Last month, the world chess governing body, FIDE, sent out an email to all the participants saying Hou Yifan had dropped out of the Women’s Grand Prix cycle, midway. Hyderabad-based D. Harika had also received the mail.
Little did she imagine then that Yifan, the world’s best female chess player by a distance, was going to stay out of the World championship altogether. The World No. 1 said she did not want to defend her World title in the current system.
That system demands the 22-year-old Chinese to play in various FIDE events, including the Grand Prix tournaments, if she has to defend the World championship, which she won for the second time after beating Ukraine’s Mariya Muzychuk; there was a difference of 104 Elo points between them.
Yifan suggests the women’s World title should be decided in the same way the men’s is. The men’s World champion gets an opportunity to defend his title without playing a single game: he will meet the challenger who qualifies from the Candidates tournament.
“I decided to drop out from the Grand Prix cycle after I received an unclear answer from FIDE regarding the possibility of a change in the current Women’s World Championship system,” said Yifan, in an interview to chessbase.com . “I do not see any point in taking part in the different stages of the Grand Prix cycle only to be able to play in the World championship, especially when the opponents usually are at least one hundred points below me..”
Harika, the World women’s online blitz champion, said she could empathise with Yifan, whom she has met across the chessboard on several occasions.
“It would be nice for us women to have a World championship cycle like that of the men, but I think it would be difficult for FIDE to find sponsors for that,” the World No. 10 told The Hindu over phone from Hyderabad on Saturday.
“But I am a bit disappointed by her decision. Women’s chess will be less competitive without her. I would like to win the World championship in which Yifan is a contender.”
For that to happen, FIDE would have to agree to Yifan’s proposal.
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