GIBRALTAR - Angered by continually having to play against other women, chess grandmaster Hou Yifan dramatically threw a game after just five moves at a tournament on Thursday (Feb 2).
Hou, the world women's chess champion from China, was playing in the final round of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess tournament when she resigned, according to reports.
Speaking afterwards, 22-year-old Hou said she had been upset with the pairings throughout the event, as she had drawn seven women players out of 10 rounds.
"It makes me really, really upset," she said, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.
"Not just for me but for the other women players.
"We are chess players and of course when we are playing in a tournament we want show our best performance and create interesting games for the chess fans for the organisers, for the people who love chess."
Gibraltar Chess is an open event meaning that - unlike women-only tournaments - entry is open to players of both sexes.
Hou is the top-ranked female player by some distance on the World Chess Federation’s list, said the Telegraph, but 105 in the combined list.
But she turned down the chance to defend her women’s world championship title in Iran this month to play in mixed events, where at the top level the competition is generally stronger.
The women’s event in Iran is already being held under a cloud, after it emerged that several other top players are boycotting it over the Islamic nation’s strict dress code which requires women to wear the hijab at all times, said the Telegraph.
Hou's five-move loss against Indian grandmaster Babu Lalith, a male player she outranks, shocked the onlookers.
On Twitter, British Grandmaster Nigel Short, who was playing at Gibraltar, said: "Hou Yifan's last round game will go down in the annals of chess history."
Commentator Anna Rudolf added: "I'm totally puzzled by what's going on. Hou Yifan is one of the kindest and most polite chess players on earth."
Grandmaster Stuart Conquest, the director of Gibraltar Chess, called the Hou Yifan game "the biggest crisis" in the 15 years of the tournament, the Telegraph reported.
Meanwhile, founder Brian Callaghan sought to defend the pairings. He said: "It's quite tricky because these things come out of machines, these pairings are not made by people and I understand if I was in her shoes.
"Clearly nothing was going on, it comes out of a machine and sometimes the odds fall that way."
He added: "When you are running something as big as this you are going to have incidents, this one just happened to involve Yifan.
"She's very popular with me and very popular with the tournament. She's a huge player. I think one of her games is possibly up this time for being the best game of the tournament. She's a great player and we love having her.
"But she's also the women's world champion and of course that brings responsibilities with it. Perhaps when she reflects she will think 'maybe I could have handled this in a slightly different way'.
"She happily hasn't really damaged the tournament in any way; if anything, I think that damages her, (rather) than the other way.
"I think we're listening to what she's saying about the pairings, I think that we're sympathetic to what she is saying about the pairings. I don't think that the pairings are wrong, I think that they are a reason for concern from her perspective."
Callaghan added: "I hope that she will come back and play again and that these sort of, what I call bad days at the office, don't occur too frequently because other we then have a bigger problem to deal with.
"But I'm sorry for Yifan, because I think she has let herself down a little bit today."