Reports | February 01, 2012 23:00

Hou Yifan continues to beat 2700s, now in sole lead in Gibraltar

Hou Yifan continues to beat 2700s, now in sole lead in Gibraltar

Reigning Women's World Champion Hou Yifan is showing very impressive chess in Gibraltar. After beating Judit Polgar and earlier Zoltan Almasi, in the last two rounds the Chinese grandmaster added two more 2700 scalps: Le Quang Liem and Alexei Shirov. With one round to go, she is in sole first position with 7.5/9. 

Hou Yifan grabbed the lead in round 9 in Gibraltar | Photos in this report by Ray Morris-Hill, more here

Event Tradewise Chess Festival | PGN via TWIC
Dates January 24th-February 2nd, 2012
Location Gibraltar, UK
System 10-round Swiss, different groups
Players Top players in the Masters include Peter Svidler, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Michael Adams, Zoltan Almasi, Le Quang Liem, Judit Polgar and Alexei Shirov
Rate of play 100 minutes for 40 moves followed by 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds increment for each move starting from the first move.

There's still one round to go, but at the moment the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Masters is dominated by one name: Hou Yifan. The Chinese, who will turn 18 at the end of this month and is in Gibraltar with her mother, seems to be in the middle of a new breakthrough in her career. Not only is she is the clear favourite in any women's event she participates in, and not only did she manage to beat Judit Polgar, but she's capable of beating more than one 2700 in one event! After her win against Polgar, Hou Yifan beat Le Quang Liem on Tuesday and Alexei Shirov on Wednesday.

Round 8

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Thanks to this (slightly lucky) win, Hou Yifan caught Mickey Adams in the standings. For the third time in a row, the Englishman reached a rooks + opposite-coloured bishops ending with White, but this time it was an easy draw for the opponent: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Nigel Short also drew his game, with Zoltan Almasi, starting with 1.b3.

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Peter Svidler and Alexei Shirov came a bit closer to the top of the leaderboard. In Svidler's case, the Russian was just much more familiar with the intricacies of the opening, his favorite Grünfeld.

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Shirov won a tactical slugfest against former World Championship Candidate Artur Jussupow.

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In the video below, produced by Macauley Peterson, Shirov explains this game:

And in this video there are excerpt from the round 8 live commentary: the exciting climax with dual-game commentary on Hou Yifan vs. Le Quang Liem and Artur Jussupow vs. Alexei Shirov. GM Simon Williams comments.

Round 9

In Wednesday's 9th round Hou Yifan grabbed sole lead, thanks to a win with Black against Alexei Shirov. It was a great fight in an ending that started as a Poisoned Pawn:

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The video below shows 15 minutes from the 5 hour live show, with excerpt from GM Simon Williams commentary, with Alexei Shirov vs. Hou Yifan, Michael Adams vs. Zoltan Almasi, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Varuzhan Akobian, David Howell vs Sergei Movsesian, and Judit Polgar vs. Kaido Kulaots.

The final round of the Masters starts at 11.00am (GMT+1), 05.00am (EST) on 2 February followed by a play-off for 1st Prize if required. Top pairings:

1 25 GM Hou Yifan 2605 7 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2747 2
2 14 GM Bologan Viktor 2680 7 7 GM Adams Michael 2724 3
3 11 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2700 7 7 GM Short Nigel D 2677 15
4 10 GM Movsesian Sergei 2700 GM Svidler Peter 2749 1
5 21 GM Gustafsson Jan 2643 GM Almasi Zoltan 2717 4
6 22 GM Negi Parimarjan 2641 GM Le Quang Liem 2714 5
7 23 GM Erdos Viktor 2634 GM Sutovsky Emil 2703 9
8 27 GM Howell David W L 2603 6 GM Shirov Alexei 2710 7
9 6 GM Polgar Judit 2710 6 6 GM Korchnoi Viktor 2558 37
All eyes will be on Gibraltar to see if Hou Yifan can claim the first prize of £20,000 - as well as the top female award of £10,000!

