Hou Yifan has been an extraordinary chess talent from a very young age. She became the youngest player to participate in the FIDE Women's World Championship (2006) and the Chess Olympiad in Torino (2006). In June 2007, she became China's youngest National Women's Champion. In August 2008, at the age of 14, Hou attained the title of International Grandmaster. Just two years later, she became the youngest ever Women's World Chess Champion winning the Women's World Championship in Hatay, Turkey.
Hou became the third woman to enter the world top 100 rankings behind Judit Polgár and Maia Chiburdanidze. As of November 2015, she has maintained her place as the No. 1 female player in the world, and the No. 64 player overall. She declined to defend her Women’s World Championship title in early 2015, instead focusing on her overall chess and rating improvement. Hou has qualified to challenge Women’s World Champion Mariya Muzychuk in a ten-game World Championship in March of 2016.