Person of day   -  31 JANUARY 2021

JU WENJUN

JU WENJUN

Ju Wenjun was born on 31st of January, 1991, in Shanghai. 

The Chinese chess player is one of the stars of China’s current chess team and a member of the generation that turned to chess in the aftermath of former world champion Xie Jun’s spectacular successes. Ju Wenjun learned the rules of chess at school at the age of 7, but she has preferred to play against older competitors since she was a child, regularly ignoring junior tournaments. 

When Ju was 13, she came second at the Asian women’s championship, before winning her national championship and playing in the most prestigious tournaments. Afterwards, Ju would say that she first felt like a professional in 2004. 

With each passing year, the strength of the new star from China grew: in 2008, she made it to the second round of the women’s world championship, before making it to the quarterfinals two years later. At the 2012 World Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk, Wenjun played in the semi-final, where she lost to future champion Anna Ushenina. 

She has been an international grandmaster since 2014. She also won the 2009 and 2011 World Team Championships as well as the 2016 and 2018 Olympiads with her country’s national team. 

After Hou Yifan announced that she would not be competing for the world chess crown, Ju Wenjun made a direct attempt at the championship. In 2017, she won the World Rapid Championship in Saudi Arabia and she defended her title a year later in St Petersburg. Having won the FIDE Grand-Prix series, she then won the World Championship Match after defeating her contemporary and compatriot, Tan Zhongyi 5,5:4,5. 

Only a half-year later the World Champion had to defend her title in a knockout tournament; Ju Wenjun became the second woman (after Xie Jun) in history to do so. On the 23rd of November 2018, Ju Wenjun won the World Women’s Championship, after defeating Russia’s Kateryna Lagno on tie-break. 

In January 2020, Ju Wenjun had to defend her title once again in the match against another Russian chess player, the winner of the FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament Aleksandra Goryachkina. The Match in Shanghai and Vladivostok was an extremely tough struggle. Twelve games with a classical time control didn't determine the winner (each player won three games, and six encounters were drawn). The more experienced Chinese grandmaster managed to tip the scale in her favour (+1 =3) and hold the World Women's Champion's title.

Ju Wenjun graduated from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2015. 

“I usually spend a lot of time calculating lines, and sometimes I don’t leave enough seconds for myself. It’s wonderful to play quickly, but it’s not easy. My idea is this: if you don’t know what move to make, follow your gut instinct.” (Ju Wenjun)