Ju Wenjun claims victory at Tata Steel India Blitz

by André Schulz
9/5/2023 – In the rapid section of the Tata Steel India Tournament, Ju Wenjun was outscored by Divya Deshmukh. In blitz, however, the women’s world champion was the strongest and won with 12½/ out of 18 points, finishing ahead of Humpy Koneru and Harika Dronavalli. | Photo: Vivek Sohani

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Humpy grabs clear second place

The multinational steel manufacturing company Tata Steel, sponsor of the traditional tournament in the Dutch village of Wijk aan Zee, has been celebrating chess in India for a number of years with the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid and Blitz events. The venue is the beautiful theatre hall at the Indian National Library in Kolkata.

Two tournaments take place one after another. On the first five days, five top Indian players faced five top international players (all women), including world champion Ju Wenjun — three days of rapid were followed by two days of blitz.

Surprisingly, the winner of the rapid tournament was Divya Deshmukh. The 17-year-old, this year’s Asian Continental champion in the women’s category, managed to surpass the world champion in the final standings.

On the last two days of the women’s competition, a double round-robin, blitz tournament was played. After the first day, Harika Dronavalli and Ju were sharing the lead. With 6½ points from 9 games, the two grandmasters had already separated themselves from the rest of the field by 1½ points.

On the second day of action, however, Harika could not keep up with the world champion’s pace. She started off by beating Divya, but signed a few draws along the way and also lost several games, such as her encounter against Humpy Koneru in round 14.

Harika Dronavalli

Harika Dronavalli | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Humpy Koneru

Humpy Koneru | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Ju played the second half almost as well as the first half, collected 6 points and finished the tournament with a 12½/18 score. That was enough to win the tournament, a half point ahead of Humpy. Harika was third with 10½ points.

Sometimes Ju’s opponent came to her aid:

Immediately after winning the World Championship match against her compatriot Lei Tingjie, Ju rushed to the Women’s World Cup in Baku, where she lost to Elisabeth Paehtz in the third round. Due to this somewhat early elimination, the world champion was able to enjoy a longer break before her participation in the Tata Steel Chess India tournament.

Ju received $7,500 for winning the blitz tournament. Divya was awarded $10,000 for winning the Rapid Tournament.

Ju Wenjun, Divya Deshmukh

Ju Wenjun and Divya Deshmukh | Photo: Vivek Sohani

On Tuesday, the men’s tournament kicks off in Kolkata. The five strongest Indian players, except for Anand, will also face five international stars under the same conditions as in the women’s section of the event.

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Ju, Wenjun 12,5 0
2 Koneru, Humpy 12 0
3 Dronavalli, Harika 10,5 0
4 Divya, Deshmukh 10,5 0
5 Shuvalova, Polina 10 0
6 Krush, Irina 9 0
7 Ushenina, Anna 7 0
8 Vantika, Agrawal 7 0
9 Batsiashvili, Nino 6 0
10 Savitha, Shri B 5,5 0

All games


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.