Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

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  • Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

    Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

    January 5, 2020

    From FIDE:

    Women's World Chess Championship Match in Shanghai kicked off with an opening ceremony and a press conference, attended by the current champion Ju Wenjun (China) and the title contender Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia), as well as FIDE, Russian and Chinese Federations' officials, local and foreign press.

    The biggest prize fund—500,000 euros—in the history of women's world chess championship brings greater emphasis on women's chess and represents a shift in priorities. This Championship commits to a new strategy adopted by FIDE in 2018 of ensuring that the women's championship cycle is similar to the men's.

    FIDE VP Nigel Short spoke about the history of championship matches split into games played in different countries. In Shanghai, the players will face-off in six games from January 5 to 12. The second half of this Championship—the remaining six rounds—will be played in Vladivostok, Russia, from January 16 to 23. The tie-break, if needed, and the closing ceremony will be held in Vladivostok on January 24.

    In the drawing of lots conducted by Chief Arbiter IA Shohreh Bayat (Iran), Goryachkina picked a white hand fan and will have White in the first round. After the sixth game, colors must be reversed, so Ju Wenjun will play White in games 6 and 7.

    Her opponent Ju Wenjun wasn't dismayed and said she became a stronger player in the past two years and feels confident with her hometown advantage.

    Game 1 is set for Sunday, January 5, 15:30 (Shanghai time). This is 2:30 AM in Toronto/Montreal.


    The first game of the Women's World Chess Championship 2020, held in Shanghai, China, ended with a hard-fought draw.

    Ye Jiangchuan, President of the Chinese Chess Federation, and Alexandr Shmanevskiy, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai, made the first symbolic move in the game.

    The opening was as cautious as it gets: Alexandra Gorychkina (Russia), playing White, chose 1.d4 as her first move. Instead of her usual Ragozin defense, defending champion Ju Wenjun (China) surprised with 4.Be7. The challenger decided to go then for a solid Catalan with 5.g3.

    The impression is that Goryachkina tried to take the game out of the book as soon as she could, and despite the symmetrical and equal position, she managed to put some pressure on the champion. In fact, an inaccuracy by Ju Wenjun gave the Russian the opportunity to gain an advantage, and for a while, the challenger seemed to be playing cat and mouse with the Champion, only to squander it with an untimely rook exchange on move 44. After this scuffle, Ju stoically defended for the next 50-plus moves, before the draw was agreed right before they reached the sixth hour of play.

    In the press conference held after the game, Ju complimented Goryachkina's fighting style, looking to exploit even the minuscule of chances. On her part, Goryachkina was content with opening the match by putting the world champion on the ropes for 97 moves and close to 6 hours.

    Game Two is tomorrow, January 6, and Ju Wenjun will have White.

    Game 1, January 5, 2010
    Goryachkina, Aleksandra – Ju, Wenjun
    D37 QGD

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.g3 O-O 6.Bg2 dxc4 7.Ne5 c5 8.dxc5 Qxd1+ 9.Nxd1 Bxc5 10.O-O Nc6 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Be3 Bb6 13.Bxb6 axb6 14.Nxc6 Bb7 15.Nb4 Nd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Nc3 Bc6 18.Rfd1 Rfd8 19.f3 Kf8 20.Kf2 Ke7 21.Rxd8 Rxd8 22.Ke3 e5 23.Rd1 Ra8 24.a3 Ke6 25.Na2 Ba4 26.Rd2 f6 27.Kf2 Bc6 28.e4 g6 29.Ke3 f5 30.exf5+ gxf5 31.f4 h5 32.fxe5 Kxe5 33.Rd4 b5 34.Nc3 Ra7 35.Ne2 Be8 36.Rd8 Re7 37.Nf4 Kf6+ 38.Kd2 Re5 39.Nd5+ Kf7 40.Rd6 Bc6 41.Nf4 Bf3 42.h4 Bg4 43.Rd5 Kf6 44.Rxe5 Kxe5 45.Ke3 Bd1 46.Ng6+ Kf6 47.Nf8 Ke5 48.Nd7+ Ke6 49.Nb8 Kd5 50.Na6 Ke5 51.Nb4 Bg4 52.Nc2 Bd1 53.Nd4 Ba4 54.Ne2 Bd1 55.Nd4 Ba4 56.Nc6+ Kd6 57.Nd8 Ke5 58.Nf7+ Ke6 59.Ng5+ Ke5 60.Nh3 Bd1 61.Nf4 Bg4 62.Ng2 Bd1 63.Ne1 Bg4 64.Nc2 Bd1 65.Nb4 Ba4 66.Na2 Bb3 67.Nc3 Ba4 68.Kf3 Kd4 69.Ke2 Kc5 70.Ke3 Bc2 71.Ne2 Bd1 72.Nd4 Bg4 73.Nc2 Bd1 74.Nb4 Bg4 75.Na2 Bd1 76.Kd2 Bf3 77.Nc3 Bc6 78.Ke3 Bd7 79.Ne2 b4 80.axb4+ Kxb4 81.Kd2 Bc6 82.Nf4 Bf3 83.Ne6 Bg4 84.Kc2 Bf3 85.Nd4 Bg4 86.Kd2 Kc5 87.Ke3 Kd5 88.Nb5 Kc5 89.Nc3 Kb4 90.Kd4 Kb3 91.Nd5 Be2 92.Ne3 Bd3 93.Kc5 Be2 94.Kd5 Bd3 95.Kd4 Be2 96.Kc5 Bd3 97.Kd4 1/2-1/2

