China’s Ju Wenjun
Women’s World Chess Champion
Born: January 31, 1991
FIDE Rating 2560
Ready for a Challenger!
Ju Wenjun will defend her title in a 12-game match, July 5-25, 2023, against the Challenger Lei Tingjie, the winner of the Candidates Tournament.
The 2023 Women’s World Chess Championship will be an all Chinese match taking place in two cities in China–Chongqing and Shanghai–giving each player a home advantage.
Lei Tingjie was born in Chongqing, and Ju Wenjun was born in Shanghai.
Lei Tingjie won the 2023 Candidates Tournament where the Top 8 women chess players in the world competed for the opportunity to challenge the Women’s World Chess Champion, Ju Wenjun, in a match.
No Russian-Ukrainian Showdown
But a Chinese Surprise!
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, FIDE organizers arranged the tournament so that a Russian-Ukrainian showdown would be avoided until the Final match, if at all.
It worked! Two Chinese women, one in each bracket–Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi–rose to the top, defeating Ukrainians and Russians along the way!
Then, Lei Tingjie defeated Tan Zhongyi (3.5 to 1.5) in the Final match for the right to challenge Ju Wenjun for the title.
2022-2023 Women’s Chess Candidates Bracket*
*FIDE banned Russian flags from FIDE-sponsored events in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. So, Russian players’ flags are displayed as “FIDE flags.”
Lei Tingjie is a Chinese Grandmaster (GM), who in addition to the 2023 Candidates Tournament also won the 2017 Women’s Chinese Chess Championship.
#7 Rated Woman in the World
Born: March 13, 1997
Fuling District, Chongqing, China
FIDE Rating 2535
Chinese Women Dominate!
The Highest-Rated Woman in the World
#1 Rated Woman in the World
3-Time Women’s World Chess Champion
Born: February 27, 1994
FIDE Rating 2628
As a teenager, Hou Yifan listed her interests as reading and studying–and she listed her favorite chess player as Bobby Fischer!
Although Hou Yifan is the highest-rated woman chess player in the world and 3-time Women’s World Chess Champion, Hou stepped away from the Women’s Chess Championship cycle in 2017 at 23 years old in order to focus on life. Hou chose to treat chess as a hobby, not a career.
In 2018 she said, “I want to be the best, but I also want to have a life.”
She enrolled in Peking University in 2012, studying International Relations. She took a full course load and participated in many extracurricular activities. She was offered a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford in England.
In 2020 at age 26, Hou became the youngest ever professor at Shenzhen University where she is now teaching.
Hou still plays chess from time to time, maybe a tournament here or there or whatnot, and is still the highest-rated woman chess player in the world, but has not re-entered the Women’s Chess Championship cycle.
Left to right: Hou Yifan, Ju Wenjun and Lei Tingjie.
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