Ju Wenjun retains her title as Women’s World Champion after winning her match against Lei Tingjie.

Final score:  After 12 games,         Ju Wenjun  6.5      Lei Tingjie  5.5

Game 1 –  Lei Tingjie has white. 5.Re1 Berlin.  White gambits a pawn for development. Black quickly returns the pawn, but suffers a slightly worse position and is behind in time. White misses a good opportunity to pressure with 29.Bb4 and instead exchanges down to a drawn rook ending. Draw.

Game 2 – Semi-Tarrasch, but Ju Wenjun (white) gets nothing out of the opening.  Draw after 40 moves.

Game 3 – 4.d3 Berlin. Lei Tingjie (white) makes an error and Ju Wenjun achieves a promising position. But under time pressure, she fails to make the most of the position and settles for an equal endgame. Draw.

Game 4 – QGD Vienna variation.  Lei Tingjie, with black,  gets a big time advantage from the opening. It’s 19 moves before she starts thinking. She is, at times, 45 minutes ahead on the clock. Black is a pawn behind but has plenty of activity. Ju Wenjun plays solidly for the endgame, dismissing draws by repetition and exchanging pieces. She keeps up the pressure, so Lei Tingjie is the one solving problems when short of time. 54.Ke2, instead of Kf1, would have given greater winning chances. Draw.

Game 5 – Giuoco Piano. Lei Tingjie (white)  outplays Ju Wenjun and gets a strong position – good bishop vs bad bishop,  more space and control of the only open file. Ju Wenjun can’t find any counterplay and steadily succumbs in 65 moves. First win of the match goes to the challenger.

Game 6 – Tarrasch Defence.  Both players played the first 19 moves quickly, reaching a queen-less middle game with centre pawns gone and a symmetrical pawn structure. No trouble for Lei Tingjie (black) steering the game to a draw. Draw.

Game 7 – Caro Kann. Lei Tingjie, with white, gets an advantage out of the opening – solid centre, N anchored on d6 vs N stranded on h7 and chances for a king-side attack, but she overpresses and allows Ju Wenjun to break out on the queen-side, exposing the white king. Ju Wenjun has a winning position in the middle game, but at a key moment swaps down to a difficult endgame, albeit two pawns ahead. Lei Tingjie plays the endgame perfectly to draw. Draw.

Game 8 – Zukertort Opening.  Lei Tingjie, with black, makes positional errors, weakening her queenside pawn structure and Ju Wenjun places her under pressure. Lei Tingjie sacrifices her a-pawn to free her game. The queens come off and Lei Tingjie grabs the white a-pawn, but allows some complicated tactics. Ju Wenjun plays the second best line and reaches a rook and opposite coloured bishops ending a pawn ahead. There are lots of drawing tricks,  but Ju Wenjun manages to avoid most. However, one drawing idea for Lei Tingjie was missed by both players (56 Kf2?  Rd4!  and   57…Rd3+ 58 Kf2 Rd4!) , so Ju Wenjun went on to win.

Game 9 – Sicilian – 4 knights with 6.Nxc6.  Lei Tingjie (white) pressures black’s backward pawn on d7, but minor pieces get exchanged and Ju Wenjun’s major pieces are able to hold the position. Exchanges result in a drawn rook and pawn endgame. Draw.

Game 10 – Reti opening. Neither player can achieve a clear advantage from the opening. Ju Wenjun (white) goes a pawn ahead, but Lei Tingjie has good activity in compensation. An even rook endgame results. Draw.

Game 11 – Guioco Piano, 2 knights.  Ju Wenjun, with black, achieves d5, freeing her position. Lei Tingjie, lines up pieces against the e5 pawn, but runs out of ideas and must wait to see what her opponent’s manoeuvring brings. With pressure building around an f4 or e4 breakthrough by black, white’s king traverses the back rank from g2 to c1. Ju Wenjun couldn’t make the most of the situation and, in the end, her e4 breakthrough just brings exchanges and a draw by repetition.  Draw.

Game 12 – Queen’s Pawn game with 3…c5  4. dxc5 e6 5. b4.   Dynamic position results with flank pawns versus centre pawns. Lei Tingjie (black) appears surprised by the opening and spends 20 min over 13….0-0.  Lei Tingjie makes an error with 15….c4 allowing 16.Bc3 and a5. Ju Wenjun responds in kind with 17.Bxf6? ( instead of 17 Ra2) getting 2 knights for a rook and pawn, but losing the active play on the queenside. After a trade of queens the position is back to equal. 22…e5? weakens black’s centre pawns and, all of a sudden, they are vulnerable to attack. Ju Wenjun takes full advantage and goes on to win.

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