    Final Position



    Peter Doggers (tweet) -

    The main differences between the women's world ch match and the 'regular' one:

    - lower prizes;
    - 12 games instead of 14;
    - faster time control;
    - no rule against offering a draw before move 30.

    I'm curious why, @FIDE_chess?

  • #2
    Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

    January 6, 2020

    Game Two

    From FIDE:

    Playing with white pieces, Ju Wenjun, who is a 1.d4 player, surprised her opponent with 1.e4. In the ensuing Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez, Aleksandra Goryachkina introduced a novelty with 12...c6 and achieved a comfortable play.

    However, very quickly Black appeared to have gone astray with 16...Bg5, giving White an opportunity for some dynamic play after a possible move 18.g4, which Ju opted against, exchanging Queens and some pieces instead. Perhaps, both players are feeling the impact of yesterday's 97-move marathon game and went for simpler, safer options. A quiet draw seemed inevitable and was agreed on move 40, after threefold repetition.

    The players will enjoy a rest day tomorrow. The match will be resumed on January 8, with Aleksandra Goryachkina having white pieces in the third game.


    Nigel Short (a FIDE Vice-President) made the ceremonial first move and commented online on the game. This tweet from Nigel:

    I never imagined I would get to play in both the World Chess Championship AND the Women's World Championship Final :)

    Game 2, Jan. 6, 2020
    Ju, Wenjun – Goryachkina, Aleksandra
    C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence, open variation

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 O-O 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re2 Nc4 11.b3 Nb6 12.c3 c6 13.Nd2 d5 14.h3 Bf5 15.Nf3 Be4 16.Ne5 Bg5 17.f3 Bf5 18.Bxg5 Qxg5 19.Qc1 Qxc1 20.Rxc1 f6 21.Ng4 h5 22.Ne3 Bd3 23.Ree1 Bxf1 24.Kxf1 g6 25.g4 hxg4 26.hxg4 Kf7 27.Kf2 Rh8 28.Rh1 Rae8 29.Ng2 Nc8 30.Nf4 Nd6 31.Nd3 g5 32.a4 a5 33.Rxh8 Rxh8 34.Kg2 Re8 35.Kf2 Rh8 36.Kg2 Re8 37.Kf2 Rh8 38.Kg2 Re8 39.Kf2 Rh8 40.Kg2 Re8 1/2-1/2


    • #3
      Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

      January 8, 2020

      Game Three

      From FIDE:

      Ju Wenjun, playing Black, countered Aleksandra Goryachkina's Queen's Gambit with the Semi-Tarrasch Defence, transforming the duel into a comfortable, yet somewhat passive play for herself.

      The current champion failed to come up with a plan to fully equalize, and by move 23 Goryachkina enjoyed a considerable advantage. However, a momentary slip 23.Bd3 presented Ju with an opportunity to turn the tables with 23..Ne5, which was not played. As if Ju was so focused on defending an inferior position, that she simply missed her chance to snatch the initiative. Having also opted against 18.g4! in game 2, the World Champion seems to be wary when it comes to dynamic and tactical play.

      White continued to dictate and ten moves later and following the thematic break on d5, Goryachkina won a pawn. For a moment, it felt we would see the first decisive outcome of the match. However, the Russian played inaccurately in moderate time-trouble and before the first time control, the game steered into an easy save for the World Champion in a rook ending. Just like in game 1, the challenger kept pushing for another 40 moves, until the players agreed on a draw on move 85.


