Interview with Hou Yifan, Women’s Chess World Champion & Olympic Champion | tradimo

Interview with Hou Yifan, Women’s Chess World Champion & Olympic Champion | tradimo

-We are here with Hou Yifan, pleasure to have
you here, thank you very much for your time. -Thank you. -We are here in Madrid, and I was just curious,
what brought you here? What have you been doing in the past days? How do you like it? -We came to Spain at the end of July, there
are different activities held in different cities in Spain. This is very warm for us, but we are very
happy to be here for some chess promotions, and also we are here today for this video. -Cool, really great to hear. I saw that you are travelling with your mother
and I have heard that for many young chess players their parents are very important part
in allowing them to focus on chess and succeed. So I was just curious: how would you describe
your relationship with your mother and what it means for you? -Yeah… my parents, my mother are very important
in my life since from a very young age, of course our parents are the first teachers
after we were born. Because, when we came to this world, the parents
taught us the first to see, the first sentence, the first word and everything. And even later my mother was helping me a
lot. For example when I was 7 years old, I travelled
to another province to learn chess, and my mum, at that time already, decided to temporarily
pause her job and accompanied me on my studies. Later on, she came with me on different chess
tournaments, and was helping me, talking with me… It is very helpful not only for the day to
day life, but also psychologically, and sometimes she also discussed chess with me. She is not a professional chess player or
a coach but she can play chess, and sometimes from another person’s perspective if they
can discuss with you some experience: how can you adjust yourself to a better state,
performance. And I should also mention my father: who hasn’t
accompanied me that often, but also quite important, because he normally stays at home,
he is our very strong support. He did travel with us to a few tournaments,
not very often, because he has his job in China. -Of course, yeah. Very interesting, it is always good to have
this very strong support. -I think, the support from your parents and
very close relatives are always important. I should also mention that besides the parents,
the coaches, friends, and for me, even other chess players are important for my chess achievements. -Yes, of course, to reinforce each other. Since you mentioned you childhood, I was curious,
so you were able to focus a lot of your life on chess, how long did you study from when
you were 5 and how did it evolve over time. -I started when I was 5 years old. That time I remember, each week once or twice
we go to a children’s palace where there is a coach who was an amateur chess player,
went there to learn chess, calling it “learn chess”, but mostly we were just playing
with each other, because at that time, we had just very few chess books and among them was
one, a very ancient chess dictionary. Later on, we moved to another province to learn
chess. That coach was very important from my childhood,
because he brought me to the chess world and taught me the fundamentals about chess, principles
you need to know, how you can manage the different periods: opening game, middle game, end game,
more systematically, more theoretically. -When was that? -When I was 7 years old, we moved to another
province. Because he was a strong chess master, but
he retired at his best age, like 20 something. He thought he couldn’t be the men’s world
champion. Probably, he thought he teaches others and
his students will be the world champions. I appreciate that I could meet this coach
and managed to enter the chess world. And later on when I was 9 years old, I went
to our national team center where the top Chinese players gathered together. I met also few very important coaches, our
national team’s chief coach, and also the women’s team’s coach and they also helped
me a lot not only with the chess technical skills, but they also offered me the opportunity
to participate in a strong chess tournament all over the world. In 2005 I could play for the country, actually,
the first important international tournament for the country is called the ‘World Team
Tournament Championship’ it is for men and the Chinese women’s team is the only team
that can participate in the tournament, due to some specific invitation, so that’s very
unique. I really appreciate the special experience,
it helped me a lot. Although on the tournament I played badly, I only played three rounds, because we were six players and each time four of us could play and 2
were reserves, but well… at that time I was very young, 11 years old, still not mature enough, strong enough to really play for the team, to fight for the win. Ok, so back to the question of training: back
to a few years ago before I went to university, normally, it could be 4 or 5 hours a day, except the weekend. But of course before the important tournament, the preparation could have been
longer. When I was young, especially, before going
