Ju Wenjun Wins Women's World Championship
Ju Wenjun won the match against Tan Zhongyi 5.5-4.5. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Ju Wenjun Wins Women's World Championship

| 106 | Chess Event Coverage

Ju Wenjun is the new women's world champion. She drew with reigning champion Tan Zhongyi in the final game of the women's world championship in Chongqing today to set the final score at 5.5-4.5.

It was a tense final game in a tense match. Tan needed to win with the black pieces, and chose a setup you might think was never played before in a world championship before: the Hippopotamus!

But in his annotations, Dejan Bojkov reminded us that Boris Spassky used a similar setup in his first match against Tigran Petrosian.

This time around, Tan didn't need to explain that she wanted a fight. However, the opening choice just backfired. Out of the opening, Ju got a big positional advantage and could play for a win without any risk. By move 24, Tan was busted.

The question why Ju didn't win this game is tough to answer without speaking to her. Was it nerves, or courtesy towards her opponent, with whom she is good friends? Perhaps it was the third, pragmatic reason: She was playing it safe throughout the game, and never risked the half-point.

Ju remained in full control, traded some pieces, traded some more and then reached a completely drawn bishop ending, which was enough to clinch the crown and become the 17th women's world champion in history. 


Sadly for her, there's a chance that Ju will become the women's world champion who held her title for the briefest period. This match took place later than was originally scheduled, and the next world championship, a knockout tournament, is scheduled for November.

It's hard not to have sympathy for Hou Yifan, the highest-rated female chess player, also from China, who stepped out of the world championship cycle in May 2016 after expressing her disappointment about the cycle.

Match score

Name Fed Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
Ju Wenjun 2571 2557 ½ 1 1 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.5
Tan Zhongyi 2536 2532 ½ 0 0 1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5

The prize fund of the match was €200,000 ($239,210) with 60 percent going to the winner and 40 percent to the loser.

Women's World Champions

# Fed Name Period Country
1 null Vera Menchik 1927–1944 Russia (in exile) / Czechoslovakia / England
2 null Lyudmila Rudenko 1950–1953 Soviet Union (Ukrainian SSR)
3 null Elisaveta Bykova 1953–1956, 1958-1962 Soviet Union (Russian SFSR)
4 null Olga Rubtsova 1956–1958 Soviet Union (Russian SFSR)
5 null Nona Gaprindashvili 1962–1978 Soviet Union (Georgian SSR)
6 null Maia Chiburdanidze 1978–1991 Soviet Union (Georgian SSR)
7 null Xie Jun 1991–1996, 1999-2001 China
8 null Susan Polgar 1996–1999 Hungary
9 null Zhu Chen 2001–2004 China
10 null Antoaneta Stefanova 2004–2006 Bulgaria
11 null Xu Yuhua 2006–2008 China
12 null Alexandra Kosteniuk 2008–2010 Russia
13 null Hou Yifan 2010–2012, 2013-2015, 2016-2017 China
14 null Anna Ushenina 2012–2013 Ukraine
15 null Mariya Muzychuk 2015–2016 Ukraine
16 null Tan Zhongyi 2017–2018 China
17 null Ju Wenjun 2018– China

Games via TWIC.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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