Ju Leads Women's World Championship At Half
Ju leads 3.5-1.5 vs Tan after five games. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Ju Leads Women's World Championship At Half

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

Ju Wenjun beat Tan Zhongyi once again in game five and is leading the women's world championship with a two-point margin. Tomorrow the match resumes in Chongqing, China.

The fifth game, played on Wednesday, was the last in the InterContinental Hotel Jing’an in central Shanghai, the city where Ju is from. She made good use of her home advantage and leads 3.5-1.5.

The fifth game was the second game in a row for Tan with the white pieces; per regulations colors are switched (or not, depending how you look at it!) every four games. However, the advantage of the first move did not prevent her from losing her third game in the match.

Tan Zhongyi vs Ju Wenjun game five

Another win for Ju in game five. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Tan played 1.e4, a move she had only played once before in her career, last year against Zhao Shengxin at the China Women Masters in Wuxi. At the press conference she said it wasn't special preparation, but mostly a way to skip the opening phase and get to a fight quickly.

Ju went for 1...e5, one of her three main moves besides the French and the Sicilian. And, probably to avoid the Petroff (indeed Ju's main defense), Tan played 2.Bc4.

Tan Zhongyi Bishop Opening

Tan's first-ever attempt at the Bishop Opening wasn't successful. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Despite the surprise on move one, Ju reacted well, and was quite comfortable in the early middlegame when her opponent still hadn't solved one issue: how to develop the c1-bishop. Later she admitted that 11.Re1 was wrong, and the root of her problems.

Tan decided to sacrifice a pawn, but she didn't get enough compensation. Black's two knights were stronger than White's two bishops, and Ju decided the game with a mating attack.


Ju Wenjun

Ju might be the next women's world champion, although anything can happen in this match where four out of five games ended decisively. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

On Saturday the match will resume in Chongqing, which is Tan's home town. It's located 1,600 km inland west of Shanghai and 400 km east of Chengdu, and has an urban population of eight million people. 

 GM Ian Rogers reported about the two host cities:

"Chongqing and Shanghai were bidding against each other for the match; an expensive compromise involving the first half being played in Shanghai and the second in Chongqing only being decided six weeks before the match was scheduled to begin. Both cities secured independent sponsors; the Shanghai half is known as the China Mobile Women’s World Championship Match on all posters."

We'll have to wait and see which sponsor is supporting the second half. What we know is that Tan needs the home advantage and a fresh start to avoid losing her title in the coming days.

Ju Wenjun Tan Zhongyi women's world championship game 4

Game one in action. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Match score

Name Fed Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
Ju Wenjun 2571 2669 ½ 1 1 0 1 . . . . . 3.5
Tan Zhongyi 2522 2424 ½ 0 0 1 0 . . . . . 1.5

The next five games will be played in Chongqing on May 12, 13, 15, 16 and 18. The prize fund of the match is €200,000 ($238,451) with 60 percent going to the winner and 40 percent of the loser. In case of a tiebreak, the money will be split 55-45 percent.

Games via TWIC.

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