to the national training center, it was not as much as this… It could be even not every day. -Ok, I always thought that it must be like
13 hours a day at the level you are at. -I also heard that some very strong chess players
spend a lot of time on chess. I don’t spend that much time. When learning, I can fully concentrate, and
fully efficient, but I am not that hard working to put myself that much on chess. I do have some other hobbies which help make
my life colorful. -Ok, and what are those? Can you tell me more about those? -Reading, when I was very young, I began with
many classical books, later on, I also liked detective books, history books, biographies. -I love biographies… nice… very interesting… I was wondering, I am the CEO and Founder of tradimo where we teach people about learning to manage their money themselves in a better
way, we have a mobile game where we help people learn about the stock market, our goal is to bring the best coaches of the financial world together in one online school and help people learn from there. How would you describe your relationship with money? What emotional relationship you have with
it, what it means in your life? As a chess player, you earn a lot of money,
but you also have a lot of potential to do other things. Is it the love for things that drives you,
or monetary considerations? I am curios about this. -It is not an easy question. I didn’t really think seriously about it
before, because there are many important things in our life, like friendships, love, dreams
and many wonderful things. But if you go back to the normal everyday
life, then we need the money to survive, if you go back to the principal life. But for me, money is not very important to
change my values, my values are not based on it. It is a necessary element for your daily life. -When you say ‘values’, what really matters to
you then? -Mmmmm…
-I asked you a very difficult question… -Well… of course, I want to achieve my dreams, but my dream changed quite quickly. I remember, at some point, I wanted to be a
detective, later on, I wanted to be a strong chess player, and later on, I coincidentally
found out there are some similarities between the two, because both need our theoretical
thinking, you need to think very far away in the future and then step by step to the current to see what kind of things you need to do. So… my other dream influenced on my dream a lot. But currently, there are more combined, like
I said before, the family, friends, love, and your goal for your future career, because
you need that to support you to keep going on your own way. -I find that very interesting to think, on
one hand, think very long in the future, to have visions and dreams, on the other hand, bring it back to what do I need today to make that happen. -Yeah, exactly. For example, to be a chess player, when you
are calculating the current position or making your own strategy, you need this thinking. So that’s why I have found it very coincidental: this small idea. -I find it very clever, because I think it
is one of the common elements of success in anything, like when you look at success theory in general, setting goals and breaking it down into smaller goals and starting where
you are at now and knowing yourself. -Yeah, I think that’s the benefit chess could
give me. Of course I haven’t reached that conclusion
through words, but, it is through my experiences, but it came from chess, from playing chess, from tournaments, I could get this idea. And I think it will be useful for many other
aspects as well. -I am sure it will be. I have listened to your podcast interview,
where someone asked you if you were thinking that you’d become rich through playing chess,
and you said, not really, look at the tax rate in China and what you get as a woman
on a tournament, but now that you won a lot of tournaments and also some endorsement deals,
especially for your age, considering what you could earn in a normal job, lot of people would consider you rich, and on a monetary level of course as well. So I was just wondering what do you do with
the money, are you investing it, if you consider currencies, stocks, commodities, like gold,
or real estate, or do you consider yourself a complete beginner in all of this. I heard once you said your mother takes care
of this, I don’t even think about it… Has that changed in the meantime, that the
money has become more… -I am not sure what video it was, probably
a few years ago, that I expressed myself like this… Very straight, but very easy…. First of all, talking about rich… I thought, at least chess players, among the
athletes, we can’t say we have a very promising income, especially the women players. To play the main events, to be the top 10
player in the world, it could be kind of promising, But for women’s players, even if you are
playing at the world championship level, it is a little better than a normal job, but
it is nevertheless far away from the ‘rich’ level. And for me, although I sometimes participate
in invitational tournaments and some activities, it is okay, it is something reasonable, let’s
call it this way. We still need to think how to manage our income,
it is actually quite important. To be a chess player, most of the chess players
