Tan Needs To Win Last Game In Women's World Champs
Tan is down 4-5 after nine games and needs a win on Friday. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Tan Needs To Win Last Game In Women's World Champs

| 26 | Chess Event Coverage

After two tense draws in games eight and nine, Tan Zhongyi will need to win the final match game on Friday to secure a playoff at the women's world championshipJu Wenjun missed near wins in both games. 

After five decisive games in a row, the two Chinese women slowed down a bit, at least result-wise. Two more draws followed, but both were fights and especially game nine was quite tense.

That was a day after Ju missed a huge chance.

Ju Wenju vs Tan Zhongyi game eight

The start of game eight in the Sun Kingdom hotel in Chongqing. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Game eight saw an irregular Queen's Pawn opening where Black started with five consecutive pawn moves. The players left theory by move seven. As Tan repeated once again at the press conference, she wanted a fight!

Despite losing the bishop pair quickly, Ju kept an edge in the middlegame. Nonetheless, with the typical pawn break 25...e5, Tan equalized—but only after both players missed a direct win for White because Tan took with the wrong piece on e5.

With best defense, Black can avoid losing an exchange there but the resulting good-knight-vs-bad-bishop ending is rather hopeless. What a bummer, Ju must have thought, when she saw this after the game.

Ju Wenjun vs Tan Zhongyi game eight

The start of game eight. | Photo: Gu Xiaobing/official website.

Today saw the second longest game of the match: The draw was agreed on move 80. And again it was Ju who had the better chances.

It was another Nimzo-Indian, but compared to game seven, Tan played it slightly more theoretically with 4.Qc2. The queens left the board quickly, and at some point Black was slightly better thanks to her pressure on the b2-pawn.

Ju took the best of her chances and reached a rather promising rook endgame, but then...that dreaded 40th move again. It seems she would have been quite close to winning the world title if she had played 40...h4 there.

Instead, she gave her opponent a chance to find a brilliant defense with 45.e4!!, which was based on a stalemate idea:

If Black plays the natural 45...f4 then White has a crazy rook: 46.Re6+!.

As it went, Ju ended up with two extra pawns but the position was a theoretical draw anyway, as Tan demonstrated with perfect defense.

Or, as Dejan Bojkov put it: "Once again, on the verge of the defeat (and the end of the match!) the world champion plays like a lion(ess)!"

If Tan manages to win on Friday and secure the playoff, she'll definitely have the psychological edge there.


Ju Wenjun in Chongqing

Lots of missed chances for Ju, who still only needs a draw on Friday to clinch the world title. | 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 2561 ½ 1 1 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ . 5.0
Tan Zhongyi 2522 2532 ½ 0 0 1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ . 4.0

Friday, May 18 will see the last scheduled game. If Tan wins, there will be a playoff on May 19. The prize fund of the match is €200,000 ($239,210) with 60 percent going to the winner and 40 percent to the loser. In case of a playoff, the money will be split 55-45 percent.

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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