Reports | February 02, 2012 19:05

Nigel Short beats Hou Yifan in blitz playoff, wins in Gibraltar

Nigel Short beats Hou Yifan in blitz playoff, wins in Gibraltar

English grandmaster Nigel Short won the 10th Tradewise Chess Festival in Gibraltar on Thursday after beating Hou Yifan of China in a blitz playoff. Both players had finished on 8/10.

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.

17-year-old Hou Yifan was already assured of the top Woman’s Award of £10,000, irrespective of what would happen in the last round. She was lone leader on 7.5/9, and assured of some sort of open prize as well as the U18 prize! On the last day, all eyes were on Gibraltar to see if Hou Yifan could also claim the first prize of £20,000.

Round 10

In the final round Hou Yifan drew with White against Shakhiyar Mamedyarov in a rather nice game.

PGN string

Mickey Adams, who had been leading the tournament until the 8th round, had to play with Black in the last two rounds. He drew both games, on Thursday against Viorel Bologan, who seemed to have a technically winning ending.

PGN string

The other two players who were trailing by half a point were Krishnan Sasikiran and Nigel Short. The Englishman didn't hold back and played the Benoni. He won a good game where he showed better tactical vision than his opponent.

PGN string

Emil Sutovsky won a queen ending that was theoretically drawn, but very difficult to hold over the board.

PGN string

Another nice last-round pairing was Judit Polgar vs. Viktor Korchnoi!

PGN string

A truly fantastic game was played by Emanuel Berg - the Swedish grandmaster beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a mere 29 moves with a queen sacrifice:

PGN string

The ever-creative Emanuel Berg sac'ed a queen against Vachier-Lagrave. Game of the tournament?


This meant that Hou Yifan and Nigel Short had finished on shared first place, with 8/10 (see below). Traditionally, in such cases the Gibraltar tournament is decided in a playoff. Hou Yifan and Short played two games with 10 minutes on the clock, and 5 seconds increment per move.

In the first game Hou Yifan missed an excellent chance, after Short blundered in the middlegame. Both players missed an intermediate moves, and Short then won convincingly. In the second game the Chinese had to go all or nothing, and it became nothing. Well, the half point was worth as much as nothing.

Here are the two games, and the video commentary with GM Simon Williams and GM Mickey Adams:

PGN string

PGN string


Tradewise Chess Festival | Masters | Round 10 (final) standings (top 40)

Rk.   Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1
1 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2605 8.0 2872.0
2 GM Short Nigel D ENG 2677 8.0 2838.0
3 GM Adams Michael ENG 2724 7.5 2807.0
4 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2747 7.5 2783.0
5 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2680 7.5 2734.0
6 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2703 7.5 2669.0
7 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2714 7.0 2733.0
8 GM Almasi Zoltan HUN 2717 7.0 2730.0
9 GM Howell David W L ENG 2603 7.0 2725.0
10 GM Sasikiran Krishnan IND 2700 7.0 2717.0
11 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2700 7.0 2711.0
12 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2749 7.0 2700.0
13 GM Negi Parimarjan IND 2641 7.0 2694.0
14 GM Polgar Judit HUN 2710 7.0 2693.0
15 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2704 7.0 2681.0
16 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2660 7.0 2632.0
17 GM Gustafsson Jan GER 2643 7.0 2628.0
18 GM Jussupow Artur GER 2569 7.0 2625.0
19 GM Salem A R Saleh UAE 2505 7.0 2621.0
20 GM Berg Emanuel SWE 2550 7.0 2603.0
21 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2683 7.0 2594.0
22 GM Kanep Meelis EST 2509 7.0 2556.0
23 GM Cabrera Alexis ESP 2504 7.0 2544.0
24 GM Gopal G N IND 2566 6.5 2647.0
25 GM Shirov Alexei LAT 2710 6.5 2629.0
26 GM Brunello Sabino ITA 2581 6.5 2617.0
27 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2581 6.5 2604.0
28 GM Erdos Viktor HUN 2634 6.5 2601.0
29 GM Zhu Chen QAT 2472 6.5 2598.0
30 GM Cramling Pia SWE 2491 6.5 2591.0
31 IM Muzychuk Anna SLO 2580 6.5 2586.0
32 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce BRA 2497 6.5 2582.0
33 GM Nabaty Tamir ISR 2563 6.5 2575.0
34 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2523 6.5 2571.0
35 IM Dvirnyy Daniyyl ITA 2492 6.5 2530.0
36 GM Del Rio De Angelis Salvador G ESP 2531 6.5 2528.0
37-38 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2652 6.5 2525.0
37-38 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2483 6.5 2525.0
39 GM Iturrizaga Edoardo VEN 2649 6.5 2510.0
40 IM Zatonskih Anna USA 2506 6.5 2502.0


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.


