Posted by David Miller as Classic Board Games
This week at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, Hou Yifan of China, the reigning Women’s World Champion, stunned the Chess world by throwing her game in round 10 against her lower ranked male opponent, Babu Lalith of India. In an interview after the match, which she conceded after just five moves, Hou apologized to Chess fans but reiterated her complaint—previously lodged with tournament organizers—about being paired with women opponents in seven out of the previous nine rounds.
Many international Chess events run separate sections to promote the game among women, who are significantly underrepresented in Chess circles, particularly at the highest levels. Hou Yifan ranks 105th among all players and she was playing in an open tournament (that is, men and women) at Tradewise Gibraltar.
In response, one of the tournament organizers said, “I understand, if I was in her shoes and I was playing and suddenly I pulled a draw of six girls—one after the other—I would say also, ‘What’s going on here?’ But clearly nothing was going on. It comes out of a machine and sometimes the odds fall that way.”
How few women would she have had to play for it her to consider it a fair set of pairings? Were all the women placed against each other on the early rounds? None of the other articles are detailing that anyone else had issues with the pairings, or answering these questions. Thanks in advance if anyone knows the answers or can point me to another article.
Here is a statement issued by the tournament organizers. Perhaps it may answer your questions.