Ju Wenjun’s first visit to India proved special. The reigning World champion showed her class by winning the blitz title of the Tata Steel Chess India tournament here on Monday.
That was after claiming the runner-up spot, behind the surprise winner Divya Deshmukh, in the rapid section. But the 32-year-old from China was the only unbeaten player in the event, though.
It was only a few weeks ago that Ju won her fourth successive World championship, beating compatriot Lei Tingjie. The title match was held in the hometowns of both the women – Shanghai and Chongqing.
The scores were level 5.5-5.5 going into the last game at Chongqing, where Ju, the visiting player, scored the decisive win.
“Yes, both of us had the home advantage as the games were split equally for our respective cities, but I didn’t think too much about the venue, I just focussed on the chess,” Ju told The Hindu. “I had prepared for more than six months of this title match; I hadn’t been playing many classical tournaments before that.”
She enjoyed the blitz and rapid variety at the Tata Steel tournament. “I felt nice being here in Kolkata,” she said. “It was an excellent tournament and I liked the idea of equal prize-money. This will help women’s chess.”
Ju is only the latest women’s World champion from China. Xie Jun was the first. “Xie played a great role in the progress of chess in China,” she said. “Many people back home came to know of chess because of her.”
Now China has a male World champion too, in Ding Liren.
“It really was great that he won the World title,” said Ju, who won the World rapid championship in 2017 and 2018. “I think chess in China will become even more popular.”
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