Ju Wenjun for Newsweek: “I’m the 2020 women’s chess world champion”

by Ju Wenjun
11/11/2020 – “I prefer to play strong chess players, because after the game no matter whether you win or lose you learn something. Like Beth, I read many books by chess world champions, I tend to admire playing styles more than the individual”, writes women’s world champion on a new article published on Newsweek. By Beth, she refers to the main character in “The queen’s gambit”, the hit series on Netflix. | Photos: FIDE

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“Now I love playing chess even more”

I was seven years old when I first started playing chess. My parents didn’t know too much about the game because chess doesn't have a long history in China. Most people got to know more about it because of the 1991 Women's Chess World Championships when China’s Xie Jun defeated Georgia’s Maia Chiburdanidze. That just happened to be the year I was born.

When I was in elementary school there were various options for interesting after school lessons and I chose chess. At first I found I played well against students in my area of the same age, and then went on to achieve excellent results in under-8s and under-10s national competitions. At that stage I began to think I could become a professional chess player. My home in Shanghai at the time was very close to where I studied chess, so I’d play chess almost every day for a few hours. Chess was perhaps the most significant aspect of my childhood.

Then, in 2004 at the age of 13, I travelled to Beijing for professional chess training at the National Chess Center there. Sometimes you’re going to a tournament or event but the average time we trained was about six hours a day.

Becoming a grandmaster is the highest title in chess, and to achieve it you have to reach a rating of 2500 and three “norms”—in general, a norm is a strong performance with a rating of 2600 in select international chess events. When I received the title of grandmaster in 2014 I was 23 and had six norms. It's still fairly rare for a woman to become a grandmaster, but I believed I was good enough. So I was happy, but it wasn't necessarily surprising!

I first realized I could become Women’s Chess World Champion in 2016. That year, I competed in the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Women’s Grand Prix 2015-16; a series of five chess tournaments where the winning player qualifies as a challenger to play in the next FIDE Women’s World Chess Championships. I won that Grand Prix.

Chess is a male-dominated sport, so keeping the championships separate gives a chance for more female players to join and achieve. They’ve also been separated since the women's championships started in 1927, and there are open tournaments where male and female players can play against one another.

Read the full article at Newsweek

Ju Wenjun, Aleksandra Goryachkina

The first half of the 2020 Women’s World Championship`match was played in Shanghai

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