Lei Clinches Final With Round To Spare, Becomes Ju’s Challenger

Lei Clinches Final With Round To Spare, Becomes Ju's Challenger


With a second win in a row, GM Lei Tingjie defeated GM Tan Zhongyi on Monday to clinch victory in the final of the FIDE Women’s Candidate’s Tournament 2022-2023 with a round to spare. She will challenge GM Ju Wenjun later this year for the women’s world championship.

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Games from the 2022-2023 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament can be viewed on our events page.

Lei has proven herself to be an incredible competitor throughout this thrilling match of nearly all decisive games. After losing a heartbreaking first round due to a blunder, she immediately evened the score the next game. Following the match’s only peaceful result in round three, Lei scored back-to-back victories, taking over the lead and not looking back. 

With her last attempt at the white pieces, Tan gave us a glimpse back at the Romantic era of chess with the Colle Attack, aiming to trap Black’s king in the center. Unfazed by her opponent’s opening choice, Lei responded with active play in the center, hopping her knight to e4 and bolstering it with f5 to gain an edge with the black pieces. 

With such a comfortable advantage, Lei continued with pragmatic improvements until she was able to breakthrough on the kingside. However, there was also an even faster, highly-tactical path to victory. Test your own attacking abilities: How can Black jumpstart her attack?

Here is Lei’s full match-winning game, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao

Lei’s compelling performance foreshadows a riveting battle ahead as she challenges Ju for the women’s world championship. Further reinforcing her bid for the throne, Lei rose in live world rankings today to fifth for women, leaping just ahead of her upcoming rival.

Graphic: 2700chess.com

The 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament was an elite event featuring eight top female players who competed in a knockout format for a share of the €250,000 prize fund and the right to play in the Women’s World Championship match against Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun.

The final was scheduled to be a six-game match between GMs Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi, but the match ended early; just five games played from March 29 to April 3 were needed to determine the winner. The prize fund is 110,000 euros. The time control was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. A draw offer before move 40 was not allowed. 

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