Women's World Championship 2020 - Game 9 LIVE

by ChessBase
1/19/2020 – Chinese defending champion Ju Wenjun and her challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina from Russia are playing a twelve-game match at locations Shanghai and Vladivostok. Aleksandra Goryachkina wins the 8th game and leads the Women's World Chess Championship by one point: 4½-3½. The World Champion Ju Wenjun only has four games left to overturn the score and retain her title. The second half in Vladivostock starts two hours earlier with games commencing at 5:30 UTC (6:30 CET, 12:30 AM EST). | Photos: Zhang Yanhong (FIDE / official site)

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Game 9: LIVE

Regardless of the outcome, it has become increasingly clear that Goryachkina is punching above her rating. In this match, she has demonstrated grit, patience, and perseverance of a 2600+ player. Will it be enough to become the next World Champion?

All stories on the Women's World Championship

Match standings


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Live games and commentary

The games in Vladivostok are slated to start at 15:30 local time, which is 6:30 CET and 12:30 AM EST.

The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 seconds per move, starting from with move one. Agreed draws before move 40 are not allowed.


Commentary by GM Nigel Short & GM Hou Yifan

FIDE game-by-game review

Text: Michael Friedman; Photos: Zhang Yanhong, Lewis Liu, Michael Friedman
Contact: press@fide.com

Game 1: ½-½

The first game of the Women's World Chess Championship 2020, held in Shanghai, China, ended with a hard-fought draw.

Ye Jiangchuan, President of the Chinese Chess Federation, and Alexandr Shmanevskiy, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai, made the first symbolic move in the game.

The opening was as cautious as it gets: Alexandra Gorychkina (Russia), playing White, chose 1.d4 as her first move. Instead of her usual Ragozin defense, defending champion Ju Wenjun (China) surprised with 4.e7. The challenger decided to go then for a solid Catalan with 5.g3: 


The impression is that Goryachkina tried to take the game out of the book as soon as she could, and despite the symmetrical and equal position, she managed to put some pressure on the champion. In fact, an inaccuracy by Ju Wenjun gave the Russian the opportunity to gain an advantage, and for a while, the challenger seemed to be playing cat and mouse with the Champion, only to squander it with an untimely rook exchange on move 44. After this scuffle, Ju stoically defended for the next 50-plus moves, before the draw was agreed right before they reached the sixth hour of play.

In the press conference held after the game, Ju complimented Goryachkina's fighting style, looking to exploit even the minuscule of chances. On her part,  Goryachkina was content with opening the match by putting the world champion on the ropes for 97 moves and close to 6 hours.

Photo: Zhang Yanhong / FIDE

Game 2: ½-½

Playing White, Ju Wenjun (China), a 1.d4 player, surprised her opponent with 1.e4. In the ensuing Berlin variation of the Spanish Opening, Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) achieved comfortable play after producing a novelty on move: 12...c6


However, very quickly Black appeared to have gone astray with 16...g5, giving White an opportunity for dynamic play with [17.f3 ♝f5] 18.g4, which Ju chose not to do, instead exchanging queens and some pieces.


Perhaps, both players are feeling the impact of yesterday's marathon 97-move game and are going for simpler, safer options. A quiet draw seemed inevitable and was agreed on at move 40, after three-fold repetition.

Goryachkina's ability to easily equalize in her first black game, further cemented her position as a formidable challenger.

After the game, Ju Wenjun felt satisfied with the result, believing that black came out well after the opening.

The players will enjoy tomorrow a rest day. The match will be resumed on January 8 with the third game, where Aleksandra Goryachkina will have the white pieces.

Zhao Guangsheng

Zhao Guangsheng, Deputy General Director of Shanghai Sports Ministry, together with the Grandmaster Nigel Short, FIDE Vice-President, made the first symbolic move of Game 2.

Game 3 - ½-½

The first game of the Women's World Chess Championship 2020, held in Shanghai, China, ended with a hard-fought draw. In the second game, both players perhaps feeling the impact of the prior day's marathon 97-move game played a relatively quiet draw — with a three-fold repetition on move 40.

In game three, Ju Wenjun, playing Black, countered Aleksandra Goryachkina's Queen's Gambit with the Semi-Tarrasch Defence, transforming the duel into a comfortable, yet somewhat passive gameplay for herself.
The current champion failed to come up with a plan to fully equalize, and by move 23 Goryachkina enjoyed a considerable advantage.


