Reports | December 25, 2010 0:01

Hou Yifan 13th Women's World Champion

Hou Yifan beats Ruan Lufei in tie-break final, becomes 13th Women World ChampionHou 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.

General info

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.

Hou Yifan beats Ruan Lufei in tie-break final, becomes 13th Women World Champion

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!

Games tie-break

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Women's World Championship 2010 | Round 6 (final)

Women's World Championship 2010 | Round 6 results

Photos © Turkish Chess Federation


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, 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.


biggy, delft's picture

Congratulation and Merry Christmas!!!

From Holland...

harami's picture

Congratulations !! to youngest World Chess Champion (women ) Hou Yifan.

Aingle Pack's picture

The so called "youngest Women's champion" is just a technical and useless term in this age because when Chiburdanidze won her world championship at the age of 17, she was the best female player in the World. Right now, we all know who the best female player is! Judith was the best female player by the age of 12 or so! I don't think Hou really can go where Judith has reached. Judith has played WC tournament in 2005, she has been rated 2728 at her peak. Judith was the real prodigy. Until another female can match her achievements, they are just role players.

Every 2/3 years a routine Women's cycle will be arranged some girl will just win it. They are all living in Judith's shadow.

Hou played well and won this year so congratulations to her but let's not hype it because she (and all other women players) are way behind Judith.

Li Haifeng's picture

Why has Judit Polgar never participated in Women's Chess Championship?

Perhaps, she belittled other women chess players.


The risk of losing games. In the knockout tournament, any negligence may be a serious mistake.

Aingle Pack's picture

The question: "Why Judith never played in World Junior Championship?" is pretty much like "Why Carlsen or Krajakin never played in World Junior Championship?" when they were both eligible. Or rather, "Why Hou Yifan herself didn't play in World Junior Championships?" Simply because these tournaments are way below their level of play.

Just imagine, why would Carlsen who is already No. 1 in the rating would ever bother to test his skills against players who are in the 2500-2600 range.

Judith playing in Women's World Championship is like a weightlifter who lifts weights in excess of 150 Kg on a daily basis, trying to see if she can lift 100 Kg weights!

Richard's picture

The polgar of today would have a tough time against Yifan in this knockout because yifan is so much younger and still has lots of room to improve. The polgar of 5-10 years ago would be a dangerous opponent even for the worlds top 10 grandmasters but then yifan barely knew the moves at that time.

The polgar today is still very strong but knockouts favours younger players. In a match who knows? China has the infrastructure and clout to organize a worlds strongest womans match between yifan and polgar. If polgar is in good form I like her odds slightly better because even China men's number 3 bu xiang zhi has a tough time against polgar. Look at their record and its agruable that Polgar is even ahead of Bu today!

Look at Yifans top coach YeJiangchuan who also had a tough time against polgar when they were in the 2680 rating range.

A lot of strong chinese players have lots of respect for hungarian chess especially with names like leko, polgar and almasi who defeated Peng xiaomin. PengXiaoMin beat Svidler but then lost to Almasi. That's why the Hungarian opponents are very dangerous for their chinese counterparts. I think china even lost in their match against hungary in this years Olympiad even with the two 2700 wangs.

I think there is a chance of a polgar yifan match not because of the adulations but because polgar and hungary is a respected chess nation.

pb0071's picture

Judith Polgar still have to participate in women world championship to prove herself as the world's best woman chess player. All the talk and comparison is never ending until Judith actually face them all across the board and prove once and for all who is the best woman player.

jazzkoo's picture


Gilgamesh's picture

I do agree completly...I do like Hou. She is very strong and deserves the title But FIDE should do the same as the men. It is more fair.


Brecht's picture

I just checked the last rapid game, in which Yifan won ...

But her opponent could have played 39... Re1+ no? And thus winning Yifan's queen?

Or is there something i'm not seeing??

Adriaan's picture

39. ... Re1+ 40. Rxe1 Qxc4 41. Re8+ winning a rook in the end (after my two-minute, not-quite- expert perusal)

Win's picture

Why Hou Yifan is wasting her time playing with women?

