THE Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival ended dramatically with a tie for first place between rising Chinese star Hou Yifan and English veteran Nigel Short, as both top-scored on 8/10 to finish a half point clear of the chasing pack of Michael Adams, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Viktor Bologan and Emil Sutovsky.
However, the tournament rules dictate that in the event of a tie, the players have to play a series of speed playoff games, not only for the title but also for the first prize of £20,000.
This duly went to the former world title challenger Short, who beat Hou, 1.5-0.5. In addition to the £20,000 first prize, Short won £5,000 for the Commonwealth prize, awarded in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and only eligible to the top-scoring Commonwealth player.
Despite all of this, there was no escaping the fact that the talk of the Rock was 17-year-old Hou Yifan, who pocketed the £12,000 second prize and a further £10,000 for the best female performance – a prize everyone expected Judit Polgar would easily win.
Hou’s incredible performance, though, was purely Polgaresque in itself. She beat elite grandmasters Polgar, Zoltan Almasi, Le Quang Liem plus Alexei Shirov, and drew with Adams and Mamedyarov for a tournament performance rating that went off the scale for a woman, at an astonishing 2872.
She’s now the second highest rated female in the history of the game – and closing in fast on Polgar.
Hou Yifan - Z Almasi
Tradewise Gibraltar Masters (3),
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 0–0 Nxe4 5 d4 Nd6 6 Bxc6 dxc6 7 dxe5 Nf5 8 Qxd8+ Kxd8 9 Nc3 Bd7 10 h3 h6 11 b3 c5 12 Nd5 g5 13 Bb2 Be6 14 Rad1 Kc8 15 c4 b6 16 Nd2 Bg7 17 Ne4 Kb7 18 Rd2 a5 19 f4 a4 20 g4 Nd4 21 b4 a3 22 Ba1 Ra4 23 bxc5 Rxc4 24 Nxc7! Kxc7 25 cxb6+ Kc6 26 Bxd4 Rd8 27 Rfd1 Bf8 28 f5 Bc8 29 Bf2 Rxd2 30 Nxd2 Rc3 31 Ne4 Rc2 32 Rd8 Bb7 33 Rxf8 Rxa2 34 e6 1–0