However, a momentary slip 23.d3 presented Ju with an opportunity to completely flip the table with 23...♞e5!, which was not played. It was as if Ju was so focused on defending an inferior position, that she simply missed her one chance to get out of it. Having also opted against 18.g4! In Game 2, the world champion seems to be wary when it comes to dynamic and tactical play.
White continued to dictate play and ten moves later, following the thematic break on d5, Goryachkina won a pawn. For a moment, it felt we would see the first decisive game of the match. However, the Russian played inaccurately in moderate time-trouble, before the first time control transformed the game into an easy save for the world champion. Just like in Game 1, the challenger continued to push for another 40 moves, until the players agreed on a draw on move 85.  
Ju must feel relief to be tied in this match after not playing her best game, especially with black, but at the press conference, she said that she is content with three draws. On her part, Goryachkina added that she feels good about dominating her opponent in two out of the first three games, yet is also frustrated having not capitalized on her chances. 
A difficult stretch of games is coming for Goryachkina where she will have black pieces in the next 3 out of 4 games.

Game 4: 1-0

In Game 4, Ju Wenjun, playing white, reverted to her usual 1.d4 and both players appeared to be well within their preparations in the ensuing Slav Defence. 

With the game moving so quickly, it remained unclear who was better prepared and who was bluffing by playing at a blistering pace. Aleksandra Goryachkina's unnatural 22.Kxf8 further illustrated the point of how comfortable and prepared she either was or wanted her opponent to believe. 

Ju had an opportunity to increase pressure with a strong 26.Rc6, but chose to exchange the rooks, opting for playing a pleasant endgame with just queens and bishops. The white queen dominated the board on white squares, while black had to be patient and careful. 

The game seemed to head toward another draw. Then, Goryachkina—not content with sitting back—unadvisedly exchanged bishops on move 34, creating a long-term weakness on c5. 

In the ensuing endgame, black had to find a precise plan of defense, such as putting her f pawn on f5. Goryachkina wasn’t able to find it, and Ju Wenjun, despite some hesitation was able to calculate the precise moment to exchange queens and convert her pawn for an endgame, and her first win.

After the game, Goryachkina said that she lost the thread of the game, but she couldn’t quite pinpoint exactly where, and accepted that her position just kept getting worse and she just couldn't recover.

Ju was happy and relieved to finally get the full point, and praised Goryachkina's valiant defense.

Gui Jinsong, director of Mass Sports Department of Shanghai Sports Bureau, and Liu Changle, party branch secretary of Shanghai Board and Card Games Administrative Center, made the first symbolic move of Game 4.

Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun after Thursday's Game 4

Game 5: 1-0

Before Saturday, Aleksandra Goryachkina has never beaten Ju Wenjun. In fact, prior to the match, the Russian Grandmaster has never had a better position against the World Champion in any of their games. However, Goryachkina is a very young player still at the peak of her development, and already in the first games of the match she showed she could put Ju Wenjun against the ropes.

In that context, Goryachkina's defeat in the fourth game was a cold shower for the Russian fans, but the challenger didn't display any signs of disappointment. And after a rest day, she came back to the board ready to put up a fight, and with today's victory, Goryachkina demonstrated the world that she belongs in this match and is the rightful challenger.

Goryachkina appeared to have surprised her opponent with 1.c4, which sent Ju into a short think. In the ensuing English Opening, players went for very sharp lines, with Ju producing the first novelty 12...e4.


This seemed to have taken Goryachkina out of her preparation and black quickly achieved a very promising position.

However, facing a 16.b5+, Ju went astray with ♛d7, unnecessarily opting for a variation in which White was up an exchange, with Black having some compensation for it in a form a very unpleasant d-pawn.


Interestingly enough, in the post-mortem, Goryachkina thought that Ju simply blundered the exchange.

Computer analysis showed a considerable advantage for White; practically the game was close to over. It seemed that Game 5 would follow a familiar theme from Games 1 and 3 where the Russian obtained comfortable positions out of openings, but squandered her chances with some little inaccuracies right before the first time control. After 29...g6? and 31.xf7? the game appeared to be headed for a draw, but a serious blunder by Ju (34...c6??) allowed White to consolidate her advantage, and Black resigned fifteen moves later.


In the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said she was relieved and happy to be back in the match. Ju agreed that while today's result was disappointing, it was a logical conclusion and the overall score reflected the match thus far.