      Game 3, Jan. 8, 2020
      Goryachkina, Aleksandra – Ju, Wenjun
      D41 QGD, Semi-Tarrasch

      1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 O-O 11.Bc4 Nd7 12.O-O b6 13.a4 Bb7 14.Rfe1 Rc8 15.Bd3 a5 16.Qb2 Qe7 17.Nd2 Rfd8 18.Rab1 Bc6 19.Bc2 h6 20.Nf1 Qg5 21.Ne3 Ba8 22.f3 Rc7 23.Bd3 Rdc8 24.Ba6 Bb7 25.Bxb7 Rxb7 26.Qf2 Qd8 27.Red1 Nf6 28.d5 Rd7 29.Rd4 Qe7 30.Rbd1 Rcd8 31.Nc4 exd5 32.Nxb6 Rb7 33.Nxd5 Nxd5 34.exd5 Qd6 35.h3 Rdb8 36.Qe1 Rb4 37.Re4 g6 38.Kh1 h5 39.Re8+ Rxe8 40.Qxe8+ Kg7 41.Qc6 Qxc6 42.dxc6 Rc4 43.Rd5 Rxc6 44.Rxa5 Rc1+ 45.Kh2 h4 46.Rd5 Ra1 47.a5 f5 48.g4 Ra2+ 49.Kg1 fxg4 50.hxg4 Kh6 51.Rb5 g5 52.Rb6+ Kg7 53.a6 Kh7 54.Rb7+ Kg6 55.a7 Kh6 56.Kf1 Kg6 57.Ke1 h3 58.Rb2 Ra1+ 59.Kf2 h2 60.a8=Q Rxa8 61.Kg2 Rh8 62.Rb1 Ra8 63.Kxh2 Ra2+ 64.Kg3 Rc2 65.Rf1 Ra2 66.Rf2 Ra3 67.Rd2 Ra6 68.Kf2 Re6 69.Re2 Ra6 70.Ke3 Re6+ 71.Kd3 Rd6+ 72.Kc4 Kf6 73.Ra2 Ke5 74.Ra5+ Kf4 75.Rf5+ Kg3 76.Kc3 Rd8 77.Kc4 Rd7 78.Kc5 Rd3 79.Rxg5 Rxf3 80.Rg8 Kh4 81.g5 Kh5 82.g6 Kh6 83.Kd5 Rg3 84.Rh8+ Kg7 85.Rh1 1/2-1/2

      Position after 79.Rxg5, draw



      • #4
        Looks like Wenjun Ju won the 4th game according to reports on Twitter that I just noticed...


        • #5
          Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

          January 9, 2020

          Game Four

          From FIDE:

          Ju Wenjun, playing white, reverted to her usual 1.d4 and both players appeared to be well within their preparations in the ensuing Slav Defense.

          With the game moving so quickly, it remained unclear who was better prepared and who was bluffing by playing at a blistering pace. Aleksandra Goryachkina's unnatural 22...Kxf8 further illustrated the point of how comfortable and prepared she either was or wanted her opponent to believe.

          Ju had an opportunity to increase pressure with a strong 26.Rc6, but chose to exchange the rooks, opting for playing a pleasant endgame with just queens and bishops. The white queen dominated the board on white squares, while black had to be patient and careful.

          The game seemed to be heading toward another draw but then Goryachkina — not content with sitting back—unadvisedly exchanged bishops on move 34, creating a long-term weakness on c5.

          In the ensuing endgame, Black had to find a precise plan of defense, such as advancing her f-pawn to f5. Goryachkina wasn’t able to find it, and Ju Wenjun, despite some hesitation was able to calculate the precise moment to exchange queens and transposed into a winning pawn ending.

          After the game, Goryachkina said that she lost the thread of the game, but she couldn’t quite pinpoint exactly where and accepted that her position just kept getting worse and she couldn't recover.


          Game 4, January 9, 2020
          Ju, Wenjun – Goryachkina, Aleksandra
          D16 QGD Slav, Soultanbeieff variation

          1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 e6 6.e3 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6 9.O-O Be7 10.d5 exd5 11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 O-O 13.Be3 Bf5 14.Qb3 Nb4 15.Rfd1 Qa5 16.Ne5 Nxd5 17.Rxd5 Qa6 18.Nd7 Be6 19.Nxf8 Kxf8 20.Qb5 Bxd5 21.Qxd5 Rd8 22.Qe4 h6 23.g3 b6 24.Rc1 f6 25.Kg2 Rc8 26.Rxc8+ Qxc8 27.Qd5 Ke8 28.h4 Qd7 29.Qg8+ Bf8 30.Qc4 h5 31.Kh2 Be7 32.b3 Kf8 33.Qc2 Bd6 34.Qe4 Bc5 35.Bxc5+ bxc5 36.a5 Qe7 37.Qa8+ Kf7 38.a6 g6 39.Qd5+ Kg7 40.Qb7 Kf8 41.Kg2 Ke8 42.Qa8+ Kf7 43.Qd5+ Kg7 44.Kf3 Kf8 45.Qb7 Ke8 46.Qd5 Kf8 47.Kf4 Qc7+ 48.Ke3 Qc8 49.Qb7 Qd8 50.Kf3 Qe7 51.Qxe7+ Kxe7 52.g4 Kd6 53.gxh5 gxh5 54.Ke4 Kc6 55.f4 Kb5 56.Kd5 f5 57.Kd6 Kb6 58.Kd7 Ka5 59.Kc7 Kxa6 60.Kc6 Ka5 61.Kxc5 Ka6 62.b4 Kb7 63.Kd5 1-0

