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GM Hou Yifan is a true chess prodigy who has been smashing records since the age of 12 when she became the youngest player ever to compete in the Chess Olympiad. In the same year, Hou Yifan became the youngest ever to compete in the FIDE Women’s World Championship.
2 years later, Hou Yifan broke Judit Polgar’s record as the youngest female GM and, aged 16, she became the youngest ever Women’s World Champion.
In this video, Hou Yifan takes us through her first steps on this journey of astonishing success with analysis of 2 important – and instructive – games.
Game 1 is against Yu Wang, the Asian Champion at the time. We join the game after 21 moves of a Ruy Lopez with Black having a solid-looking position. Hou Yifan plays the very brave 22.f4! This move not only opens the long diagonal, it allows Black to win the exchange immediately. However, this would give White complete control of the dark squares and some nasty threats against d6.
Wisely, her opponent refuses the sacrifice and maintains a pawn on e5. Undeterred, Hou starts a dance of her pieces, improving their activity while encouraging new weaknesses from her opponent. When she has got all her pieces to the Kingside, g4! rips open lines. The whole attack is hugely instructive, especially as its against a typical Ruy Lopez setup.
Game 2 sees Hou Yifan venture her favorite Bishop’s Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4) in the Women’s World Championship against the Ukranian GM Natalia Zhukova. Despite being only 12 years old and playing someone rated 200 points higher than her, Hou Yifan shows breathtaking bravery, accepting an isolated pawn in order to control an open file.
A nice tactic wins a pawn and exposes Natalia Zhukova’s King. Next, Hou establishes an iron grip on the game from there, harassing the King and not giving Zhukova any time to develop her Queenside. A fantastic win, brought to life by Yifan’s commentary.
To discover more brilliant games and anecdotes from Hou Yifan, check out her complete chess24 course My Career So Far.