Ju Wenjun beats Lagno retains title!

2018 Women’s World Chess Championship
November 8th-28th, 2018 (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia)
FINAL (Ju Wenjun vs. Kateryna Lagno)
 
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Ju
China
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Lagno
Russia
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Drum Coverage

2018 Women’s World Chess Championship
Final, Tiebreaks (23 November 2018)

Ju Wenjun defends title!

Ju Wenjun beaming with championship trophy.
Photo by ugra2018.fide.com

For Ju Wenjun, she maintained the title with the class and dignity befitting of a champion and never showed any sign of giving up. While her relaxed body posture before her first game wreaked of overconfidence, the loss forced her to steady herself and she got the equalizer against Kateryna Lagno in the last classical game.

In the tiebreaks the rapid games were competitive with the first game being fought out of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted. This game had none of the twists an turns of the previous and ended in a peaceful draw. The second was similar in a Catalan variation. The game was very placid and by move 20 the game had clarified to another equal ending. No separation in the rapid, so onto the 10’+10″ blitz games.

After two uninspiring games, Lagno would have one more chance and opted for a Reti Opening. This game went and Lagno got a slight pull in the position, but not the type imbalance to give her a chance for a win. She then started to take chances and in an equal ending overlook a simple tactic and lost a pawn after 23.Bf1? after which 23…Nd1! wins a pawn. Ju ushered her queenside pawns up the board and one of the bishops had to fall on the sword. Ju would enjoy her first lead of the match.

Lagno’s 34…Qg6 tosses the queen.
Fatigue wins again!

In the second blitz game, Lagno opted for the Modern Defense which is extremely difficult to play since black cedes the center. Following the script, Ju seized the center and tried to increase pressure to constrict black’s mobility. Lagno played solidly, but in the end had a lapse of attention and dropped her queen in one move with 34…Qg6?? after which Ju snapped it off with 35.Nxg6. Shocking. Fatigue had claimed another victim.

Kateryna Lagno showed the ultimate fighter experience. She battled in her 4th tiebreak against a formidable defending champion and had her on the brink of elimination. The extra games finally took their toll as she lost both 10’+10″ games. The match ended when she hung her queen in one move. The only way of explaining this could be fatigue. Lagno played a total of 29 games.

Ju was congratulated and successfully defended her title. One of the effects of her retaining the title was to provide continuity for the cycle. How can one explain a champion holding the title for only six months? Before the tournament, it was announced the the women’s cycle would include a Candidate’s tournament in which the four semifinalists will qualify. There would also be a Grand Prix series and the World Cup would now be a qualifier. This is the same as the Open cycle.

Official Site: https://ugra2018.fide.com/
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Game from 2018 Women’s Chess Championship (Final, Tiebreaks)

Video by ugra2018.fide.com

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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