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22-year-old ‘Queen of Chess’ rattles the chess world with unexpected move at tournament

By WITW Staff on February 3, 2017

22-year-old Hou Yifan, the women’s world chess champion, threw her final match at the recent Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Tournament after repeatedly being matched up against other women chess players. In an interview given after the game, the “Queen of Chess” told reporters that she was furious over “unbelievable and weird” pairings during the tournament that saw her play against other women seven times in 10 rounds.

“It makes me really, really upset,” said Hou, explaining her motive. “Not just for me but for the other women players.”

Hou declined to defend her women’s world championship title in Iran this month in favor of playing in mixed events where she could compete against men as well. Hou is far and away the World Chess Federation’s top-ranked female chess player, but ranks as only the 105th best player on the combined list.

Tournament organizer Brian Callaghan has defended the tournament’s pairings, saying that despite claims to the contrary all match pairings had been determined entirely by a computer.

“I understand, if I was in her shoes and I was playing and suddenly I pulled a draw of six girls — one after the other — I would say also, ‘What’s going on here?'” said Callaghan. “But clearly nothing was going on. It comes out of a machine and sometimes the odds fall that way. I think she recognizes that, and I think we need to move on.”

In her interview after the match, Hou did not appear to have accepted Callaghan’s explanation. “For the future events,” said Hou, “it should be a 100 percent fair situation.”

Watch Hou’s post-match interview below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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