          Position after Black’s 34…Bc5. Was there a better square for the bishop?



          Jan. 5 Game 1 Shanghai
          Jan. 6 Game 2 Shanghai
          Jan. 7 Free day
          Jan. 8 Game 3 Shanghai
          Jan. 9 Game 4 Shanghai
          Jan. 10 Free day
          Jan. 11 Game 5 Shanghai
          Jan. 12 Game 6 Shanghai

          Jan. 13 Departure for Vladivostok
          Jan. 14 Arrival in Vladivostok

          Jan. 15 Opening Ceremony
          Jan. 16 Game 7 Vladivostok
          Jan. 17 Game 8 Vladivostok
          Jan. 18 Free day
          Jan. 19 Game 9 Vladivostok
          Jan. 20 Game 10 Vladivostok
          Jan. 21 Free day
          Jan. 22 Game 11 Vladivostok
          Jan. 23 Game 12 Vladivostok
          Jan. 24 Tie-break (if needed), or closing ceremony

          If the winner is decided in less than twelve (12) games (see Article 4.3.1.), the match is over and the Organizer re-schedules the Closing Ceremony for an earlier date; then the Closing Ceremony takes place on the day of the last game or one day thereafter.



          • #6
            Amazing ending. I enjoyed it.


            • #7
              and a comeback by Goryachkina - another fascinating endgame - although better for white.


              • #8
                Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

                January 11, 2020

                Game Five

                Before today, Aleksandra Goryachkina has never beaten Ju Wenjun. In fact, prior to the match, the Russian Grandmaster has never had a better position against the World Champion in any of their games. However, Goryachkina is a very young player still at the peak of her development, and already in the first games of the match, she showed she could put Ju Wenjun against the ropes.

                In that context, Goryachkina's defeat in the fourth game was a cold shower for the Russian fans, but the challenger didn't display any signs of disappointment. And after a rest day, she came back to the board ready to put up a fight, and with today's victory, Goryachkina demonstrated the world that she belongs in this match and is the rightful challenger.

                Goryachkina appeared to have surprised her opponent with 1. c4, which sent Ju into a short think. In the ensuing English Opening, players went for a very sharp line, with Ju producing the first novelty 12... Be4. This seemed to have taken Goryachkina out of her preparation and black quickly achieved a very promising position.

                However, facing a 16.Qb5+, Ju went astray with Qd7, unnecessary opting for a variation in which white was up an exchange, with Black having some compensation for it in the form of a very dangerous d-pawn. Interestingly enough, in the post-mortem, Goryachkina thought that Ju simply blundered the exchange.

                It seemed that Game 5 would follow a familiar scenario from Games 1 and 3 where the Russian obtained comfortable positions out of openings but squandered her chances with some little inaccuracies right before the first time control. In today's encounter, after mutual mistakes 29...g6? and 31.Rxf7? the game appeared to be heading for a draw, but a serious blunder by Ju (34...Nc6?? instead of 34...Nc4) allowed White to consolidate her advantage and convert it into a full point fifteen moves later.

                In the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said she was relieved and happy to be back into the match. Ju agreed that while today's result was disappointing, it was a logical conclusion and the overall score reflected the match thus far.

                The challenger sets the score to 2˝-2˝ after five games, with only one left to be played in Shanghai; the remaining six games will be fought in Vladivostok.


