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Showing posts with label women's world chess championship 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women's world chess championship 2013. Show all posts

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Women's World Chess Champion Hou Yifan: Not Sure if I Defend Title in 2014

China's 19-year-old Hou Yifan has won the World Chess Championship for the third time. She told Anastasiya Karlovich, in an interview that: “This match was not as easy as people might think.” (Left: Hou Yifan, Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich)

The interview taken by Anastasiya Karlovich on the day after the decisive 7th game of the Women’s World Championship Match in which Yifan beat reigning Women's World Chess Champion Anna Ushenina of Ukraine, the 19-year-old World Champion talks about her preparation, her opponent Anna Ushenina, the match and her attitude towards chess and life. 

When I saw you in Beijing in July during Grand Prix tournament it seemed you were not really busy with preparation for the Match. Was it just my impression?
Actually I started my preparation few days after I came back from Tromso. In total it lasted less than one month. The only difference in my preparation was that I knew my opponent and it was a bit more specific. We didn’t have much time, so we worked on some basic things, some openings. 

There is an opinion you don’t really try to outplay your opponent in opening. Do you try to prove you are better in middle game and endgame, same way as Magnus Carlsen does?
Carlsen is famous for being very powerful and much stronger than most of the players in the world in the middle game and endgame. I’m not such a high level player. I believe openings are important but for me it’s also not the most important part of the game, it’s only the first stage and then we have two more.

What do you think about your opponent?
I think she is a strong player. We’ve played several games in the past but for few years we didn’t play at all. I thought if she managed to win the World Championship in knockout it means she is a fighter, she cannot be weak. 

After few years break you had a chance to play against Anna during Women Grand Prix in Geneva and you lost that game. What did you feel after? Did you make any conclusions?
At that tournament I lost not only against her, I also lost to some other players. The most important thing was my bad performance, I was not in a good shape and played just terrible. This game didn’t change my attitude to match, in any case I was going to prepare seriously as I try to do before any official event. Anybody who plays not only for fun should pay attention to preparation. 

How can you explain your results during the last year? Was it in some way connected with the forthcoming match?
I was not in a good shape for a long period. I don’t really know the reason but I thought it was normal in sense that in one moment it was supposed to happen. You cannot always play good and show great results. It also could happen here but what can you do about it, except trying to do your best to get ready for the tournament. I cannot also say that I put too much attention to the match and I didn’t care about other tournaments. No, my results were not connected with the match. In 2011 I showed good results before the match with Koneru, so I think I just had a bad period. 

Did your results during the last year influence your self-belief?
I’m not the person who cares so much about the results, even I take chess seriously. 

Was this period connected with changes in your life? As I know, you started to study in the university.
Yes, I cannot take so much attention to chess as I did before because I have to study as normal student. The only advantage I have is an opportunity not to attend lessons when I participate in the tournaments but I still have to study myself if I miss something. Also it depends on professors, if the person is quite strict and pedantic so I cannot miss a lot. 

What did it mean for you to play in Taizhou? What do you think about conditions? Is it important to play on “your field” as in football?
In fact, Taizhou is not my native city. I was born in Xinghua, it’s one hour by car from here. Xinghua has at least 1 million inhabitants and many of my relatives still live there. 
South of China is not so polluted; there is a fresh air here, better food, vegetables. Of course, while playing here I didn’t need to change my schedule due to time difference and food was okay for me but in general I think the organization was more or less the same as for any other chess event.

What was your reaction when you learnt that Korobov and Khalifman were going to help Anna Ushenina during the match?
At first when I saw her team I said as many other people did: “Wow! Her team is so strong and so powerful!” I thought at that moment: “Maybe I should be more serious about it? Maybe I should do something different?” (smiles) But then after Tromso I just decided to hire a second by myself to help me preparing.

Did you expect the match to finish so quickly?
Well, I was expecting any situation. I expected it would be difficult, or I would have some difficult moments. 

Can you tell which difficult moments did you face during the match?
The first game was very complicated and the fifth game also.