I met are proud about their strategy, their management, so for money, I think we should
also learn how to better manage our income. For this situation, I think I am still beginner,
although, now it is not only my parents who take care of prizes, but I still focus more on my studies, chess and not spending much time on learning or managing my money. So I hope I will improve those skills in the
near future, since it is very important. -Ok, great. We look forward to helping you with it. Some of your chess friends and journalists
have asked me to ask you this question and I added it because I have found it quite interesting. It is about the role of women in chess and
the psychological side of it. Basically, from a financial perspective when
learning about trading and investing, people say, that it is mostly men seem to be interested in it doing but, actually, from a psychological perspective, women are better at it… or because they are humble, they don’t overestimate themselves so much, they don’t want to beat
the market… When the market goes against a man, he feels
like, I am going to beat it, but women (I am generalizing, of course ) are a bit more risk averse and humble, and in trading you need to successfully cut your losses when it is not going well, and be fine with letting it run when it goes well, not becoming too excited with it. I was wondering if you’d agree with that,
what relates to chess, because I heard people say in other interviews ‘I am going to destroy my enemy’ and so on, I wonder if you have that attitude going into a game, if it kind of distracts a part of your brain, while you are concentrating on beating the enemy instead of playing your game the way that would be best for the performance. -Oh well… Since I am not really familiar with the financial world, I believe what you are saying is quite true. But for the chess world, I see actually the
opposite. Probably, yes, the men are more strong, more
aggressive, to think that ‘I am the center’, not the center of the world, but I want to
be the strongest, but actually, for chess players they are more practical. Sometimes even a women player who really wants
to fight for the win has a fighting spirit, very strong fighting spirit, but men player
sometimes would play the game and adjust to the situation. For example, if they are playing the last
round and only a draw will bring them the championship title, they would actually play
quite stable and solid. And sometimes they are not playing so good
and already know they won’t win the tournament. They can feel like, ‘Oh I am not in the
best shape’, so this time they also won’t be fighting strongly: I see this as practical
chess player. But for women sometimes… or at least for
me it is like this, even the situation is not so ideal, still want to fight for every game, just to focus on every chess move, every game to show the best quality to fight for a win like this… I don’t know… probably this is also the
negative side for women players in case to become stronger, because sometimes we are more emotional, and you cannot judge with objective sights. -That was the other thing I was wondering about: what would it take for you to break into the Top10 of the world? What would you change about the way you play? -I think there are a lot of ways to change
or improve, but generally speaking, I need to be more professional; it includes spending more time on chess, and my training should be more systematic, whenever in the open game, middle game, end game, I think each part I need to improve. Also some theoretical training is also important. And also I think to enter Top10, I also need
to have a very-very strong belief to enter that, because sometime things seem like a
miracle… talking about his, I remember a story where a mother suddenly saw her young
daughter very close to a car coming by, I don’t remember the exact details, probably 2 meters, even with the fastest speed you can’t catch the daughter, but because this is a very dangerous situation, and the mother miraculously trying to do it and took her
daughter to a safe place. This means, under some very specific urgent situations your potential is over your estimation or imagination. So for chess or even talking about my situation, if you have a very strong desire to enter that level, probably, one day you could do it. But of course this not only depends on your
thinking, you need to really work hard a lot. -Yes, I think it is a very healthy attitude,
with that kind of mixture of realism, humility and strong will you make it very far in any
area anyway… -It is not easy because you need to think and balance with your life and also you need to train for the psychological part and the physical part. Talking about this, the physical part it is
also very important, especially for women players if they want to become better because
chess games can last for 6-7 hours without any break. So you need very good physical situation to
fully concentrate for the 7 hours with enough brain energy. -Of course, yeah, like working out… -If you are getting tired, even yourself didn’t
know this, mistakes, blunders are more easily to appear over the board.