                Game 5, Jan. 11, 2020
                Goryachkina, Aleksandra – Ju, Wenjun
                A18 English, Mikenas-Carls variation

                1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nf3 Bf5 7.d3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 c5 9.d4 Qa5 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.c4 Qd8 12.Qb3 Be4 13.Qxb7 Rc8 14.Bg5 Be7 15.Bxe7 Nxe7 16.Qb5+ Qd7 17.cxd5 Bxd5 18.Qxd7+ Kxd7 19.Bb5+ Ke6 20.Ng5+ Kf5 21.h4 cxd4 22.Bd7+ Kxe5 23.Bxc8 Rxc8 24.O-O Kd6 25.Rfe1 Rc2 26.a3 h6 27.Ne4+ Bxe4 28.Rxe4 Nc6 29.h5 g6 30.Rf4 gxh5 31.Rxf7 d3 32.Rd1 d2 33.Rf3 Ne5 34.Rf4 Nc6 35.Kf1 Ke5 36.Rf3 Na5 37.Ke2 Nc4 38.Rh3 Ra2 39.Rxh5+ Kd4 40.Rh4+ Kc5 41.Rh3 a5 42.f4 Kd5 43.Rf3 Ke6 44.g4 a4 45.Rh3 Kd5 46.f5 Ke5 47.Rc3 Nxa3 48.Rc5+ Kd6 49.f6 Nc2 50.Rc4 Na3 51.Rf4 Kd5 1-0

                Position after Black’s 34….Nc6



                • #9
                  This maybe a psychological turning point in the match but Ju Wenjun is a great and tough competitior - very interesting moment in the match after Game 5.


                  • #10
                    Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

                    January 12, 2020

                    Game Six

                    From FIDE:

                    The sixth game of the match, the last one to be played in Shanghai, ends in a draw. This leaves the score in 3-3 before the championship takes a short break and moves to the next host city: Vladivostok. Play will be resumed on Thursday, January 16.

                    Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President, and Lu Lin, vice-secretary of the Party Committee of Shanghai Sports Bureau, made the first symbolic moves of Game 6.

                    Ju Wenjun, a predominately 1.d4 player, reverted to 1.e4, a move she played in Game 2 of the match. The Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez was repeated until move 10, with Ju opting for Re1.

                    Ju failed to achieve much out of the opening with lethargic 17.b3, 18.c4, and 19.Bb2. With calm and measured play, Aleksandra Goryachkina managed to outmaneuver her opponent. By move 30 it became clear that Black would be playing for a win. Yet, similar to some earlier games of this match, Goryachkina was not able to build on her advantage. By the time players passed the first time control, the worst was behind Ju, and she was on the road to a draw.

                    Nevertheless, Goryachkina made Ju sweat for it. Game 6 turned out to be the longest one of the match: it surpassed 100 moves.

                    For the last 60 moves, Ju had to be extremely careful, while Goryachkina was playing with no risk waiting for her opponent to slip. Ju was visibly tired, her hand at times trembling. The game finally ended two moves shy of a 50-move draw rule.

                    At the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said that she felt slightly better but just couldn’t find the decisive moves for a win. Ju was unhappy with her play and felt fortunate to escape with a draw.

                    Stray observations: this was Goryachkina's second consecutive game in which she was the only one pressing for a win. This must have felt great for her, following a loss in Game 4. It was also the first game where White was clearly worse. The stretch of four games in which Goryachkina had 3 black was akin to a test: she started with a loss but has done better than many expected, fully recovering in the last two games, and it feels like she has started dictating play.

                    The break in the match—it's moving to Vladivostok in Russia—is likely to benefit both players. Goryachkina is going home where large crowds are expected to support her, while Ju is getting the much-needed breather after six very long and draining games.


                    Game 6, Jan. 12, 2020
                    Ju, Wenjun – Goryachkina, Aleksandra
                    C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence, open variation

