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Xu Yuhua Women's Champ

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Not to start up the discussion about the relevance of women's titles again, but China's Xu Yuhua defeated Alisa Galliamova to become the new women's world champion. The 30-year-old won both games with black to end the match in three games, 2.5/3. ChessBase item here. Official site here, though it doesn't have the final news yet. Xu Yuhua is ranked #635 in the world. Three of the last four women's champions have been Chinese. Albert posts below that according to the Chinese media, Xu Yuhua is pregnant. Mazeltov!


Hard to get excited about any K.O. tournament, but this one was especially unexciting.

Imagine giving a party, inviting friends from all over the world, and before your guests can get to their second drink, you call for a round of "Musical Chairs", after which half of the guests get booted.

No sooner is that done than you do it again... and again!

Good-bye Ms. so-and-so, we hardly knew ye. And these poor ladies had been training and preparing for a whole year.

Thumbs down on the K.O. format.

Congratulations to Xu! It was an amazing performance (she did not lose a single game throughout the tournament), especially considering that she's pregnant (source: Chinese media).

Anyone who doesn't know Xu Yuhua hardly follows professional chess. China has dominated female chess for the past 15 years winning several Olympiad tournaments and World Championships. Ms. Xu has been every part of China's success for the better part of a decade. More to come when 12-year old Hou Yifan evolves!

Chinese men may also break through this year with GMs Bu Xiangzhi (21), Ni Hua (23), Wang Yue (18), Wang Hao (15). Not quite Azerbaijan or the Ukraine, but very good.

Yes, China can develop its own strong players in a minority sport. The US can learn a lot from them. Or just steal all their players and not bother with developing home-grown talent.


it could have turned out a lot worse... At least we have a new champion that's rated over 2500 and who one can actually imagine of comming out on top of a qualification cycle+WC-match.
Also, both she and Galliamova dominated most of their opponents quite convincingly (only one tiebreak each), and Xu Yuhua outplayed Alisa Galliamova relatively convincingly in their direct encounter.
If the ratings were updated today, Yuhua would gain about 15 points, in effect making her 3rd (or 4th if you count Susan Polgar) woman in the world after Judit Polgar and Koneru Humpy.

Correction: If ratings were updated today, Xu Yuhua would also be behind Kosteniuk, who gained a load of point in the Aeroflot Open. So we have a WC who's rated #5 in the world; #4 for active players. #3 for active players who play in women's tournaments. Not bad for a KO, really.

My objection to this K.O. tournament is not that it produced an undeserving champion (add my congratulations and mazel tov to the others') but that its peculiar nature makes it difficult if not impossible to get to know the protagonists (their chess styles and personal trivia).

It's like training camp in the NFL: a large group of unknowns (rookies), most of whom will be gone by the end of camp, but you don't know in advance who. Thus one is leery of forming an attachment to anyone in particular. Hard to be a fan of someone who could be gone tomorrow.


Firstly, why would Xu Yuhua be an undeserving champion if she beat the strongest opposition?

Secondly, why wouldn't you be able to see their styles in the games they are playing?

Thirdly, your analogy to the NFL is questionable. These women are playing for the individual World Championship... they are already the best of the best (and are known), not rookies trying to get through training camp and get a spot on the roster.

Fourthly, you're right that the players will be gone, but that is also true in American team sports championships. The NCAA KO championships is one of the most exciting. Top teams were KOed and went home. However, there were many interesting stories told throughout such as George Mason. Are they undeserving?

It is a function of how well these events and its players are marketed. FIDE women's championship was poorly marketed. That is why you did not hear much about it in the press.

Guess I didn't manage to express myself clearly.

Of course Xu Yuhua is a deserving champion. I meant to say that my complaint* about the WWCC is NOT of that nature.

Well, congratulations to Xu! Maybe the letter "X" will point to a glorious chess destiny for Women, the way the letter "K" was (for a while, at least) an indicator of potential Champion status amongst the men.

