Ju Wenjun wins Game 10 and takes the lead
Ju Wenjun wins Game 10 and takes the lead in a day of high drama!
Despite a heartbreaking loss in Game 9, should we still consider Aleksandra Goryachkina to be the favourite? After all, she has two games left with White, compared to Ju Wenjun’s one. Would the Russian player’s lack of experience in such a high profile match become a factor?
First twenty moves from Ganguly – L’Ami
The game began confidently for Goryachkina who had the White pieces. The players mirrored a Ganguly – L’Ami game that was played just yesterday at Wijk aan Zee. Goryachkina’s first opportunity to question Ju’s preparation came on move 21. She could have played the natural Re5!, forcing Black to play 22…f6, weakening the Bishop on g6, and setting up some dangerous play along with the g file for her Rook. Instead, Goryachkina played a more sedentary 21. Re3. It appeared that the game was heading for a short draw, with the players struggling to find sensible moves to reach the first time control at move 40.
What happened to Goryachkina next had more to do with sports psychology than with sound chess. From move 25, the game was a dead draw. It was a result she could have forced at any point all through the first time control. Instead, she made moves like 26. b5 and 38. Bd5, probing for an advantage that was not there.
She did not appear to realise that she needed to be more careful. At the Press Conference, Goryachkina admitted that she “blundered” 42…Be6 that in itself is still okay for White, but engines continued to show zeros. By move 50, Goryachkina had to be extremely precise, something she was not able to keep up with the approaching time trouble. Aleksandra collapsed with 53. Kb4??, but by that time it was clear that she was not able to walk the necessary tightrope to make a draw. Ju won the game and is now just one point away from retaining her title.
Was it her lack of match experience? Was it Goryachkina’s well-documented stubbornness that her coaching team could not overcome? Tomorrow’s day off could not have come sooner for Goryachkina. Does she have it in her to get herself together and pull out a miracle come back in the last two rounds? We will find out this week.
Aleksandra Goryachkina v Ju Wenjun
First symbolic moves
Two prominent personalities made the first symbolic move of Game 10. They included Oleg Gumenyuk, mayor of Vladivostok, and Alexander Verkhovsky, Chairperson of the Board of directors of Gidrostroy.
Tomorrow, Tuesday is a rest day. Play will resume on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. The 11th game will begin at 15:30 local time.
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.