Russian Alexander Goryachkina could not win the title of world champion. In the match for the chess crown against Chinese woman Ju Wenjun, she lost with a total score of 7.5: 8.5 (6: 6 based on the results of 12 classic games and 1.5: 2.5 on a tie-break). However, a younger and less experienced challenger for the title managed to impose a fierce struggle on the favorite. In many ways, Goryachkina even exceeded the expectations of experts.
The level of the game demonstrated by a Russian woman in Shanghai and Vladivostok can become a good reserve for the future.
Goryachkina should not have performed in this match at all. Before the Candidates Tournament in the summer of 2019, she was considered a substitute and received an invitation to play only after the refusal of Chinese woman Hou Yifan. As a result, the competition in Kazan ended in a sensational win for the youngest participant. Moreover, Alexandra won the victory ahead of schedule. Her advantage over the nearest pursuer for two rounds to the finish was 2.5 points. As a result, she surpassed Anna Muzychuk, who became the second Ukrainian, by 1.5 credits.
Ju Wenjun 🇨🇳 retains her Women's World Chess Champion title after winning the playoff against the challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina 🇷🇺 with a score 2.5-1.5. Congratulations! 👏https: //t.co/06SR3zxdO6#WomenChessMatch#chess#chesspic.twitter.com/IFqYD2IRZe- International Chess Federation (@FIDE_chess) January 24, 2020
During the long-awaited title match, Ju Wenjun won the fourth, ninth and tenth games, and Goryachkina won the fifth, eighth and 12th, the rest were marked by a draw. The success of the Russians in the final “to order” classic party made a particularly strong impression on everyone. A Chinese woman would have completed a draw in her favor. However, the applicant held the party from a position of strength and extended the clarification of the relationship. A tie-break was appointed - four additional games with a time control of 25 minutes and the addition of 10 seconds per move.
It was believed that Ju Wenjun was better prepared for rapid. Nevertheless, Goryachkina had a good chance at the tie-break. She very confidently started the first batch with black pieces and could squeeze her opponent several times. As many chess fans who watched the events noted, at crucial moments the Russian woman did not dare to implement the most difficult options on the board, preferring more standard combinations. Instead of an almost guaranteed victory, Goryachkina was ultimately content with a draw. According to experts, this could negatively affect her psychological state and, on the contrary, inspire confidence in Ju Wenjun.
In the next installment, the situation was largely repeated. The Russian woman again received positional superiority, but could not properly dispose of it. She had an extra pawn in the endgame, but she didn’t get any profit from it either. As a result, the chess players played to the bare kings.
In football, they say about such stories: you don’t score, they score you. Exactly what happened with Goryachkina. She seemed to have spent the third installment without a clear plan. On the contrary, Ju Wenjun successfully defeated the black defense in the center with his knight. Soon, the king of the Russian woman was cut off from the pieces, and White achieved the passage of two pawns. On move 45, Goryachkina was forced to admit defeat.
She failed to make a second comeback in a row. The fourth, final tie-break game turned out to be equal and logically led to a peaceful outcome on move 75. Ju Wenju retained the title won in 2018, and Goryachkina finally took root among the strongest grandmasters of the planet. It will be very interesting to follow the development of her career in the future.
After the match, the Chinese woman admitted that she expected a favorable result in a tie-break.
“I am confident enough in fast chess, especially since the results with my opponent are good both in rapid chess and in blitz. Alexandra is a strong chess player, one of the best in the world. He plays very well positionally, knows how to maintain pressure, ”stated the world champion.
“It's a shame, of course, that I could not win. But this is a good lesson, even though I gained a bitter experience. I hope I will return and become even stronger. I lacked confidence, experience and a bit of luck, ”the upset Russian woman commented on the outcome.
According to the president of the Russian Chess Federation (FSHR) Andrei Filatov, the organization is proud of the level of the game Goryachkina, despite the final failure.
“She managed to even the score and bring the matter to a chess penalty. At a tie-break, she had the opportunity to win, but she was opposed by an outstanding athlete. We look with confidence to the future, because our young chess player has shown herself at the highest level, ”the TASS functionary quotes.
Goryachkina had her chances in game 1 & 2 (maybe a little in game 4) but could not convert. Ju Wenjun defended well overall and capitalized on her only opportunity in game 3 to retain her title! The main difference between them is experience. Congratulations to the champion! 👑🏆 pic.twitter.com/x3JDuxgRzo- Susan Polgar (@SusanPolgar) January 24, 2020
The head of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Arkady Dvorkovich, in turn, believes that the Russians had real chances for the title.
“To win back in the last game was already a feat, in three out of four tie-break games she had the best positions, but, unfortunately, she could not realize her chances. It is difficult to judge what happened - nerves or fatigue ... Or the champion’s stubborn resistance - her skill also affected. But in one game, everything went wrong - in the third, ”Dvorkovich summed up.
Thanks to the transfer of the match to a tie-break, Goryachkina achieved an almost even distribution of the prize pool. The champion will get 55% of the total amount of € 500 thousand. The next rival Ju Wenjun will be determined by the new system, including the Grand Prix, the World Cup and the challengers tournament.