Aleksandra Goryachkina grabs the lead in round 8
Aleksandra Goryachkina wins the 8th game and leads the Women’s World Chess Championship by one point: 4½-3½. The World Champion Ju Wenjun only has four games left to overturn the score and retain her title.
Regardless of the outcome, it has become increasingly clear that Goryachkina is punching above her rating. In this match, she has demonstrated grit, patience, and perseverance of a +2600 player. Will it be enough to become the next World Champion?
In today’s Queen’s Gambit, Ju Wenjun (playing Black) opted for an unorthodox 8…Ne4. A quick engine search showed that White scored 71% in over 70 games played. It is unclear why Ju went for this line. At the press conference, Ju admitted that after 17.dxc5 she felt that the game was getting out of hand and she struggled to come up with an equalising plan.
Goryachkina continued to push, while Black seemed to always go for safer, more passive options. An example of this was 25… Qg7, protecting a dead-weight h pawn, instead of a much more dynamic and intuitive Nd7 — a reflection of how Ju has played this match.
Presented with a golden opportunity, Goryachkina played exceptionally well. She was not perfect: 32.b5! would have ended the game on the spot, before the time control. Nevertheless, 32.Be4 was good enough, and Aleksandra was still winning. Goryachkina felt that after 37.e6 this was a game she was not going to let go.
Aleksandra Goryachkina v Ju Wenjun
The next game is a test for Goryachkina. For the first time in the match, she is now the hunted. Suddenly, this is her World Championship to lose.
Game 9 is Sunday, 19th January 2020, at 15:30 local time.
Ye Jiangchuan, President of the Chinese Chess Association Efim Zvenyatsky, Art Director of the Gorky Drama Theatre made the first symbolic move of Game 8.
Former World Champion Hou Yifan joined Nigel Short. She will be a co-commentator for the remaining games of the match.
Summary of the match
Game One ended in a draw after a marathon 97 move game while the Game Two was a short draw. Game Three ended also ended in a draw after 85 moves. Ju Wenjun won Game Four while Aleksandra Goryachkina won Game Five. Game Six and seven both ended in a draw.