In tennis or some other physical sport it would be a huge deal, but not so much in chess: the best active female player in the world "holding" a draw against the best male player. In fact if anyone was holding, it was Magnus Carlsen. He was in trouble today.
Hou Yifan's approach wasn't that much different from how the Norwegian often plays: going for a solid sideline that leads to only a small but solid plus. This is what the Chinese player got by choosing Gata Kamsky's 6.a4 against the Najdorf.
And so, with a clear intention to play for a win, Carlsen only got a middlegame position that was about equal. He didn't complain, though. "If you're getting a nice position like this without any worries you shouldn't be too unhappy," he said.
But then the world champion got a bit careless, missed his opponent's miniplan of Rd2-d5 and Nf2-d2-c4, and then he was in a position where "it's about surviving one move at a time," as he said.
Hou said that she felt there should be some way to keep pressure, but she couldn't find it and went for liquidations. Against any other player she might have tried something else, argued commentator Peter Leko.