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In the growing rivalry between the emerging superpowers China and India, Beijing scored a symbolic victory on Thursday: a Chinese woman won a chess match.
The woman, Hou Yifan, 17, easily retained the Women’s World Chess Championship title when she drew the eighth game of a match against Humpy Koneru, the best Indian woman to play the game.
The final score of the best-of-10 match was 5.5 points to 2.5 points. Despite the lopsided score, the victory was not as easy as it appeared, Ms. Hou said in a telephone interview from Tirana, Albania, where the match was held. “Every game was interesting. Both of us had chances,” she said. The difference was that “in the middle games, I caught her mistakes…”
The match was sponsored by Taci Oil International, whose chief executive, Rezart Taci, is president of the Albanian Chess Federation. Ms. Hou will receive 60 percent of the $267,000 prize fund, and Ms. Koneru 40 percent.
Ms. Hou became the youngest world champion in history last year when she was 16. The match against Ms. Koneru, 24, was Ms. Hou’s first defense of the title.
In some ways, the match was a competition between the world’s two most populous countries as well as the two players. In recent years, the Chinese have dominated women’s chess, but the overall world champion is Viswanathan Anand of India. Ms. Koneru had a chance to make India the holder of the chess world’s most important titles.
Though Ms. Hou is ranked No. 3 in the world among women and Ms. Koneru is No. 2, Ms. Hou was a slight favorite because she had beaten Ms. Koneru in the semifinals of last year’s championship as well as the one in 2008…
Though Ms. Hou is the world champion, Judit Polgar, a Hungarian, is the best female player and the only woman to ever be ranked among the world’s top 10. But she does not play in competitions that are limited to women, which is why she has never won the women’s title…
Ms. Hou added that she hoped to find time in her competitive schedule to go to college.
“I have to know some more things,” she said. “I have to open my eyes to see the whole world.”