The first game of the Women’s World Chess Championship 2020, held in Shanghai, China, ended with a hard-fought draw.
The opening was as cautious as it gets. Russsian Alexandra Gorychkina (Russia), playing White, chose 1.d4 as her first move. Instead of her usual Ragozin defense, defending champion Ju Wenjun of China surprised with 4.Be7. The challenger decided to go then for a solid Catalan with 5.g3.
The impression is that Goryachkina tried to take the game out of the book as soon as she could, and despite the symmetrical and equal position, she managed to put some pressure on the champion.
In fact, an inaccuracy by Wenjun gave the Russian the opportunity to gain an advantage, and for a while, the challenger seemed to be playing cat and mouse with the Champion, only to squander it with an untimely rook exchange on move 44.
After this scuffle, Wenjun stoically defended for the next 50-plus moves, before the draw was agreed right before they reached the sixth hour of play.
In the press conference held after the game, Wenjun complimented Goryachkina’s fighting style, looking to exploit even the minuscule of chances.
On her part, Goryachkina was content with opening the match by putting the world champion on the ropes for 97 moves and close to 6 hours.
Game Two will see Wenjun with the White.
The biggest prize money – 500,000 euros—in the history of women’s world chess championship brings greater emphasis on women’s chess and represents a shift in priorities for FIDE, the world governing body for chess.
In Shanghai, the duo will face-off in six games from January 5 to 12. The second half of this Championship of another six rounds will be played in Vladivostok, Russia, from January 16 to 23. The tie-break, if needed, will be held on January 24.