Hou Yifan Says Women Cannot Compete With Men

After reading the previous post Brian McCarthy left a comment which concerned the article you are about to read, but it was not the original article. This morning there was an email from Dennis Fritzinger which included a link to the article. Thanks, Dennis!

‘Queen of chess’ says it’s hard to imagine women competing at same level as men

By Leon Watson
12 October 2019

The gender gap in sport may be narrowing, but in the game of chess women may never reach the levels of their male counterparts – according to the world’s best female player.
University of Oxford student Hou Yifan said the cerebral game won’t get a female world champion for decades because women “are less focused” than men, don’t train as hard and are at a physical disadvantage.

The 25-year-old, who is often referred to as the Queen of Chess’, has opened a row in the normally genial world of chess.
Her comments follow a controversial claim by English Grandmaster Nigel Short that men and women should just accept they are “hard-wired very differently”.
Short, who was widely criticised for his stance, said he “would have been ripped to shreds as a misogynist dinosaur” if he’d said the same as Hou.

Speaking to chess.com, Hou said: “Theoretically, there should be a possibility that a woman can compete for the title in the future, but practically I think that the chances of this happening in the next few decades are very small.
“I do think the average rating of female players could improve, but the gap between the top women right now and the players competing for the world title is really quite large.
“But if you look at any sport, it’s hard to imagine girls competing at the same level as men.
“I think there is a physical aspect because chess exhausts a lot of energy, especially when games last 6-7 hours, and here women could be more disadvantaged.
“But in general, I think women train less hard at chess compared to men while they’re growing up.
“In China, girls tend to think more about university, and then things like family, life balance… while boys are more focused and persistent on that one thing.
“This makes a big difference. The ones who put greater effort in achieving better results. But I also think there are external factors too.”
In chess, there is the World Championship which is open to all and is currently held by the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen. Since its inception in 1886, all 16 undisputed champions have been men.
There is also a parallel Women’s World Championship and women-only tournaments designed to encourage female participation in the sport.
However, while Hou is a four-time winner of the women’s crown, in recent years she has chosen not to compete in women’s events in order to compete against higher-ranked players.
Hou, who became a Grandmaster aged 14, is the number one ranked female player but number 87 among men and women. She is one of just three women, along with Judit Polgar and Maia Chiburdanidze, to have cracked the world’s top 100.

However, there is a big gap between Hou’s rating and the top men. By comparison, Hou’s current rating is 2659, while world number one Carlson is more than 200 points higher on 2876.
The next strongest female player is another Chinese player, Wenjun Ju, way back at world number 288 with a rating of 2586.
Hou said: “Growing up, female players are told, ‘If you win the girls’ title, we’ll be really proud of you, and this is a great job!’ It’s unlikely that any of them were told, ‘No, you should be fighting for the overall title!’
“Girls are told at an early age that there’s a kind of gender distinction, and they should just try their best in the girls’ section and be happy with that. So without the motivation to chase higher goals, it’s harder for girls to improve as fast as boys as they grow up.”
Asked if she believes there are any gender differences in the way men and women play the game, Hou added: “To me, in all aspects of life, sometimes women and men tend to see the same thing from completely different perspectives, and that also comes into chess.
“To put it simplistically, I think male players tend to have a kind of overview or strategy for the whole game, rather than focusing too much attention on one part of the game. It could be interesting to explore this further. I need to do more research to answer this properly!”


Hou Yi Fan Flys Like An Eagle

Leo Horoscope for week of October 18, 2018

Verticle Oracle card (http://www.toriffic.co.uk/vertical_oracle.html)

Leo (July 23-August 22)

Chinese mythology tells us there used to be ten suns, all born from the mother goddess Xi He. Every 24 hours, she bathed her brood in the lake and placed them in a giant mulberry tree. From there, one sun glided out into the sky to begin the day while the other nine remained behind. It was a good arrangement. The week had ten days back then, and each sun got its turn to shine. But the siblings eventually grew restless with the staid rhythm. On one fateful morning, with a playful flourish, they all soared into the heavens at once. It was fun for them, but the earth grew so hot that nothing would grow. To the rescue came the archer Hou Yi. With his flawless aim, he used his arrows to shoot down nine of the suns, leaving one to provide just the right amount of light and warmth. The old tales don’t tell us, but I speculate that Hou Yi was a Leo.


