Women's World Championship: Ju wins with black

by Steve Abrahams
5/4/2018 – The 2018 Women's World Chess Championship has begun in Shanghai, China. In game one we saw a Queens Gambit Accepted that simplified to a drawn endgame, ending in 63 moves. In game two the opening was a seldom seen variation of the English Opening. Ju Wenjun took advantage of the defending champions somewhat timid choice of 3.d3 and scored a win with the black pieces in 55 moves. Live games from 9:00 AM CEST (3:00 AM EDT) | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

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Advantage Ju Wenjun

The battle to determine the 19th Women's World Chess Champion has begun in China between two Chinese players. Reigning World Champion Tan Zhongyi, currently ranked as the tenth woman in the world, defends her title against world number two, Ju Wenjun.  The first two rounds have taken place with a draw, in the first round, and a win for the challenger in the second.  Both games have been competitive battles, as the players seemed to waste no time in pressing to win. Each player has now taken a turn with the white pieces and will return to action Sunday, after a rest day.

Stage

Play resumes on May 6th | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

Game one  

Game one provided an interesting Queen's Gambit Accepted. It appeared Ju Wenjun did not fully expect this variation, as she spent a great deal of time navigating the first few moves of the opening. Both players seemed to press during the first 30 moves of play with a key moment at move fourteen when Tan Zhongyi choose the complicated 14.Ne5. This move led to white's knight pair fighting momentarily vs. black's bishop pair. 

During post-game analysis, the players were calm to explain that they both felt comfortable with the complications. Tan Zhongyi expressed the importance of her mental preparations especially considering playing the black pieces first.

 

The first ceremonial move of the 2018 Championship | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

Game Two

Game two was extremely dynamic. Ju Wenjun was able to beat the defending champion with the black pieces. She took advantage of Tan Zhongyi's seldom used 3.d3 variation of the English Opening. The move 3...Bxc3 by Wenjun provided a variation which only appears thirteen times in the ChessBase live database. This variation also had only previously provided definitive results for each game. 

The passive move 22.Rf1 lead to black winning a pawn and causing great pressure the remainder of the game. Wenjun secured past c and d-pawns, which marched down the board to victory.

 

Black's connected passed pawns are far more advanced than White's. The defending champion resigned on move 55 after it became clear a pawn would promote. And important early victory with the black pieces for Ju.

 

Ju Wenjun did muster a smile while leading after two games | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

According to GM Ian Rogers, who's on-site in Shanghai, the winner seemed more subdued than one might expect under the circumstances, almost as though there were a role reversal.

The competition for the World Championship is being played over ten games, however. Should it be tied, a rapid (and if necessary, blitz) playoff will be played on May 19th.

Standings after two games

 

Schedule

Date Event Place
May 2 Opening ceremony Shanghai
May 3 Game 1 Shanghai
May 4 Game 2 Shanghai
May 5 Rest day Shanghai
May 6 Game 3 Shanghai
May 7 Game 4 Shanghai
May 8 Rest day Shanghai
May 9 Game 5 Shanghai
     
May 12 Game 6 Chongqing
May 13 Game 7 Chongqing
May 14 Rest day Chongqing
May 15 Game 8 Chongqing
May 16 Game 9 Chongqing
May 17 Rest day Chongqing
May 18 Game 10 Chongqing
May 19 Playoff (if needed) / Closing Chongqing

Links



Steve is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, but played and coached chess all across the United States. Steve has attained the titles of National Expert and FIDE Trainer during his career playing and coaching chess.
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Theochessman Theochessman 5/14/2018 02:31
World Championship? Where is Hou Yifan?
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