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    1948 World Chess Championship 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2016 World Championship 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. 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    Entries in Hou Yifan (33)

    Wednesday
    Dec172014

    World Mind Games Finish: Nepomniachtchi, Hou Yifan "Basque" in Glory (Updated)

    (Thank you, thank you; I'll be here all week.) The SportAccord World Mind Games concluded today, and the final stage of the chess competition was won by Ian Nepomniachtchi on the men's side and Hou Yifan on the women's. This last stage was the "Basque" tournament, a five double-round Swiss with each double round with each participant playing a pair of games simultaneously against the same opponent, one with each color.

    Both Nepomniachtchi and Hou went undefeated and won their respective sections by a point and a half. "Nepo" scored 7.5/10 while Teimour Radjabov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov all wound up with 6. Radjabov won the silver and Vachier-Lagrave added a bronze to his silver medals in rapid & blitz. Alexander Grischuk won both the rapid & blitz events, but only scored 5.5 points here to finish tied for 5th-7th (out of 16), 6th on tiebreak.

    In the women's section Hou's score was a dominant 8.5/10, and this time there was no race with Valentina Gunina, who came in 9th with 50%. Alexandra Kosteniuk came in second with 7 points, and Zhao Xue took third on tiebreak with 6 points to beat out Antoaneta Stefanova for the bronze.

    The event produced many interesting games for chess fans, and since there aren't any more major events until the Tata Steel tournament (Wijk aan Zee) January 9, you've got a little extra time to catch up on all of them in between Christmas and Hanukah celebrations!

    UPDATE:

    (1) I see Chess24 used the same lame joke for their title as well. It's hard to resist!

    (2) Also from the Chess24 piece: fans of quick play will only have to suffer for 48 hours, as the European Rapid & Blitz championship starts on Friday.

    (3) Actually, there's no need to suffer at all if you want to see top-level play, as the final stage of season 7 of the TCEC is underway, with the latest versions of Komodo and Stockfish duking it out once again for silicon supremacy. Komodo dominated the earlier stages while Stockfish looked shaky, but after seven games Stockfish leads 4-3. "Only" 57 games to go.

     

    Monday
    Dec152014

    Grischuk Wins World Mind Games Rapid & Blitz; Gunina & Hou Yifan Split the Women's Titles

    The SportAccord World Mind Games is 2/3 of the way in, and so far it has been a success for two men and two women. Alexander Grischuk won both the rapid and the blitz competitions, with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave coming in second in both events. On the ladies' side Valentina Gunina won the rapid event while Hou Yifan came in second, and they switched positions in the blitz. Next up for the last two days, the "Basque" competition, wherein the competitors play two simultaneous games with their partners, one with each color.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Kasparov and Hou Yifan on the Carlsen-Anand Match

    Their comments are far blander than Caruana's, but when a world champion speaks it's still generally worth a look.

    Wednesday
    Oct222014

    Hou Yifan Wins Corsica

    After struggling to get through her first three matches, in each case needing to win a game just to stay alive, Hou Yifan won the final match, against Sergey Fedorchuk, 2-0 to win the Corsican Circuit. In a second, distinct irony, the move that won game two was an outright blunder. Granted, it only brought the game from trivially won to winning with a little work, and even a draw would have been enough to win the match. Still, it was a blunder, and the interesting thing about it is that it displays a typical kind of chess illusion - have a look here for the details.

    Monday
    Oct202014

    Corsica Finals: Hou Yifan vs. Sergey Fedorchuk

    Well, sports fans, Monday was a bad day for those of us who are hoping that Viswanathan Anand will win or at least be competitive against Magnus Carlsen in their coming world championship match. It would be wrong to draw too sweeping a conclusion from his ouster in the Corsica semi-finals at the hands of Sergey Fedorchuk, but it certainly doesn't lend itself to any optimistic scenarios either. Fedorchuk won the first rapid game with Black, and then drew from a position of strength with the white pieces - and he could easily have played for a win in that game too.

    In the previous round Anand had blanked Pavel Tregubov 2-0 while Fedorchuk had struggled to overcome Csaba Balogh. They drew their rapid games, and the first blitz game was also drawn. Fedorchuk had White in the second blitz game but no advantage, but when Balogh went crazy with 17...Qh5? and 19...e5 he was quickly crushed.

    In the other half of the draw, Hou Yifan made things as difficult for herself as possible before qualifying for the finals. As she did yesterday, she began her quarterfinal match with Martyn Kravtsiv by losing with the white pieces. As yesterday, she won the rematch and then won the blitz playoff 2-0. In the semi-final round she unexpectedly played Robert Ruck, who had defeated second seed Ivan Saric 1.5-.5, winning the second game with the pieces.

    In the Hou-Ruck match Hou broke the pattern by winning the first game with White, but the overall pattern of needing to suffer continued intact. She lost the second game, and then lost the first blitz game to boot - both losses were with Black. She won the second blitz game, and then it was time for an Armageddon game. She had White and five minutes against Ruck's four minutes and draw odds, and she came through with a good win.

