Women's World Championship 2018 begins

by Macauley Peterson
5/3/2018 – Thursday in Shanghai, the Women's World Championship match between defending champion Tan Zhongyi and challenger Ju Wenjun commences. The competition is played over ten games, half in Shanghai (Ju Wenjun's hometown), half in Chongqing (Tan Zhongyi's hometown). Live games from 9:00 AM CEST (3:00 AM EDT) | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

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Tan Zhongyi vs. Ju Wenjun

From May 2nd to 19th the Women's World Chess Championship will be decided in China between two Chinese players. Reigning World Champion Tan Zhongyi, currently ranked tenth in the world, defends her title against world number two, Ju Wenjun. The organizer of the competition is the Chinese Chess Federation, which will host the match in Shanghai and Chongqing — Ju Wenjun is from Shanghai, Tan Zhongyi lives in Chongqing.

Tan Zhonqui, rated 2522, won the World Championship in a knockout format held in Tehran last year, by beating Anna Muzychuk in the final, and is the successor to her compatriot Hou Yifan, who declined to participate.

Ju Wenjun won the women's FIDE Grand Prix 2016-17 and thereby qualified as a challenger. She currently has an Elo rating of 2571 putting her 87 points behind Hou Yifan, who has refrained from participating in women-only tournaments, in part out of dissatisfaction with the format for the Women's World Championship.

The current system dictates the World Championships be held annually, alternating between a KO tournament and match play. In knockout events, a certain amount of short-term form and even luck play a major role, and so Hou twice lost her World Championship title in knockouts only to qualify again as a challenger via the Grand Prix Series. She then succeeded twice in reclaiming the title in match play against Anna Ushenina and Mariya Muzychuk in consecutive cycles.

Ju and Tan

Ju and Tan at the opening ceremony | Photo: Gu Xiaobing

Both Tan Zhongyi and Ju Wenjun were born in 1991, although Ju turned 27 in January, while Tan celebrates her 27th birthday in late May. Ju Wenjun has been a WGM since 2009 and earned the full Grandmaster title in 2014. Tan received the GM title in 2017 after winning the Women's World Championship. The two Chinese GMs have competed as teammates in various competitions many times and are close friends.

So far, the two players have played at least 46 times together in different tournaments (according to Mega Database 2018), with a score of 14:12 for Tan with 20 draws. At the last KO World Championship, Tan eliminated Ju in round four with 1½:½, in the classical match of two games.

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

Live games (15:00 in Shanghai / 9:00 AM CEST / 3:00 AM EDT)



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


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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