Grandmaster and 2010 and 2011 Women's World Champion. Having lost the Champion's title in 2012, she will challenge for it in 2013.
Yifan was born in Xinghua City, Jiangsu, China. She is the youngest female in the history of chess to acquire the GM title, and was the youngest GM in the world when she acquired the title. At 14, she was the youngest ever finalist in a Women's World Championship contest. Winning the Women's World Championship title in 2010 at the age of 16 made her the youngest Women's World Champion ever, beating the mark long held by the legendary Maia Chiburdanidze who won the title in 1978 at the age of 17. In 2011, she successfully defended her title by winning the best-of-ten Hou-Koneru Women's World Championship (2011) by 5.5-2.5 (+3 =5 -0), also making her the youngest Women's World Champion to defend her title, and the youngest to do so successfully.
Yifan started playing chess at age 6, and in 2003 she won the U10 Girls division of the World Youth Championships in Halkidiki, Greece. In 2004, she contested the Boys' U10 World Championship in Heraklio, Crete, placing third. She came fifth in the 3 Arrows Cup in 2005 in Jinan, recording a performance rating of nearly 2400. At the age of 12, she contested the FIDE Women's World Championship (2006) in Ekaterinburg, Russia, defeating Nadezhda Kosintseva and Natalia Zhukova in the first two rounds before falling to Nino Khurtsidze in the third round.
Yifan played in the 37th Chess Olympiad: Women (2006) on the Reserve Board (Board 4), winning the silver medal with 11/13 and a performance rating of 2596. She scored 9/12 in the World Junior Championship (Girls) (2006) and secured second place on countback behind Yang Shen. In June 2007 she broke through to win the Women's Chinese National Chess Championship in Chongqing city, a title she successfully defended in Beijing the following May. Also in 2007, she won a team gold and individual gold and silver medals on board 2 at the 2007 Women's World Team Championships. In 2008 she also won the Isbank Ataturk Women Masters (2008) outright by a clear point ahead of Pia Cramling, and came third in the World Junior Championship (2008) (for both sexes) behind Abhijeet Gupta and Parimarjan Negi . In 2009, Yifan came equal third in the 8th Asian Continental Chess Championship (2009) (open) with 7/11, half a point behind GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly and GM Zhou Weiqi, qualifying her for the World Cup (2009) in which she bowed out in the first round after losing to Arkadi Naiditsch. Also in 2009, she won team gold and individual bronze playing top board fror China in that year's edition of the Women's World Team Championships. In April 2010, after relatively modest results in the Moscow Open (2010) and Aeroflot Open (2010) in February, she won the 3rd Kuala Lumpur Open with 7.5/9, came second with 7.5/11 in the Women's Grand Prix in Nalchik after Tatiana Kosintseva and won the FIDE Women Grand Prix (2010) in Ulan Bator, Mongolia with 8/11 and a 2649 performance rating. Later in the year, she then lead her country to a silver medal in the Chess Olympiad (Women) (2010); she also won bronze for her efforts on the top board where she scored 8/11 (+5 -0 =6). Yifan capped 2010 and her career so far by becoming the Women's World Champion in December, defeating Ruan Lufei in the tiebreaker 3-1 after drawing the classical games 2-2. Her win earned her China Central Television's 2010 award for Sportsperson of the Year involved in a sport that is not included in the Olympic category* and her title win also qualified her for participation in the World Cup 2011.
She competed in the "open" Chinese Championship (2011), scoring 6/11 (+2 -1 =8), won the 1st Women Master Tournament 2011 at Wuxi with 7/9, and played in the 2nd Hainan Danzhou GM tournament where she scored 2 points from 9 rounds. Her poor form continued in the 10th Asian Individual Championships (2011) (4.5/9), the Airports Authority of India (2011) (3/10) and the 1st Hangzhou Women's GM Tournament (2011)(4.5/9). Yifan staged a partial recovery by winning the FIDE Women's Grand Prix (2011) with 8/11, coasting to a victory by a clear point ahead of Kateryna Lahno (to whom she lost in their individual encounter) after leading by 2 points midway through the event. She qualified for the World Cup (2011) by dint of her being the Women's World Champion, but lost to Sergei Movsesian in the first round after missing a winning combination in the second game. Soon after the World Cup, she won the Shenzhen Women's Grand Prix (2011) with a score of 8/11 (+5 =6). In December 2011 at the inaugural World Mind Games which featured rapid, blitz and blindfold chess alongside Go, Bridge, Draughts, and Xiangqi, Hou won gold in the women's blitz and in the women's blindfold.** She finished a successful 2011 by winning team gold and two individual silver medals at the FIDE Women's World Team Championship (2011), and by overtaking Koneru as women's world number 2 after Judit Polgar.