    Tuesday will see the battle of the 2673s, and the silver lining for Anand is that he gets an additional day of preparation for the Carlsen match.

    Sunday
    Oct192014

    Corsica Underway With Viswanathan Anand and Hou Yifan

    In Corsica a rapid (15' + 3") knockout event is underway. Viswanathan Anand and Hou Yifan were invited, while the other 14 players earned their spots by their performance in a qualifying tournament immediately preceding the k.o. Anand is the top seed by a considerable margin, Ivan Saric (2678) is second, and then Hou Yifan and Sergey Fedorchuk are the third and fourth seeds, respectively, both sporting ratings of 2673. (Of course, they should use their rapid ratings rather than their classical ones, but if the players don't mind there's no reason why I should.)

    In these events the pairings always begin with the top seed playing the bottom one, #2 playing the second from the bottom seed, and so on. At the start the top players are generally huge favorites, but although Anand easily dispatched his 2376-rated IM opponent 2-0 and Saric also won 2-0, both Hou and Fedorchuk opened their matches by losing with White against mid-2400 rated opposition! Not to fear: both won the rematch and then blanked their opponents 2-0 in the added blitz games.

    The top four won't play each other tomorrow, but if they all win in the quarter-finals Anand will play Fedorchuk and Saric will play Hou on Tuesday.

    Saturday
    Sep062014

    Hou Yifan Ties For First In Sharjah, Wins Grand Prix Series

    Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun finished with identical scores of 8.5/11 in the Sharjah Women's Grand Prix, allowing the former to win the overall series ahead of Humpy Koneru. Humpy needed to finish this event tied or better with Hou, but had a disappointing tournament and finished three full points behind.

    This means that Hou Yifan will be in a world championship match in 2015, either as the champion (if she wins the women's knockout world championship this October, in which case Humpy Koneru will be the challenger thanks to her second place in the Grand Prix series) or as the challenger (in which case Humpy is out of luck, unless she happened to win the KO).

    As for the rating hunt, Hou finished at 2667.2, leaving her eight points behind Judit Polgar (once it's official and gets rounded down). Sharjah co-winner Ju Wenjun even managed to pass Humpy Koneru for third on the women's list, thanks to the enormous combined swing of 41 points.

    Thursday
    Sep042014

    Hou Yifan Clinches First in the Grand Prix Series, Guarantees Herself a Slot in the 2015 Women's World Championship Match

    Hou Yifan hasn't yet won the final event of the Grand Prix series (in Sharjah), but she doesn't need to. All she needs is to finish ahead of Humpy Koneru, and that is now guaranteed, as she has a three point lead over her rival with two rounds remaining. This means that if Hou loses her title in the women's world championship knockout tournament in October, she'll have qualified for a match with the knockout winner next year. If on the other hand she wins the KO, then since FIDE apparently doesn't want to watch Hou play a match against herself Humpy will get to face her by virtue of her second-place finish in the current Grand Prix series.

    Two other bits of interest from the tournament. First, while Hou has had an excellent tournament, she's currently in second behind her countrywoman Ju Wenjun, half a point behind. Second, while Hou was at one point very close to overtaking Judit Polgar for #1 on the women's rating list, draws in the last two games have pushed her back a little, and she trails Polgar by 6.5 points. Not a lot, but probably enough for Polgar's lead to survive for at least another month.

    Sunday
    Aug312014

    Sharjah Update: Hou Yifan Closing in on the Grand Prix Crown, Polgar's Rating

    Hou Yifan has been hitting her stride in the final Women's Grand Prix event of the 2013-2014 series, in Sharjah, while Humpy Koneru has played way below her rating. The former has won three in a row and has 5/6, tied for first with her countrywoman Ju Wenjun. Humpy Koneru, by contrast, has just two points. If they finish in a tie, Humpy will win the Grand Prix series, but unless she can make up the three points in the final five rounds Hou wins the series and is guaranteed a world championship match even if she fails to win the knockout world championship event later this year. (If she wins the Grand Prix and the knockout tournament, then Humpy's second place in the Grand Prix series will get her a title match with Hou next year.)

    The other fun part of the story is that (rounding up) Hou is within five points of the freshly retired Judit Polgar. Impressive!

    Thursday
    Aug282014

    Sharjah Update: Hou Yifan Defeats Humpy Koneru, Leads By 1.5 Points

    That is, Hou Yifan leads Humpy Koneru by a point and a half, not the rest of the field at the final Women's Grand Prix event of the 2013-2014 cycle. Hou's countrywoman Ju Wenjun is the current leader of the tournament in Sharjah with 3.5/4, half a point ahead of Hou and three other players. But none of that matters for the world championship cycle, as only Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru can win the overall Grand Prix. As long as Hou finishes ahead of her rival she wins the Grand Prix, and with a point and a half lead with seven rounds to go she's in good shape.

    (For a more detailed background, see this post and the links therein.)