Shan Xiali, president of the Shanghai Chess Academy, and Wang Lianyun, president of the Shanghai Xiangqi Association, made the first symbolic move in the third game of the Women's World Championship match.
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 play 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 23.Bd3 presented Ju with an opportunity to turn the tables with 23..Ne5, which was not played. As if Ju was so focused on defending an inferior position, that she simply missed her chance to snatch the initiative. 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 and ten moves later and following the thematic break on d5, Goryachkina won a pawn. For a moment, it felt we would see the first decisive outcome of the match. However, the Russian played inaccurately in moderate time-trouble and before the first time control, the game steered into an easy save for the World Champion in a rook ending. Just like in game 1, the challenger kept pushing for another 40 moves, until the players agreed on a draw on move 85.
Ju must feel relieved to be tied in this match after not playing her best game, especially with Black. Speaking at the press conference, the World Champion said that she was content with three draws. On her part, Goryachkina added that she felt good about dominating her opponent in two out of the first three games, yet somewhat frustrated having not capitalized on her chances.
A difficult stretch of the match is coming for Goryachkina now as she will have black pieces in the next 3 out of 4 games.
Game 4 will be played tomorrow, on January 9th.
Official website: https://wwcm2020.fide.com
Text: Michael Friedman
Photos: Zhang Yanhong, Lewis Liu, Michael Friedman
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