Gibraltar Flash: Hou Yifan resigns in 5 moves!

by ChessBase
2/2/2017 – In a curious case at Gibraltar Masters, women's world champion Hou Yifan resigned in a mere 5 moves, breaking the record previously held by Viswanathan Anand for the quickest loss by a grandmaster. The 'scandal' occurred during the final round of the Masters tournament, known to be the best Open in the world.

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A controversial form of protest

In a bizarre series of events, Hou Yifan has lodged a unique form of protest at the Gibraltar Masters by choosing to make uncharacteristic moves in the opening and resign soon after.

Hou Yifan moments after resigning | Photo: John Saunders

The incident occurred in the final round of the Gibraltar Masters. Hou Yifan was playing with the white pieces on the 17th board against Indian GM Lalith Babu. She arrived 25 minutes after the games began and started to play quickly.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters 2017"] [Site "Caleta"] [Date "2017.02.02"] [Round "10"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Lalith Babu M R"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [WhiteElo "2651"] [BlackElo "2587"] [Annotator "ChessBase"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. g4 {1515} d5 {288} 2. f3 {22} e5 {119} 3. d3 {21} Qh4+ {221} 4. Kd2 {67} h5 {103} 5. h3 {95} hxg4 {119} 0-1

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GM Lalith Babu M.R. | Photo: Sophie Triay

Speaking to ChessBase India soon after the game, Lalith said, "I was scared when she played 1.g4 and I suspected preparation! But when I saw 2.f3, I figured out that something was wrong."

The game naturally attracted interest from onlookers  | Photo: John Saunders

To make matters even more curious, spectators are reporting that Yifan sported a smile during the game. Fans in social media are speculating that she may have done this in protest against the pairings-system that has been employed in the tournament where in 10 games, she has played 7 female players.

Rd. Bo. SNo Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. w-we
1 22 143 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa 2303 IRI 4.5 s 1 0.11
2 19 85 GM Zhukova Natalia 2447 UKR 5.5 w 1 0.24
3 11 47 GM Muzychuk Anna 2558 UKR 5.5 s ½ -0.13
4 16 51 GM Muzychuk Mariya 2546 UKR 6.0 w 1 0.36
5 4 5 GM Adams Michael 2751 ENG 7.0 s 0 -0.36
6 19 81 GM Cramling Pia 2454 SWE 5.0 w ½ -0.25
7 20 78 IM Ider Borya 2463 FRA 5.5 s 1 0.26
8 15 38 GM Ju Wenjun 2583 CHN 7.0 w 0 -0.59
9 23 66 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2492 GEO 5.0 s 1 0.29
10 17 37 GM Lalith Babu M R 2587 IND 6.0 w

Hou Yifan resigns

Yifan resigns on the live webcast

Speculations are also coming in from Gibraltar saying that some players suspect the pairings have been done manually while the arbiters denied such a scenario. While some are commenting that 'giving away the game' is unacceptable.

Official Update from Gibraltar Masters Officials:

Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan from China has apologized for giving away her game this morning against Lalith Babu M R from India in the last round of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival within five moves.

Hou Yifan and Tournament Organiser Brian Callaghan speak about the incident

In an exclusive interview with the Festival press team Hou Yifan tells Tania Sachdev she apologized to chess players, to her fans and those following the Gibraltar Masters. Hou Yifan said she had been dissatisfied and had been upset with the pairings throughout the tournament as she had drawn seven women players out of 10 rounds. Tournament organizer, Brian Callaghan, interviewed directly after the Women’s World Champion was disappointed at what had happened and felt she had let herself down. Being a World Champion he said brought with it a great responsibility. Although sympathetic about her reason for giving her game away, Mr. Callaghan was quite clear that he did not believe the pairings had been wrong or that the move by Hou Yifan had damaged the tournament. But he did refer to the world champion having had a “bad day at the office”. Mr. Callaghan insisted the festival had welcomed her several times to the Rock and the festival had always been a keen promoter of the women’s game in chess and that this would continue into the future.

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TheJackpot TheJackpot 2/3/2017 04:07
Joseph Toh:

As luck has it, various people have. All reaching the same conclusion: reproducable pairings. Only anomaly: in round 5 a pairing between Israel and Iran was not strictly adhering to the Swiss rules. Not relevant for Hou's pairing though.
Kevin Bonham Kevin Bonham 2/3/2017 04:01
Some of the posts here about probability, Bayesian reasoning etc ignore that this wasn't a predetermined experiment. If you know nothing about a coin and throw it 20 times and get 19 heads, having only tested this with a few coins before, you might be suspicious about the fairness of the coin. But if you do the same experiment thousands of times with different coins then sooner or later a coin that is actually far will throw 19 heads in 20 goes. Hundreds of prominent chessplayers play in multiple tournaments each every year - sooner or later a scenario like this, however improbable, will happen randomly.