Xu played extremely solidly, and was able to win all but one of her matches in the Classical chess portion, requiring the minimum of games. Only in the 4th Round (Quarterfinal) match vs Ekaterina Kovalevskaya (RUS) was she forced to play any rapid chess games.

Galliamova lost her 2nd Women's World Championship Final Match. She had given a much better accounting of herself against Xie Jun. Of course, that was back before FIDE Championship Final matches consisted of just 4 scheduled games.

All in all, not a huge upset--Xu was ranked 5th by rating, in the field of 64 players. Probably, only Humpy Koneru and Sasha Kosteniuk could be considered to be better players than Xu, and they failed to demonstrate their superiority in the WC tournament. There are plenty of strong women players whose last names begin with the letter "K", but that has not correlated with reaching the highest success.

It is interesting that former Women's World Champion Zhu Chen was slated to play, but she apparently ended up forfeiting her match in the 1st round. Had she shown up (and been in good health?) Zhu would have also been considered a favorite.

Is Xu another example of the Chinese School's "First Among Equals" principle, whereby Champions are encourage to cede the field to promising young players? Certainly, the fact that Xu will become a Mother would lead one to believe that she might be inclined to become much less active than heretofore.

"china", the success of the Chinese players has to take into context the differing conditions that exist in the USA, as compared to those in China. Since China is an authoritarian state, if it is determined that achieving competitive successes in a particular endeavor is desireable, the government is willing and eager to invest substantial amounts of money to intensively train promising young chess players on a full time basis. Given the Billions of $$ that are devoted to training athletes in Olympic sports, spending a few million to achieve dominance in Women's Chess must seem like a relatively trivial cost.

Well, Doug, very interesting.

I think MUCH more is spent on sport in the US than in China (or anywhere else). The resources are there in the US to pump out medallists in any sport where there is prestige and talent. Such as running short distances very quickly.

Chess is the US is just not a priority, plus it does not respond all that well to great facilities.

There are physical limitations to Chinese success in size and strength related sports, so maybe better to put relatively more effort into chess.

As for huge Chinese medal count in 2008, sure they want it. But it necessitates investing in 10 meter air pistol shooting ratger than swimming or running.

I for one welcome our new Asian overlords :-)

"China has dominated female chess for the past 15 years winning several Olympiad tournaments and World Championships"

Dear Mr Shabazz,

China has NOT dominated female chess for the past 15 years. Have ever heard of Judit Polgar? And if I may ask another question, has Chinese chess ever produced a player, male or female, rated above Judit today's rating?

By the way, not so long ago you could believe, from women's result, that they were just unable to play chess correctly. With Judit Polgar, we have a proof that women can play chess, and can play good enough to be world champion. And that therefore, the female chess has no reason to exist any more. "Female chess" is an insult to women's intelligence.


Last I checked, Judit does not compete in gender-restricted tournaments. Your argument has no merit whatsoever.

No one is arguing the merit of women's chess here. That's been done before. The fact is (and recent history suggests) that China has dominated women's chess. I'm not sure why you would argue against this point when the data are available.

"Female chess" is a way of saying the competitions that exclusively feature female players... Olympiad and World Championships. Of course, women can compete is other tournaments (as Judit and others have done), but that is not the issue here.


For you information, here is the tally for the Chinese Olympiad team since 1990.

Gold: Hungary
Silver: Russia
Bronze: China

Gold: Georgia
Silver: Ukraine
Bronze: China

Gold: Georgia
Silver: Hungary
Bronze: China

Gold: Georgia
Silver: China
Bronze: Russia

Gold: China
Silver: Russia
Bronze: Georgia

Gold: China
Silver: Georgia
Bronze: Russia

Gold: China
Silver: Georgia
Bronze: Poland

Gold: China
Silver: USA
Bronze: Russia

Oh... not to mention Xie Jun, Zhu Chen and now Xu Yuhua were World Champions in the past 10 years.

If that is not domination, I don't know what is.

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