You believed Ushenina’s team was strong. Why did you repeat Keres Attack in the 5th game? Wasn’t it a bit risky?
It was just reasonable, so I repeated. How can you know that some other surprises are not waiting for you in other variations, other openings? (smiles)

How did it happen that Anna lost three games with white pieces? Do you think it was because of wrong opening choices?
In first two games there was Nimzo-Indian, my main weapon with Black. She didn’t lose those games because of openings. It happened later. I can only say that in the third game there was an obvious mistake made by her. 

Are you satisfied with the level of play you showed here?
It’s okay for me but not perfect. I didn’t make big mistakes, I didn’t blunder but I also didn’t play precisely sometimes. I had worse positions in the games I’ve mentioned and I think it was because of my inaccurate play.

You had already won two matches – one in Tirana against Humpy Koneru and another one just one day ago. How can you compare them?
I felt happy two years ago and I feel happy today because in general I’m glad to win such important tournaments. The match in Tirana was more difficult for me. Last time the first half of the match I had worse and difficult positions and I tried hard to fight back. This time it was more one-sided. At the same time this match was not as easy as people might think, judging only from the outcome. In Tirana I faced more problems in the openings comparing to this match but it’s hard to say if I was better prepared in the openings for this match or not. 

You had health problems in Tirana. Have you ever had that unknown pain in stomach again?
Sometimes I get sick during the tournaments. During this match I felt okay, but I had problems just few days before the start and had to take some medicines for 4-5 days. 

Who was helping you this time?
I didn’t have a team this time and as I mentioned before that I only hired a second short time before the match started. Also you may know that GM Ye Jiangchuan is our Chinese team’s chief coach, so when he had time he also helped me a bit but most of the time he had many other jobs to do besides preparing. That’s why finally I decided to hire a second by myself. And a lot of friends all around the World were helping me whether with advises in chess or just support. They were cheering me up and I feel very grateful. I really appreciate their help! 

How do you mentally prepare yourself for the games and for the match?
Of course, I considered this match as a very important event but it’s not the most important thing in my life. For me it’s more important to be healthy, to be happy person in my daily life. I will try to explain you another way. Health and happiness means number “1” for me. Achievements, victories are “zeros”. So I would add those zeros to number “1”. The total number of my day can be 10, 1000, 10000 but without number “1” it’s nothing. I think my attitude helped me to enjoy the match and feel good. I try not to make a tragedy if I lose a game. Until the match is not over I would just focus on following games. In general when you win it doesn’t mean something crazy, if you lose it’s not the end of the world. 

But what if you lose this match?
Yes, I thought about it before the match and for me both cases were acceptable. 
I know many people contributed to organize this match, I appreciate the help of the government and the organizers, but still all results were possible. I was just trying to do my best and to be optimistic.

What does this title means for you? How is it important for you to get it back after nine and half months?
I’m happy to get the title of the Women’s World Champion back. Last year my results were not so good and I hope it’s a signal that I started to recover. 

Do you feel you are the strongest player among women?
No, I don’t. There is no obvious difference in level between me and other players. There are many strong players who have rating over 2500 and with some of them I have a plus, with others balanced results. At the same time I don’t have an opponent among women I have difficulties to play against. 

Does it bother you that you can lose your title in the next World Championship with knockout system like it happened to you in Khanty-Mansiysk?
I have no idea if I’m going to play there or not, I don’t have clear schedule for the next year. You may know that I didn’t really want to participate in the World Championship but had to go to play because of other reasons in the end. I don’t have clear idea which system should be used in women’s chess but we can compare it with the system in men’s chess. I believe the organization of whole cycle in men chess is more reasonable, fairer. I would be glad if FIDE makes the same system for women chess. 

You are young, beautiful and the World Champion! How can you describe your life at the moment?
It’s still long way to go and I have many years ahead to do almost everything I want. It’s time to observe the new things in chess, in studies, in other parts of life. I just want to expand my life. Life is wonderful!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Women's World Chess Championship Anna Ushenina vs Hou Yifan Begins

Ukraine's Anna Ushenina - reigning Women's World Chess Champion - begins her defence of the title in Taizhou Hotel, China today against China's Hou Yifan. The opening ceremony of the match was held on Tuesday. Xiao Min, the vice-president of Chinese Olympic Committee and Assistant Director of National Sports Bureau, declared the Women’s World Championship Match open. Ushenina got White in the drawing of colours ceremony. 