-Yes, it is actually true in all areas of life, like somebody who invests their money, and with a click of a button can win or lose $10,000 or so, if you are doing it with the wrong energy level, at the end of the day it can be very bad. I made very bad decisions when I was stressed in another area of my life or didn’t sleep enough then I could see losing 3, 4, 5000
dollars because of that. -So I can see another similarity between investment and chess. -Yeah, there actually is… So, having your life balanced psychologically
and physically as well there is something true about that. You already elaborated on it a little bit,
how would you call your style in chess? Because I am curious if from that we can deduce something for your investment style, whatever it would be: more aggressive, more defensive or reactionary or really proactive? -When I was younger I was definitely an aggressive player who likes to attack, who likes beautiful chess games who likes combination, but currently,
my style is more combined, I cannot say I prefer solid, still I like to watch the game
with bringing in the combination, tactics, but sometimes, due to the current situation
or due to the players, my style is kind of combined in the middle: not so aggressive but also not so passive. You remember what we discussed before, the
difference between investment and chess is about the style from man and woman, so probably,
at some moments it could also be opposite. -Yeah, I think for portfolio it could be a very good approach. Lot of people from the West, from Germany,
where I am form, are much too conservative, they would rather keep their money on the
bank account and get like minimal interest rate for it just to be safe, and the opposite, from what I have heard, the typical Chinese investment style they are a bit like…
-Enthusiastic, like in the US, maybe in the 1920s… you know a little bit like that: everyone thinks this will go up and that also makes something go up and the more people go into that, then it goes up and up. I heard about this crazy story that a stock
went up 1500% in one day and then down again by 750%. For a normal mindset, if you were fully invested in the stock, it would be absolutely crazy suddenly to have 15 times of the money and the to lose half of it again. It has the potential to really drive you quite mad. -Really? Actually that’s true that I also heard the story: in China many people are fascinated by stocks or the investment market. On one side it’s really good but
on the other side, because of this tendency, it attracts many ordinary people who just
have a normal job to go into this market, but this can be really serious. I heard many people, because of this, lost
their whole savings or jobs and it could be going into a very negative way, so
you really need to find the point of balance. Of course we should have enthusiasm and passion
for something in our lives, but you should be objective in thinking what suits you best in a situation. -You as a chess player will be good at that. -It reminds me, talking about
how your investment style, it also depends on how much money you can use flexibly. Like the amount you could put on green or red. -Yeah, it’s true, you can have some discretionary trading account, something that you use more for long-term saving, your pension, some risky part where you really want to grow it aggressively. So many people, many world-leading experts that I know, they have two or three portfolios and different styles with each. So, you have a big love for the game of chess in general and you are interested in the world around you, I’ve met you as a very curious person and very open. So I’m wondering which other issues you could imagine popularizing or helping people with next to chess, because you have a popularity now with hundreds of thousands of followers in social media. In a way you have some (like in Spiderman) “with great power comes great responsibility” thing going on. What would you have in mind to use it for? -I understand. Of course, since I’m a chess player for more than 15 years first of all I hope to use my influence and my experience to encourage more people, especially the young girls, to join our chess world. Or to be an athlete, because I thought it’s pretty important even if you are not going to be a professional player, but even to have this hobby, will be useful for your future life. So this is also connected with what I’ll be,
probably part-time, be interested in, is to promote women’s chess or women’s sports in general in the whole world, because in the past years or many years ago, whether it’s chess or other sports, men have been considered the best and the girls parents, they mainly wanted them to learn more “elegant” stuff like dancing, music or even in sports, rather gymnastics
or something more “solid”, more “stable”, more like what “girls should want to do”. -Something traditionally associated with femininity. -Yes, exactly, but I would like to say that
chess is not only a sport, but also can be considered to be an art, educational tool, or even a language. Because, for example, while we are talking
to each other, we might not have the same language but still play a chess game and can
feel like: “Ah, you’re an attacking player and I’m more solid and then we can feel each
other’s personality. -It’s really beautiful. -Besides chess, I also hope that, like we discussed before, the financial part, the investment, I also hope that I could influence more people
