Hou Yifan is a Chinese chess grandmaster and four-time Women’s World Chess Champion.
A chess prodigy, she is the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of grandmaster and the youngest ever to win the Women’s World Chess Championship.
At the age of 12, Hou became the youngest player ever to participate in the Women’s World Championship (Yekaterinburg 2006) and the Chess Olympiad (Torino 2006).
In June 2007, she became youngest Chinese Women’s Champion ever. She achieved the titles of Woman FIDE Master in January 2004, Woman Grandmaster in January 2007, and Grandmaster in August 2008.
In 2010, she won the 2010 Women’s World Championship in Hatay, Turkey at age 16. She won the next three championships in which the title was decided by a match (in 2011, 2013 and 2016, with a total of ten wins to zero losses and 14 draws against three different opponents), but was either eliminated early or declined to participate in the championships in which the title was decided by a knockout tournament (in 2012, 2015 and 2017).
Hou is the third woman ever to be rated among the world’s top 100 players, after Maia Chiburdanidze and Judit Polgár. She is widely regarded as the best active female chess player, “leaps and bounds” ahead of her competitors.
As of May 2019, she is the No. 1 ranked woman in the world, 72 points ahead of the No. 2 ranked Ju Wenjun. She was named in the BBC’s 100 Women programme in 2017.
- Full name: Hou Yifan
- Profession: Chinese chess grandmaster
- Born: 27 February 1994 (age 26 years), Xinghua, Jiangsu, Taizhou, China
- Title: Grandmaster (2008)
- Women’s World Champion: 2010–2012; 2013–2015; 2016–2017
- Peak rating: 2686 (March 2015)
- Education: Peking University, High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China
- Parents: Hou Xuejian, Wang Qian