Hou Yifan is a Pisces

2018 Women’s World Championship Game Five

GM Kevin Spraggett had this to say concerning the lack of interest in the Women’s World Championship match recently concluded:

“Witness the Women’s World Championship being played this week. Does MSM report on it? No way!” (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-chess-and-potpourri/. See also, https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/kevin-spraggetts-whipping-post/)

The fact is that the two women who played the match for the women’s crown are at least one category lower than Hou Yifan, undoubtedly the strongest woman Chess player on the planet. I was completely unfamiliar with Zhongyi Tan. It is extremely difficult to have interest in such a meaningless so-called “title match.” Still, having been an exponent of the venerable Bishop’s opening, there was interest in the one game played using the opening.

Zhongyi Tan (CHN) 2522

vs Wenjun Ju (CHN) 2571

FIDE Women’s World Championship 2018 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. exd5 cxd5 10. Na3 Nbd7 11. Re1 h6 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. d4 e4 14. Nd2 Nb6 15. f3 Re8 16. Bc2 Bd7 17. Rb1 exf3 18. Nxf3 Ne4 19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Bxb5 21. axb5 Rxe5 22. Be3 Re6 23. Bd4 Nc4 24. Bd3 Qg5 25. b3 Ncd6 26. Rb2 Rae8 27. Rbe2 Nf5 28. Bc2 Nh4 29. Qd3 Ng6 30. Be3 Qh5 31. c4 Ne5 32. Qd4 Rg6 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34. Kf1 Nf3 35. Qd7 Nxh2+ 0-1

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 (The CBDB shows this move, “The truth as it was known in those long ago days,” scoring 56%, higher than any other second move!) Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 (This move has gained in popularity because Komodo has it best. Next is 5…Bb4+. The move Houey considers best, 5…Bd6, has been the most often played move, and is the only move I encountered) 6. a4 Bb4+ (This gives the white general a pleasant choice of the game move, or 7 Bd2)

7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O (All three Stockfish programs at the CBDB show 8 exd5 best, and the SF program used by ChessBomb prefers taking the pawn. The idea is to play, after 8 exd5 cxd5, 9 Bg5, a move preferred by GM Bent Larsen in the B.O.)

8…O-O ( Both the Fish and Dragon play 8…dxe4 which has not been tested in top level play)

9. exd5 (The choice of SF & Houdini, this move is a TN) cxd5

10. Na3 (The beginning of Tan’s troubles. 10. Bg5 Be6 then 11. Na3 h6 12. Bh4 Nc6 13. Nb5 Bb8 14. Re1 b6 15. Bg3 Nd7 16. h3 Kh7 17. h4 f6, a plausible line given by SF)

Nbd7 (10… h6 to prevent Bg5. Stockfish at ChessBomb gives this line, culminating in a possible perpetual 11. Nb5 Nc6 12. Be3 Bb8 13. h3 Re8 14. Bc5 Bf5 15. Be3 Be6 16. Bc5 Bf5)

11. Re1 (11. Bg5 h6 12. Bh4 Bb8 13. Re1 Re8 14. Nb5 g5 15. Bg3 b6 16. Bc2 Bb7 17. Nd2 Nf8 18. h3 Ng6 would leave white with a small advantage) 11…h6 (The game is even) 12. Nb5 Bb8

13. d4? (This move hands the advantage to black. I have previously mentioned on this blog the difficulties encountered in my early days learning the game with the transition from the opening to the middle-game centered around move 13. Notice in the line given by SF below the move d4 is played a couple of moves later. I set up a board when going over the game before checking with the program analysis, spending a considerable amount of time looking at the position before 13 d4? was played. Three moves stood out; 13 Be3; 13 h3; and 13 Qe2. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will not be surprised by the latter move. Thing is, I was uncertain in what order the moves should be played. The Fish shows them in this order: 13 Be3; 13 h3; and 13 Qe2. SF shows this line after 13 Qe2 b6 14. Be3 Re8 15. h3, with the three moves all being played. The best line, according to SF, is 13. Be3 Re8 14. h3 b6 15. d4 e4 16. Nd2 Bb7 17. c4 Qe7 18. Nc3 dxc4 19. Nxc4 Nd5 20. Nxd5 Bxd5 21. Bd2)

e4 14. Nd2 Nb6

15. f3? (Yet another weak move in the opening. Look at the position…white has only a rook on the king side defending the king. Although black has only a knight more on the king side, the queen and both bishops are poised to move to the open king side in the beat of a heart. Something will have to be done about the pawn dagger on e4, but white is undeveloped, with the knight on d2 clogging up the white position. 15. Nf1 is much better)

Re8 16. Bc2 Bd7 (16… Bf5)