to pay attention on investment, on how to manage your income, your money, because I think in the real life, this is actually quite important. It’s related to the answer before, when you asked me how important I considered money in my life: We need it, we need it for our daily lives, so we better learn about the perfect way to deal with it. -I agree, and in the school system this is often very underrepresented – people don’t properly learn about it. Yeah exactly, from my experience or what I
heard in China, before university, there is no class talking about investment, finance or economics. I have no idea about Europe or the U.S., but
only in university do we have majors and even there it’s not like every student has to learn about it, because we are required to learn about computer science, English, politics, but there is, among this list, nothing about investment, nor economics. I believe that in the future, more and more
countries, universities need to pay attention to it. -Beautiful. Next to playing chess you finished your entire
studies and I was just curious: What did you study and what are your plans with it now? -I actually just graduated this summer in the beginning of July and my major was in international relations. Although, it sounds like quite a political
major it actually contains also economics, international law and some philosophy as well,
definitely some fundamental things, but it’s actually quite a mixed major where we absorb a lot of different information from different subjects, so for me I thought it’s quite useful. Because for the bachelor, four years of studying,
instead of learning something very specific, for me the most important thing was that I
could learn something, actually really learn something, even if it’s fundamental, but it will be helpful for my future life and I could also open my horizons… and, talking about my future plan besides continuing my chess career, to improve my ratings, I’m also hoping to
have my Master studies, mainly abroad, but since the last world championship match was postponed from the original date to this year, it kind of broke my original plan, so I didn’t
have enough time to do my application for the Master studies, so currently I will take at least a gap year, or probably even more than one year, in case to prepare, but mainly to focus on chess and following some other interests and activities. -Yeah, you mentioned you were also interested in social activities and benefiting other people and doing social work in China. In which areas is that? Is it also in women encouragement or …?
-Yes and also I’m thinking to do something to promote chess probably, trying to see if chess can
be used for other parts as well, for example, to encourage a group of people or examining it’s educational function or it could be even broader. -Now that you will dedicate more time to chess,
what would mean more to you, crossing 2700 or winning another women’s world championship
title? -Well, definitely the first one is more important to me from my point of view and I believe that probably most of the spectators could
guess that, because I’ve already won four times the women’s world championship; of course it proves that, at least for this period, I’m keeping my level, but if it’s four, five
or even six times… I don’t see a huge difference between a couple more world championships or less, even though it shows that I’m one of the best players, at least for the women’s section, but for me the more important is to improve my rating, to become more strong and competitive in the top events in the open fields. So, how to become that level as a chess player? The general way is to improve your rating,
because the rating was calculated by each game. If you win a game, you win points, if you
lost, then you lost a few points, so you need to be more stable to achieve good results in a long period and then your rating can jump to a higher level and for me, I don’t know why but there is this very coincidental fact that, for example, five or six years back
I was “hesitating” around 2600 or 2550, I don’t remember, and then each 50 points I
would be hesitating there for at least a few months or even one year and currently I’m in the level about 2650 or 2660 and it’s already another year, so I hope that could make this jump in the near future. -Did that also influence your decision to drop
out of some of the women’s tournaments? Or is that purely a political statement? -No, that’s not political, for sure. This is mainly based on my chess career. Because – by the way, currently I’m just dropping
out of the grand prix, there is no other women’s tournaments, but, oh I’m also not playing the women’s world championship knockout system. Why have I made that decision? I was winning the world championship when I was 16, so it’s already been six years and later on I was winning the match three times and also I’m the general winner of the women’s grand prix cycle since it was established, from 2009. So I think all these results at least prove that my result was stable, at least for the women’s section and still like every year, since I’m not playing the knockout system, if you want to play the match to be the world champion, then you need to qualify from the grand prix to be overall winner, then you can be the “challenger” to challenge the world champion who actually just won the knockout
system and for these few years the winner of the knockout system have at least a little