For a given person to win the lottery is hugely unlikely, yet in a given lottery quite often someone's numbers come up because there are so many entries. Does that prove the lottery is rigged in that person's favour? A post hoc observation of something very improbable happening in one of so many such tournaments isn't reason for suspicion at all. Indeed if pairings so improbable never occurred that would be more remarkable!
Joseph Toh Joseph Toh 2/3/2017 03:36
It's extremely odd, considering the number of women players versus the number of men in the category.
If it was so, 'this things come out of machines', then the whole tournament pairings can be reproduced for verification.
mekbul99 mekbul99 2/3/2017 01:49
How is giving free win fair to the other participants who fight for a prize?
woodlands woodlands 2/3/2017 12:09
Don't make a big balloon out of it.
It was her decision and I want to see any of the guys here who has the guts to act like she did.
snosko snosko 2/3/2017 11:29
It is sad that this is the news worldwide instead of the brilliant performance by both Nakamura and Anton.
CostaMaison3 CostaMaison3 2/3/2017 11:17
This girl just likes to protest.

She protested against the world women championship and now against Gibraltar pairing.

If she is going to continue protesting, she will definitely loss her energy and her chess career, which reflect her inability to improve her rating during the last two years.
Balthus Balthus 2/3/2017 11:04
Totally agree, TheJackpot.
TheJackpot TheJackpot 2/3/2017 11:02

Well, people did just that: redo the pairing, explain certain pairings that people had suspicions about. So there are real arguments.

What I don't understand is why Hou didn't ask people to do that for her, to see if there was valid reason for her subjective issue. OK, I'm assuming she didn't, let's be fair. Maybe she did, and people told her the wrong things.

But yes, the burden should be on Hou in my opinion, just as in any case where people claim something. Unfortunately "proof" is a thing of the past. It's sufficient to find media to repeat your story. I don't think Hou should be penalized for this, but it would be the right thing to let the Ethical Commission address this issue.
sagitta sagitta 2/3/2017 10:42
Why are there separate prizes for women? Audi is flighting a superbowl advert which say equal pay for equal work - so why this sexual discrimination?
Balthus Balthus 2/3/2017 10:30
That, however, is no guesswork; what I refer to as guesswork is the pseudo-argument along the lines of "it's so unlikely it had to be rigged". That's what I mean: Yifan, I feel, should provide evidence to support such a severe accusation.
TheJackpot TheJackpot 2/3/2017 10:26
Balthus: if people repeat the pairing, find the same pairings as Gibraltar did, and are able to explain the pairings, then I would guess that is not really self-defeating but just a matter of doing what would be right in this situation: check facts. It's not important if the pairings were done manually or by computers, as long as they are correct, which they very much seem to be.
Balthus Balthus 2/3/2017 10:22
Can someone please explain on whose side the burden of proof would be in such a case? I suspect Yifan ought first to provide evidence for the fixing of the pairings, which I do not think she has done so far. And this, knowing that such a claim borders on the criminal accusation. Until such proof is given and investigated, I think all guesswork is self-defeating.
TheJackpot TheJackpot 2/3/2017 10:12
I wonder... if in a little when it starts to dawn on people that there was no misbehaving on part of the organizing committee, if it will be big news again. Or if by then everybody is no longer interested and is satisfied with "well done by Hou, bad bad organizers"
portici portici 2/3/2017 09:55
I am amazed by the comments which ignore the deterministic nature of the pairing program, and provide silly probability arguments. We should rerun the pairing system again to verify if there is flaw, as TheJackpot
has done (kudos to TheJackpot). To those who misuse probability argument: Imagine you play in a 100-person
Swiss tournament, got paired with X in round 1, paired with Y in round 2, paired with Z in round 3, where X, Y, Z
are total strangers. Well, you can yell unfair after the third round: You chances of playing X in round 1 is 1/99, playing Y in round 2 is 1/98, playing Z in round 3 is 1/97. So your chances of meeting X, Y, Z is 1/(99*98*97). And yet it happened.
TheJackpot TheJackpot 2/3/2017 09:48

I think I understand your argument:

It must have been manipulated since it is so unlikely to occur, so the organizers suck for manipulating the pairings. But if they didn't manipulate it, they suck for not manipulating it.

OK, makes sense.

And if doing what everyone here is yelling that should be done ("publish the algorithm so people can check it"), you dismiss it as "plant from the other side". Okay... sounds nice. Sounds reasonable. (not!)

