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Women's World Chess Championships

Posted By: Paul Weaver
Date: Saturday, 21 September 2013, at 3:06 p.m.


I understand the reason women do not compete against men in tennis tournaments and track meets. However, I have a tougher time understanding the reason that women need their own division in chess. Is this an admission that women cannot compete with men in chess?

Does anyone know Hou Yifan's chess rating and how many men are rated higher than she is?

Text of New York Times article appears below (without the photo):

Late on Her Schoolwork? Well, She’s a Titan of Chess


Published: September 20, 2013

By her own definition, 19-year-old Hou Yifan is an average student. She is a sophomore at Peking University, one of China’s top colleges, and says she constantly falls behind on her work.

But she has a better excuse than most: Ms. Hou is one of the greatest chess prodigies in history. She has been ranked among the top 10 women in the world since she was 12 and became a grandmaster, the game’s top title, when she was 14 years old — the 15th youngest on record.

On Friday, while most of her fellow students were in class, Ms. Hou was routing Anna Ushenina of Ukraine in the last game of their Women’s World Chess Championship match in Taizhou, China.

Ms. Hou won the match 5.5 to 1.5 to recapture the crown, which she lost last year in the early rounds of a championship tournament. Ms. Ushenina, who is now 28, won the tournament, and the title. Ms. Hou first won the crown in 2010 when she was 16, making her the youngest player, man or woman, to win a world title. She successfully defended the title in 2011.

This year, Ms. Hou was the heavy favorite. She went into the match ranked as the No. 2 female player in the world; Ms. Ushenina’s ranking was No. 17.

For her victory, Ms. Hou earned the equivalent of about $160,000, while Ms. Ushenina received the equivalent of about $106,000.

In a telephone interview in English an hour after the last game Friday, Ms. Hou said the match “wasn’t so easy, but it also was not so difficult.” Because of her schedule at the university and because she had recently played in another tournament, she said, she had had little time to prepare.

Born in Xinghua, China, Ms. Hou discovered the game when she was 3 and her father took her to a store where she saw a glass chess set in a window and began staring at it. Her father bought a set, and she soon began beating him, so he found her a chess tutor. By 2003, at age 9, she was a member of the Chinese national team.

Describing herself Friday as a full-time student, Ms. Hou said she did not receive any “special privileges” that allowed her to avoid fulfilling her course requirements. She also has to be in class most of the time, although she is allowed to leave for tournaments. Her travel schedule — she was recently in Norway and will soon go to Greece — is making her studies difficult, but she said she took her books with her.

Ms. Hou is well known in China, so when she enrolled last year at the university, some of the other students were “a bit surprised,” she said. But she said her fellow students had gotten used to having her there.

Asked why she was in the university at all, she said, “I am trying to really learn something” other than chess.

Now that the championship is over, she is going back to school before she competes in the European Club Cup next month. Before leaving, she has to cram for exams.

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