Women's World Championship: A Deceptively Tame Draw

Please download our printable bulletin and follow along with WGM Tatev Abrahamyan's annotations for this round.

It’s been 13 years since a tied world championship match was decided in the final two games, with Anand defeating Topalov in the final game of a tied match. In the Women’s World Championship, it’s never happened!

With a tied match heading into game 10 and a subsequent rest day, history would say this game would be the last realistic chance to land a decisive blow. During the final two rounds, players tend to be a bit cagey and reserved, reasoning that they would rather take their chances in the rapid tiebreaks than go “all in” during one of the final rounds.


Shaking hands at the beginning of the tenth round of the 2023 Women's World Championship.
Image Caption
courtesy FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Indeed, both defending champion GM Ju Wenjun and challenger GM Lei Tingjie have shown that they’re more than capable of holding their own in slightly worse positions and more than adept at drawing theoretically drawn rook endgames. So, would we see a bloodbath?


Unfortunately, game 10 petered out to a draw relatively easily, but (despite the bored faces in the above photos! ~ed.) it was not for lack of effort. Ju stuck with 1. Nf3, which leveled the match for her in the eighth round, but Lei was once again moving quickly and clearly in her preparation. 

By Ju’s 15th move, she had already used half of her initial time allotment, but Lei was beginning to slow down too as her pieces began to gravitate towards the kingside. Either player could have easily wound up worse if they pressed too hard, but both players were surgically accurate from there. By move 26, the last set of minor pieces had traded off, and White’s extra pawn was equally matched by Black’s active rooks, all but guaranteeing the peaceful result.


Another view of the opening of the tenth round game.
Image Caption
courtesy FIDE / Stev Bonhage


Will these players make history in the final two games? Or will we get more opening surprises on Sunday? Chess fans may want to considering clearing their weekend plans to find out!

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan is back to analyze the in's and out's of a deceptively placid draw.



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