It reads like "Hou is right and the organizers suck, and I don't want to hear anything else".

I've only looked at round 3. Deac moved from 36 to table 2, since in round 2 he was in the upper half of the score bracket, where in round 3 he was in the second half of the score bracket. So first he was at the bottom of the top group and paired at the end of the people with 1 point, and then he was near the top of the second half, so paired at the top boards of the group with 2.

For the pairing of the other people:
If you look at board 5,6,7,8,10, you will see that the players you mentioned all have black. That's already hinting to the explanation. All their opponents started the tournament with white in round 1, black in round 2. For the pairing regulations that means they have a "mild preference for white", but still a preference for black.

The pairing rules say to fulfill these as much as possible, and the mechanism is "transposing", in other words: in your second half of the score bracket, in a specified order, you can change the order of the players, which is what happened here. That's why board 9 has a player with a higher rank than Anna.

The pairing rules will allow you to take 2 pairings, and tell you which one is better, based on formal criteria. It's not something that gives you every reason to just pick one and say it is according to the rules.

If you give ten arbiters the pairingcards and the assignment "pair round 3", they should all find that pairing. (Hey, it's round 3, round 10 is a lot trickier and takes a lot of time, good thing we have computers)
manebivocu31 manebivocu31 2/3/2017 09:43
How can people complain about that "she is the world champion, she should act more responsibly"?
This is exactly what I expect from a world champion: to stand up, speak out and make some fuzz about a situation in which you feel that you and/or others are treated unfair! Who else is supposed to do this, if not the world champion? If anyone of the other "small fish" like the muzychuk sisters or whoever would have stood up, they could have gotten into big trouble, by not being invited to bigger tournaments in the future.

And this action did not come out of nowhere. She had spoken to the arbiter already two rounds earlier and to other players. She was not the only one, who had the feeling that something was weird. It wasnt just the w-w pairing, as dohopr already said. The list could go on, like "Fridman-Zatoshkin" (husband and wife) in the last round or Anna and Juan Bellon in the third round (father and daughter). Even if it turns out that there was nothing going on (thanks to Theackpot and hopefully others), it was her right to speak up. And she did it in a way, as one would expect from a professional, apologizing to all fans out there as the very first thing.

@ strategos78: Fischer and Kasparov? They were anti-establishment and disrepectful to their opponents (one can argue about this) from time to time, just as Carlsen and Hou who both forfeited their runs for the WCh. They all deserve respect for their chess achievements, but also for the things that happened beside the board.

@Bright Knight: Ju and Stefanova both playing one game vs other women falls right into the statistics, when 10-20% of the participants where female. This is not an argument against Hou's statement.

@Ekkamai: Complaining about emotions by posting a very emotional comment, wow...
"But what she did was just pure speculation and anyone who has a basic education in probabilities understand that anything can happen, even if it's 0.000000001% chance."
Are you serious? If 0.000000001% would be the real probability for such kind of pairings, you would need a number of tournaments in the order of 1000000000 to have a realistic change to observe it actually happen.

@some others: I think it is quite obvious WHY they would have made these kind of pairings: The show and PR!
Remember the headlines when Polgar and Hou played in Gibraltar in 2012? "Hou Yifan beats Judit Polgar in an historic encounter" If that is not promotion for the tournament I dont know what is.

I am curious how this story goes on, because rigging pairings is a huge thing. It is manipulation by the arbiters and those who are responsible for the tournament.
huzar huzar 2/3/2017 09:40
The behavior of Chinese champion is highly unprofessional, speaking very cautiously, perhaps for such behavior contributed to the failure of its Chinese competitor. Gibraltar Masters tournament had a very strong cast and even the world champion women it was hard to find it. It's really hard sometimes to understand the behavior of women, and the alleged plea manual matchmaking This is simply ridiculous, donating Hindu superior artist point without playing wesoce unsportsmanlike!
pocketknife pocketknife 2/3/2017 09:18
Interesting! We defintitely should care more about Hou. She cryes for HELP!
chidoznn chidoznn 2/3/2017 08:22
@strategos78 - No offense to u...but dont u think it is rather harsh to say ''Rather not play than give this distressing show with total disrespect for the opponent. It is symptomatic of a period without luster, without class ...'' this is how u choose to express can be interpreted in different ways for e.g i am appalled my ur choice of words. She was pained and i can relate with that. What we shuld focus on is proof of human or no human intervention or improving the algorithim of the swiss pairing altogther. Yifan is a great modest lady and a remarkable player. Not even her actions yesterday can take that away. Cheers
strategos78 strategos78 2/3/2017 07:51
This game deserves better than that ... Capablanca, Tal, Fischer, Kasparov ... Names that impose respect. Rather not play than give this distressing show with total disrespect for the opponent. It is symptomatic of a period without luster, without class ...
billbrock billbrock 2/3/2017 07:38
So if 27 of the top 150 players were women, then (27/150)^7*10!/7! = .0044 is a reasonable guesstimate of the probability. Unlikely to happen to Hou again in her lifetime, but the odds are not at all astronomical. It's a credit to Gibraltar that so many women want to play. For this particular field, the true odds are probably somewhat higher, as she outranked the other top women players and was consistently in the top of her score group.
kidlat1994 kidlat1994 2/3/2017 07:22
So whaT? This is a tourney? Were they not in the same bracket score?
What the bannanas. Why dont she just beat all of them and show her skills and complain.