17. Rb1? (17. Re2) exf3? (17… Nc8 is much better) 18. Nxf3 Ne4 (18… Bg4 is possible) 19. Ne5 (Although SF shows 19. Bd3 as best, after 19…f5 black is for choice) 19…Bxe5 (19… Bxb5 first, then after 20. axb5, play Bxe5)
20. dxe5 Bxb5 21. axb5 Rxe5 22. Be3 Re6 23. Bd4 (23. Qd4) Nc4 24. Bd3 Qg5 (24… Qh4 25. Re2) 25. b3 Ncd6 26. Rb2 (Why not an attacking move like 26. Be3) Rae8 27. Rbe2 Nf5 (Look at the position. Every black piece is on the king side menacing the white king, while the white queen and both bishops are on the queenside. White will not last long…)

28. Bc2 Nh4 29. Qd3 Ng6 (29… f5!) 30. Be3 (30. Qf3 is the only chance) Qh5 31. c4? (Turn out the lights, the party’s over…31. Qd4 or 31 Bd1 should have been played) Ne5 32. Qd4 Rg6 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34. Kf1 Nf3 35. Qd7 Nxh2+ 0-1

Quite frankly, this was pitifully weak opening play by Tan. Her understanding of the venerable Bishop’s opening was sorely lacking.

Vadim Zvjaginsev (2661) vs Manuel Petrosyan (2546)

18th ch-EUR Indiv 2017
Minsk 05/31/2017
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 dxe4 10. dxe4 Na6 11. Bc2 Nc5 12. Na3 Qe7 13. Nc4 Bc7 14. b3 Rd8 15. Qe2 b6 16. Ba3 Ba6 17. Rad1 Nfd7 18. b4 Qe6 19. bxc5 Bxc4 20. Qe3 h6 21. Nd2 1/2-1/2

Na3 did not turn out well in the next game…

Vladimir Onischuk (2608) vs Alexander Motylev (2665)

18th ch-EUR Indiv 2017
Minsk 06/07/2017
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. exd5 cxd5 9. Na3 Nc6 10. Nb5 Bb8 11. Bg5 Be6 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 O-O 14. Re1 g5 15. Bg3 Bg4 16. Qd2 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Qd7 18. Kg2 Qf5 19. h4 Ne7 20. hxg5 hxg5 21. Rh1 Ng6 22. Rae1 Rd8 23. c4 d4 24. c5 Ra6 25. Bc4 Nd5 26. Bxd5 Rxd5 27. Rh5 Rf6 28. Qe2 Rxc5 29. Reh1 Rc8 30. Na3 Rc5 31. Nc4 Bc7 32. b3 Kg7 33. R1h3 Bd6 34. Rh2 Bc7 35. Rh1 Bd6 36. Rh7+ Kf8 37. R7h5 Kg7 38. Qd1 Bc7 39. Rh7+ Kf8 40. R7h3 Rcc6 41. Rh5 Ke7 42. Qe2 Ke6 43. Re1 Rc5 44. Qd1 Kd7 45. Re4 Ne7 46. Rg4 Rg6 47. Qe2 Nc6 48. Rh8 Qe6 49. Rh7 Kc8 50. Rh8+ Kd7 51. Rh7 Rg8 52. Nd2 Rc2 53. Rh5 Bd8 54. Qd1 Rxd2 55. Qxd2 Qg6 56. b4 Qxh5 57. b5 f5 58. bxc6+ bxc6 59. Rxd4+ exd4 60. Qb2 f4 61. Qxd4+ Kc8 0-1

A. Patel (2410) v Jennifer Yu (2279)

2017 North American Ch U20

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. exd5 cxd5 9. O-O O-O 10. Bg5 Be6 11. Na3 Nbd7 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. Re1 Ra6 14. d4 e4 15. Nd2 h6 16. Bh4 g5 17. Bg3 Ng4 18. c4 dxc4 19. Nxc4 f5 20. Ncd6 Qf6 21. Bxe6+ Qxe6 22. d5 Qf6 23. Nxe4 Qxb2 24. d6 Qg7 25. h3 fxe4 26. hxg4 Re8 27. Rb1 Qf7 28. Qd4 Nf6 29. Rbd1 Rd8 30. f3 exf3 31. Rf1 Ne8 32. Rxf3 Qa2 33. Ra1 Qe6 34. Re1 Qa2 35. d7 Nd6 36. Bxd6 1-0

Magnus Carlsen Plays the Bishop’s Opening with Qe2!

Magnus Carlsen

vs Hou Yifan

Grenke Classic 2018 round 02

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 (The ChessBase DataBase shows this move with a better percentage than the most often played move, Nf3.) Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Qe2!

