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Ju Wenjun retains her FIDE Women's World Championship

by Shahid Ahmed - 26/01/2020

Aleksandra Goryachkina was a massive threat to Ju Wenjun's World title reign, but if anyone had an advantage then that was Ju Wenjun. The reason is simple, she has done it all when she beat Tan Zhongyi in 2018 to become the champion in a similar 10-game FIDE Women's World Championship Match. However, Goryachkina tested Ju's limit by pushing her to the max and forcing a tie-break. Ju Wenjun is a former Women's World Rapid champion which means rapid is also her forte and having four rapid games as tie-breaks was just enough to beat Goryachkina 2.5-1.5 and continue her reign as Women's World Champion for at least another year. Photo: FIDE

Ju Wenjun continues her reign

Since there was no decisive winner in the first 12 classical games of FIDE Women's World Championship Match 2020, the winner was set to be decided on the final day, 24th January 2020 based on the faster time controls in a series of four rapid games consisting of 25 minutes each with 10 seconds of increment. If there is no result, only then the match will go into another tie-break games in blitz time control but that was not required as the four rapid games yielded a result.

Ju - Goryachkina, Tie-break 1

Position after 36.Nc3

Goryachkina faced Reti opening for the second time in the event and she had no trouble equalizing out of the opening. In fact she got a huge advantage in the middle game. In the above diagram, black continued with 36...Qd7. Find out the better alternative.

Position after 37.Kg2

Black missed another opportunity here and played 37...b4 instead. What did black miss?

Position after 41.Kf2

Perhaps one of the most easiest opportunity in the first tie-break game which Goryachkina missed when she played 41...Bd6. Find out what did she miss.

Position after 51.Be5

Goryachkina's one of the final missed opportunity to take an early lead in the tie-breaks when she played 51...Nh4. Can you find the better continuation?

Position after 52.Rd1

Goryachkina's last missed opportunity when she continued here with 52...Nf3+. What was the winning continuation?

When you miss so many opportunities to convert to a full point despite being better for the majority of the game, it is safe to assume that it's not your day especially when you are going against the defending champion who has also been World Rapid champion too. That means defeating her in rapid won't be easy either.

Goryachkina - Ju Wenjun, Tie-break 2

Position after 25...b4

The only half chance Goryachkina got in the second rapid tie-break game is after 25...b4 when she could have gone for 26.Ne5 but instead she chose to play much safer 26.Nd4 which resulted in insufficient material draw eventually in another 46 moves.

Ju Wenjun - Goryachkina, Tie-break 3

Position after 10.gxf3

In the third tie-break game, the champion employed Reti opening again although unlike the first tie-break game, Ju Wenjun opted for 10.gxf3 instead of the previously played 10.Bxf3

Position after 28.Re3

Black needed to lockdown the queenside with 28...b5 to avoid further damage, instead the Challenger continued with 28...Kh8 which invited more trouble.

Position after 39...Rg5

Black just moved his rook g7-g5. Find out why it's a mistake and what he should have done instead.

Position after 40...Rxh5

Ju Wenjun missed an easier win when she continued with 41.fxe5. Can you find out what did she miss? Anyway, white won the game in another four moves.

The defending champion Ju Wenjun just needed a draw in the final rapid tie-break to retain her World title, however Goryachkina was once again in another must-win situation to continue the tie-breaks towards the blitz stage.

Goryachkina again opted for QGD Exchange variation which did not yield her any advantage. Ju gobbled up a pawn early in the opening compromising her development as a compensation but she knew that it won't endanger her position. She played rock solid as required and eventually managed to salvage a draw to continue her reign.


Final Score: 6-6 (TB 2.5-1.5) | Photo: Official site

Photo Gallery

Ju did have the final laugh | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili / FIDE

A picture is worth a thousand words | Photo: FIDE

While Goryachkina may get another crack at Ju Wenjun again later this year at Women's World Cup which is slated to take place at Minsk, Belarus from 10th September to 3rd October 2020, her journey for Women's World title will have to resume at Candidates only.

While Goryachkina will have to shine bright again, Ju Wenjun will enjoy her view from the top | Photo: FIDE

Ju Wenjun's third-year reign of the Women's World Championship has begun | Photo: FIDE

The players with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich | Photo: FIDE

Being World Champion means an inspiration to all | Photo: FIDE

Live games and commentary

Commentary by GM Nigel Short & WFM Eteri Kublashvili | Video: FIDE

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