Tradewise Chess Festival | Masters | Round 9 standings (top 40)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1
1 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2605 7.5 2892.0
2 GM Adams Michael ENG 2724 7.0 2826.0
3 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2747 7.0 2808.0
4 GM Short Nigel D ENG 2677 7.0 2807.0
5 GM Sasikiran Krishnan IND 2700 7.0 2776.0
6 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2680 7.0 2740.0
7 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2714 6.5 2744.0
8 GM Almasi Zoltan HUN 2717 6.5 2740.0
9 GM Howell David W L ENG 2603 6.5 2727.0
10 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2700 6.5 2707.0
11 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2749 6.5 2701.0
12 GM Negi Parimarjan IND 2641 6.5 2692.0
13 GM Erdos Viktor HUN 2634 6.5 2633.0
14 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2703 6.5 2624.0
15 GM Gustafsson Jan GER 2643 6.5 2618.0
16 GM Gopal G N IND 2566 6.0 2669.0
17 GM Polgar Judit HUN 2710 6.0 2668.0
18 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2535 6.0 2658.0
19 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2704 6.0 2656.0
20 GM David Alberto LUX 2598 6.0 2642.0
21-22 GM Shirov Alexei LAT 2710 6.0 2635.0
21-22 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian ROU 2650 6.0 2635.0
23 GM Brunello Sabino ITA 2581 6.0 2633.0
24 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2581 6.0 2619.0
25 GM Akobian Varuzhan USA 2617 6.0 2614.0
26 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2543 6.0 2605.0
27 GM Zhu Chen QAT 2472 6.0 2604.0
28 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2660 6.0 2603.0
29 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2699 6.0 2601.0
30 GM Jussupow Artur GER 2569 6.0 2600.0
31 GM Cramling Pia SWE 2491 6.0 2595.0
32 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce BRA 2497 6.0 2585.0
33 GM Salem A R Saleh UAE 2505 6.0 2583.0
34 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2523 6.0 2565.0
35 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2683 6.0 2560.0
36 GM Berg Emanuel SWE 2550 6.0 2552.0
37 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed QAT 2524 6.0 2547.0
38 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2652 6.0 2527.0
39 GM Del Rio De Angelis Salvador G ESP 2531 6.0 2517.0
40 GM Iturrizaga Edoardo VEN 2649 6.0 2511.0

Photographer Ray Morris-Hill got this nice shot of Hou Yifan running Wednesday morning in the Gibraltar sunshine

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.


anonymous's picture

The next super-grandmaster ... is a girl!

Septimus's picture

Fantastic performance by Hou. Hope she breaks into the top twenty very soon. She should stop playing in mediocre women's events.

Octavus's picture

"she's capable of beating more than one 2700 in one event! After her win against Polgar, Hou Yifan beat Le Quang Liem on Tuesday and Alexei Shirov on Wednesday". Not THREE, but FOUR over 2700 scalps: You are not considering his 3rd round win vs Zoltan Almasi (2717). Plus her draw to Adams (2724) this is going to be a memorable tournament because of her. Already the chess cibersphere is wondering if she is severely underated (or the 2700 club severely overrated!) and about her superiority (or not) over Judith. Great performance and refreshing chess, either way!

columbo's picture

Hou Indian Yifan :)

Peter Doggers's picture

Indeed! I added Almasi to the second sentence.

noyb's picture

Outstanding break-through for Hou. That pic by Ray Morris-Hill should be the next cover of NIC!