But no, childish act is better!!
Rambus Rambus 2/3/2017 06:43
Throwing a game on an obscure tournament like this is nothing! Both Fischer & Kramnik have thrown games in the battle for the ultimate crown - the world championship. But they did so by not showing up and forfeiting.
HarryHaller HarryHaller 2/3/2017 05:17
Unbelievable cognitive dissonance...the arrogance and spoiled behavior of female players never ceases to amaze. Hou Yifan is playing in a tournament where in a previous year she won more money than the overall winner (who scored more points than her) due to her being a woman. There are enormous prizes just for women in the tournament, which is WHY there are more than the usual number of women. A computer made the pairings - nobody was "discriminating" against her by pairing her against women. It was just random chance, combined with the number of points she had at particular points in the tournament. If she won more games, she would be more likely to play against male players. There are plenty of tournaments around the world where she could be assured of playing only men. Of course, those tournaments would not have special prizes solely for her! And to protest this, she loses on purpose - in one of her games against a man, nonetheless! Meanwhile, males of her rating are just hoping to win some money to survive financially. I really hope nobody is going to pretend such an infantile fit is worthy of attention or in any way justified.
Ekkamai Ekkamai 2/3/2017 04:43
Why are you using men logic (calculating probabilities 'n shit) to explain women logic?

What happened is pretty obvious to me. She lost to Ju Wenjun and got upset and used her "7 women pairings" to express her frustrations. It's all women emotions guys.

And afterall, she did not file any official written complaint, which is logical (not in planet Women though) to do if you think that pairings were altered. If she would've done so, maybe swiss pairing logs and settings would have been checked (if possible) and she would have been officially proven wrong. But what she did was just pure speculation and anyone who has a basic education in probabilities understand that anything can happen, even if it's 0.000000001% chance.

So you can leave her cries for herself and it just damaged her own reputation. Cry me a river.
Simplifier20 Simplifier20 2/3/2017 04:33
Yes that's what I thought too "Maturner". She was so happy after winning her game on Round 7 with a Queen Sacrifice, but her defeat against Ju Wenjun really devastated her. If it was a draw or if she had won her game against Ju Wenjun, then I think she will not brought up this female-female pairing which I think is not really a huge deal to complain about.
Bright Knight Bright Knight 2/3/2017 04:03
The two highest-placed women - Ju Wenjun and Stefanova - played only 1 woman each in 10 rounds, belying Hou's claim that the other ladies were also "discriminated" against. The simple conclusion is that if you play well throughout, you'll meet the strongest players (who are men in Hou's view). Hou played inconsistently and lagged mostly in mid-rankings, where chances of facing other women are probably higher. That's what the Swiss system is all about.
Maturner Maturner 2/3/2017 03:34
I think she went on "tilt" after losing to Ju Wenjun.
zookid zookid 2/3/2017 03:29
Koko48 says:

And even if we are to believe Hou's pairings were not manipulated in any way (which requires some suspension of disbelief), then the pairings should have been tweaked.....If they, against all odds, came out of the computer with Hou Yifan playing 7 women out of 10

I agree completely. If by some weird statistical anomaly she is getting paired this way, by Round 3 I would be stepping in and making some tweaks to the program.

