China’s ‘Queen of Chess’ quits match to protest ‘weird’ all-female pairings in open tournament
The world’s top female chess player has given up her last game to protest being paired against mostly female players at a major tournament where male contestants outnumbered them.
The dramatic loss of Chinese grandmaster and women’s world champion Hou Yifan came only five moves into the final round of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival against male opponent Babu Lalith of India.
Hou later apologised to fans in a video on the open event’s website, but said she was upset by the “unbelievable and weird pairings” after playing against seven women in ten rounds.
“I think it’s unfair, not only for me, but for the other women players,” the 22 year-old player often referred as the “Queen of Chess” said.
Tournament founder Brian Callaghan said he understood Hou’s concerns, but said the pairings were “100 per cent correct.”
“I’m sorry for Yifan because I think she let herself down,” Callaghan said in the same video. “This is what I call a bad day in the office.”
Hou spoke earlier this year against the different rules by the World Chess Federation in women and men’s tournaments and pledged to attend only open events in the future.