                    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 O-O 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Re8 11.c3 Rxe1 12.Qxe1 Nf5 13.a4 d5 14.a5 Be7 15.Nd2 Bd6 16.Nf3 Ne7 17.b3 Bf5 18.c4 c6 19.Bb2 a6 20.Ne5 Qf8 21.Qc3 Rd8 22.Nd3 Ng6 23.g3 Be4 24.Bg2 Bxg2 25.Kxg2 Ne7 26.c5 Bc7 27.Qb4 Rb8 28.Re1 Qd8 29.Bc3 Ng6 30.Qa3 h5 31.f4 Qf6 32.Qb2 Nh4+ 33.Kh1 Nf5 34.Qe2 Qg6 35.b4 Rd8 36.Qf3 f6 37.Qe2 Kh7 38.Nf2 Rd7 39.Qd3 Re7 40.Rxe7 Nxe7 41.Qxg6+ Kxg6 42.Kg2 h4 43.Kf3 hxg3 44.hxg3 f5 45.Nd1 Kf6 46.Ne3 Ng6 47.Be1 Nf8 48.Nd1 Ne6 49.Bf2 g5 50.Be3 Kg6 51.Nc3 Bd8 52.Ne2 Kh5 53.Bf2 Bf6 54.Be3 gxf4 55.gxf4 Bh4 56.Ng3+ Bxg3 57.Kxg3 Ng7 58.Bc1 Ne8 59.Bd2 Nf6 60.Be1 Ne4+ 61.Kh3 Kg6 62.Kg2 Kh6 63.Kh2 Nf6 64.Kh3 Ne8 65.Kg3 Kh5 66.Kh3 Nc7 67.Bc3 Ne6 68.Kg3 Kg6 69.Kf3 Ng7 70.Be1 Kh6 71.Kg3 Nh5+ 72.Kh2 Nf6 73.Bd2 Ng4+ 74.Kh3 Kg6 75.Kg2 Nf6 76.Kh2 Nh5 77.Kh3 Kh6 78.Kh2 Ng7 79.Kg2 Ne8 80.Kh3 Kg6 81.Kg2 Nc7 82.Bc3 Ne6 83.Kg3 Ng7 84.Kg2 Nh5 85.Bd2 Kh6 86.Kh2 Nf6 87.Kg2 Ng4 88.Kf3 Kg6 89.Kg2 Nh6 90.Kh2 Kh5 91.Kh3 Nf7 92.Kg3 Nd8 93.Be1 Ne6 94.Bc3 Nf8 95.Kh3 Kg6 96.Bd2 Kh6 97.Kg2 Ne6 98.Be3 Kh5 99.Kg3 Nc7 100.Bc1 Ne8 101.Bd2 Nf6 102.Kh3 Kh6 103.Kh2 Ng4+ 104.Kg2 Kg6 105.Kh3 Nf6 1/2-1/2

                    Position after White’s 89.Kg2. What move should Black have made instead of Nh6?

                    Goryachkina was born in 1998 in Orsk, Russia and has been a grandmaster since 2018.

                    In 2019, Goryachkina won the FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament with 9.5/14(6 wins,1 loss and 7 draws) and qualified for the Women's World Chess Championship 2019 match against Ju Wenjun. (Wikipedia)

                    Ju Wenjun was born in Shanghai in 1991 and is therefore 28 years old. She has been a grandmaster since 2014. (also Wikipedia)


                    • #11
                      Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

                      January 13, 2020

                      Nigel Short @nigelshortchess

                      It is Vladifreezing in #Vladivostok (-23C on arrival this morning). #FIDE #WomenChessMatch


                      • #12
                        Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

                        January 16, 2020

                        Game Seven

                        From FIDE:

                        The 7th game of the Women's World Championship, played in Vladivostok, ends in a draw. Ju Wenjun, with white, put some pressure on Goryachkina, but the challenger defended well and was never in serious trouble. The score is now 3˝-3˝ with 5 games left.

                        After a near-disaster in Game 6, Ju Wenjun (playing White again) probably needed to have a game in which she would only be playing for two results — a win or a draw, with little chance of losing. With 4.d3 (Anti-Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez), Ju achieved just that — a very comfortable position with some space advantage and minimum risk. Aleksandra Goryachkina (playing Black) was reduced to sitting back: however, her position had no glaring weaknesses.

                        Therefore, computer evaluations rarely moved past +0.50 for White. Nevertheless, it must have been extremely unpleasant for Goryachkina to be at the board for so long, maneuvering without any real counterplay. The Challenger had to show a lot of character to defend a bland, slightly worse position without giving in. Such positions are often lost when a player on the passive side loses his or her patience. Aleksandra defended extremely accurately, especially after the knights came off the board.

                        Goryachkina probably was relieved after Ju played 37.Nf5. With just four minutes on the clock, Ju was unable to work out all the complications that could have arisen from the more dynamic alternatives such as 37.h4. Despite 4 hours and 40 moves of exerting steady pressure, Ju never appeared to have a clear path to victory.

                        Games 4-7 were going to be a real test for the challenger. Despite having one White and losing Game 4, she emerged from this stretch even, proving her highest chess level and readiness to be on the biggest stage.

                        There are still five games left in the match and it is a bit early to be thinking about a tiebreak. However, given how tight the encounters have been so far, it seems very likely for the match to go the full distance.


