Hou Yifan and Nigel Short

Jan 22, 2020 at 10:00 • Sport

In the capital of Primorsky Krai is drawing to a close the women’s world chess championship match between the defending champion, Ju Wenjun (China), and a contender, Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia).

The Match included additional events 21 and 22 January, organized by the Chess Federation of Russia and the Charitable Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko.

21 January saw simultaneous exhibitions given by Hou Yifan, ex-world champion and one of the best female chess players on the planet, and Nigel Short, a UK grandmaster, world vice-champion 1993 and vice-president of FIDE.

Both grandmasters played on 20 boards. Hou Yifan faced female opposition only.

Mark Glukhovsky, executive director, the Chess Federation of Russia: “These days Hou Yifan’s each appearance at the board is an important event. While Judit Polgár is undoubtedly the best female chess player of the 20th century, Hou Yifan is the best of the 21st century. Having won all possible titles in women’s competitions, she stepped back from contests and matriculated at Oxford. For a number of years, we’ve been holding Friendship Matches, sponsored by the Timchenko Foundation, in China, where that renowned player has been successfully facing off against Russian grandmasters, former European champions, and defeating some of them.

Hou Yifan is a great chess player, and I feel it important that her opponents in the simul will witness first-hand that in this day and age a woman can accomplish virtually anything and everything: win a world championship, graduate from Oxford, give a first-class commentary on a world championship match and inspire others.

Nigel Short is a renowned grandmaster, who defeated 10 world champions at classical chess and 13 at all other varieties of our game. For the residents of Primorsky Krai, this is an excellent introduction to the world of international chess. I am happy that the match for the women’s crown will leave a footprint in the form of a face-to-face with great players – this is the best of what we can bring to the Russky Island.

Many thanks to the Timchenko Foundation for assistance in organizing this wonderful event as part of the match. This is how we managed to modify our joint project, the Friendship Match — by bringing in Hou Yifan.”

Igor Baradachev, head of the Sports programme, Timchenko Foundation: “This is the first time that the Far East has seen a chess event of such magnitude and on such a scale. Young chess talents and aficionados have been given a unique opportunity to meet the world’s best grandmasters, become inspired by their successes and get fresh impetus. It is entirely possible that these kids will be the ones to pick up the baton from the current chess stars at some point down the road.”

The exhibitioners won all games. Following the event, the participants received gifts from the organizers. Anyone could have their photo taken with the renowned grandmasters and talk to them.

Ex-world champion Hou Yifan: “All young women showed a combative spirit and played a strong game, and some young ladies stayed the course and reached endgame. I think they have a lot of potential. Speaking from my experience, I can say that when I was little, I always looked forward to going up against a strong grandmaster. This young generation is also up for this, so such simuls give them an excellent chance not only to play against a renowned chess player but also to talk with her or him and see how the grandmaster strategizes. I think that such simuls inspire young chess players to improve their game and fuel their passion for chess. I find that the event organizers came up with the excellent idea that I play against girls only because they can develop into strong professional chess players down the line. This is a good sign.”

22 January Hou Yifan held a meeting with FEFO students and teachers and chess enthusiasts, where she talked about her chess career and answered numerous questions from the audience. All guests received souvenirs from the organizers.