Ju-Goryachkina even 3-3 in title match

2020 Women’s World Chess Championship
January 3rd-11th, 2020 (Shanghai, China & Vladivostok, Russia)
 
Flag
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
pts.
Ju Wenjun
China
½
½
½
1
0
½
3
Goryachkina
Russia
½
½
½
0
1
½
3
Drum Coverage

The Women’s World Chess Championship is at the midway point with the match score tied at 3-3. Thus far, the match has been hard-fought with the average game lasting 73 moves. Aleksandra Goryachkina has actually had more chances against the defending champion Ju Wenjun.

The games have been tense with the Russian missing winning chances in a few of the games. Ju is fortunate not to be behind in the match. She has tried 1.e4 in two white games with no success against the Berlin. One may think that she may be hiding some of the preparation that is still being done by her team.

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Ju Wenjun and Aleksandra Goryachkina
Photo by Zhang Yanhong

Goryachkina must feel good about her performance so far. It is true that she did not make the most of her chances, but now she is heading to her homeland where she will be greeted by a throng of fans and supporters. One of the things the young Russian star will have to be wary of is getting emotionally impacted by the overwhelming support. Viswanathan Anand experienced such distractions in his title defense against Magnus Carlsen. Saying that, her stoic demeanor may by a good thing.

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Aleksandra Goryachkina in one of her rare smiling moments
at a Moscow conference before the championship match.
Photo by Chess Federation of Russia

Both have tried opening experiments… Ju (1.e4) and Goryachkina (1.c4). This may be to avoid exhausting preparation of their main weapon or to avoid opponent’s preparation altogether. Ju has been on the defensive in many of the games and Goryachkina has tested her by playing longer than would deemed normal in dead equal positions.

Two of the positions in game 1 and 6 feature good knight vs. bad bishop and Goryachkina played 40 moves of shuffling the knight around the board hoping for a misplacement of the bishop. This may be a psychological message to show the champion that she is on par and can control the state of affairs.


Is “home field advantage” overrated
in championship chess matches?


It will be up to Ju to reassert her authority as the reigning champion. The change in venue could serve as a relief for Ju due to ease any homeland pressure. One may wonder whether “home field advantage” is benefit or a detriment.

Magnus Carlsen (no less) seems to prefer playing high-stakes match outside of Norway. Viswanathan Anand defended his title in Bulgaria on Veselin Topalov’s home turf and Carlsen stripped the title from Anand in Chennai, India. Ju successfully defended her title against Kateryna Lagno in Russia. Thus, she may be comfortable without the extra attention.

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Ju Wenjun will spring some surprises in the second half
and will undoubtedly be confident.
Photo by Zhang Yanhong

If one has noticed Goryachkina’s button “Sima Land,” it is the largest Russian wholesale company headquartered in Ekaterinburg. While the Chinese team was ever-present in the hall, the Russian team has been kept a mystery. In a pre-match conference in Moscow, Goryachkina stated, “I will reveal my team only after the Match.” She did mention the “Chess Federation of Russia” as lending full support.

It will be an interesting second half and we can expect to see all the preparation come out early. If one player wins early, it will put tremendous pressure in what is essentially a six-game match.

Official Site: https://wwcm2020.fide.com/
Match Regulations: https://handbook.fide.com/ (PDF)
Games (TWIC): https://theweekinchess.com/

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

2 Comments

  1. 2020 Women’s World Chess Championship
    January 3rd-11th, 2020 (Shanghai, China & Vladivostok, Russia)
     
    Flag
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    11
    12
    pts.
    Ju Wenjun
    China
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    0
    ½
    ½
    0
    1
    1
    ½
    0
    6
    Goryachkina
    Russia
    ½
    ½
    ½
    0
    1
    ½
    ½
    1
    0
    0
    ½
    1
    6

    Tiebreaks
     
    1
    2
    3
    4
    pts.
    Ju Wenjun
    ½
    ½
    1
    ½
    Goryachkina
    ½
    ½
    0
    ½
    Drum Coverage

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