                        Game 7, January 16, 2020
                        Ju, Wenjun – Goryachkina, Aleksandra
                        C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence

                        1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.O-O Nd7 7.Be3 Qe7 8.Qe1 O-O 9.Nc3 Re8 10.a3 Bd6 11.Nd2 Nf8 12.f4 exf4 13.Bxf4 Ng6 14.Bg3 Be6 15.Nf3 Rad8 16.Kh1 Bg4 17.h3 Bxf3 18.Rxf3 Rd7 19.Rf5 b6 20.Ne2 c5 21.b3 Qd8 22.Qf2 Bxg3 23.Qxg3 Qh4 24.Qxh4 Nxh4 25.Rf2 Ng6 26.Nc3 Ne5 27.g3 a5 28.a4 Nc6 29.Kg2 Nb4 30.g4 Re5 31.Nd1 h5 32.Ne3 Nc6 33.Kg3 Nd4 34.Raf1 f6 35.Nd5 Kf7 36.Ne3 Kg8 37.Nf5 hxg4 38.hxg4 Nxf5+ 39.gxf5 g6 40.fxg6 Rg5+ 41.Kf4 Rxg6 42.Ke3 Rf7 43.Kd2 Kf8 44.Kc3 Ke7 45.Kc4 c6 46.Rh1 Rg8 47.Rh6 Ke6 48.Rh5 Rfg7 49.c3 Rg5 50.Rh6 R5g6 51.Rfh2 f5 52.Rxg6+ Rxg6 53.exf5+ Kxf5 54.d4 cxd4 55.cxd4 Rg1 56.Rh6 Rc1+ 57.Kd3 Rd1+ 58.Kc2 Rxd4 59.Rxc6 Rb4 60.Kc3 Ke5 61.Rc4 Rxc4+ 62.Kxc4 Kd6 63.Kb5 Kc7 64.Ka6 Kc6 65.Ka7 Kc7 66.Ka6 Kc6 67.Ka7 Kc7 1/2-1/2

                        Position after Black’s 36…Kg8



                        • #13
                          Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

                          January 17, 2020

                          Game Eight

                          Aleksandra Goryachkina wins the 8th game and leads the Women's World Chess Championship by one point: 4˝-3˝. 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 Alexandra Goryachkina is punching above her rating. In this match, she has demonstrated enviable grit, patience, and perseverance. Will it be enough to become the next World Champion?

                          In today's Carlsbad variation of Queen's Gambit, Ju Wenjun (playing Black) opted for an unorthodox 8...Ne4. A quick database search showed that White scored 71% in over 70 games played. It is unclear why Ju went for this line. At the press conference, the World Champion admitted that after 17.dxc5 she felt that the game was getting out of hand and she struggled to come up with an equalizing plan.

                          Goryachkina continued to push, while Black seemed to always go for safer, more passive moves when presented with an option to either play intuitively or defend. A good 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. Game after game, around move 30, Ju has a choice between going with her gut and intuition, she seems to be choosing a much safer, less opportunistic option.

                          Presented with a golden opportunity, Goryachkina played extremely accurately. 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.

                          The next game is a test for Goryachkina. For the first time in the match, she is the hunted. Suddenly, this is her World Championship match to lose. In a huge psychological shift, we'll now see what Goryachkina is truly made of. Will she be nervous? How will today's result impact her opening preparation? What about Ju? Does she have it in her to play winning chess? A player known for aggressive, tactical brilliance, how will she react to being four games away from losing her title?

                          Game 9 will be played on Sunday, January 19, at 15:30 local time.


                          In the Chat some people were saying that the postgame interview with Goryachkina was one of the worst. Nigel Short asked questions of her through her interpreter. She was unsmiling and fairly curt in her answers. She speaks no English. And why should she? I am amazed at how well most foreign title players speak English. I never will be interviewed in China or Russia but if I were they wouldn’t get a word out of me!

                          - The worst press conference was the one Magnus stormed out of.

                          - Not so much a press conference here as a wake

                          Game 8, Jan. 17
                          Goryachkina, Aleksandra – Ju, Wenjun
                          D35 QGD, Exchange, positional line

                          1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 Be7 8.Bd3 Ne4 9.Bg3 Nxg3 10.hxg3 Nd7 11.Nf3 Nf6 12.Qc2 Be6 13.O-O-O Qc7 14.Kb1 O-O-O 15.Na4 Kb8 16.Nc5 Bxc5 17.dxc5 Bg4 18.Rc1 Bxf3 19.gxf3 d4 20.e4 g5 21.Qd2 Nd7 22.f4 f6 23.Rh5 gxf4 24.gxf4 Nf8 25.f5 Qg7 26.Qf4+ Ka8 27.Qh2 Nd7 28.f4 Qf8 29.b4 b6 30.e5 bxc5 31.Qh1 Nb8 32.Be4 Rh7 33.Rxc5 Rb7 34.Bxc6 Nxc6 35.Qxc6 d3 36.Rb5 Rb8 37.e6 Qd8 38.Rh1 d2 39.Rd5 Qc8 40.Qxc8 Rxb4+ 41.Ka1 Rxc8 42.Rxd2 Kb7 43.Rd7+ Kb6 44.e7 Re8 45.Re1 1-0

                          Position after Black’s 31….Nb8



                          • #14
                            Game on baby! The match is tied again! Ju Wenjun showed us what she is made of in game 9. Whoever wins, this has been a real rock 'em sock 'em match. 4 decisive games out of 9!!

