BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese New Year Eve witnessed Ju Wenjun defeat challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia in Women's World Championship playoff at Vladivostok to retain her title, adding more joy to the traditional day of celebration in China.
"I am extremely happy, excited and proud to win, just like the previous times," she told Xinhua.
This is the third time for her to claim the greatest honor in women's chess in three years. In the spring of 2018, she was the challenger who upset compatriot Tan Zhongyi in ten rounds. Later in winter, she beat Kateryna Lagno in the World Championship knockout final.
"But there were definitely more pressure and more intensity this time, I mean, I was the one to defend the title now," she said.
The challenger Goryachkina demonstrated determination and a strong will to win in the 12-round game match. The 21-year-old even took the lead after they moved to Vladivostok after the first six rounds in Shanghai. In a must-win last round, she managed to tie the score to drag the match to the playoff.
"Goryachkina is very young, very talented, very focused on chess," Ju noted. "She played in classic Russian style with more emphasis on overall strategy, in the games she won she won beautifully."
For Ju herself, she thinks the game of round four, which she won after consecutive ties in three rounds, could be the top three games of her career. And of course, the third game in the four 25-minute rapid games playoff, winning that game secured her final victory.
"I'd like to thank my personal coach Ni Hua, he helped me prepared those classic games," she said.
Ju Wenjun never hesitated to express her thanks to the people who helped her after winning those titles. She is always grateful that she is not alone in her career.
Ni's name always comes first in her gratitude list, a privilege he deserves for the sacrifice he made.
"On the first day of our arrival at Russia, my coach's grandmother passed away," Ju recalled. "Despite in deep sorrow, he decided not to tell me this, postponed the funeral, and continued to help me prepare the games."
Her list also includes head coach of China's national team Ye Jiangchuan, the staff of the Chinese Chess Association, her mother, who would cook and bring meals for her during the six rounds in Shanghai. Even her dog Sicily, a golden retriever, was a relief for her during the match.
Ju celebrated her 29th birthday one week after winning the match, "I want to refine my game in chess, continue to work hard," as she shared her birthday wish.
She is now participating in the second Cairns Cup in the St. Louis Chess Club as the No.1 seed. After two wins in a row, she now ranks first after five rounds.
"My previous goals are to be the world champion and gold medalist in Chess Olympiad, and the dreams have come true," said Ju. "Now I hope I can be my own challenger in the future."
According to Ju, the victory in the past month is still a "milestone in career", the never giving-up spirit resulted in her title defense, despite the losses and the missing champion point.
"Before the match, I read a speech of coach Lang Ping, an icon of China's women's volleyball," she said.
"It says 'Our team spirit is never just about winning, it is to spare no effort even when you know you might lose. The secret in life is that there is no guaranteed success await, but you need to guarantee that you have tried your best.'"
"Chess is an inseparable part of my life," said Ju. "It has been part of my life since I was seven years old. Through all the wins and losses, it taught me to be confident and strong, and never, never give up."