bit surprised the spectators, because they are not the rating favourites, they’re not even the people that before the tournament were expected to be the winner, so all this is to show that the women’s system could be improved to a more reasonable situation. We should also mention that currently the
men’s system and the women’s system are different, and from my point of view, I believe also
many other chess people’s point of view, the men’s system is more reasonable, because they have the world cup and then they have the candidates’ tournament. And from these two very competitive tournaments,
you can challenge the current winner, the current world champion, who was the winner from last match. So I think with all this system, the strongest
player could fight for the title and also we can see from different sports, that, whether it’s Olympic sports or mind games or whatever, most of the games have the same system for
men and women to determine the world champion. So I think that chess shouldn’t be an exception
in this case for this part. Because, I mean, it gives me the feeling that the women’s sport is not considered at the same level as the men’s sport. So that’s why we’re having a different system,so I think it should be the same. -Agree. -That’s why having all this in mind, I’ve decided not to follow this cycle for another two years or four years, because I’m not like “OK, I’ve
won this for the first time and next year it will change I want already some privileges”, but I’ve
been on this cycle for six years so I thought this is the right time to propose it – it’s
not only for myself, but also for the general promotion, especially for women’s chess, because
we need to find a more reasonable way, because for example, now we’re talking about the current
system, even some chess players, some strong grandmasters they are confused, they said:
“What? Why do you need to be the challenger? Why are you not the current world champion?” You kind of get confused by this very, very
complicated system. So I think in terms of promotion, to draw in more spectators into our world, we need to make a simplified version. -Yeah, makes absolute sense. Cool that you stand up for that! We at Tradimo ( now want to help you learn more about the world of finance and help you master all your
financial situation yourself and so, now at the end of our interview, I wanted to ask you: Which are the topics that you want to learn more and more about. If we now design a learning plan for you where
also your fans can participate: what would be most interesting for you to learn about? Actually, I thought we mentioned before that I’m kind of the real beginner for this investment area so for this question, suddenly I don’t have a clear idea, but the first thing that came to my mind, for example, could be how
to manage your incomes, not only to spend what kind of amount on which area, for savings,
for education, for real estate or whatever, it’s mainly about if you want to do an investment, which area, like what kind of market, stocks etc.? -You mean like how to divide it between different ways of investing? Yes, how to divide it is also important, but
also knowing more about each market, then to think which market probably more suits my profession, because I believe not everyone can participate in every field, so we need
to pick few or just one that suits our profession it depends on your energy, your
time, because, for example, with stocks, if you’re quite busy and don’t know what’s going on, you cannot really focus on [individual] stocks, so you need something that needs less
time, so it could also be something more stable, and then it would make sense to make it more efficient. And also, since we’re travelling around the
world playing tournaments, I’m also interested in learning about different currencies, about how to manage those currencies in a better way, to come into a perfect situation. -That’s a very interesting area at the moment, because all the different central banks are having different strategies and especially in your country, the yuan or renminbi could change dramatically in value in the future if there is less central bank intervention. So yeah, that’ll be very interesting. -Oh wow, then I’ll be even more interested and more other people will be interested in these topics. -Yeah we can design a very interesting plan
for you. -OK, great! -Well, then thank you very much for the interview. -OK, thanks. -It was really a big pleasure. -Nice talking with you! Subtitles by

31 thoughts on “Interview with Hou Yifan, Women’s Chess World Champion & Olympic Champion | tradimo

  1. I'm really glad to see so many people are enjoying the interview! It's been a real pleasure and honour to interview Yifan – she is a real role model for millions (and rightly so, finally a truly positive role model that reaches a lot of people!). She and I hope to see many of you join us on her learning journey as she goes from beginner to expert in financial matters with Tradimo. You can simply sign up via and start learning.

  2. Great role model for chess, women's chess and China. Simply a wonderful person. Good interview with insightful and frank answers.

  3. She's is what Magnus is to Men's chess…. she has achieved everything in women's chess yet is so humble.. what an ambassador for China

  4. Women's Chess World Champion.
    That's like number 70 in the rank, or worse.

    Do you guys know any of the names, and latest games of the 50th best players in the world?

    Just saying, because any one of them is much better than this world champ.


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