To simplify the odds of Hou drawing a woman in each round,

Rd 1 : 1 in 10 chance
Rd 2 : 1 in 11 chance
Rd 3 : 1 in 19 chance
Rd 4 : 1 in 7 chance
Rd 5 : 0 in 7 chance (and she plays Adams)
Rd 6 : 1 in 6 chance
Rd 7 : 1 in 14 and she does not play a female
Rd 8 : 1 in 10 chance
Rd 9 : 1 in 4 chance
Rd 10 1 in 11 and she does not play a female

This is based on number of players with same total points and side of color, slightly rounding on a couple.
There are other discrepancies, as I pointed out earlier. Another example is Anna Muzychuk rising to table 11 against You in Rd 3. However 4 seeds below her rose to tables 5, 6, 7 and 8, and Deac jumped from table 36 to table 2.
There has been other discussion this week among the players, with some expressing their concerns with the pairings. No big deal. Just show up and let your talking be done at the board, right?
But to show up on this discussion, and claim you have ran the exact same program and got the exact same pairings for every round, ...tells me you are just a "plant from the other side" that is here to squash the conversation.
JeanH JeanH 2/3/2017 03:17
Why would the organizers want to pair Hou against women ? This does not make any sense. She must have some other serious problem in her life...
Alf23 Alf23 2/3/2017 03:04
I'm really sorry about Hou Yifan, It's not the way to protest throwing a game, no matter what the reason is, chess is beautiful played by the GMs and knowing this was not a blunder It is a pity. She has to recover from this and if she loves chess is obliged to play better games in order to build the path to the top. Best regards. Go Hou!.
BeachBum2 BeachBum2 2/3/2017 02:42
If the exact pairing algorithm (based on current points, ELO, colors etc) is not public - it is very weird. How this can happen in a professional sport on such a high level? I can understand people might get upset and do something radical to raise awareness.

What organizers need to do is to publish the algorithm they used. Is they were indeed making pairs based on whatever they wanted (within some points based brackets)... than different people should at lest change it to a program for the next tournament.

In such tournaments there is a huge difference (especially in early rounds) between levels of people with the same number of points. Algorithm should be known to avoid any speculations. I wrote somewhat similar pairing code myself in the past... yes, at some point you might have to call random() function but this should be known when it is called.
onyman onyman 2/3/2017 02:39
I don't understand why she is so upset about being paired against many women. Why is playing against a 2500-woman "worse" than playing against a 2500-man?
shintaro_go shintaro_go 2/3/2017 02:30
I support Yifan in the sense that there should be fairness in the pairings. But for me, she should have won her game or even crushed her opponent just to really prove that she deserves to be paired against stronger players. She could have held a press conference or an interview after the game instead. But to each his/her own. What she did caught the attention of the chess world for sure.
bloodypatzer bloodypatzer 2/3/2017 02:27
so what if you were paired with 7 female players? they're still human and chess players, right? her attitude was pathetic and uncalled for. she should be given some sanctions for her actions.
koko48 koko48 2/3/2017 01:47
IMO it is not Mr. Callaghan's place to lecture Hou Yifan on her 'responsibilities' as World Champion

I don't know Hou Yifan personally but I believe she is quite aware of her responsibilities, not just as Women's WC but as an ambassador for chess....And I believe she lodged this protest with those responsibilities in mind

Her responsibilities are HERS, and hers to decide. Mr. Callaghan's responsibilities are HIS. HIS responsibilities are to ensure the tournament and the pairings are fair to all players.

And even if we are to believe Hou's pairings were not manipulated in any way (which requires some suspension of disbelief), then the pairings should have been tweaked.....If they, against all odds, came out of the computer with Hou Yifan playing 7 women out of 10

If I may presume to lecture Mr. Callaghan on HIS responsibilities, I would say that in this instance some manual pairings should have been done. Or alternatively the pairings should have been run through the computer a second or third time (perhaps with different parameters) until a different result was reached
meems meems 2/3/2017 01:47
any bias for pairing women with women will stand out a mile with stats analysis in a tournament this size. I haven't looked at the details, it may be an artefact of a lower entry elo for women, but this should not effect the women above 2500 elo.
besler besler 2/3/2017 01:40
All Swiss System pairing programs use a deterministic algorithm to make the pairings. This means that the exact same conditions will always result in the same pairings (where the "conditions" are made up of the ratings, current tournament score, and previous color assignments of all participants). For this reason, it's silly to resort to any sort of statistical analysis to explain this situation, since there is no randomness involved whatsoever.
However, I believe that all of these pieces of software allow the tournament directors the ability to override the generated pairings, and probably even allow them the ability to force pairings between certain players. It sounds like Hou is convinced that this was occurring, and frankly I would be surprised if she didn't have strong evidence. To do this without the consent of all the players involved, and without notifying the players before the start of the tournament, would be hugely unethical.
Anyways, someone could theoretically figure out if this had occurred by downloading some free Swiss System Pairing software and simulating the tournament round-by-round.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 2/3/2017 01:33
@JanneKejo --
Go to, I believe you will find:

Pairing program Swiss-Manager from Heinz Herzog, Swiss-Manager tournamentfile