Guillaume's picture

I'm a big fan of Nigel Short, but as far as I'm concerned Hou Yifan won Gibraltar.

DXB's picture

Quite agree! Yifan did a great job at this event which will be memorised for long time by chess fans for her superior and convincing performance (beat 4 and drew 2 super GMs 2700+). Truly sensational! I suggest the Gibraltar organiser should award her a special prize for she has promoted the classical chess event, especially within Chinese chess fans.

Mike's picture

Blitz Playoff is the most ridiculous thing ever conceived to decide Classical Chess contests. What a Shame!!!

Harry's picture

Rigth. This is really ridiculpus. As with the Candidates. Hope blitz gets more separated when the extra blitz rating list will appear. No blitz in classical tournaments!

Tony's picture

Would you rather it be decided by a computer via tie breaks? At least they both had a chance to fight for the money prize. I actually prefer blitz over the "luck" of pairings. Your destiny is in your hands

archimedes's picture

Shared first, or sudden death classical.

Since a sudden death can't go on forever, perhaps the players are given a 3 game minimatch, after which it is a shared first.

For the candidates, classical sudden death should go on until there is a decisive game.

columbo's picture

I wasn't aware of this play off ... double deception ! congrats to our little indian for all the scalpts :)

prandial's picture

She is Chinese, not Indian.

columbo's picture

yes she is chinese but if you followed the whole discussion you will notice that we talked about her scalping 4 +2700 elos ... and peter took the expression in his report, that's why i said " little indian " ...

woolyworm's picture

Incidentally,most North American aboriginal peoples, or First Nations people, as they are known in Canada, regard the misnomer "Indian" as a derogatory term in much the same way that an Afro American would regard the term "n.....r". Furthermore, the barbaric practice of scalping was originated by white Americans and only used by the native peoples in retaliation for the white man's barbarity.

Parkov's picture

WRONG!! On both counts

columbo's picture

Your bear is your bear and my indian is my indian ! now stop creating problems ! we all know what a scalp is OK !!!

columbo's picture

P.S : Scalping was practiced by the ancient Scythians of Eurasia. Herodotus, the Greek historian, wrote of the Scythians in 440 BC:

Harish Srinivasan's picture

If more than 4 people were tied for first, then performance would have been used to select 4 people for the playoffs. As it turned out only two tied for first and Hou Yifan actually had the better performance Its a pity she lost the playoffs. Nevertheless she can walk way very proud from this event. Mickey Adams commenting live during the playoffs mentioned that Hou Yifan is way stronger than what her rating suggest. She is already set to gain about 35 odd points from this event. Few more such events she will be 2700+. She was last invited to Corus B in 2008 and since she has gotten much stronger since then she deserves another invitation next year.

RealityCheck's picture

Congrat's to Short and Yifan. I'm happy with shared first..

Bastian's picture

Even though she didn't win the playoff, her performance in Gibraltar was just outstanding. Congratulations to both Hou Yifan and Nigel Short!

Bryan Urizar's picture

Sad to see her lose like this. Qh3 in her last game was bad, but I guess she just needs more experience with games like this. She did well though and it would be really amazing to see her playing with the men some day! :D

Harish Srinivasan's picture

She did have a win in the first game. After Short's fxe5 (thinking he is attacking two pieces and hence will regain his piece) was a blunder since Hou can play Bb4 attacking queen and then save her other piece. Essentially she would have piece up for two pawns.

sierraronda's picture

I really like this tournament. It was a fantastic fight tournament until the last round¡¡¡ And the final playoff it was another system, maybe it was more spectacular¡¡

leigh's picture

I'm big fan of Yifan Hou. She did a great job. Since 2003, I have track her games. Her progress was always faster than what I expected. Congratulation Hou! Congratulation Short!

nathan's picture

Sasi played the spoiler for Hou this tournament, first by beating her in round 5. And then losing to Short in the last round to deny her a clear first.

Tarovsky.'s picture

Is this Yifan Hou performance the highest for a woman ever in classical chess?

ff2017's picture

Sofia Polgar in 1989 went 8.5/9 in a tournament in Rome and had a performance rating over 2900.

Tarovsky.'s picture


KK's picture

It was 2735. Source
And her opponent's strength in that was around 2597.

nathan's picture

I would imagine Judit’s performance in Wijk aan Zee in 2003 (8/13, with no losses) to be better. She finished ahead of Kramnik, Topalov, Ponomariov, Grischuk, Ivanchuk, Shirov and Radjabov; only half point behind Anand.

EastWind's picture

if you beat 9 times 2300 ELO players in row, I think you might have 2900 performance.