(Magnus, MY MAN! Does Magnus read the AW? Stats show many Norwegian readers… Nf3 is the most often played move, with Bb3 lagging way behind, while Stockfish at DaBomb has Nc3 listed above Qe2.)

Be7 (Houdini and Stockfish at the CBDB prefer 4…Bc5, but Komodo considers the little played 4…d5 best. Meanwhile, the SF at DaBomb has the game move #1)

5. Nf3 d6 (5…O-O is the most often played move) 6. c3 (Houdini and Komodo would castle. Stockfish plays h3, a TN) Nbd7 (6…O-O 7. Bb3 Qc7 8. Nbd2 b6 9. Nf1 Nbd7 10. Ng3 Nc5 11. Bc2 Re8 12. O-O Ba6 13. Re1 Bf8 14. Bg5 Nfd7 15. Qd2 Ne6 16. d4 Nxg5 17. Nxg5 h6 18. Nh3 c5 19. Bb3 Rad8 20. Rac1 Bb7 21. Ba4 a6 22. Bxd7 Qxd7 23. d5 Kh7 24. f3 g6 25. Nf2 h5 26. Qc2 Bh6 27. Rcd1 Qe7 28. Nh3 Bc8 29. Nf2 Qg5 30. Nf1 Bd7 31. Ne3 b5 32. Kh1 Rb8 33. Ra1 Qh4 34. Nf1 a5 35. Qe2 c4 36. Rab1 Rec8 37. Nd1 Rc7 38. Nde3 Kh8 39. g3 Qe7 40. Nd2 1/2-1/2, Dusan Tatalovic (2271) v Akos Pletl (2131), Bajmok-ch op 8th, 2005)

7. Bb3 O-O 8. O-O a5 9. d4 a4 10. Bc2 Re8 11. Re1 Bf8 12. Qd1 b5 13. Nbd2 Qc7 14. Nf1 g6 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bd2 Bg7 (Black has a decent game. 16…Nb6 would keep it that way.)

17. Ng3 ( (17. Qc1 Kh7 18. b3 axb3 19. axb3 Rxa1 20. Qxa1 Bb7 and only then 21 Ng3) Nb6 18. b3 axb3 19. axb3 Rxa1 20. Qxa1 Bg4 21. Qc1 (Because of the threat of taking the knight with the bishop, either 17 Nh4, or 17 Bd1 appear to be better)

Bxf3 22. gxf3 h5 23. Bh6 Qe7 (23…Nbd7 improves)

24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. Qg5 Kh7 26. f4 (26 Ra1 taking the open rook file is better)

Nfd7 (26…exf4! and the game is even, Steven)

27. Qxe7 Rxe7 28. fxe5 dxe5 29. Rd1 Re8 (29…Kg7, a subtle move simply improving the position of the worst placed piece, is better)

30. dxe5 Nxe5 (h4!) 31. f4 Ng4 32. Rd6 Re6 33. Rd8 Kg7 (33…Ne3!?)

34. Nf1 (This move tosses the advantage. 33 Bd1; Ne2; Bd3; and h3 were all better moves)

Rf6? (This move gives Magnus advantage enough to win the game. Simply 34…Nf6 kept the game even, as would 34…c5. Now Hou is in deep doo…)

35. h3 Nh6 36. f5 gxf5 37. Ng3 Rg6

38. Kf2? (This is a huge mistake, once again tossing away the advantage. I would have made the move, but then, I am not the human World Champion. Although it seems natural to move the King toward the ‘action’ such is not the case. Consider the line, 38 Kh2 fxe4 39 Nxh5+ Kh7 40 Nf4 Rg5 41 Bxe4+)

fxe4? (Stockfish shows this line: 38… Rg5 39. Bd1 fxe4 40. Nxh5+ Kh7 41. Nf6+ Kg7 42. Nxe4 Rd5 43. Rxd5 Nxd5, with an even game. She never gets another opportunity as Magnus keeps a firm grip while strangling the life outta the woman.)

39. Nxh5+ Kh7 40. Bxe4 f5 41. Bg2 Nf7 42. Rf8 Ne5 43. Nf4 Rd6 44. Rxf5 Nbd7 45. Ke2 Kg7 46. h4 Nf7 47. Be4 Nde5 48. Nh5+ Kh6 49. Ng3 Re6 50. Ke3 Kg7 51. Rf1 Kf8 52. Nf5 Ng4+ 53. Kf4 Nf6 54. Bf3 Nd5+ 55. Bxd5 cxd5 56. Ra1 Kg8 57. Ra8+ Kh7 58. Ra7 Rf6 59. h5 Kg8 60. Rd7 b4 61. cxb4 1-0