Yang Junan, the President of Chinese Chess Association, welcomed guests to Taizhou and said, “Through years’ development, under the lead of government and chess association, chess in Taizhou is very popular and contributes a lot to the development of chess in China. Here also comes out many excellent chess players among whom Hou Yifan is the outstanding representative. I believe that this event held in Taizhou will further raise the reputation of Taizhou and promote chess in this city."

FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov congratulated everybody with the start of the Match, expressed his gratitude to Ms. Xiao Min, the Vice president of Chinese Olympic Committee and Assistant Director of National Sports Bureau, the Mayor of Taizhou city Mr. Xu Guoping, FIDE Vice-President Mr. Chu Bo, the President of Chinese Chess Association Mr.Yang Junan, for the attention which chess receives here.

After the opening ceremony the Women’s world champion Anna Ushenina, FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov and guests were invited for the excursion to impressive China Medical City.

In the evening the World champion Anna Ushenina and challenger Hou Yifan inspected the playing venue and checked the lighting. The Chief Arbiter Panagiotis Nikolopoulos drew the attention of the participants to time control, "zero tolerance" rule and the absence of any restrictions concerning draw offer. The members of the Appeals Committee Chairman Jorge Vega, David Jarett and FIDE Supervisor Ali Nihat Yazici were introduced to players.

The first game will start at 3 p.m. local time on 11th of September.

Official website

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Women’s World Chess from Sept 10

Women’s World Chess Championship Match 2013 between the current World Champion Anna Ushenina of Ukraine and her challenger, Hou Yifan of China (former World Champion 2010-2012), is scheduled to start on September 10.

The drawing of colours will be conducted during the opening ceremony which will take place at 3 p.m. The player getting the white colour in game one plays game five with the black pieces). The time control is: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The winner of the ten-game match is the first player to reach 5.5 points or more. If the scores are level after the regular ten games, after a new drawing of colours, four tie-break games will be played, with 25 minutes for each player and an increment of ten seconds after each move.

If the scores are level after the four rapid games, then, after a new drawing of colours, a match of two games will be played with a time control of five minutes plus three seconds' increment after each move. In case of a level score, another two-game match will be played to determine a winner. If there is still no winner after five such matches (i.e. after ten games), one sudden death game will be played. This involves a drawing of lots, the winner being able to choose the colour. The player with the white pieces receives five minutes, the player with the black pieces four minutes, with an increment of three seconds per move from move 61 on. In case of a draw, the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

The prize fund for this match is 200,000 Euros and will be split between the players as follows:
60% for the winner and 40% to the loser if the match ends within the 10 regular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, she will receive 55% and loser 45%.

Anna Ushenina holds the title after the 2012 Women's World Chess Championship (knockout format) in Khanty-Mansiysk while Hou Yifan had a right to challenge her after she became first in the Grand Prix Series 2011-2012.

Anna Ushenina and Hou Yifan played their first game in 2006 during World Chess Olympiad (Turin, Italy) and the game ended in a draw. In 2007 another draw was signed during Russian team championship. Hou Yifan took the lead in their encounter in 2007-2008 when she won three games in a row. However, in the end of 2008 Anna Ushenina managed to outplay Chinese prodigy during the European Club Cup. Another draw in 2009 and the players stopped meeting over the board for the next 4 years, till 2013! Anna Ushenina defeated Hou Yifan with black pieces in their last encounter during Geneva Grand Prix.

Games between these two have been consistently hard-fought. Hou Yifan is one point ahead according to overall results. For her part, however, Anna Ushenina played 7 out of 8 games with Black and has victory in their last game at Geneva GP in 2013.

According to FIDE rating Hou Yifan (2609) holds the second position among women after Judit Polgar. Anna Ushenina (2500) is on 17th place.

The official hotel and playing venue:
The official website:



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