The sixth game of the match, the last one to be played in Shanghai, ends in a draw. This leaves the score in 3-3 before the championship takes a short break and moves to the next host city: Vladivostok. Play will be resumed on Thursday, January 16.
Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President, and Lu Lin, vice-secretary of the Party Committee of Shanghai Sports Bureau, made the first symbolic moves of Game 6.
Ju Wenjun, a predominately 1.d4 player, reverted to 1.e4, a move she played in Game 2 of the match. The Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez was repeated until move 10, with Ju opting for Re1.
Ju failed to achieve much out of the opening with lethargic 17.b3, 18.c4, and 19.Bb2. With calm and measured play, Aleksandra Goryachkina managed to outmaneuver her opponent. By move 30 it became clear that Black would be playing for a win. Yet, similar to some earlier games of this match, Goryachkina was not able to build on her advantage. By the time players passed the first time control, the worst was behind Ju, and she was on the road to a draw.
Nevertheless, Goryachkina made Ju sweat for it. Game 6 turned out to be the longest one of the match: it surpassed 100 moves.
For the last 60 moves, Ju had to be extremely careful, while Goryachkina was playing with no risk waiting for her opponent to slip. Ju was visibly tired, her hand at times trembling. The game finally ended two moves shy of a 50-move draw rule.
At the post-game press conference, Goryachkina said that she felt she was slightly better but just couldn’t find the decisive moves for a win. Ju was unhappy with her play and felt fortunate to escape with a draw.
Stray observations: this was Goryachkina's second consecutive game in which she was the only one pressing for a win. This must have felt great for her, following a loss in Game 4. It was also the first game where White was clearly worse. The stretch of four games in which Goryachkina had 3 black was akin to a test: she started with a loss but has done better than many expected, fully recovering in the last two games, and it feels like she has started dictating play.
The break in the match—it's moving to Vladivostok in Russia—is likely to benefit both players. Goryachkina is going home where large crowds are expected to support her, while Ju is getting the much-needed breather after six very long and draining games.
Official website: https://wwcm2020.fide.com
Text: Michael Friedman
Photos: Zhang Yanhong, Lewis Liu, Michael Friedman
Photos in high resolution are available for the press at our official Flickr account.