20th January 2020
— US Chess (@USChess) January 23, 2020
In a thrilling comeback, Aleksandra Goryachkina equalizes the match with in the 12th game. After playing 1.d4, Ju Wenjun responded in kind with 1…d5, but was hit with the improbable 2.Nc3!? known as the Versov. This seem to catch Ju off guard and she spent 17 minutes coming up with a reply.
The opening was already a success given that Ju Wenjun spent the first 40 minutes in the first 10 moves trying to figure out what to do. When you fall into time pressure in such a tense match, mistakes pile up. It appears that in a critical phase of the game Ju’s time pressure led to her demise.
Goryachkina has obtained a nice advantage, but was unable to ratchet up the pressure. Ju was able to consolidate, but then had a case of nerves and this is the way the official site describes it…
Despite objective equality on the board, Ju’s nervous play appeared to catch up to her. She seemed adrift, not being sure what to do with her pieces. Black’s sequence Qh5, Qg6, Qe4, h6 and Qh7 allowed white to consolidate and begin to probe Ju’s position with 27.e4!
Once again, white did not need to be precise, as black continued to drift with 28…Rc8 and 30..e3. It is worth noting that by move 28, both players were down to 12 minutes left until the time control, but their body language and play could not have been more different.
Ju’s lethargy in the opening created a tense moment and after working hard to avoid being overrun, she ran low on time and the mistakes begin to pile up. Appearing to be suffering from fatigue and in her quest to simplify, the game descended into a completely lost cause. Goryachkina’s ploy had succeeded and now she would have a new life in the tiebreaks.
Video by FIDE
Match Score: Ju 6 – Goryachkina 6
Official Site: https://wwcm2020.fide.com/
Match Regulations: https://handbook.fide.com/ (PDF)
Games (ChessBase): http://live.chessbase.com/watch/FIDE-WWCC-2020
Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2020/01/05/2019-womens-chess-championship-ju-vs-goryachkina/