Anthony's picture


This is probably the best female result ever.

ff2017's picture

I believe that would be closer to a 2700 performance rating.

Juan's picture

Congratulation both Nigel & Hou Yifan. Bu for me Hou Yifan has won his tournament. Furthermore, she has broken Judit Polgar supremacy and she will become world nº1.Go on figthinhg! And thanks for this tournament. The chess histor will remmber this date!

Juan's picture

Congratulation both Nigel & Hou Yifan. Bu for me Hou Yifan has won his tournament. Furthermore, she has broken Judit Polgar supremacy and she will become world nº1.Go on figthinhg! And thanks for this tournament. The chess histor will remmber this date!

christos's picture

Hou Yifan makes steady progress and with such performances she looks set to be up there in the top ten within a couple of years.

harami's picture

Short beat Hou ?.. great !, could we expect anything else from the Englishman?... I can imagine the inspiration Short would have had. Maybe he gets the knighthood now ?? :)

Anthony Migchels's picture

Yes, I'm quite sure Nigel will relish scolding his junior colleagues for leaving the duty of stopping this lady to him as an old man

alberto eduardo hernandez jorge's picture

gRACIAS.. GIBRALTAR2012 EL TORNEO DE LAS EMOCIONES . Creo que no existe duda del tremendo acontecimiento ajedrecistico que ha significado GIBRALTAR 2012 ., no solo por el plantel reunido donde se han conjugado ajedrecistas de hayer y de hoy . La tremenda actuacion de HOU YIFANG 9 ( campeona del mundo femenina ) le dio desde el comienzo un colorido especial al torneo junto con la llegada de JUDITH POLGAR LO cual auguraba el enfrentamiento entre ambas lo cual ocurrio con la sensacional victoria de HOU YIFAN . mEncion a parte para NIGEL SHORT OTRORA NINO PRODIGIO Y UN VERDADERO OLD MAN Que al final gano el torneo sensacionalmente derrotando a hou yifan, felicitaciones para este distinguido caballero y excelente ajedrecista . alberto hernandez jorge.

sadtruth's picture

Quite funny to see Hou happier than Short after the playoff. 8000 pounds was on the stake after all.

Tony's picture

she actually ended up net with 2000 more than Short once you include the top female prize of 10,000

Thomas's picture

This seems to be wrong as Short also got the Commonwealth prize, another 5000GBP. As to predictions that Hou Yifan will enter the top10: maybe, but how much have we heard of Sofia Polgar after her success in Rome? Though I consider Hou Yifan's result more impressive because it was against far stronger opposition.

christos's picture

She has a live rating of 2638. She is 17 years old. Look at Nakamura's rating when he was at her age. Look at other 17-year-old players of today. Why compare her with Sofia Polgar 20 years ago, what is the use of it?
I only tracked her progress relatively with her age in order to make my prediction. I did not look at her gender.

redivivo's picture

Yeah, but she was 2600-ish already three years ago and progressed very little since then.

Knallo's picture

Not that it really matters, but she also got GBP 600 for the best U18 performance. (Which makes me smile.)

TomTom's picture

Some days the monkeys will leave Gibraltar.

sulutas's picture

I had noted down here during the London Classic that she should get an invitation for that tournament instead of, say, David Howell. It would really create a big media attention since (i) she is Chinese, which brings a huge popularity to the tournament already, and (ii) she would get a chance to play against Anand, as a unique occasion of Men's world champion vs. Women's world champion, which could make it the headlines of the news around (especially if Hou won). I wish Malcolm Peim gave a chance to think about this.

bkwqewp's picture

aecdtQ bkw qewp ojaAEQc

adam's picture

sorry for shouting, but WOW!!! her progress is comparable only to that of judit
huge congrats! (as well as to short, but everyone knows what he is capable of with his king's gambits and 1. b3 :))

PeterV's picture

Chinagirl rules the waves!

Archie Nibbles-Tuckbungle's picture

Splendid media coverage.
Well done to GM Simon Williams for his commentary. Good humoured, clear and helpful. Hope to see him commenting at more of these big events.

Dikke Deur's picture

Nice performance by Short, finishing with 2 wins with the black pieces. Hou has 6 white games and only 4 black, but still an outstanding result (give me 10 times white and I won't even come near 8.5 points)

Septimus's picture

The Najdorf B97 game was crazy. Why did black resign abruptly and not chance the ending? I don't think the ending would be super easy to convert.

jan van der marel 's picture

Hahaha, is Nigel fa*ting on that first picture? Thats what happens when someone pulls your finger. Hahahaha, Nigel, still a child. At least he has chess to rely on. Professional chess player, no thanks!! Love the game though!


Latest articles