Hou Yifan has been a sensation before her teenage years. She successfully defended her world championship and has since continued her stellar play by leading the Chinese to a gold medal in the World Team Championship, winning the Women’s Grand Prix. However, the highlight of her young storied career may be her recent performance at Gibraltar where she shared joint first with Nigel Short (8/10), later losing in a blitz tiebreak.
As one continues to watch the rise of Hou and the domination of the Chinese women, one can also sense that there is a new era unfolding. Chinese women have dominated women’s chess for almost 30 years and they will only get stronger with such a rich pool of talent, organized structure and strict training regiment.
How far can Hou Yifan go? After beating Judit Polgar, some have said that her title has now been legitimized. There is no question that Polgar is still the strongest women player in history, but was their first encounter a watershed moment? At 35, Polgar still has some years left, but Hou is still improving and playing with sheer confidence.
In an interview, Judit Polgar was asked if she would agree to a match with Hou and she mentioned that if the conditions were right, she may consider it. It may come that Polgar will one day meet her presumed predecessor. Meanwhile, the Chinese phenom may have her sights set on higher goals since she beat five 2700 players and gained a whopping 27 ELO points.