Hou Yifan Close to Winning GP; Will She Pass Judit Polgar?
Hou Yifan of China is on the verge of winning the overall 2013-2014 Women's Grand Prix. With three rounds to go, she tops the standings of the Sharjah GP together with her compatriot Ju Wenjun.
More important, Hou Yifan is 3 points ahead of her closest rival in the Women's GP: Humpy Koneru of India.
If the women's world champion can keep a margin of 2.5 points in tomorrow's ninth round, she will be the overall winner no matter what happens on the last two days.
Besides, Hou Yifan's live rating is now dangerously close to that of Judit Polgar's: 2670.8 vs 2675.0.
It's quite possible that at the end of the week, the women's rating list will have a new number one, for the first time in 25 years.
Recently, Polgar announced her retirement. On her website, she writes:
“In the past quarter of a century, all my life centered on chess. I feel eternally grateful for all the wonderful experiences it has granted me. I am also beholden to those amazing people who have made this possible. I am thankful to my family for their patient love and generosity, to my fans for their unwavering support, to my trainers and team-members for their resolve as well as to my opponents for their vigorous challenge.”
You can read the full statement here.
So what happened in Sharjah in rounds 5-8? Let's have a look.
On Saturday, Hou Yifan caught Ju Wenjun in first place. The latter drew very quickly with Tuvshintugs Batchimeg of Mongolia, while the Chinese GM outplayed Russia's Tatiana Kosintseva:
The next day, the tournament leaders both won their games. Alina l'Ami started with four losses, then drew with Zhu Chen, but Ju Wenjun was too strong:
Hou Yifan quickly got the upper hand against Ukraine's Anna Ushina in a Nimzo-Indian, and had no trouble converting the extra material:
Both Chinese ladies continued winning in round seven as well! Ju Wenjun easily reached 6.0/7 as Nafisa Muminova just played quite a bad game. Hou Yifan took her time, but eventually outplayed Zhu Chen in an ending:
The eighth round saw a lot of draws, and now Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun top the standings with 6.5/8. They're followed by Tuvshintugs Batchimeg who has 5.5, while Humpy Koneru is in ninth place with 3.5 points.
Wednesday is the second and last rest day in Sharjah. In the last three rounds, Hou Yifan can write history.
2014 Sharjah Grand Prix | Round 8 Standings
The Grand Prix in Sharjah is the last of six tournaments in the 2013-2014 Women's Grand Prix Series. Hou Yifan will win the overall series if she finishes ahead of Humpy Koneru, and thus secure a place in the 2015 women's world championship match even if she loses her title later this year in the knockout championship.
Women's GP 2013-2014 | Standings After 5 Tournaments