Ju Wenjun becomes 17th Women's World Champion

by Macauley Peterson
5/18/2018 – Ju Wenjun has done it: In the tenth and final game of the World Championship match against Tan Zhongyi, she secured herself a world title with a draw. Tan had to win the game, and looked desperately for opportunities, but she could do nothing against the very careful play of Ju Wenjun. | Photo: Gu Xiaobang

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Ju is the sixth Chinese to hold the title

The tenth and final match game of the competition for the 2018 Women's World Championship was a make-or-break moment for Tan Zhongyi. Before the game, Ju Wenjun was in the lead 5-4 and so Tan had to win-on-demand with the black pieces to force a playoff.

In an attempt to unbalance the game, Tan opted for a very unusual opening: a Hippopotamus setup. Black banks on surprising her opponent and postponing the fight to the middlegame. But Ju could not be disturbed. She played solidly and calmly, leaving Tan to get more aggressive.

Tan threw in the kitchen sink, launching a desperate attack on the kingside that left her in a lost position. But Ju had no need for more than a draw and eschewed all winning attempts choosing instead to steer the game into an endgame that was nearly impossible to lose. After 70 moves, Tan conceded her efforts were hopeless and Ju Wenjun became the new champion!

Game 10:  Ju Wenjun ½-½ Tan Zhongyi

Tan and Ju

The two friends could still smile after the conclusion of the match | Photo: Gu Xiaobang

Chinese dominance in Women's World Championships

Ju Wenjun was born in the year Xie Jun won her first (of two) World Championship titles in 1991. Since then, Chinese players have held the title far more often than not — Ju joins Xie, Zhu Chen, Xu Yuhua, Hou Yifan, Tan Zhongyi. That dominance has only increased since 2010, and after Hou Yifan rose to the top spot only Ukrainians Anna Ushenina and Mariya Muzychuk have managed to snatch the title for one year each as a result of the now-biennial knockout format for the World Championship.

Incidentally, the next knockout is scheduled for this November — less than six months from now — and Ju Wenjun will enter in the first round like everyone else, so it's extremely likely that her reign as World Champion will be exceedingly short-lived.

Nevertheless, with Hou currently pursuing an internship in California and soon to be a student at Oxford University, we can safely say that Ju Wenjun, in her prime at age 27, will enter the Autumn knockout as the world's best active female player.

Final match score


All games


Johannes Fischer contributed to this report.


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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fixpont fixpont 5/20/2018 10:22
@melante: nobody cares about women chess anyway so there is no money behind is, no publicity, and knockout is the cheapest tournament form, women chess is in vegetative state
melante melante 5/20/2018 03:10
What? The next female world championship in the silly knock-out format will be in November already??? That doesn't make any sense! How can FIDE mess up these things so badly is really beyond comprehension...
Aighearach Aighearach 5/19/2018 06:59
Congratulations to Ju Wenjun! 2018 FIDE Champion is nothing to sneeze at.
Denix Denix 5/19/2018 10:45
Congratulations Ju Wenjun! You deserve the crown and there is no question about it.
Marselos Marselos 5/19/2018 09:24
and I love Leela.
Can I say it or not?
She never makes a tantrum.
Marselos Marselos 5/19/2018 08:53
Good,she is the queen and I love her.
RayLopez RayLopez 5/19/2018 08:38
https://en.chessbase.com/post/why-hou-yifan-has-dropped-out-of-the-cycle - is the article as to why Hou Yifan dropped out of the women's chess championship. Basically she doesn't like the knockout and lottery-like nature of this competition.
Brian Smith Brian Smith 5/19/2018 06:13
And don't forget Topolov. He was better than those guys....but still, one knows a World Champion when one sees one.
Theochessman Theochessman 5/18/2018 11:25
Is this a joke? Where is Hou Yifan? These "worldchampions" will be remembered like Khalivman, Ponomariov and Khasimdjanov.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 5/18/2018 09:37
Without any intent to degrade the winner's efforts, I cannot help thinking of the FIDE men World Champions before the title reunification. It is rather sad that the by far best active female player [Hou Yifan] did not compete. The sport loses appeal when the World Champion is a substantially lower rated player. Sure, you can be lower rated and win occasionally [harder in a longer match], but not when the difference in performance is rather substantial.
basler88 basler88 5/18/2018 08:28
Congratulations Ju Wenjun and all the best for the future, you deserve to be the World Champion!
genem genem 5/18/2018 08:27
Nice to see the Women's title upgraded to a 1:1 Match format, from the Tournament format that has been used more often in the past decade.
danilo botoy danilo botoy 5/18/2018 07:23
As expected Ju Wenjun would win the Women's World Chess Championships 2018.
Congratulation Ju, enjoy the glory of your chess career.