Defending champion Ju Wenjun of China is all set to retain the Women’s World Chess Championships crown.
The Chinese grandmaster needs just a draw in the final game of the finals to retain the title, brushing aside the challenge from Russian Aleksandra Goryachkina.
Today’s penultimate game in the series ended in a draw with Wenjun going into the final with a 6-5 lead. The pressure is all on Goryachkina, who needs a win to draw level and force a playoff.
In the match today, Wenjun (playing white) had a decision to make – go all out for a win and finish Goryachkina off, or play calm and confident winning chess.
Goryachkina, who prior to losing the previous two games, had not lost consecutive games in nearly two years, and was not sure what to expect of her opponent in the crucial game.
By move twenty, the only intrigue left in the game was how quickly would the duo reach the obligatory 40 moves. They managed to achieve this in just over an hour — by far the quickest game of this match. The first 10 games averaged 67 moves and nearly all were well into the fifth hour of play.
Playing white in the last game, Goryachkina needs a win to force tie-breaks. Wenjun has had major problems with black in the series. If this pattern continues, Goryachkina could have a peek at leveling the series.
Last game heroics aren’t new to World Championship Matches. In modern history, Kramnik vs. Leko (2004), and more famously Kasparov vs. Karpov (1987) both ended in dramatic decisive games.