Chinese Kung Fu in Gibraltar
Ju Wenjun. Photo: ©Gu Xiaobing

Chinese Kung Fu in Gibraltar


Playing chess makes me happier than doing anything else.

- Ju Wenjun

In 2017, no one doubted that China dominated the world´s women´s chess scene. The Chinese female team had won the Chess Olympics for the 5th time in 2016, and they had GM Hou Yifan (2651 FIDE) and GM Ju Wenjun (2583 FIDE), ranked number 1 and 2 in the world, respectively, playing for them. 

Chinese Women´s Team in Baku 2016. Photo: Maria Emelianov

But, although they are colleagues and teammates, the Chinese girls don´t take it easy while facing each other. The game we are going to analyze is proof of that.

On January 28, 2017, Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun faced each other in the 8th round of the traditional Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. Both top female players had 5 points out of 7 possible, just 1 point away from the leaders.

This game is a masterpiece, as both players attack and counterattack each other almost without a break. I invite you to see the analyses and try the exercises in order to improve your calculation and imagination. Are you ready?

Question 1: Black to move, how would you proceed? 
Warning: the answer is right behind.
Answer: 14...Na5! From there the knight can go to c4 and create threats against White´s king.
Game Continuation

Question 2: Which are the implications of 17...e5? Calculate it and evaluate the resulting positions.

Warning: the answer is right behind.

Answer: 17...e5 is a good move, and it seems that Black wins material at first sight. But, White actually has enough play to maintain the balance, as we can see by the variations.
Hou Yifan. Photo: John Saunders

Game Continuation

Question 3: White proposes a queen exchange. Would you accept? If not, what do you suggest instead?

Warning: the answer is right behind.

Answer: 26...Qb6! No deal. Black´s attack is most more promising than splitting White´s pawn structure when White would have a good game because her rooks would be very active and superior to the knight in the endgame.

Instead, Black plays her queen on the open b-file, threatening to align it with her rook and attack White´s monarch.

Game Continuation

Ju Wenjun. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Question 4: Find the most precise continuation to start an attack.

Warning: the answer is right behind.

Answer: 33...Nb4! Attacking the queen and keeping an eye on the c2 and a2 pawns.

Note that Black´s move defends the c3 pawn as well, as it´s immune right now, because 34.Qxc3? Nxc2+ and White would lose her queen.

Game Continuation

An exceptional and very instructive game, where a tough move is answered with an even tougher one, resembling a kung fu fight between two highly skilled martial artists. 

Full Game With Analysis

Ju Wenjun and Hou Yifan attending a press conference. Photo: Sharjah Women's Grand Prix 2014

This game analysis is especially dedicated to a friend of mine, Karen. Thanks for being an awesome person.

Thanks to @Copernicus9 for all the help.

Did you enjoy the game and exercises? Let me know your opinion in the comments! 

Thank you for the attention,