2010 Women’s Chess Championship: Finals

2010 Women World Chess Championship
FINALS (Hou Yifan vs. Ruan Lufei)
Player ELO
Nation
Flag
Player ELO
Nation
Flag
Hou 2591
CHN
China
Ruan 2480
CHN
China

Preview: The stage is set and at the end of this final match, the glory will be China’s once again. However, who will win the Women’s World Championship Chess match? If that question is asked, you may be inclined to reply either “Yes”, “No”, “Hou”, “Ruan” depending on how you understood the question. Journalists are getting ready with double entrendres seen in the comical YouTube video of George W. Bush asking about Hu Jintao.

While Hou Yifan may certainly be the favorite, it is not a forgone conclusion that she will win and certainly Ruan Lufei will give quite a valiant effort. For the 23-year old doctoral student, it is amazing that she has had much time to prepare for this tournament. Working on a Ph.D. usually means a chess hibernation, but Ruan is in good form eliminating defending champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.

The four-game match will commence on Monday, December 20th after the rest day. There will be the standard tiebreak of two rapid, two blitz and an Armageddon game.

2010 Women World Chess Championship
GM Hou Yifan vs. WGM Ruan Lufei
  Flag
Pts.
Hou
5
Ruan
3

Official Site
Drum Coverage
Final Results
(MS-Excel)

15 Comments

  1. Finals – Game #1
    Monday, 20 December 2010

    Thrilling draw in opening!

    Hou-Ruan, ½-½ (match tied ½-½)

    If the first game is an example of what’s to come, we are in for an exciting mini-match. Today’s game entered the “Fantasy” variation of the Caro-Kann, an aggressive way of meeting the solid defense. After 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 white continues with 3.f3!? a move championed by 19th century master Savielly Tartakower.

    The game continues sharply with 3…dxe4 4.fxe4 e5!? Nf3. In this line, white plays for pressure down the f-file and kingside initiative. However, black was able to get a very stable position until the game exploded after 21…b4!? 22. Rc1 bxc3 23. Qxc3 exd4 24. Bxd4 c5 25. Bxg7 Bf4 26. Nhf3 Rxd2 27. Nxd2 Bxd2 28. Qxd2 Kxg7 29. Qc3+ Kh7 30. Qxc5 Qxc5+ 31. Rxc5. At this point the character of the ending was set forever. Black had two minor pieces for white’s rook and two pawns.

    Black had to jettison another pawn for an active rook and to coordinate pieces. Eventually, black began to win back the pawns and the game slowly petered out to a draw. It appeared that both sides had their chances, but in such a short match, they decided to call the first game a truce. Exciting game!

    Official Site
    Drum Coverage
    Final Results
    (MS-Excel)

  2. Finals – Game #2
    Tuesday, 21 December 2010

    Hou breaks out on top after Ruan’s missteps.

    Ruan-Hou, 0-1 (Hou leads match 1½-½)

    Ruan Lufei played sharply, but could not maintain the momentum.
    Photo by wwcxc2010.tsf.org.tr.

    After a tense draw on yesterday, these two settled down at the board to play the second of four games. Today’s game was as exciting as yesterday’s with a Sicilian Scheveningen battle. Hou’s 13…Qb8 appeared offside, but her idea was to attack the queenside. It appears that this plan was a bit dubious after Ruan’s 17.e5! led to a very active position for white.

    There were some favorable complications until white dawdled with 20.Na4? a move that puzzled many. Black finally equalized after 24…Bb4! and white’s knight would now become a liability. Ruan seemed to panic as black pieces swarmed the board. At the precise moment, Hou traded into a favorable rook ending two pawns up and wrapped up the full point.

    Official Site
    Drum Coverage
    Final Results
    (MS-Excel)

  3. Hi Daaim,
    thanks for the very updated report and interesting analysis!
    I noticed that you have an ELO closed 2100, so a pretty good club player.

    Looking forward to reading your report tomorrow, probably that’d be the time to witness the world youngest champion ever.

    Best,
    Timo from Germany

  4. Hi Eastwind,

    I like Hou Yifan. I’ve seen her in person and observed her. She’s a regular, giddy teenager… always full of life! She probably will be the youngest champion and worthy. I don’t believe she will approach Judit Polgar’s record, but perhaps she can compete at a high level in strong closed tournaments.