Game 6: ½-½

In Game 6 Ju Wenjun, a predominately 1.d4 player, reverted to 1.e4, a move she played in Game 2 of the match. The Berlin variation of the Spanish Defense was repeated until move 10, with Ju opting for ♖e1

Ju failed to achieve much out of the opening with lethargic 17.b318.c4, and 19.b2.


With calm and measured play, Goryachkina managed to outmaneuver her opponent. By move 30 it became clear that Black will be playing for the win. Yet, similar to the earlier games of this match, Goryachkina was not able to build on her advantage. By the time players passed the first time control, the worst was behind Ju, and she was on the road to avoid defeat.

Nevertheless, Goryachkina made Ju sweat for it. Game 6 turned out to be the longest one of the match: It surpassed 100 moves.

For the last 60 moves, Ju had to be extremely careful, while Goryachkina was playing with no risk. She continued to wait for her opponent to slip. Ju was visibly tired, her hand at times trembling. The game finally ended two moves shy of a 50-move draw rule.

At the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said that she felt slightly better, but just couldn’t find the decisive moves for a win. Ju was unhappy with her play and felt fortunate to escape with a draw.

Stray observations: This was Goryachkina's second consecutive game in which she was the only one pressing for a win. This must have felt great for her, following a loss in Game 4. It was also the first game where white was clearly worse. The stretch of four games in which Goryachkina had three blacks was akin to a test: She started with a loss, but has done better than most expected, fully recovering in the last two games, and it feels like if she has started to dictate play.

The break in the match — it's moving to Vladivostok in Russia — is likely to benefit both players. Goryachkina is going home where large crowds are expected to support her, while Ju is getting the much-needed breather after six very long and testing games.

Dvorkovich first move

Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President, and Lu Lin, vice secretary of the Party Committee of Shanghai Sports Bureau, made the first symbolic move of Game 6

Game 7: ½-½

After a near-disaster in Game 6, Ju (playing White) probably needed to have a game in which she would only be playing for two results — a win or a draw, with little chance of losing. With a 4.d3 Anti-Berlin variation of the Spanish Defense, Ju achieved just that — a very comfortable position with a sizable space advantage and minimum risk. Goryachkina (playing Black) was reduced to sitting back: however, her position didn't have any obvious glaring weaknesses. 

Therefore, computer evaluations rarely moved past +0.50 for white. Nevertheless, it must have been extremely unpleasant for Goryachkina to be at the board for so long, maneuvering without any real counter-play. The challenger had to show a lot of character to defend a bland, slightly worse position without giving in. Such positions are often lost when a player on the passive side loses their patience. She defended extremely accurately, especially after the knights came off the board. 

Goryachkina probably got some relief after Ju played 37.Nf5. With just four minutes on the clock, Ju could not work out all the complications that could have arisen from the more dynamic alternatives such as 37.h4. D­espite 4 hours and 40 moves of steady domination, Ju never appeared to have a clear path to victory. 

Games 4-7 were going to be a real test for the challenger. Despite only having one white and losing Game 4, she emerged from this stretch even, as have demonstrated her class, and readiness to be on the biggest stage. 

There are still five games left in the match and it is a bit early to be thinking about play-offs. However, given how tight the games have been so far, it seems very likely for the match to go the full distance. 

Game 7

Wang Xue Chun, Deputy General Council of China in Vladivostok, made the first symbolic move of Game 7

Game 8: 1-0

In today's Queen's Gambit, Ju Wenjun (playing Black) opted for an unorthodox 8...e4. A quick engine search showed that White scored 71% in over 70 games played. It is unclear why Ju went for this line. At the press conference, Ju admitted that after 17.dxc5 she felt that the game was getting out of hand and she struggled to come up with an equalizing plan.

Goryachkina continued to push, while black seemed to always go for safer, more passive options when presented with an option to either play intuitively or defend. A good example of this was 25...g7, protecting a dead-weight h pawn, instead of a much more dynamic and intuitive Nd7 — a reflection of how Ju has played this match. Game after game, around move 30, Ju has a choice between going with her gut and intuition, she seems to be choosing a much safer, less opportunistic option.

Presented with a golden opportunity, Goryachkina played extremely accurately. She was not perfect: 32.b5! would have ended the game on the spot, before the time control. Nevertheless, 32.e4 was good enough and Aleksandra was still winning. Goryachkina felt that after 37.e6 this was a game she was not going to let go.

