Tan Zhongyi can still hope

by Johannes Fischer
5/16/2018 – The ninth game of the Women's World Championship match between reigning World Champion Tan Zhongyi and challenger Ju Wenjun ended in a draw. Before the tenth and final game Ju now leads 5-4 and Tan must win the tenth game to reach a tie-break. However, Tan was lucky to get this chance. Because in game nine she was again on the verge of defeat. | Photo: Gu Xiaobang

Chess Endgames 8 - Practical Rook Endgames Chess Endgames 8 - Practical Rook Endgames

Rook endings are amongst the most frequently encountered endgames there are, and so your training effort will be quickly repaid in the form of half and full points. Knowing even a few rules of thumb and key methods makes life a great deal easier and provides a guiding light even in complex positions. This DVD focuses on the important themes which are to be found in common rook endings.


Ju Wenjun a half point from world title

Game 9

Challenger Ju Wenjun began as the favourite in the Women's World Championship match. She is currently number two on the women's ranking list, while Tan Zhongyi is number ten. And Ju was indeed superior in the match. She was better prepared and all in all had more chances than Tan Zhongyi.

But Ju has not won just yet. In game eight, she missed a very good opportunity, and in the ninth game, she was tantalisingly close to a win that would have put her over the top.

Ju Wenjun

World Champion Ju Wenjun? | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

Tan Zhongyi had white, but once again could not take advantage of the first move. In a Nimzo-Indian, the players reached a perfectly balanced position after the opening but then Tan was gradually outplayed in the middlegame and endgame, eventually reaching a rook ending in which she was two pawns down, and could hold only with a bit of luck and some help from her opponent.

The star move that put her on track to save the game was 45.e4!


The obvious 45...f4? would be an immediate draw after 46.Re6+ when the rook is taboo on account of stalemate and the black king cannot escape from the checks. The resulting endgame after 45...Rh4 was a theoretical draw which Tan held confidently.

This was surely a happy draw for the Champion, who, after a rest day tomorrow, May 17th, can hope to find a way to win the tenth and final game of the match which will be played on Friday. If — and with the black pieces it's a big 'if' — Tan wins this game and reach a 5:5 tie, then on Saturday, May 18, we would witness a rapid (and even blitz) tie-break.

She has done it before, in Game 6. Can she do it again?

Tan Zhongyi ½-½ Ju Wenjun

Meet the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the FIDE World Champion in 2004, has been extremely successful with the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2 with White and with Black. In over 4 hours of video, Rustam Kasimdzhanov explains all the important ideas, strategies and tricks helped by sample games in which the white side is represented, e.g., by Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk as well as the author himself.

Match score after nine games


All games


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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