    I have not played consistently in 20 years. I was once a young talent, but schooling put chess on the shelf. Perhaps Ruan Lufei shows that doctoral students can have time to play serious chess. I certainly did not. Years after schooling and now as a professor, I spend my chess energy doing this site. The site has been going for almost 10 years and at almost 9,000 pages. I still play but sparingly.

  5. Finals – Game #3
    Wednesday, 22 December 2010

    Ruan presses, but comes up empty… needs win tomorrow.

    Hou-Ruan, ½-½ (Hou leads match tied 2-1)

    Ruan appeared to be on the verge of equalizing the match with an energetic attempt in the Caro Kann. The game simplified within the first 20 moves and it appeared that black had some chances with the two bishops. However, Ruan decided to give up the bishop pair and play on the queenside. She developed strong initiative with minority attack 26…a4! and eventually invaded queenside.

    Hou went down a pawn, but the opposite-colored bishops meant that there was only a small hope for Ruan to play for a win. Ruan came up with an idea of invading the queenside with her king and creating some tactical threats with 46…e4! (threatening 47…Bxf2). It appeared that she may even sacrifice the exchange on c4, but there is no easy way to accomplish this. She ended up sacrificing the exchange for the g-pawn, but the two passed pawns were blockaded rather easily.

    Tomorrow’s game is the last of the classical games and thereafter, the tiebreaks will begin. However, Ruan needs a win tomorrow to force the match into tiebreaks. She has played fighting chess and Hou will certainly be ready for the battle.

    Official Site
    Drum Coverage
    Final Results
    (MS-Excel)

  6. Ruan did not go for the liquidating 18.Qxa7 Qxf4+ 19.Kb1 Qb8 20.Qa3. It appears that she wants to keep the tension on the board. There were lines where a pair of rooks were traded and white can win a pawn with for example: 20…Bc6 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Qc3 (xc6, g7), 22…Qc7 23.Qxg7 Rd8 24.Rxd8+ (and if 24.Rf1 then Qf4!) Qxd8 threatening mate on d1 and hitting h4. I’m sure Ruan figured this out.

  7. Finals – Game #4
    Thursday, 23 December 2010

    Ruan breaks through… forces tiebreak after thrilling win!

    Ruan-Hou, 1-0 (match tied 2-2)

    After the ceremonial move, customary handshake, let the game begin! FIDE Vice President and President of Turkey Chess Federation, Ali Nihat Yazici looks on while Chief Arbiter Erdem Uçarku? starts clock. Photo by wwcxc2010.tsf.org.tr.

    Hou’s 12…Qh2 will receive harsh scrutiny. White played 13.f4 and the black queen languished for 10 moves before she played 22…Qh4.

    This game will go down as a lesson in match play. Hou was leading 2-1 and needed only to hold a draw to win her first championship. Ruan trotted out the hyper aggressive Keres Attack. Hou engaged a bit of bravado with 12…Qh2? This was refuted easily by 13.f4 and with black’s queen entombed, white built up a a strong initiative. However, white was faced with hard decisions. Instead of exposing black’s king even further and winning a pawn, she decided to play solidly and secure a tremendous spatial advantage.

    Meanwhile, Hou was trying to untangle her position with the queen still lodged at h2. After ten moves, Hou was able to swing her queen from h2-h4-d8-a5, but this loss of time gave white a chance at gaining time against the black king. Despite this situation, black seem to consolidate until a plague of errors (and time pressure) led to white grabbing the initiative. Black’s 33…Rb6? allowed white to gain momentum after 34.Rd4! Qe7 35.Qd3 R6b7? After this, white’s attack begin to gain steam with 36.Re3 Re8 and 37.Rd6.

    (Diagram #2) White’s momentum is too much to bear after 41.Rc4!(Diagram #3) Final Position after 47.Rf5 when black will suffer massive losses. Hou resigned here.

    Ruan found the powerful 41.Rc4! and Hou was relegated to passivity. Later, white found the winning line with 44.Qe4! Kb8? 45.Rxe5. Now black would suffer bank rank issues and white would finish nicely with 46.Rc6! Qf7 and 47.Rf5! Black resigned in lieu of the eventual loss of the queen. If queens moves, then 48.Qf4+ would win quickly.