The next game is a test for Goryachkina. For the first time in the match, she is now the hunted. The pray. Suddenly, this is her World Championship to lose. In a huge psychological shift, we'll now see what Goryachkina is truly made of. Will she be nervous? How will today's result impact her opening preparation? What about Ju? Does she have it in her to play winning chess? A player known for aggressive, tactical brilliance, how will she react to being four games away from losing her title?

Hou and Short

Former World Champion Hou Yifan joined Nigel Short. She will be a co-commentator for the remaining games of the match

Text: Michael Friedman
Photos: Michael Friedman and Eteri Kublashvili
Contact: press@fide.com

All games


Setting the stage

The first major chess event of 2020 is in fact a world championship. Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun (China) plays against her challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) from January 5th to 26th.

The competition will be held half in Shanghai, China, and half in Vladivostok, Russia. Six games will be played in each of the two locations. If the score is 6:6 at the end of twelve games, a rapid (and if necessary blitz) playoff will decide the match. 

The first game takes place on Sunday. Two games are then played followed by a rest day. After game six, players travel to Vladivostok, where the seventh game is scheduled to commence on January 17th.

The prize fund is EUR 500,000 and will be divided 60:40 between the winner and loser after the end of the competition. If the there is a playoff, the ratio is 55:45.


All games begin at 15:30 local time in Shanghai and then Vladivostok. Therefore, games 1-6 start at 7:30 UTC (8:30 CET, 2:30 AM EST) and games 7-12 will begin at 5:30 UTC (6:30 CET, 12:30 AM EST).

Date Venue Event
January 4 Shanghai Opening ceremony
January 5   Game 1
January 6   Game 2
January 7   Rest day
January 8   Game 3
January 9   Game 4
January 10   Rest day
January 11   Game 5
January 12   Game 6
January 13   Rest day
January 14 Vladivostok Arrival
January 15   Opening ceremony
January 16   Game 7
January 17   Game 8
January 18   Rest day
January 19   Game 9
January 20   Game 10
January 21   Rest day
January 22   Game 11
January 23   Game 12
January 24   Playoff (if necessary) or closing


Aleksandra Goryachkina has white in the first game

Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun would certainly like to defend her title

Shoreh Bayat

IA Shoreh Bayat is the chief arbiter

Nigel Short

GM Nigel Short is the FIDE Supervisor and a commentator

Press conference

Press conference

Group photo

Group photo with the players


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Dr Zeiss Dr Zeiss 4 hours ago
Horrible play by the challenger today. In a better position she somehow psychologically collapsed after white's exchange sacrifice and made several very bad decisions ending up at a very difficult endgame.
I agree about Nigel being a very bad commentator.
Endlessgoal Endlessgoal 1/18/2020 05:19
Nigel's commentary is horrible, inarticulate, tries too hard to be cute "skirmish", "white elephant", but worst of all, patronizing Hou Yifan, "you are Chinese, you can be biased" "what is your opinion of transgender chess players?" etc.
Hou Yifan now sounds more British than Chinese, and could probably beat Nigel straight up in a match at this point in their careers.
chessgod0 chessgod0 1/17/2020 10:00
Great win for Goryachkina today---I believe she's in the process of taking control of this match. Will see what Ju Wenjun is made of, but I don't think she's as big a fighter as the Russian.

@Uncle Bent

Agree on womens chess---right now it's just not a very strong product and really needs a fresh infusion of hungry young talent not only capable of becoming GMs, but breaking into super-GM status. Goryachkina is one of few on the scene right who has a legitimate chance.
Daniel Miller Daniel Miller 1/16/2020 12:19
It is sad that these players are so unlikely to play moves that create winning chances by making the game dynamic. They both seem to only revere material and structure. Goryachkina not evaluating nonstandard moves like Nxd3 cd Rd3 and instead playing Nc6
Yohda Yohda 1/15/2020 01:30
To IntensityInsanity and mrstillwater, of course you are correct. FIDE did this in 1987, and not 5 years ago! My bad.
UncleBent UncleBent 1/13/2020 06:01
My rooting interest is for Goryachkina, only because, at 21, she has the most time to improve and her play and, perhaps aim for 2700 ELO. Women's chess really needs some new blood. The confidence of winning the title of WCh, as well as the financial rewards, would help her in her aim. I am impressed by her willingness to carry the play -- she is playing to win rather than trying to avoid a loss.
mrstillwater mrstillwater 1/13/2020 08:21
@Yohda Someone has lost their mind and it isn't us. As IntensityInsanity said, that was done in 1986, not 5 years ago.
IntensityInsanity IntensityInsanity 1/13/2020 05:05
5 years ago? That was in the 1980’s. Since then, FIDE has not added anything to anyone’s ratings.
Yohda Yohda 1/13/2020 04:33
Have you folks all lost your minds? Apparently so. Not 5 years ago the controversy about the 'real playing strength
of female players vs male players' had reached a veritable crescendo of hysteria. And not merely on this website.
It got so bad that FIDE stepped in and arbitrarily added 100 rating points to the ratings of all female players. A gift
which had the desired effect of neutralizing an increasingly hostile, seemingly endless, debate of why men seemed
to be better at playing chess than women.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 1/13/2020 01:13
The last 48 moves were not aimless. There is a time factor and you can easily make a mistake if you place your bishop on the wrong square. I remember having an ending with the knight and I accepted a draw much too early. When you have no losing chances, it doesn't hurt to keep trying.
SermadShah SermadShah 1/12/2020 02:59
Wow!!!!! In game 6, they moved aimlessly for 48 moves (move 57 to 105) . I salute their patience.
chessgod0 chessgod0 1/9/2020 10:35

