Women's World Ch: Ju Wenjun reaches the final

by Johannes Fischer
11/16/2018 – Defending champion Ju Wenjun (pictured) qualified for the final at the 2018 Women's World Championship knockout. With a safe draw in the second game of the semi-final, the current World Champion won her mini-match 1½-½ over Alexandra Kosteniuk. In the second match of the semi-final, Kateryna Lagno and Mariya Muzychuk also drew and therefore have to play a tiebreak match Saturday for the remaining spot in the final. | Photos: Official site

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A safe draw seals the deal

Ju Wenjun won the first game of their semi-final match with Black against Alexandra Kosteniuk. In a French Tarrasch variation, Kosteniuk lost a pawn after a tactical trick and then had to fight for a draw: 

 

After 18...Nxa6 then 19.Rxa6 would fail to 19...Qb7 double attacking the rook and threatening mate on g2. Kosteniuk played 19.Be3 but Black was in control for the rest of the game and won slowly in a minor piece ending.

Kosteniuk vs Ju Wenjun

Ju, therefore, needed only a draw with White today to move into the final. She played in a solid, restrained style, avoiding all complications. Kosteniuk found no way to spice up the game and had to agree to a draw in the rook ending after 73 moves.

 

Alexandra Kosteniuk, a former World Champion is out | Photo: Official site

An unspectacular draw

The game between Kateryna Lagno and Mariya Muzychuk was also extremely even throughout. Although Lagno, who played with White, sacrificed an early pawn in an open Spanish, Muzychuk quickly returned the pawn and, by move 24, the position flatlined into a double-rook endgame with opposite-coloured bishops. It took another 30 moves, but the game ended in a draw. The two players will need a Saturday tiebreak to determine who will face Ju in the final.

 

Kateryna Lagno | Photo: Official site

Mariya Muzychuk | Photo: Official site

All games

 

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson

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Johannes 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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