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Ju Wenjun retains World Championship Crown

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Ju Wenjun retains World Championship Crown

Ju Wenjun retains the Women’s World Chess Champion title in an exciting rapid play-off. She defeated Aleksandra Goryachkina with a score of 2½-1½. 

For Russian chess aficionados, it was another painful loss.  The last Women’s World Champion from Russia was Alexandra Kosteniuk  who reigned from 2008 to 2010.

Former Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia seen here at the Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia seen here at the Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
World Champion Ju Wenjun poses with her crown and prize while Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina looks on.
World Champion Ju Wenjun poses with her crown and prize while Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina looks on.

Shanghai and Vladivostok were the host cities over the past two weeks. The classical part of the competition ended in a tie (6-6), with three victories each and six draws.

World Champion Ju Wenjun and Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina pose for a photo.
World Champion Ju Wenjun and Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina pose for a photo.

Game 12

Goryachkina pulled off a fantastic comeback when she won the 12th game to force the match into the Rapid play-offs. It was reminiscent to the 1987 Kasparov-Karpov final match. Kasparov had to win the 24th game to retain his title.

Aleksandra Goryachkina v Ju Wenjun

The start of the crucial 12th game.
The start of the crucial 12th game.

Rapid play-offs

The Rapid play-off took place in the Blue Hall Amphitheatre of the Far Eastern University of Vladivostok. It consisted of four 25-minute rapid games. 

Goryachkina was very close to the victory in the first game but failed to win. 

Ju Wenjun v Aleksandra Goryachkina 
Rapid 1

Ju Wenjun in action during the Rapids at the Blue Hall Amphitheatre of the Far Eastern University of Vladivostok.
Ju Wenjun in action during the Rapids at the Blue Hall Amphitheatre of the Far Eastern University of Vladivostok.
In the second game, Goryachkina dominated but was unable to convert her advantage once again. 
Aleksandra Goryachkina v Ju Wenjun 
Rapid 2

On the third assault, Ju Wenjun followed the same opening as in the first game, but she introduced an improvement that allowed her a more aggressive approach. The Chinese Champion achieved a victory that put her ahead in the scoreboard for the third time in this match.

Ju Wenjun v Aleksandra Goryachkina
Rapid 3

Goryachkina, with the White pieces, in the final game had to win, the 4th Rapid game to take it into the Blitz play-offs. However, this time she failed to pull out a miraculous win, as she had done two days ago.

The Challenger played an audacious line that implied sacrificing a pawn in exchange for activity, and she managed to get the initiative. But the World Champion returned the material and managed to keep the balance, taking the game to a draw that was good enough to retain her crown.

Aleksandra Goryachkina v Ju Wenjun 
Rapid 4

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.

Aleksandra Goryachkina won Game Eight and grabs the lead.  Ju Wenjun won Game Nine and  equalises.

Ju Wenjun won Game Ten while Game Eleven was a draw.  Aleksandra Goryachikina won Game Twelve.

Text and photos

Text: Michael Friedman
Photos: Michael FriedmanEteri KublashviliLewis Liu and Zhang Yanhong

Links

Official website: https://wwcm2020.fide.com