected the amplitude, though not the sense of the final score. Rhetoric question: If the match had taken place in Ukraine and Hou Yifan faced similar problems off the board, would this have been discarded as rumors or largely ignored by western sources (to appear only on some Chinese chess blog)?

Anonymous's picture

"it was apparently the first time in women's chess that a complete outsider (seeded only 30th) won the knockout - so she must have done a few things right, and all favorites did something wrong"

I don't think Xu Yuhua, Kosteniuk, Stefanova or Zhu Chen were close to be top five ranked in the World Championships they won. It's as if the "real" WC the last years had been won in knockouts by players like Mamedyarov, Dominguez and Adams. Good players around #10-30 like some Women's Champions but doubtful how much it would have been to be excited about compared to more serious top events.

Thomas Oliver's picture

"I don't think Xu Yuhua, Kosteniuk, Stefanova or Zhu Chen were close to be top five"
Think again, or better check as I did via Wikipedia: in chronological order, Zhu Chen was 4th seed, Stefanova was 7th seed 3 points behind #5 (and 20 points behind #1 Koneru), Xu Yuhua was 5th seed (officially 6th because defending champion Stefanova was seeded first), OK Kosteniuk was just 8th or 9th (again defending champion Xu Yuhua was seeded first despite having lost some Elo ground).

"Everyone" [despite my reservations on the term 'everyone'] seems to agree that round robins are better than knockouts. But there's no guarantee that (one of) the highest-rated players wins. This year alone, Dominguez won the Thessaloníki Grand Prix (ahead of Caruana, Grischuk, Nakamura and Topalov), Gelfand won Tal Memorial, Adams won Dortmund ahead of Kramnik and Caruana.
Coincidence or not, this includes two players whom you (overall correctly) consider as currently second-tier. Mamedyarov is a different case: he won the Beijing Grand Prix, some years ago he was shared first in Tal Memorial, and overall I consider him close to the world top. If he keeps his GP qualifying spot and then wins the candidates event, it would be a surprise but not a terribly big upset let alone some sort of scandal At the very least, his chances are much better than anyone's chances in a lottery.

observer's picture

Yes, occasionally a "lesser" player like Dominguez or Adams will win a mixed tournament with a smattering of top players. This is not the same thing as winning a Candidates Tournament.

Gelfand just managed to win Tal Memorial, his first victory in a strong tournament in how long? But many players there were just plain exhausted from the Candidates, Paris, and Norway Chess, so a random result was considerably more likely than usual.
Gelfand's real strength was revealed in the tournament that counted - the Candidates - where he scored under 50% [while the three guys who were expected to be the main contenders were the only ones that had any realistic chance of winning the event at any stage].
Had the 2011 Candidates been the same format instead of the idiot knockout format it was, Gelfand's 2011 result would have been similar.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Maybe you are right about players being "plain exhausted from the Candidates, Paris [Alekhine Memorial], and Norway Chess" - even if Gelfand himself also played two of these events.

Another try: A 'nobody' (Peter Svidler) finished just half a point short of first place in the candidates event - granted, this happened only at the very end, he was never in the race for first place. But in hindsight, he could have won!!?? According to some people (whose opinion or assessment I don't share, but anyway), the missing half point was from the game he had to throw against Kramnik.

BTW, at least if shared first place also matters, Tal Memorial was Gelfand's third recent success in a strong tournament - after London GP and Alekhine Memorial.

observer's picture

I don't believe any games were thrown in this event (though of course it's impossible to be absolutely 100% sure).

But this possibility, or suspicion thereof, combined with the fact that someone like Svidler could even get this close, shows that even a round-robin, while vastly better than a knockout, is not really ideal either.
What is required is old-style Candidates Matches like in the 1960's.
But with the proviso that the World Champion is also obliged to participate at the quarterfinal stage, otherwise his advantage is too great, having to win only one match to his opponent's four.
This means the final match would be the World Championship match, and thus there is only one more event than the current Candidates Tournament + WC match. Therefore funding and scheduling should not be too much of a problem.
This system should be on a 3-year cycle.

This would be the ideal system. Which is why it will not happen while Ilyumzhinov is in charge.

Anonymous's picture

are you seriously calling Peter Svidler a 'nobody'?

