Women's World Championship: Ju takes the lead...again

by André Schulz
1/20/2020 – Ju Wenjun took the lead for the second time in the match with just two games before the end of the competition for the Women's World Championship. She defeated her challenger with the black pieces in today's tenth game in a Queen's Gambit Declined, and has excellent chances to retain her title. | Photos: Eteri Kublashvili (FIDE / official site)

How to play the Queen's Gambit How to play the Queen's Gambit

Garry Kasparov took to the Queen’s Gambit at a relatively late stage of his chess career, but then had the best training anyone could imagine: in his first match for the world championship against Anatoly Karpov, this opening appeared on the board no less than 19 times. Now he shares his knowledge with you.


A clutch win with black

The competition for the World Championship between the defending champion Ju Wenjun and her challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina has been exciting and evenly matched. The players have traded blows: Ju Wenjun scored first, but then lost the lead and even fell behind. She faced down a difficult psychological situation with aplomb, first equalizing the match and today, reclaiming the lead with a win in the tenth game.

The World Champion is now back in the lead and Goryachkina has just two chances to balance the score. However, she will have black in the eleventh game.

The theoretical terrain of today's game was once again the Queen's Gambit Declined,  exchange variation with which, the challenger obtained a convincing victory in the eighth game.

Match standings


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Today Ju Wenjun deviated from her approach in the eighth game and chose the Vaganian variation. In this line, Black allows her structure on the kingside to be weakened, but tries to maintain a defensible position. In fact, the players followed a game between Surya Ganguly and Erwin l'Ami that was played just yesterday in the Challengers group in Wijk aan Zee!


After the bishop has retreated to g6, white exchanges on f6 crippling the black pawns.

The style of play was dealt a major setback four years ago when Magnus Carlsen defeated Vladimir Kramnik with a new concept.


Kramnik played here 12...♞b6 and was worse after 13.♘g3 ♝b4+ 14.♔d1 ♞a4 15.♘gf5.

In the meantime, black's handling has improved with 12...f5, as played by Ju. After a few moves, a position emerged with a very unusual pawn structure.


This set the stage for the critical endgame phase. After the 25th move the following situation arose:


Black played 25...a8, followed by 26.b5 c5.


Goryachkina starts 1.d4

As in the prior games, the two players fought intensely even in an endgame with limited material on the board, ultimately leading to the following crucial position.


Black is better, but it is not clear whether this is enough to win the game. Only after 52...a3+ did White play 53.b4? and started down the wrong path: 

53...b3+ 54.a4 e4 55.h8 b7 56.c8 d3 57.h5 c3 58.h6 c2 59.a3 d2 60.d8+ xe3 61.c8 d2 62.d8+ c1 0-1

Instead, 53.♔b2 ♜b3+ (53...♜xe3 54.♖xf5+ ♚e4 55.♖xf6 ♜h3 =) 54.♔c2 ♚e4 55.♖h7 ♚xe3 56.♖c7 ♚d4 57.♖d7+ offered White a better chance.

All games and commentary of Game 10


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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