Ju Wenjun Takes the Lead

After losing in Game 8, Ju Wenjun has won two games on the trot to retake the lead in the 2020 Women’s World Chess Championship. The current match score stands at 5.5-4.5, giving the Champion a full point lead over Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina with just two games to play.
Game 9 handshake (photo Misha Friedman)
Game 9 featured a deceptively placid opening choice by Ju, but soon the board was awash in action. The initiative passed from player to player, and after Goryachkina missed 27. … Qb4, Ju picked up the pace and claimed a significant advantage with 29. … Qg2? 30. Qe5! when the Russian had to give back the exchange. Ju’s technique did not fail her, winning the game and tying the match.
[pgn]

[Event "WCh Women 2020"]
[Site "Shanghai/Vladivostok CHN"]
[Date "2020.01.19"]
[Round "9.1"]
[White "Ju, Wenjun"]
[Black "Goryachkina, Aleksandra"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A06"]
[WhiteElo "2584"]
[BlackElo "2578"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "124"]
[EventDate "2020.01.05"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. b3 c5 3. e3 a6 4. Bb2 Nc6 5. d4 Nf6 6. Nbd2 cxd4 7. exd4 g6 8. a3
Bg7 9. Bd3 Nh5 10. g3 O-O 11. Ne5 Nxe5 12. dxe5 d4 13. f4 f6 14. Qe2 fxe5 15.
fxe5 Bh6 16. O-O-O Be3 17. Rhf1 Bh3 18. Rxf8+ Qxf8 19. Kb1 b5 20. Nf1 Bg1 21.
a4 bxa4 22. bxa4 Qc8 23. Bc4+ Kh8 24. e6 Nf6 25. Rxd4 $5 (25. Bxd4 Bxd4 26.
Rxd4 Qb7+ 27. Bb3 $13 (27. Ka2 Qb4 $132)) 25... Bxd4 26. Bxd4 Qb7+ 27. Ka2 Rd8
(27... Qb4 $1) 28. Bb2 Rb8 29. Bb3 Qg2 $2 30. Qe5 $1 {Threatening 31.Qxf6! and
mate to follow. Goryachkina has to give back the exchange.} Rxb3 31. cxb3 Qc6
32. Nd2 Bxe6 33. Ka3 Kg8 34. Nf3 Qd5 35. Qb8+ Kg7 36. Ne5 Qc5+ 37. Qb4 Qxb4+
38. Kxb4 {Ju has a stable edge. The a6 pawn will be hard to defend and her
king position is better. Still, there's a lot of work to be done to take the
full point.} Kf8 39. Nc4 Ne4 40. Bd4 Ke8 41. Ka5 Nd6 42. Nd2 Bc8 43. Kb6 Kd8
44. Be5 Kd7 45. Bf4 g5 $5 {A desperate attempt at counterplay.} 46. Bxg5 e5 47.
Be3 Ke6 48. Kc7 Bd7 49. Bc5 Nf5 50. Kb6 Kd5 51. Nb1 e4 52. Nc3+ Ke5 53. Kxa6 e3
54. a5 Nd4 55. b4 Bg4 56. Kb6 e2 57. Bxd4+ Kxd4 58. Nxe2+ Bxe2 59. a6 Bf3 60.
a7 h5 61. b5 Kc4 62. h3 Kd5 1-0

[/pgn]

In Game 10 Ju chose to play a very solid, if uninspiring, line of the Queen’s Gambit Exchange variation, suffering a very bad bishop in exchange for a quite resilient position. The game looked to be headed towards a draw, but after Goryachkina overpressed once more, Ju took her chance and the full point.
[pgn]

[Event "WCh Women 2020"]
[Site "Shanghai/Vladivostok CHN"]
[Date "2020.01.20"]
[Round "10.1"]
[White "Goryachkina, Aleksandra"]
[Black "Ju, Wenjun"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D35"]
[WhiteElo "2578"]
[BlackElo "2584"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "124"]
[EventDate "2020.01.05"]

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 Bf5 7. Qf3 Bg6 8.
Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Qxf6 gxf6 10. Nf3 Nd7 11. Nh4 Be7 12. Ne2 f5 13. g3 Bxh4 14. gxh4
Nf6 15. Nf4 Nh5 16. Kd2 Nxf4 17. exf4 {A very curious pawn structure has
arisen where White has two sets of doubled, isolated pawns, but for this, she
has nearly entombed the Black's light squared bishop. The computer thinks
White has a solid edge, but it's very hard to see how she can make real
progress. This doesn't stop Goryachkina from trying!} Ke7 18. Be2 h5 19. Rae1
Kd6 20. Bd3 Rae8 21. Re3 Rxe3 22. fxe3 a5 23. a3 b6 24. b4 axb4 25. axb4 Ra8
26. b5 c5 27. dxc5+ bxc5 28. Rb1 Kc7 29. b6+ Kb7 30. Rb5 Rc8 31. Be2 f6 32. Ra5
Rc6 33. Ra7+ Kxb6 34. Rd7 Re6 35. Rxd5 Kc6 36. Bf3 Rd6 37. Rd3+ Kc7 38. Bd5 Be8
39. Kc3 Bb5 40. Rd2 Ra6 41. Bb3 Bd7 42. Rg2 Be6 43. Bxe6 Rxe6 44. Kd3 Kd6 45.
Rg8 Kd5 46. Rd8+ Rd6 47. Rc8 Rd7 48. Rh8 c4+ 49. Kc3 Re7 50. Kd2 Ra7 51. Rxh5
Ra2+ 52. Kc3 Ra3+ 53. Kb4 $2 (53. Kb2 Rxe3 54. Rxf5+ Kd4 55. Rxf6 Re2+ 56. Kc1
Rxh2 $11) (53. Kd2 $11) (53. Kc2 Rxe3 54. Rxf5+ Kd4 55. Rxf6 Re2+ 56. Kc1 Rxh2
$11) 53... Rb3+ $19 54. Ka4 Ke4 55. Rh8 Rb7 56. Rc8 Kd3 57. h5 c3 58. h6 c2 59.
Ka3 Kd2 60. Rd8+ Kxe3 61. Rc8 Kd2 62. Rd8+ Kc1 0-1

[/pgn]
With just two games to play, Goryachkina is now in “must-win” territory. Will she rise to the occasion? We’ll find out when play resumes on Wednesday!
Quick Links Match Website   Full Match Schedule Live on Chess24 IM Carissa Yip Annotations: Game 4 Games 5 and 6

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