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Saturday, 11 Jan 2020 15:01
WWCC Game 5: Goryachkina strikes back

Aleksandra Goryahkina bounces back and beats Ju Wenjun in the fifth game of the 2020 FIDE Women's World Championship Match. The challenger sets the score to 2½-2½ after five games, with only one left to be played in Shanghai; the remaining six games will be fought in Vladivostok.

Ernst Yurkin, Deputy Consul General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai, and Zhu Chen, former World Champion made the first symbolic moves of Game 5.

Before today, Aleksandra Goryachkina has never beaten Ju Wenjun. In fact, prior to the match, the Russian Grandmaster has never had a better position against the World Champion in any of their games. However, Goryachkina is a very young player still at the peak of her development, and already in the first games of the match, she showed she could put Ju Wenjun against the ropes.

In that context, Goryachkina's defeat in the fourth game was a cold shower for the Russian fans, but the challenger didn't display any signs of disappointment. And after a rest day, she came back to the board ready to put up a fight, and with today's victory, Goryachkina demonstrated the world that she belongs in this match and is the rightful challenger.

Goryachkina appeared to have surprised her opponent with 1. c4, which sent Ju into a short think. In the ensuing English Opening, players went for a very sharp line, with Ju producing the first novelty 12... Be4. This seemed to have taken Goryachkina out of her preparation and black quickly achieved a very promising position.

However, facing a 16.Qb5+, Ju went astray with Qd7, unnecessary opting for a variation in which White was up an exchange, with Black having some compensation for it in the form of a very dangerous d-pawn. Interestingly enough, in the post-mortem, Goryachkina thought that Ju simply blundered the exchange.

It seemed that Game 5 would follow a familiar scenario from Games 1 and 3 where the Russian obtained comfortable positions out of openings but squandered her chances with some little inaccuracies right before the first time control. In today's encounter, after mutual mistakes 29...g6? and 31.Rxf7? the game appeared to be heading for a draw, but a serious blunder by Ju (34...Nc6?? instead of 34...Nc4) allowed Goryachkina to consolidate her advantage and convert it into a full point fifteen moves later.

 
In the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said she was relieved and happy to be back into the match. Ju agreed that while today's result was disappointing, it was a logical conclusion and the overall score reflected the match thus far. 

Official website: https://wwcm2020.fide.com

Text: Michael Friedman

Photos: Zhang Yanhong, Lewis Liu, Michael Friedman

Contact: press@fide.com

Photos in high resolution are available for the press at our official Flickr account.