Young stars ready to battle at Hou Yifan Challenge

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/17/2021 – The Hou Yifan Challenge, the final regular event on the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour, will take place on September 18-21 in the chess24 Playzone. The prize fund is $15,000, with $3,000 for the winner, who also gets to play alongside Magnus Carlsen and co. in the next edition’s first event of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Fourth event of the Julius Baer Tour

Press release by the Play Magnus Group

The Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour is a showcase for some of the world’s most talented young male and female chess players, and we’re now into the final regular event on the tour.

The Hou Yifan Challenge is named after the current women’s no. 1 and 4-time Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan, who is also one of the coaches helping Vladimir Kramnik and Judit Polgar provide advice and instruction to the players. 

The prize fund is $15,000, with $3,000 for the winner, who also gets to play alongside Magnus Carlsen and co. in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour — the winner of the Hou Yifan Challenge will now be invited to the first event on next year’s tour, starting in February 2022.

The action kicks off at 10:00 ET/16:00 CEST/19:30 IST on Saturday 18th September, with five rounds of 10+5 rapid chess, before there are four rounds on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. All games are played in the chess24 Playzone.

Hou Yifan Challenge 2021

The top seed is Praggnanandhaa, who won the first event on the tour, the Polgar Challenge, while his Indian colleague Gukesh, who won the Gelfand Challenge, doesn’t play. That’s significant, as Gukesh is currently in the Top 8 players on the tour who will be invited to next month’s $40,000 Final, but he can now be caught.

The current player scores — there are 20 points for finishing 1st, 19 for 2nd, and so on: 

Title Name Rtg Club Polgar Ch Gelfand Kramnik Hou Yifan Total
GM Keymer Vincent 2591 Polgar 15 18 20   53
GM Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2627 Kramnik 19 15 18 *NP 52
IM Murzin Volodar 2478 Polgar 16 17 15   48
GM Liang Awonder 2592 Polgar 14 13 19   46
IM Yoo Christopher Woojin 2455 Kramnik 13 14 17   44
GM Praggnanandhaa R 2608 Kramnik 20 19     39
GM Gukesh D 2578 Polgar 18 20   *NP 38
GM Lei Tingjie 2505 Kramnik 10 10 16   36
GM Nihal Sarin 2620 Polgar 17 16   *NP 33
IM Mendonca Leon Luke 2549 Kramnik 12 12 6   30
WGM Zhu Jiner 2459 Polgar 9 7 11   27
GM Bjerre Jonas Buhl 2550 Kramnik 11 8 7 *NP 26
IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2494 Polgar 5 11 9 *NP 25
IM Shuvalova Polina 2476 Polgar 7 3 10 *NP 20
IM Yip Carissa 2430 Kramnik 3 2 14 *NP 19
IM Saduakassova Dinara 2500 Kramnik 1 5 12 *NP 18
IM Salimova Nurgyul 2397 Kramnik 8 6   *NP 14
IM Mammadzada Gunay 2443 Polgar 4 9     13
IM Maurizzi Marc Andria 2488 Polgar     13 *NP 13
IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2472 Polgar 6 4   *NP 10
FM Daggupati Balaji 2429 Polgar     8   8
FM Sokolovsky Yahli 2415 Kramnik     5   5
IM Badelka Olga 2433 Kramnik 2 1   *NP 3

*NP = not playing

In fact, given who’s playing in the Hou Yifan Challenge, it’s only Leon Mendonca and Zhu Jiner who are outside the Top 8 and have a chance to break in during the event. For instance, 9th place for China's Zhu Jiner would see her overtake Gukesh. 

There are also overall team standings, with the teams competing for a trip to Dubai during the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi World Chess Championship match. Team Polgar has a big lead — 260½ points to 234 — but Team Kramnik has some reinforcements for this event.

Hou Yifan Challenge 2021

12-year-old Abhimanyu Mishra needs no introduction after becoming the youngest chess grandmaster in history at the age of 12 years, 4 months and 25 days, while there are also two young Polish players making their debut on the tour on the personal recommendation of World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

18-year-old Paweł Teclaf reached the semi-finals of this year’s Polish Championship, while 21-year-old Oliwia Kiołbasa pulled off a shock by taking bronze at this year’s European Women’s Championship, despite starting as only the 43rd seed.

Vishali, a former Girls World Youth Under 12 and Under 14 Champion, was previously announced as a reserve, and will now join her brother Praggnanandhaa in playing.

Hou Yifan Challenge 2021

Team Polgar also sees two players who were previously reserves making their debut: 14-year-old Indian IM Aditya Mittal and 16-year-old Russian WGM Leya Garifullina, who knocked Olga Girya out on the way to Round 3 of the recent FIDE Women's World Cup.

Live commentary will be provided on all four days of the event from Latvian Grandmaster Arturs Neikšāns, who will be joined first by Ellen Nilssen, and for later days by Boris Gelfand, with more guests sure to join the commentary.

Master Class Vol.11: Vladimir Kramnik

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors (Pelletier, Marin, Müller and Reeh) how to successfully organise your games strategically, consequently how to keep y


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register