FIDE Women's World Championship: Goryachkina Strikes Again To Lead On Home Soil
Goryachkina being interviewed by Russian media. | Photo: FIDE.

FIDE Women's World Championship: Goryachkina Strikes Again To Lead On Home Soil

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2020 women's world championship match has moved from Shanghai to Vladivostok, Russia. After a break of three days, play resumed for game game seven. The world champion, Ju Wenjun (China), was pressing but the challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) held with tenacious defence.

In game eight, Goryachkina won on her home soil and leads 4.5-3.5 with just four games to go.

You can follow the match with commentary by WFM Anna Cramling and other special guest hosts on Besides the coverage on the official website, relays the games here as part of our live portal. The games start at 3:30 p.m. local time, which is 8:30 a.m. CET, 2:30 a.m. Eastern and 11:30 p.m. (the day before) Pacific. More info here.

2020 Women's World Championship | Scores

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Score
1 Ju Wenjun 2584 2535 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 . . . . 3.5
2 Aleksandra Goryachkina 2578 2604 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 . . . . 4.5

The match was designed to take place in the countries of both the players with each hosting six games. The first half of the match was in Shanghai, where six fighting games had the match score tied at 3-3. The match moved to Vladivostok, Russia, where we again had an opening ceremony, and then the match kicked off on the challenger's home turf.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich with Aleksandra Goryachkina (left) and Ju Wenjun. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

Game seven started at 3:30 p.m. local time, but earlier than usual for the world as Vladivostok is the largest Russian part on the pacific coast in the far east of Russia. The players had a few days in between to rest, recuperate and adjust to the new conditions.

Women's World Championship, FIDE, Chess
Wang Xue Chun, Deputy General Council of China in Vladivostok, made the first move of Game 7. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

As the chief arbiter pressed the clock, Ju pushed her pawn to 1.e4. Goryachkina replied with the notorious Berlin defense known for its drawish tendencies in the Spanish opening, which she has employed throughout the match. Ju who couldn't get much in her earlier games as White, so switched to the Anti-Berlin to avoid the long and drawish variations. Ju has been struggling in the last two games and would have cherished a game where she could press for a change and play for two results. 

Thanks to Goryachkina's innocuous opening, Ju achieved just that. She got a big space advantage and could play on with no risk. The former didn't have any significant weaknesses and as a result Ju held a slight initiative throughout the game. The computer evaluations rarely peaked over +0.50 for White, but the situation was rather uncomfortable for the 22-year old challenger, who had to defend for a long time without any obvious counterplay in front of the home crowd. 

The world champion Ju Wenjun was pressing throughout the game today. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

The challenger almost always maintains a poker face but she must have been relieved when Ju went astray with 37.Nf5 instead of pushing her h-pawn to create more complications on the kingside in a double-rook-and knight-endgame. Ju had just six minutes on the clock and wanted a non-committal approach. Goryachkina quickly snapped the knight to trade into a more drawish double-rook ending. The players then traded a few pawns, then a pair of rooks. Only a few pawns on the queenside remained, when the last pair of rooks came off the board.

Ju's active king was easily parried by her counterpart and the players split the point.

Chess, FIDE, Women's World Championship
The players fought until bare kings. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

Game eight was the first white game for the challenger on home soil. The Chinese GM Ye Jiangchuan, the new president of the Chinese Chess Association and FIDE vice president, made the ceremonial first move for Ju.

Ye Jiangchuan makes the first move for Black. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

The challenger repeated her successful first move from game five and started with the English, 1.c4.  Ju has always been the one who has been changing her openings or choosing a different line, but this time she deviated on move one and replied with 1...e6. The game soon transposed into the exchange variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined.

Ju once again won the opening battle by surprising her opponent with the slightly dubious 8...Ne4 as Goryachkina thought for a full 15 minutes onmove eight. She choose a passive retreat instead of trading bishops. The game quickly exited theory; the only game in this position was played by two amateurs in 2015. 

Ju Wenjun wore a pensive look throughout the game. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

Both players soon castled on the queenside and the pressure quickly got to Ju. She was investing huge amounts of time and her early time advantage quickly evaporated. Ju simply couldn't come up with a direct plan and was shuffling her pieces on her first three ranks. Goryachkina took over at this point. She played like a machine and made about a dozen accurate moves. Ju's pawn structure was crippled and her problems doubled.

Goryachkina won a fine game today. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/FIDE.

Ju had chance to fight back by bringing her back-rank knight to the center while giving up the weak pawn on h6. Instead she chose the passive 25..Qg7 and after that it was all Goryachkina.

The challenger used both sides of the board beautifully to create more threats. In an already-winning position, her AlphaZero-style move 31.Qh1 resulted in her best piece. The queen threatened the file and was cutting through the longest h1-a8 diagonal beautifully. 

Goryachkina missed a more direct and quick win with 32.b5, but her move wasn't bad either. She captured some material and soon transited into winning double-rook ending, which she converted. 

Goryachkina always rearranges the board after the game, but today she did it with a smile. | Photo: Michael Friedman/FIDE.

As usual, there is a free day after two game days. The next game is on January 19.

The prize fund is 500,000 euros. The winner will earn 60 percent of the prize fund, and 40 percent will go to the runner-up. If the match ends in a tie after 12 games and a tiebreak decides the match, the winner will receive 55 percent and the runner-up, 45 percent.

The match is played over 12 standard games and, if needed, a rapid/blitz tiebreak. The time control for each game is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. A draw offer before move 40 is not allowed.

Watch our live coverage with WFM Anna Cramling and GM Pia Cramling below:

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