    Official Site
    Drum Coverage
    Final Results
    (MS-Excel)

  8. 3.8.2. Round 6 (Final Match)

    3.8.2.1. If the scores are level after the regular games, after a new drawing of colours, four (4) tie break games shall be played. The games shall be played using the electronic clock starting with 25 minutes on the clock for each player with an addition of 10 seconds after each move.

    3.8.2.2. If the scores are level after the games in paragraph 3. 8. 2. 1, then, after a new drawing of colours, 2 five-minute games shall be played with the addition of 10 seconds after each move.

    3.8.2.3. If the score is still level after the games in paragraph 3.8.2.2, the players shall play one sudden death game. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds from move 61. The winner shall be declared Women’s World Champion. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces shall be declared Women’s World Champion.

  9. The 64-player Women’s World Chess Championship is down to two Chinese players. Hou Yifan and Ruan Lufei are the two finalists gripped into a pitched battle for the prestigious title. The first four games are deadlocked at 2-2 after Ruan won a thrilling game to force tiebreaks.

    The Chinese competitors will go to a fierce tiebreak tomorrow.
    Photo by wwcxc2010.tsf.org.tr.

    Thus far, the games have been energetic without any boring draws. However, two weeks of play may render both contestants on the brink of fatigue. Tomorrow will be the finale of the tournament with four rapid games and if the match is still level, two blitz and one Armageddon game.

  10. Finals – Tiebreaks
    Friday, 24 December 2010

    Hou is the new Women’s World Champion!

    Ruan and Hou battle in tiebreaks with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on hand to crown the new champion.

    Ruan Lufei and Hou Yifan battle in tiebreaks with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on hand to crown the new champion.

    Game 1: Ruan-Hou, ½-½ Game 2: Hou-Ruan, 1-0
    Game 3: Ruan-Hou, ½-½ Game 4: Hou-Ruan, 1-0

    (Hou wins tiebreak 3-1 for a 5-3 final score)

    If there were any doubts that Hou Yifan would win the women’s crown today, those were quickly dashed after her convincing victory today. Even her opponent Ruan Yifan implied that she had little chance. However, Hou had a point to prove having lost to past champion Alexandra Kosteniuk and rose to the challenge. The tournament was a good one for challenger Ruan Lufei who has a promising career in the sciences after she completes her Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon.

    Game #1: All the games were hard-fought and there were no short draws. The games also saw a wide variety of opening including the first game which was a Sicilian Dragon. This game sidestepped the mainlines, but was rich with ideas. Ruan adopted a setup normally seen against the Najdorf variation and Hou was able to equalize rather easily. Black ended up with the better pawn structure and a pawn plus, but no easy way to break through. Then she embarked on the ambitious 30…Rdxe7! and won a third pawn for the exchange. The black bishop roamed the board stifling both rooks. However, white was able to trade a pair of rooks and blockaded the pawns.

    Game 2: Back to the Caro-Kann. This time the game entered a mainline, but quickly diverted to a side line 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6. Black seemed to get a good position from the opening, but tentatively in the middlegame. White was able to create a strong passed pawn, but was unable to develop a an advantage… that was until black blundered with 59…g4?? and allowed white winning chances. While black was losing ground, Ruan missed 73…Nxd5! for her last chance to hold. Hou cornered the knight and forced resignation.

    Game 3: This time the game would see an Accelerated Dragon. This game is similar to those positions that occur from the 4.Qxd4 lines. This game was perhaps the most tame during the entire match. Black had the better position, but white was not in any danger of losing. However, Ruan Yifan needed to show more in this game since she was a point down. She would have to win again in order to continue the tiebreaks.

    Game 4: Ruan chose a tricky line of the Ruy Lopez, but perhaps not one that would provide her enough chances to win. Ruan chose to play a positional game, but ended up worse out of the opening. White had a strong center and charged ahead with 30.e5! fxe5 31.fxe5 Qe6 32.d4 c4 33.d5. After this pawn avalanche in the center, white cut black forces in half and raided the queenside. Black’s position went down in a heap of refuse and the a8-rook never got a chance to move. After 42.Qc7, black resigned and was the first to congratulate Hou Yifan as the new World Champion!

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