Hawaii Chess Festival: Hou Yifan Dominates Sunday, Wins GM Challenge

Hawaii Chess Festival: Hou Yifan Dominates Sunday, Wins GM Challenge

Women's World Champion GM Hou Yifan scored 5.5/6 on the second day of the 2015 Hawaii Chess Festival's GM Challenge. She won with 9.0/12. GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan took the first prize in the open.

All photos Shawn Starr.

GM Hou Yifan agreed to participate in the Hawaii Chess Festival before FIDE rescheduled the Women's World Championship to March-April. But what if she knew? Wouldn't she have preferred Waikiki Beach over the snowy mountains at Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi?

Together with GM Sam Shankland, GM Timur Gareev and IM Shinya Kojima, who earned a spot by winning a fundraising raffle, Hou Yifan played in the GM Challenge. It was a quadruple round-robin with six rounds of rapid chess and six rounds of blitz.

The tournament was split over two days. On both Thursday and Sunday, the players played three rounds of rapid chess (25 minutes + 5 seconds increment) followed by three games of blitz chess (5 minutes + 2 seconds increment).

The GM Challenge was held at the Hilton Waikiki Beach.

As Kostya mentioned in his first report, Shankland took the lead scoring 4.5 points on the first day. He was trailed by Hou and Gareev with 3.5/6 each, followed by Kojima with 0.5/6.

On Sunday, Hou Yifan was fully warmed up and scored a splendid 5.5/6, only conceding a draw in the final round against Gareev. She won the event with 9.0/12 and clinched the $5,000 first prize.

She took over the lead from Shankland in round eight by winning their mutual game, while Kojima held Gareev to a draw.

Hou Yifan was in a class of her own on Sunday.

This was the start of a horrible second day for GM Sam Shankland, who scored only 1.0/6 and lost both games to the much lower-rated Kojima.

On Thursday, Gareev had tried 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4 against Shankland, and on the second day of play he did something similar: 1.g4! Named after the Swiss international master Henri Grob, the move isn't exactly recommended by... anyone. But it can be fun anyway!

A pretty creative GM Timur Gareev in Hawaii.

The last round confirmed once more that poor Shankland was completely out of form. Black should have won this ending, not lost!


A tough Sunday for Shankland.


2015 Hawaii Chess Festival | GM Challenge | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 Pts
1 Hou,Yifan 2686 2746 phpfCo1l0.png 011½ 0½11 1111 9.0/12
2 Gareev,Timur 2604 2612 100½ phpfCo1l0.png 0½10 11½1 6.5/12
3 Shankland,Samuel L 2661 2536 1½00 1½01 phpfCo1l0.png ½100 5.5/12
4 Kojima,Shinya 2403 2459 0000 00½0 ½011 phpfCo1l0.png 3.0/12


The open tournament was won by GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan who scored 5.0/5 and finished with a draw. The tournament had 113 participants including 7 GMs.

The Hawaii Chess Festival was a real festival as it included many other chess-related activities and side events such as lectures and simuls. 

A simul by WIM Sabrina Chevannes at Magic Island Beach Park.

The main purpose of the festival was to raise interest and funds for Hawaii's emerging Scholastic Chess Programs, and specifically to eventually build the Hawaii Chess Center and Scholastic Academy

Many more photos by Shawn Starr can be found on Facebook, here and here.

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