KingTal's picture

Le Quang Liem and Shirov are just as much worth being referred as 2700 scalps. lmao

n's picture


adam's picture

awesome performance! and the jussupow-shirov game is truly sick, that is, a great pleasure for fans :)

Andre From Outkast's picture

Congratulations Hou Yifan on a sparkling performance!

nathan's picture

Hou Yifan has had a really tough draw, counting Shak she would have met *SEVEN* 2700 players in the tournament.
By comparison, among the top players Shak and Bologan have met just one 2700 player, Sasikiran no 2700 players! Also Judith Polgar would not have met any 2700 players.
Puts her amazing performance in perspective. She has scored 4.5/5 against players rated 2700 plus .. not counting Sasi, as he is only 2700 :-)

Phil's picture

Hou Yifan's Picture reminds me of of the bionic woman moving in slow motion. Keep on winning Yifan!

john.delpanjo's picture

4 2700 in a row is AMAZING.

Johnny's picture

Yifan's picture looks like an iPod ad from 2005. When she was, like, 10. :)

panlei 's picture

Hou should consider to cooperate with kasparov.

fen's picture

I think she has worked with Karpov in the past, but I don't have any detail. If anyone could add to that it would be informative.

Ed's picture

This fits suspiciously well into the New World Order's quest for the subjugation of men and the promotion of women. As men are the biggest threat to the globalists' power, they've been on a campaign throughout the media and the courts to promote women over men in the last few decades. Judit Polgar was the first Soviet experiment to try and produce a woman that can compete with men, as it has become evident she won't attain such heights they've focused on a young female prodigy, Hou Yifan. Especially as China (as scripted by the globalists) is now rising and becoming the new boogeyman for the west and Communism is the Globalists' tool for complete crushing of freedom and human rights, they're promoting women and fear-mongering at the same time. Her victories over 2700 players is highly suspicious, cheating, or players throwing matches may have been involved. The New World Order has a lot of influence.

KC's picture

The blunder of Le and the time trouble of Shirov are quite strange indeed.

picter's picture

Hahaha! I hope this is a joke, otherwise you are very close to a paranoid psychosis.
What you just said makes absolutely no sense.

Karlson's picture

Of course, if a young woman plays great chess, there must be an
evil conspiration. Now that you mention it I can see that, too.

But seriously, congratulations to Hou Yifan for playing a great tournament.
Maybe she will manage to become first.

DMiA's picture

There are many games with 20.Rf7 which ended in draw, one of them with Hou Yifan as black, and I think that Shirov should know this line. I'm curious about what brought Shirov to play 20.Rxb7 which leads nowhere after the not that difficult moves ...Qc5+ and ...Rb8.
Did Shirov underestimate Hou Yifan and improvised this move on the board?
Anyway, no conspiracy and all the credit to Hou Yifan

Zeblakob's picture

Hi DMia,
the problem was with the queen exchange not with 20.Rxb7 imo. Every endgame of the PP is winning for Black :)

Bert de Bruut's picture

It seems Judit will finally have a worthy successor. Hou has not been very fortunate in earlier mixed/male events, so already just the fact that she persisted in trying, deserves the highest praise.

mikamesch's picture

Chess is not a game of luck. So Hou's win over Le is not to be counted as a lucky win at all.

Amazing performance Hou, go get them!

Chess Fan's picture

Now everything makes sense (the blackout of Humpy in their world championship title match). You Hifan is SO GOOD even by very good male grandmaster standards, that poor Humpy did not have a chance, one of the greatest female chess players ever that she rightfully (Humpy) is. I am glad that she lost only 3 games in their 10-game match title.
You Hifan should be battling Magnus and Carlsen at this rate for the right to challenge world champion Vishy Anand at this rate!

MJul's picture

"Magnus and Carlsen" should be "Aronian and Carlsen"?

MJul's picture

I hope Hou Yifan can have more tournament like this.

I remember that last year she withdraw from a tournament (Gibraltar or Aeroflot, I think) because a relative was ill. A couple of weeks later, she participated in a lot and close mixed tournaments were she had bad performances and, because of these, there was a great quantity of kibitzers complaining about she and her WWCC title (of course, in a much more aggressive way than the way I describe it).
Just saying.

MJul's picture

BTW: Anybody knows which one is her first name?

prandial's picture

Yifan is her first name

MJul's picture

Thank you!

columbo's picture

it seems that our little Indian made it !!!

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