Hou started 2012 in dramatic style by taking equal first place at Tradewise Gibraltar (2012) with 8/10 (+7 -1 =2; TPR 2872), alongside Nigel Short (+6 =4; TPR 2838), however she came second on tiebreak when she lost the 2 game blitz playoff with Short by 1.5-0.5; her record against the 7 GMs she played, each of whom was rated over 2700 was 5/7, and included wins against Zoltan Almasi, Judit Polgar, Le Quang Liem and Alexey Shirov, draws against Michael Adams and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and a loss to Krishnan Sasikiran. A few weeks later, she came close to winning the Reykjavik Open (2012), but failed to find the right continuation to defeat the eventual winner, Fabiano Caruana, in the last round; she scored 7/9 (+5 =4; TPR 2677) to place =2nd, albeit 6th on count back. Her results have been more modest since then, including 5/11 at the Chinese Chess Championships (2012), and 6/9 at the 12th Bangkok Open (2012), costing her 16 Elo points, and then reached a nadir by placing last with 3/9 (-3 =6) at the 3rd Danzhou Tournament (2012). Neither her =3rd at the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Kazan (2012) with 7/11 nor her outright win at the Women Grand Prix Jermuk (2012) enabled her to regain any of her lost rating points, but nevertheless she won the 2011-12 Women's Grand Prix which entitles her to challenge for the Women's World Championship in 2013 since she lost her title in the 2012 World Women's Championship knockout tournament. Yifan represented China on board 1 of the Chess Olympiad (Women) (2012), and helped her team to win team silver (missing gold to Russia on tiebreak), and also picking up individual gold on board 1. 2012 finished with Hou crashing out of the FIDE Knock-Out Women's World Championship (2012), losing to GM Monika Socko in the rapid game tiebreaker in round 2. As the winner of the 2011-2012 Grand Prix series, Hou will be entitled to challenge the winner of the Knockout Tournament and 2012 Women's World Champion, GM Anna Ushenina, for the women's title in 2013.
2013 started with Hou's inaugural participation in an open super-tournament, starting as the 14th and lowest seed in the category 20 Tata Steel (2013). After a string of early losses, she recovered well (especially when playing Black) to defeat current and previous 2700 players Anish Giri, Pentala Harikrishna and Ivan Sokolov to score 5.5/13 (+3 =5 -5) and a near 2700 performance to finish 10th, ahead of Fabiano Caruana, Erwin L'Ami and Sokolov. Seeded 4th, she came in at =4th (8th on tiebreak) with a relatively rating-neutral 5.5/11 (+3 =5 -3) result at the Chinese Championships (2013).
As a WFM, her rating topped 2500 in the January 2007 FIDE ratings before FIDE formally conferred her WGM title in late January 2007. Her results in the Aeroflot Open (2008) and the Isbank Ataturk Women Masters (2008) provided her with her first and second GM norms. She picked up her third GM norm in the World Junior Championship (2008) with a round to spare. Any lingering doubts about Yifan's GM norm from the Isbank Ataturk Masters were resolved when she acquired another GM norm upon defeating Koneru Humpy to reach the final of the Women's World Championship (2008) before losing the championship match against Alexandra Kosteniuk. In October 2012 she helped her team Cercle d'Echecs Monte-Carlo to win gold at the 28th European Club Cup (Women) (2012).
Hou's rating as of 1 May 2013 was 2617, well down from her peak of 2639 on 1 March 2012, but she is still the top rated girl (woman U20) in the world and the 2nd ranked woman in the world after Polgár. She remains the 9th ranked player overall in China. Her rapid rating is 2597 while her blitz rating is 2560.
Article about Hou being the youngest female GM: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail... Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/women * http://www.fide.com/component/conte... ** http://www.worldmindgames.net/en/ne...
Wikipedia article: Hou Yifan