Yes. I pointed out in another thread that the playing fields are actually quite mixed except for a few events (ie, world-championship/grand-prix series, Olympiad). The limited pools referenced by Vukusic are quite uncommon.
mrstillwater mrstillwater 1/9/2020 10:17
@Marin Vukusic Except the pools aren't separate - women and men play against each other all the time. It could be the case that players who tend to play against other players disproportionately often (such as women only playing in women only tournaments or top players only playing elite tournaments) might skew their own ratings slightly but I'm not aware of any evidence that this is true for all women or of any practical effect. If you can point to some published research which demonstrates that women's ratings are inflated compared to men's then please do.
Vieito Vieito 1/9/2020 10:10
The Nb4 of Goryachkina in game 4 isn't a novelty. 4 games was played before today.
Dr Zeiss Dr Zeiss 1/9/2020 05:43
Horrible game by Goryachkina. Bad trades in an equal position led to a passive queen's ending and then a lost pawn ending.
SermadShah SermadShah 1/9/2020 02:29
What a game by Ju Wenjun. Game 4 is simply marvelous!
Marin Vukusic Marin Vukusic 1/9/2020 04:10
@ chessgod0

That would be true if they played against same opponents (in this case, mixed opposition). It is the same with all limited ELO pools, ratings of best players get inflated. If you don't understand this, do research.
chessgod0 chessgod0 1/8/2020 04:53
@Marin Vukusic

This is silly. A 258o-rated woman and a 2580-rated man are the exact same strength. That's the magic of the ELO rating---it facilitates a direct comparison of ability between, quite literally, any two individuals.
Marin Vukusic Marin Vukusic 1/6/2020 08:36
"chessgod0 1/5/2020 06:12
I realize these are 2500 players, but I'm still quite surprised that Gorykachkina did not find 70.Na4! at the board. Would be interesting to know if she was in time-pressure here."

2580 vs women is not the same as vs men, so this is understandable.
chessgod0 chessgod0 1/6/2020 12:58
Yes--the ending is a draw in Game 1 and I stand corrected.
malfa malfa 1/6/2020 09:20
It is indeed a draw, but only after finding many studylike moves: after 71...c3! (only one) 72.bxc3 Kc4 White's best try is not to go for the Queen vs. Rook pawn ending which arises from 73.Kf4, but rather 73.Kd2! Kb3 74.Kd3 Kxa3 75.Kc2, when after 75...Ka2 76.c4 a3 77.c5 Black saves the game only with 77...f4 78.c6 f3!! and by promoting on f1 he is able to control the vital c4 square, so White is unable to mate.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/5/2020 09:51
Dude, I think you're right!
TheBigLebowski TheBigLebowski 1/5/2020 07:44
Sorry, not 71...Kb4 but 71...c3
TheBigLebowski TheBigLebowski 1/5/2020 07:43
It sems that the pawn ending after 70.Nxa4 bxa4 71.Ke3 Kb4 is actually a draw, by just one tempo! The best white can do is to queen her pawn in h8, when black answers ...a2 and the white King is too far.
chessgod0 chessgod0 1/5/2020 06:12
I realize these are 2500 players, but I'm still quite surprised that Gorykachkina did not find 70.Na4! at the board. Would be interesting to know if she was in time-pressure here.