Reports | April 11, 2014 18:36

Perfect Start for Hou Yifan at Khanty-Mansiysk Women GP

Hou Yifan had a most convincing start at the Women's Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk. The reigning World Champion won her first three games, against Tatiana Kosintseva, Tuvshintugs Batchimeg and Nana Dzagnidze, in impressive style. After three rounds Zhao Xue and Anna Muzychuk are in shared second place with 2.0/3.

Photos © Kirill Merkuriev courtesy of FIDE

Less than two weeks after the Candidates’ Tournament finished in Khanty-Mansiysk, the local organizers have welcomed a whole new group of top players in the Ugra Chess Academy. For the fourth leg of the 2013-2014 FIDE Women's Grand Prix series, some of the strongest female players had made the long trip to Siberia: Hou Yifan and Zhao Xue of China, Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, Kateryna Lagno, Anna Ushenina of Ukraine, Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, Tatiana Kosintseva, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Olga Girya of Russia, Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia, Nafisa Muminova of Uzbekistan and Tuvshintugs Batchimeg of Mongolia.

Like all Women's Grand Prix events, this is a round robin over 11 rounds. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game and 30 seconds increment per move from the start.

The prize fund is 75,000 Euros. It is split 60,000 Euros as direct prize money for the tournament, and 15,000 Euros added to the accumulated prize fund for the players at the end of the series. The winner of Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk receives 10,000 Euros.

After this event, two more Grand Prixs will be held this year. The winner of the overall Grand Prix qualifies for a world title match which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2015.

After three rounds Hou Yifan is the clear leader, having won all here games thus far. In the first round she played against the youngest of the two Kosintseva sisters, Tatiana. That game actually saw one or two inaccuracies from the Chinese, but as soon as she (finally) won that pawn, she had no mercy.

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The next game was a walk-over. The opening went OK for the lady with the most difficult name in the field, Tuvshintugs Batchimeg, but three dubious moves in a row and she was dead lost. Last year, in Geneva, the Mongolian scored a sensational win against Hou, but this time it went differently.

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Hou Yifan's third game was a lovely attack that was quickly decisive. Taking with the c-pawn on c6 didn't make life easier for Dzagnidze, and after ...g6 instead of ...h6 it was quickly over. Who doesn't like to play such a game?

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It seems that female players almost always show lots of fighting spirit - perhaps even more than their male colleagues. After three rounds the drawing percentage is as low as 33.3%. Here's a tough battle between two of the Russian participants, who played an ancient opening line:

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Women Grand Prix, Khanty-Mansiysk | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Hou Yifan 2618 3262             1     1 1 3.0/3  
2 Zhao Xue 2552 2571     0 1   1           2.0/3 3.00
3 Muzychuk,A 2560 2598       ½           ½ 1 2.0/3 1.50
4 Muminova,N 2321 2501   1     0     ½       1.5/3 2.75
5 Lagno,K 2543 2521   0 ½         1       1.5/3 2.50
6 Ushenina,A 2501 2446       1   0     ½     1.5/3 2.00
7 Stefanova,A 2489 2526   0       1     ½     1.5/3 2.00
8 Kosintseva,T 2496 2495 0               1   ½ 1.5/3 1.25
9 Girya,O 2450 2471       ½ 0         1   1.5/3 1.25
10 Kosteniuk,A 2527 2375           ½ ½ 0       1.0/3  
11 Dzagnidze,N 2550 2264 0   ½           0     0.5/3 1.00
12 Batchimeg,T 2340 2279 0   0         ½       0.5/3 0.75

The Women Grand Prix is a 12-player round robin. The dates are April 9th-21st, 2014 with rest days on the 13th and the 18th. Each day the rounds start at 15:00 local time which is 11:00 CET, 05:00 EST and 02:00 PST. | Games via to TWIC 

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

RG13's picture

After defeating that 2700 in a short match she of course should have plenty of confidence against 2321 - 2560 players. I look forward to seeing her play more 2600+ players.

 Anon's picture

These four drawn games against Navara cannot be seriously seen as any indicator. Granted, Hou Yifan had some great results (Gibraltar) but also some not so good results and she has struggled in particular against her weaker peer players on several occasions (Geneva, WWCC12). I am not sure if she will ever stably cross 2650.

RG13's picture

It is definitely not an indicator that she is better than Navara but at least she was solid enough to draw four straight games against someone who was rated almost 100 points higher.

Anonymous's picture

Hou Yifan drew with black in the fourth round against Kateryna Lagno. The machine thinks she had chances against white's kingside pawns, but she went for a repetition of moves instead. She's now a half-point ahead of Anna Muzychuk, who won a ridiculously protracted endgame in the fourth round.

Casey Abell's picture

Didn't mean to post anonymously. Just forgot to fill in my name!

Anonymous's picture

Please explain to me again why there are sex segregated chess tournaments? Yes, males are bigger, stronger, faster, and quicker than females, but how is this an advantage in chess?

RS's picture

The gender base women only tournaments were started to promote chess amongst girls. The percentage of girls playing chess as a career is abysmally low compared to boys.

Similarly the women only titles such as WGM, WIM are introduced and many amateur tournaments have a special prize for the best female player.

The reason for fewer girls playing or even liking chess is that it is similar to a war and exchanging pieces and pawns is considered analogous to killing opponents something that a female psyche does not like.

Anonymous's picture

Also, perhaps more important is that the female psyche usually favors activities with "relationship" at its core....something that is the opposite of competitive chess. But why degrade females by segregating them in tournament play, suggesting males are just too smart to compete against.

Anonymous's picture

Why degrade women by letting them play events they want to play? Huh? What else do you want to forbid them from doing?

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps most important, men are also more intelligent or intellectually superior. However slightly this is an unfair advantage.

On the other hand I believe you can only get better by playing a smarter opponent, so just let them play with men.

RG13's picture

A person gets better by playing stronger opponents wthout regard to gender. Besides all the women already are allowed to play men - and they do. There are only a few women-only events and most sports have them. There are no victims in this arrangement except your sensibilities. What would be interesting is how FIDE would handle a 2650+ rated male player saying that he is transgender and then demands to play in the womens events.

Anonymous's picture

Also because these series of tournaments are used to determine the Challenger to the WOMEN'S world Championship.

Tennis also has the same format, with women only events. No one seems too complain too much there!

RS's picture

She will not win the tournament as she did not employ the 'Swiss Gambit'.

Right Richter?

Thomas Richter's picture

The Swiss gambit only works or exists in Swiss events, where participants face different sets of opponents, and an early loss means easier opposition in subsequent rounds.

But, in a way, your suggestion is a bit true: In a Swiss event, the first rounds against relatively easy opponents matter only to the extent that one shouldn't lose ground - and based on the standings after round 4 (available e.g. at TWIC), Hou Yifan so far beat only the tailenders. They are tailenders because they lost against Hou Yifan _and_ because they are generally weaker (Batchimeg) or seemingly out of form (Dzagnidze, T. Kosintseva). Zhao Xue, currently at 2.5/4, scored 2.5/3 against players who have 50% (but lost against outsider Muminova).

At least, a strong start and early lead doesn't 'guarantee' victory in the end - there are examples from male events to the contrary, Karjakin and Nakamura coming to my mind. Of course Hou Yifan is also the Elo Favorite in a female event where Koneru (and Polgar) do not play.

RG13's picture

Well Polgar feels that she is too strong for women-only events. However I am not convinced that a match with Hou Yifan wouldn't be competitive. Currently Polgar is rated 22 points lower than Navara who definitely didn't show his superiority over Hou in their four game exhibition match.

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