"Playing chess makes me happier than doing anything else"

by Niklesh Kumar Jain
6/12/2018 – In the first part of our interview with Ju Wenjun we spoke about her World Championship match against Tan Zhongyi. In the second part of the interview, we have much more general questions to ask her. What is a normal day like in the life of Ju Wenjun, what does she think about the World Championship format, what's her opinion about Hou Yifan not playing women's chess and who is the male player she would like to play a match against. Interview of the 17th Women's World Champion by Niklesh Jain and Angela Franco.

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...Continued from Part 1

Interview with Ju Wenjun — Part 2

Angela Franco (AF): Who is the most important person in your life who helped you to achieve this title World Champion's title? Also, who were your seconds?

Ju Wenjun (JW): My family and friends and people who always cared and helped me are important. Ni Hua is my coach. We had officially worked together since 2016, but when we got to know that I will challenge Tan Zhongyi, we worked a lot preparing her openings. Wang Yue joined my team during the match, he is a good friend of Ni Hua, and he gave me some valuable tips.

Ju Wenjun's winning team! | Photo: Official website

AF: What advice can you give other women to achieve the strength that you have? 

JW: Be confident and just play chess for pleasure. If you have free time work on chess!

One of Ju Wenjun's first medal | Photo: Ju Wenjun's archives

AF: Which are the valuable things you had to sacrifice in your life in order to achieve your goals? 

JW: I didn’t have much time go to school or travel for holidays or vacation. But I think it is fine because playing chess makes me happier than doing anything else.

Young Ju

That's our current World Champion Ju Wenjun when she was barely ten! | Photo: Ju Wenjun's archives

AF: How was your technical, physical and psychological preparation to face your strong opponent? 

JW: During the event, I just did some preparation before the game and majorly had good rest. I just wanted to think of nothing. Just play chess and Be calm!

match opening

Be calm and become the World Champion! | Photo: Official website

AF: What are your next big goals? 

JW: I wish I could reach 2600 and maybe more. Once I broke 2600 but lost some rating instantly. I have a feeling that now is my chance again. I hope I can participate in more high-level tournaments and have more invitations! 

Ju Wenjun rating graph

Ju Wenjun had broken into 2600 in March 2017 (click or tap to enlarge) | players.chessbase.com

AF: How does a normal day look like in the life of Ju Wenjun?

JW: It completely depends on my mood. Sometimes I can work for five to six hours. Sometimes less than one hour! When I was playing the match I didn't prepare much because I wanted to conserve my energy for the game. Something like one to two hours was what used to prepare before the game.

Niklesh Jain (NJ): After becoming a World Champion, what personal changes can we see in your life? Will Ju Wenjun marry soon?

JW: I am still me! I love chess more than ever. I want to do something to promote chess in Shanghai, China. About my personal stuff, I really can not predict. Let’s say 50:50! (smiles)

NJ: Are you pleased with the World Championship format?

JW: The current format gives more opportunities for female players to become World Champions. About the format, whether it is good or not, I hadn't really given enough thought. 

NJ: Former world champion Hou Yifan of your own country has moved away from the world of women chess. What would you say about that?

JW: I respect her choice. She has her reasons for taking this decision.

Two of the strongest women chess players in the world — Ju Wenjun and Hou Yifan | Photo: Sharjah Women's Grand Prix 2014


NJ: If you get a chance to play a series of personal matches with a strong male player, would you like to play? Whom would you choose as your opponent?

JW: Of course, I would love it. It would a good opportunity to study and gain a new experience. Maybe Ding Liren! He is China no.1 and has very good chance to break into 2800 soon!

Ding Liren is the opponent with whom Ju Wenjun would love to have a match! | Photo: Norway Chess

NJ: How is China able to produce so many women champions? What is the special thing in Chinese chess that separates it from other countries?

JW: When I was young I went to Beijing and lived with a lot of strong chess players in the same building. One of the very important things that happened there was that male and female players would communicate and exchange ideas quite often. This helped a lot. Also, there were strong coaches and experienced players who would always be ready to teach you something new. I think it is very important that a good environment is created in order to work on chess and this I find exists in China.

It is doesn't come as a surprise that China performs very well at team events! The Chinese women's team with the gold medal in Baku 2016.


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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