                            When I worked with Goryachkina at the Canadidates in Kazan I called her "Angry Girl" (a reference to the 3rd Thor movie "Ragnarok") because she never smiled. Loved her games though - especially her in against Lagno, where she prevailed in a bare R vs N ending.


                            • #15
                              Women’s World Chess Championship 2020

                              January 19, 2020

                              Game Nine

                              From FIDE:

                              Ju Wenjun strikes back, wins the 9th game and evens up the score: 4˝-4˝. In a game with plenty of twists and turns, the World Champion emerged victorious after 62 moves.

                              Under-prepared, lethargic, uninspiring, imprecise, unintuitive are just some of the words, which have been used to describe Ju Wenjun's play in the first 8 games of her title defense match. Her Russian opponent appears to be better prepared, seven years younger, hungrier, more motivated, and determined to fulfill every chess player's ambition—to become a World Champion. Ju is down a point with just four games left. She just suffered a bitter defeat, in which she was wiped off the board in a lopsided fashion. The match is in Russia and the home crowd is buzzing with expectations.

                              What would you do, if you were in Ju's place?

                              Ju Wenjun showed up wearing a black bomber jacket with "Whatever" embroidered on the back and she played like it. Her second move, 2.b3, startled Aleksandra Goryachkina. For the next 40 moves, Ju just kept bringing it.

                              Was her play perfect? Of course not. Was it sound chess? Not really. Did it work? Yes, it did. For the first time in this match, Goryachkina was on the ropes.

                              The Russian kept going in and out of trouble, with dubious sequences (11..Kxe5 and 12..d4) followed by excellent machine-like moves (20.. Bg1 and 22..Qc8). By move 28 it appeared as if the match was over. Goryachkina was able to refute Ju's disjointed and very opportunistic play. 28...Qb4 would have likely led to Goryachkina's becoming the new World Champion. Experts agreed. Fans in Vladivostok and online were beginning to celebrate.

                              It was not to be. In approaching time-trouble, Goryachkina went astray with dubious Qg2?. Three hours of 'Whatever' worked. Goryachkina cracked and lost her way. After the time control, Ju finally showed her class and converted a complicated endgame with Karpovian (45. Bf4!) precision. The World Champion showed her mastery and won.

                              Game 10 will be played on Monday, January 20.


                              Game 9, January 19, 2020
                              Ju, Wenjun – Goryachkina, Aleksandra
                              A06 Reti Opening

                              1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 c5 3.e3 a6 4.Bb2 Nc6 5.d4 Nf6 6.Nbd2 cxd4 7.exd4 g6 8.a3 Bg7 9.Bd3 Nh5 10.g3 O-O 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.dxe5 d4 13.f4 f6 14.Qe2 fxe5 15.fxe5 Bh6 16.O-O-O Be3 17.Rhf1 Bh3 18.Rxf8+ Qxf8 19.Kb1 b5 20.Nf1 Bg1 21.a4 bxa4 22.bxa4 Qc8 23.Bc4+ Kh8 24.e6 Nf6 25.Rxd4 Bxd4 26.Bxd4 Qb7+ 27.Ka2 Rd8 28.Bb2 Rb8 29.Bb3 Qg2 30.Qe5 Rxb3 31.cxb3 Qc6 32.Nd2 Bxe6 33.Ka3 Kg8 34.Nf3 Qd5 35.Qb8+ Kg7 36.Ne5 Qc5+ 37.Qb4 Qxb4+ 38.Kxb4 Kf8 39.Nc4 Ne4 40.Bd4 Ke8 41.Ka5 Nd6 42.Nd2 Bc8 43.Kb6 Kd8 44.Be5 Kd7 45.Bf4 g5 46.Bxg5 e5 47.Be3 Ke6 48.Kc7 Bd7 49.Bc5 Nf5 50.Kb6 Kd5 51.Nb1 e4 52.Nc3+ Ke5 53.Kxa6 e3 54.a5 Nd4 55.b4 Bg4 56.Kb6 e2 57.Bxd4+ Kxd4 58.Nxe2+ Bxe2 59.a6 Bf3 60.a7 h5 61.b5 Kc4 62.h3 Kd5 1-0

                              Position after White’s 28.Bb2