Why not choose the path of the greatest female player of all time - Judit Polgar?

pb0071's picture

@Win --Hou Yifan played in the women division because she is a woman, Duh? Judith Polgar have to play in the women division and actually win a Women World Championship in a dominating fashion before you can call her greatest woman player of all time! Other than that she is just a very strong Grandmaster who happen to be a woman but only played against men.

Chick Magnet's picture

Judith Polgar? Greatest female player of all time?
You must be joking. If Judith plays in the Women's World Chess Championship, she would have her Hungarian ass handed down to her. She knows that, Let her prove me wrong and I will donate $1 Million to some charity of her choice.

Seriously, there are at least two Chinese female players who can beat Judith, and the other two Polgar sisters like Humpy gets beaten - always.

Mr. Sarcacism
World Famous Azerbajani Chess Master

Zacalov's picture

In all fairness, while I dont support this event, she has to prove herself here first. Judit can ignore it because she is one of the best in world regardless of gender.

john's picture

way to go Hou Yifan! looks like that training session with Karpov really paid off :-)

leigh's picture

Yes, the news said Karpov taught a lot and listed 300 books for Hou. After every game they played, they talked long time about games, especially endgames. Looks like it worked!

noyb's picture

Nice accomplishment for Hou Yifan, but not a World Championship in my mind. This was little more than a lottery. Only through traditional interzonals and then more length candidate matches can a true champion be determined.

Sander's picture

There's opinions and there are facts.....Perhaps you have them mixed up...

ablos's picture

what are those opinions and facts?

Sander's picture

Its just that noyb was stating his opinion (which, actually, I agree with!) as if it were a fact. He is, of course, entitled to his opinion but it still is just that, an opinion.

S's picture

"in my mind"..that is not a way of stating facts. Fuss about nothing again.

S's picture

Youngest world champion ever btw!

Li Haifeng's picture

Anyway. Hou knockouted Humpy Koneru in the last straight two championships. Hou has also defeated players with plus 2700 rating points. All of these show that she is qualified for the title. She is only 16. I hope she will scale new heights and break new records.

Chess Follwer's picture

Those who are not there cannot be beaten.

My Congrats to Hou.
For Women Chess it is very good she won and not her opponent.

..And Judit will never take part in such a tournament.
The risk to loose is way to high, apart from orher reasons

blueofnoon's picture

I feel sorry for female players...

Every time they win a tournament they are forced to do costume play or be taken some glamour shots... :)

S's picture

it's not just female players you know..

Arvin's picture

Congratulations, Hou Yifan. After a scary defeat in game 4 that forced a tiebreak, you have proven that you have nerves of steel and lots of talent to win the world championship. Keep up the good work. And for Ruan Lufei, you definitely have the talent and deserved to be in the finals. It was a good match!

Thank you, Chessvibes, for excellent coverage of the match.

Septimus's picture

Quite an exciting finish. Pity that it had to be decided after a mere 4 classical games. Spectators would have been in for a treat if they had at least a 6 game match. Looks like the "Soviet" era is over.

With women's chess, the younger ones have a better chance. Once you get married, have kids etc it gets very difficult to mange a career which requires travel all over the world.

All that aside, it was a good match and the best players made it to the top.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Daaim Shabazz's picture

No... there were four classical and four rapid games.

Soviet era has been over for 20 years in women's chess.

redwhitechess's picture

aha... she looks better with double haircut rather than a crown...

Sasha's picture

16-years old... amazing.
13th world champion. Like Kasparov.
In russian

Daaim Shabazz's picture

The opinion is... noyb has a right to one.

The fact is that tournament was recognized by the governing chess body and much of chess world as the World Championship match for women and Hou Yifan is the World Champion. Those are the facts.

xtra's picture

Winning this is probably good for her economy too...thats another important factor to becoming great.

An Oldchamp's picture

"The emperor of Japan never makes any mistake because he never makes any decision." My history professor said.

In regard to fan who support Judith Polgar will always believe she is the strongest women chess player, but you are not convince the non-fan until you are tested in the real fighting chess battles.

FEAR! It is a real factor, I played in lower rating tournament chess before and many times I fear the guys who I just won, but not those who beat me. There is some kind of psychology effect into this.
Judith Polgar and Hou Yifan will play each other someday when Hou Yifan decides to joint men’s event.
Good luck to both!

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