Ju Wenjun Defends Women's World Chess Championship Title
Ju Wenjun's third-round win in the tiebreaks proved to be critical in defeating Alexandra Gorychkina to retain her title. (Photo: FIDE)

Ju Wenjun Defends Women's World Chess Championship Title

54 | Chess Event Coverage

Ju Wenjun has successfully defended her title against the challenger Alexandra Goryachkina in the 2020 Women's World Championship in Vladivostok, Russia, following a dramatic 2.5-1.5 finish in the rapid tiebreaks.

After her game-12 win, momentum seemed to be on Goryachkina's side, as she built a commanding advantage with Black. Just as things seemed dire, the Chinese grandmaster escaped as time pressure became a significant factor: 

Alexandra Goryachkina Womens World Championship
The Russian challenger nearly won the rapid tiebreak first game with the black pieces. Photo: FIDE.

In the second game, Goryachkina had her turn with the white pieces. Unlike in previous battles in the Queen's Gambit Declined, Ju Wenjun introduced an early deviation with 4...Nxd5, quickly simplifying the position to an equal endgame:

Ju Wenjun Women's World Championship
The defending world champion altered her repertoire against the Queen's Gambit Declined for the rapid tiebreaks, leading to quick simplifications in both of her games with Black. Photo: FIDE.

Entering the rapid tiebreak third round, the reigning champion seemed determined to replicate her opening choice from the tiebreak first round. This time, Ju Wenjun played the surprising novelty 10. exf3, which as GM Dejan Bojkov points out, has a lot of practical merits:

The win left Goryachkina with one opportunity to level the score, but once again Ju Wenjun's Queen's Gambit sideline quickly simplified the position into an equal endgame. The challenger did her best to attack Black's weak e-pawn, but with so few pieces on the board, Ju Wenjun was able to hold a draw, putting an end to the match: 

Ju Wenjun Womens World Championship
With the draw, Ju Wenjun closed out an exciting match with her third women's world championship title. Photo: FIDE.

By beating Goryachkina, Ju Wenjun has secured her third women's world championship title. The Chinese grandmaster first won the title when she beat Tan Zhongyi in 2018, and once again in the same year when she defeated Kateryna Lagno in the knockout tournament final.

By reaching the championship match, Goryachkina will participate in the next women's candidates' tournament in the upcoming cycle. This match marked the beginning of the women's world championship match-only format, so Ju Wenjun will not have to defend her title in a knockout tournament later this year as she did in 2018. 

Watch the replay of our live coverage of the rapid tiebreaks with WFM Maria Emelianova and Joe Bruin below:

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