"Nothing but respect" - Interview with Ju Wenjun

by Niklesh Kumar Jain
6/11/2018 – In May, Ju Wenjun played a fine match against Tan Zhongyi to become the Women's World Champion. She took the lead early on in the match and never let it go. Immediately after the World Championship, Ju Wenjun went to play the Chinese league. Niklesh Jain and Angela Franco sent a few questions to the World Champion and she was kind enough to share her thoughts on the match and much more. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing / china2018.fide.com

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The 17th Women's World Champion

On 18th of May 2018, the chess world got a new World Champion in the form of Ju Wenjun. She beat the reigning Women's World Champion Tan Zhongyi in a ten-game match in China with a score of 5½ : 4½.

 

The score of the match — click or tap any result to open that game

Part 1

Niklesh Jain (NJ): What do you have to say about your opponent Tan Zhongyi? How did she play?

Ju Wenjun (JW): Well, I knew Tan Zhongyi since she the year 2000. We would play the national youth championships together! She is quite talented and becoming one of the stars of Chinese chess. We are very good friends. I think maybe because she didn’t make a good start, it was more stressful for her, which made her nervous. I feel this is not her best performance. But still, she is a true fighter and she fought right until the very end! I have nothing but respect for my opponent.

Tan Zhongyi's reign as the World Champion was short, but we can be sure that she would have many shots at the title in future | Photo: Official website

NJ: How do you see your performance at the World Championship? Do you think you played well, or you feel that a lot of the things that happened in the match were dictated by pressure?

JW: I think my performance at the event was quite good. I had a very big problem in the first round — I spent a lot of time in the opening and was just left with ten minutes with a lot of pieces on the board. Somehow I managed to draw that game. But I realized my weakness of playing too slow and started playing faster and also began to understand her choice of openings. After I started to manage my time well, my results improved and I began to lead the tournament. When I feel a lot of pressure or negative feelings I listen to some music or go for walks with my coach. I think the one who is leading in the match usually has less pressure.

Ni Hua was Ju Wenjun's coach and going for long walks with him helped Ju Wenjun to gain the much-needed composure for the match | Photo: Official website

Game two

The first of the two decisive games for Ju Wenjun that gave her a solid lead in the match:

 

The English Opening Vol. 1

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Game three

With this win, Ju Wenjun moved to 2.5 points as compared to Tan Zhongyi's 0.5.

 

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Game four

Tan Zhongyi shows great mental strength and pulls one back!

 

Angela Franco (AF): Which was your favourite game of the match?

JW: My favourite was the fifth game, which I won with black pieces.

 

I am very happy that [in the above position] I played h6 and stopped her idea of Bg5.

 
 
 

In this position [left], I went for the move Bd7! It is a good move because if 17.fxe4 then Bg4! 18.Nf3 and dxe4 wins the piece.

I also liked the idea of the knight coming to f5 [right] and I felt that I was just dominating the game.

 

Game five in progress. According to Ju Wenjun, this was her best performance in the match! | Photo: Official website

NJ: In the sixth game it looked like you would be able to hold a draw, but you lost the game. What happened?

JW: Well, you know it was a long game. She played well in the endgame and was able to outplay me. By the way, there was no pawn move for 40 moves! If we had made ten more moves without she being unable to checkmate me or without a pawn move, I would have been able to claim a draw! I was not confident about my memory, so the arbiters checked the scoresheet and when I realized it was not yet 50 moves, I resigned!

 

The queen endgame that went on for many, many moves, ended as a win for Tan Zhongyi in game six | Photo: Official website

[After Tan's sixth-round win, Ju Wenjun's lead was narrowed down to one point. But the last four rounds ended in draws and this meant that Ju Wenjun became the Women's World Champion. -Ed.]

Ju Wenjun received the title of Women's World Champion and a cheque of €120,000 for her efforts | Photo: Official website

NJ: Now that you are the Women's World Champion, you have the pressure of retaining the title! Who do you think are your biggest rivals for this title?

JW: The next World Championship will be a Knock-Out event in Russia, towards the end of this year. In a Knockout format, anything can happen. I think all the women players above the rating of 2500 have a good chance of winning the World Championship title.

NJ:  How are you planning to celebrate this victory?

JW: Relax, listen to some music, go to some live show if possible!

Part 2 of the interview will follow soon. with some focus on the World Championship, but also on other important issues...


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About the authors

 

This interview was been a joint effort by ChessBase India Hindi's editor-in-chief Niklesh Jain and Colombian WIM Angela Franco.

The duo live 16,000 kilometres away from each other but the game of chess has brought them together.



FIDE Instructor Niklesh Kumar Jain Jain is an international chess player who has participated in tournaments in almost in 20 different countries, winning the international tournament in Sri Lanka in 2010. He also worked for a television network as an anchor and news writer for two years and reported in Hindi during World Chess Championship 2013 and 2014.
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goeland goeland 6/11/2018 03:07
Nice interview and it would be nice to have more insights about chinese chess in general.
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