Game 5: Lei Tingjie takes the lead with convincing win over Ju Wenjun

In a complicated game in round five of the Women’s World Championship match, challenger Lei Tingjie defeated the reigning Champion Ju Wenjun
The 26-year-old challenger seized the initiative early on and gradually tightened her grip on Ju Wenjun’s subdued defences. This was the first game in the match where one side had a clear advantage.

Once again, Lei surprised her opponent by choosing the Italian game instead of the Ruy Lopez she had played as White in the previous two rounds.
Photo by Stev Bonhage
In a dynamic game, Lei managed to achieve more space across the board and exerted greater control in the centre and the light squares. The defending Champion Ju made a mistake on move 21, allowing White to create a strong push on the queenside – an advantage which impacted the course of the game.

Although some exchanges of pieces provided Black with breathing space, the defending Women’s World Champion ended up in a passive position, desperately trying to withstand White’s squeezing. With no pressure on her back and with enough time on the clock, Lei proceeded to align her pieces and then eventually broke through in the centre with a devastating pawn push (45.e5), shattering Black's defences.

Ju spent over 22 minutes thinking about how to react. Visibly nervous, she made a bad move and found herself in a hopeless position as Lei quickly got two passers. Although Ju fought on for a little longer (having to even give up a bishop), the endgame was ultimately beyond salvation.
Photo by Stev Bonhage
This victory is a significant boost for Lei, marking her first triumph in the World Championship match. With seven more games scheduled for the classical part of the event, the defending Women's World Champion, Ju, will undoubtedly strive to make her presence felt and mount a strong comeback.

In the post-game interview Lei was asked if she feels any pressure: “If you feel it, you have it; if you don’t feel it, you don’t have it. I’m just happy to be here”, Lei responded.

Lei, who had a concerned look on her face during the press conference, was asked why she seems not as happy as in the past four games which ended in a draw. Her response: “You can't show your happy in front of people. I won a lot of "first win" [games] in my life… maybe I will be happy later”.
Photo by Stev Bonhage
Ju acknowledged that this was a tough game for her as she was weaker, but tried not to show any emotion and was mostly reserved. “This match puts more pressure on me than other tournaments, but this is something I have to endure”.

The match continues on Tuesday, 12th July, with game six taking place at 3 PM Local Time in Shanghai (GMT +8).

Here follows a closer look at game five of the match:

The first move was officiated by Gui Jinsong, Director of the Mass Sports Department of Shanghai Administration of Sports, as well as by Zhou Jia, President of Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Photo by Stev Bonhage
The challenger Lei Tingjie was White in this game, and again she opened with 1.e4, to which Ju responded with her standard 1.e5. Unlike in the previous two encounters where Lei opted for the Ruy Lopez, here she went for the Italian game, with 3.Bc4. Another opening surprise by the challenger.

The opponents played a long manoeuvring game with many nuances, as Grandmaster Alik Gershon pointed out, and by move 14, stepped into uncharted territory.

After Lei made the thematic d3-d4 push in the centre, she got a slight edge which increased after somewhat committal 14..c5 by Ju.
With this move, Black blocked her dark-squared bishop and weakened the light-squares, which later had grave consequences.

In subsequent play, Lei then launched a push on the queenside, but Ju's response was far from optimal.
Here Ju took the pawn with 21…axb4?! Better options were 21…Bd6 and 21…Bb7.

As played, White got a clear advantage and control over the light squares in the centre. Over the next several moves, Lei built up the pressure while Ju was forced to switch to defending. After the Women's World Champion carried out a sound manoeuvre Nf6-e8-c7-e6 with the idea of Nd4, Lei had a very important choice to make.
Lei could have continued to ramp up the pressure with 30.Qc4, which, most likely, promised more, but instead, she traded her light-squared bishop for Black's knight with 30.Bxe6. White was still better, but Black had a break after some of the pieces had been removed from the board. Still, within a few moves, White again tightened her grip on the game.
An extremely uncomfortable position for Black. With no active play, Ju has to defend passively, while Lei can gradually improve her position and probe Black's defence here and there, taking no risks.

By this point, both sides had under 10 minutes, but with three more moves to the first time control, it seemed safe.

After 38.g3 Qc8 39.Kg2 Qe8 40.h4 it became clear that White was preparing a break either in the centre or on the kingside to stretch Black's defence.
40…h5?! This control move made by Ju appears to be the last straw that broke the camel's back as White breaks through on one of the wings. With precise 41.Bd2! Lei put the bishop in a position where it could see both flanks, noted Grandmaster and former World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. On the next move, White played f2-f4 and began the final push.
45.e5! - the clincher. Ju Wenjun was visibly nervous at this point. She spent nearly 23 moves trying to find the best response, but her position is beyond salvation. With five minutes on the clock, Ju played 45…Qa8 (a lesser of many evils was Rd7, although after 46.Qf3, it's still virtually impossible to hold), but it failed to 46.Qf3! played by Lei in under a minute.

After trading the queens, Lei penetrated with her rook into Black's camp and got to the b6-pawn. With a single passer against White's two, Ju had no reasonable defence. Soon she had to give her bishop for one of them.

Ju played on, hoping for a miracle, but it wasn't meant to be. On move 65, the Women's World Champion resigned.
White gradually picks up all of Black's pawns and promotes her h-passer. 1-0