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.
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.
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 very sharp lines, 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 a form a very unpleasant d pawn. Interestingly enough, in the post-mortem, Goryachkina thought that Ju simply blundered the exchange.
Computer analysis showed a considerable advantage for white, practically the game was close to over. It seemed that Game 5 would follow a familiar theme 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 game, after 29…g6? and 31.Rxf7? the game appeared to be headed for a draw, but a serious blunder by Ju (34…Nc6??) allowed white to consolidate her advantage, and black resigned fifteen moves later.
In the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said she was relieved and happy to be back in 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.
Ernst Yurkin, Deputy Consul General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai, and Zhu Chen, former World Champion and, made the first symbolic move of Game 5.