With tactics exploding on the board at every turn, GM Hou Yifan defeated GM Alexandra Kosteniuk in the quarterfinals of the FIDE Chess.com 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship on Thursday. Hou gained an early lead, but Kosteniuk fought back valiantly. In this thrilling matchup, Hou’s attacking play and tactical vision ultimately prevailed.
Blitz 5|1: Hou 6-3 Kosteniuk
Hou claimed the first victory with an insightful combination, exchanging into an advantageous endgame.
Hou often employed sharp Sicilians to create attacking chances, such as in game four where she broke through with an exchange sacrifice.
In game six, Hou gave up her queen for three minor pieces. In this fascinating unbalanced middlegame, Kosteniuk’s queen chased down Hou’s loose pieces.
Although many of the games were closely fought, Hou gained a three-point lead.
Blitz 3|1: Hou 5.5-3.5 Kosteniuk
Kosteniuk kicked off the 3+1 segment with two victories in a row, including a game where she counterattacked sharply as Hou tried to drum up a king attack.
In game five, Kosteniuk won with a dazzling tactical combination where she leaves virtually all her pieces at a price.
Hou struck back with a compelling attacking victory by setting up a piercing pin.
Hou won the last two games as well, stretching her lead to five points.
Bullet 1|1: Hou 3-5 Kosteniuk
Kosteniuk again started strong in the new segment, winning two games back-to-back, including an astute endgame win.
Hou countered the streak with a two-game winning streak of her own, starting with a victory where she paralyzed Kosteniuk’s army.
Kosteniuk continued to fight back by setting up tactical play in the center and winning another two games straight.
Hou clinched the match in game seven when she flipped a pawn-down knight ending into a victory. She seized the opportunity to break through with her connected passed pawns by sacrificing her knight, reaching a four-point lead with four minutes to go.
This match was an incredible duel between two powerful attacking players. Hou’s tactical awareness in key positions gave her a lead in the score, which was maintained to the finish. In the post-match interview, Hou shared how she warmed up for the match: “The only preparation I’ve done was just trying to play some practice games with friends or students. But to be honest, in those games, I was actually performing very poorly, giving away pieces or making blunders. I remember one of my friends said that ‘you’ll do better in a real match.’ Maybe that helps, you know.”
Hou earned $3,115.38 in prize money for her victory while Kosteniuk took home $884.62 for her efforts.
All Games – Quarterfinals
Women’s Speed Chess Championship Bracket
The FIDE Chess.com 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship is an online event where titled women players play a series of blitz and bullet matches for a share of the $70,000 prize fund. The qualifiers for the event took place on May 24-27, and the main event started on June 13.