Thomas Oliver's picture

I used quotation marks or scare quotes. Among the participants of the candidates event, I would put Svidler behind Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik, also behind Radjabov before his dramatic form dip (that started with this very event) and roughly on the same level as the three others (Gelfand, Ivanchuk and Grischuk).
Like Gelfand in the previous cycle, Svidler qualified for the candidates event via a "knockout lottery" (I don't like the term lottery as it wrongly suggests that all players have equally good or bad chances). Mamedyarov, to include another name by (probably another) Anonymous, is also about at Svidler's level - if he qualifies he could also do well in the next candidates event.

Anonymous's picture

So we have 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 30th-ish seeded players winning 5 of the last 6 knockout World Championships for women. Some difference compared to serious World Championships in serious formats. Just imagine the same seeded players being World Champions for men instead of Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov.

Thomas Oliver's picture

It may be partly due to the knockout format, but partly also because the female top has been pretty close to each other for many years (apart from Judit Polgar who doesn't participate in female events). There simply was no female Fischer, Karpov or Kasparov.

If we look at the Men's list and - for the sake of argument - forget about Carlsen or assume that he quits tomorrow: Would a world champion Caruana (currently live #6, i.e. #5 without Carlsen) or Karjakin (currently relatively down at live #10) be problematic? I think it could happen under no matter which format.

observer's picture

Thomas, if it was just this one event and it was an aberration, you might have a point (but remember also that Hou is only playing part time now, and Ushenina had better coaching in the openings).
But the whole time since becoming women's WC, Ushenina has not performed at a level appropriate to that title. She can barely grind out 50% in women's tournaments.

"all favorites did something wrong". Yes, they lost maybe only one game, not necessarily even a classical one. That's the whole problem with knockouts - one misstep and you're out. In a proper tournament or match, you can do "something wrong" (perhaps even twice or more, and all in classical games to boot), and still win the thing.
It is really freaking amazing that you cannot seem to understand this simple concept.
Do you really think that Ushenina would have taken the title if the event had been a round-robin? Yeah, right.

jsy's picture

Absolutely, Ushenina could have taken the title in a round robin. She is only 100 elos below the Hou. Shall we start naming super tournaments where "lowly" rated players actually won?

observer's picture

Shall we? Make sure they are 14 rounds or more, a minimum requirement for a Candidates, with no really outclassed players.

I expect to see an empty box in your next reply.

But in any case, old-style Candidates Matches are a better way to go - see my reply to Thomas above.

Anonymous's picture

All Candidates/World Championship round robin winners: Botvinnik, Bronstein, Smyslov, Smyslov again, Tal, Petrosian, Topalov, Anand, Carlsen.

Some knockout WC winners: Kasimdzhanov, Khalifman, Ponomariov, Xu Yuhua, Kosteniuk, Ushenina.

Some difference.

observer's picture

Also similar type tournaments, double-round or more:

St Petersburg 1895-6 - Lasker
Vienna 1898 - Tarrasch, Pillsbury
London 1899 - Lasker
Monte Carlo 1903 - Tarrasch
Ostend 1907 - Tarrasch
San Sebastian 1912 - Rubinstein
St Petersburg 1914 - Lasker
New York 1924 - Lasker
New York 1927 - Capablanca
Bled 1931 - Alekhine
Semmering-Baden 1937 - Keres
AVRO 1938 - Keres, Fine
Piatigorsky Cup 1963 - Keres, Petrosian
Piatigorsky Cup 1966 - Spassky
Montreal 1979 - Karpov, Tal
Las Palmas 1996 - Kasparov
Astana 2001 - Kasparov

Man, where are all these "lowly" players??

Anonymous's picture

I'm guessing "observer" has an awful lot of free time..

observer's picture

Had a free day, raining outside...
Took maybe 45 minutes, know most of it pre 1980 from memory, quick reference check; post 1980 not thorougly done, would indeed take too long.

Done a little too quickly, forgot 3, for those with a historical interest, there is also
Moscow 1936 - Capablanca
USSR Absolute Ch 1941 - Botvinnik
USSR Zonal tournament of 7, Moscow 1964 - Spassky.

jsy's picture

Equating a potential female super tournaments with legends like Capablanca, Kasparov, etc is plain silly. I don't have as much time on my hands but how about Dortmund 2003 when Bologan finished ahead of Anand and Kramnik despite a 125 elo point disadvantage (yup...more than Ushenina vs Hou). A similar thing happened at Dortmund a few years later when Arkadij Naiditsch won in similar fashion.

observer's picture

Dortmund 2003 is only 10 rounds - too short. In a 10 rounder these things can happen.

