Game 3: Goryachkina dominates, but Ju saves a draw

Ju Wenjun, playing Black, countered Aleksandra Goryachkina's Queen's Gambit with the Semi-Tarrasch Defence, transforming the duel into a comfortable, yet somewhat passive gameplay for herself.


The reigning champion failed to come up with a plan to fully equalize, and by move 23 Goryachkina enjoyed a considerable advantage. However, a momentary slip Bd3 presented Ju with an opportunity to completely flip the table with 23..Ne5!, which was not played. It was as if Ju was so focused on defending an inferior position, that she simply missed her one chance to get out of it. Having also opted against 18.g4! In Game 2, the world champion seems to be wary when it comes to dynamic and tactical play.


White continued to dictate play and ten moves later, following the thematic break on d5, Goryachkina won a pawn. For a moment, it felt we would see the first decisive game of the match. However, the Russian played inaccurately in moderate time-trouble, before the first time control transformed the game into an easy save for the world champion. Just like in Game 1, the challenger continued to push for another 40 moves, until the players agreed on a draw on move 85.

Ju must feel relief to be tied in this match after not playing her best game, especially with black, but at the press conference, she said that she is content with three draws. On her part, Goryachkina added that she feels good about dominating her opponent in two out of the first three games, yet is also frustrated having not capitalized on her chances.


A difficult stretch of games is coming for Goryachkina where she will have black pieces in the next 3 out of 4 games.

Game 4 is tomorrow, January 9th.

Shan Xiali, president of the Shanghai Chess Academy, and Wang Lianyun, president of the Shanghai Xiangqi Association, made the first symbolic move at this game.

Text: Michael Friedman
Photos: Zhang Yanhong, Lewis Liu, Michael Friedman

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