Naiditsch won Dortmund 2005 - single round-robin, 9 rounds.

Had women's World Championship been 8 players double round-robin (14 rounds) of top women players, I believe Ushenina's chances of winning it would have been virtually zero.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Hmm, every time someone comes up with an example, you find a reason why "this doesn't count". True, the longer the tournament, the less likely it becomes that an outsider keeps his excellent form for the entire event and emerges winning. I cannot come up with an example for a double-round robin. That's maybe also because they have few outsiders in the field, often only one extreme outsider (local wildcard) - and 8 player double round robins, fitting your 14 rounds criterion, are extremely rare in recent chess history.
The closest analogue might be Nakamura winning Wijk aan Zee 2011 ahead of Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik and Aronian - it happened once, it hasn't yet happened a second time. But he wasn't as much of an outsider, and "only" 13 rounds were played.

observer's picture

"Hmm, every time someone comes up with an example , you find a reason why "this doesn't count"".

This is unfair criticism.
Jsy claimed "Ushenina could have taken the title in a round robin". For this to be a reasonable claim, the round robin should be the same as the men's - 8 player double round-robin, which is 14 rounds.
So I stated "Make sure they are 14 rounds or more, a minimum requirement for a Candidates".
Jsy then comes up with an example that has only 10 rounds - which is considerably short of 14. So therefore it indeed "doesn't count" and I am perfectly within my rights to reject it. I did not "find" a reason - jsy did not meet the previously specified criteria.
I suggest you withdraw your criticism.

As for the rest of your post, thank you for taking the trouble to look.
Double round-robins of 14 or more rounds may be extremely rare in recent chess history, but as I demonstrated, there are quite a few if you go back further. And in NONE of the considerable number that I gave (plus the Candidates that Anonymous gave) did an outsider win.
So does that not prove my point, and disprove jsy's claim?
That is, in a "real" format instead of a knockout, Ushenina would almost certainly have not become women's World Champion.

Andreas's picture

AS far as I remember Gelfand won a game first (so the pressure was on Anand) in their WC match and Anand stroke back ...

Anonymous's picture

This last game by black was especially dreadful. Looked like it could have been played by a beginner, although that might be too generous.

Thomas Oliver's picture

The last game is a bit reminiscent of the last game of the Anand-Kramnik match (even if Anand didn't "care" to win but agreed to a draw). In a desperate match situation, a player, any player can become desperate.

Anonymous's picture

Humpy and Hou are the best female chessplayers right now!

Anonymous's picture

I don't see any reason to be disrespecting towards Ushenina. Of course, Hou is the overall better player, in particular because of her "men-like" defensive and counterplay abilities (she didn't really dominate in her white games) which are trademarks of top players.
However, Ushenina knows how to play chess and showed excellent chess at various events.

I think she fell prey to some serious psychological problems in this match.
I guess that most often if the match is extremely one-sided with not a single win for one player although the players history doesn't hint at such an outcome, then we can assume that the loser didn't stand the pressure of the situation. Koneru was close to Hou ratingwise and still lost with -3 and without victory.

Thus, I would be very interested in a match Muzychuk-Hou, since Muzychuk is the best female player not already "trounced" by Hou.

observer's picture

"Ushenina knows how to play chess and showed excellent chess at various events".
Like couldn't even mate with B + N vs bare king?

Anonymous's picture

Well, obviously not. But it wasn't the only game she played ever, was it? Think of the win against Hou, for example.

It is so easy to ridicule others.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Not winning B+N vs, bare king was embarassing - Ushenina made some people happy who don't like her anyway? Her only 'fault' was winning a knockout event when she wasn't supposed to!?

There's no guarantee that all comparable players would do a better job - if it happens to anyone tomorrow it doesn't really count because they may have studied this ending in the meantime. Other endings are admittedly trickier, but Svidler once couldn't win queen against rook, and several very strong players failed to hold rook against rook and bishop.

observer's picture

And a certain ex-mens World Champion who "should" have won the mens Candidates missed a mate-in-one...

I couldn't resist the B+N thing - I'm not really trying to get at Ushenina.
She plays at whatever strength she is and of course it's not her 'fault' she won the knockout.

My beef is with an idiot system that allows someone of her strength to win the womens WC in the first place, and I thought that was fairly clear in my original post.

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