Cairns Cup: Krush and Kosteniuk lead after three rounds

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/6/2023 – Following two rounds with 4 out of 5 games ending decisively, only Irina Krush and Bella Khotenashvili managed to score full points in round 3 of the Cairns Cup. Krush is now sharing the lead with Alexandra Kosteniuk on 2½ points. Anna Zatonskih stands in sole third place a half point behind the co-leaders. Zatonskih will face Kosteniuk with black in Tuesday’s fourth round. | Photo: Austin Fuller

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Endgame technique

Alexandra Kosteniuk was the only player to kick off the Cairns Cup with back-to-back victories. Now representing Switzerland, Kosteniuk drew Gunay Mammadzada with black in round 3, allowing Irina Krush to catch up with her in the lead. Krush got the better of Nana Dzagnidze with white, as she showcased great endgame technique to grab her second win in three games (find endgame analysis by Karsten Müller below).

A half point behind Kosteniuk and Krush stands Anna Zatonskih, a 4-time US women’s champion. Born in Mariupol, then part of the Soviet Union, Zatonskih entered the tournament as the lowest-rated player, and will get the chance to take down one of the co-leaders in round 4, as she will face Kosteniuk with black on Tuesday.

Round 3 also saw Bella Khotenashvili scoring her first victory of the round-robin event. The Georgian star defeated Zhansaya Abdumalik with black. Both Khotenashvili and Abdumalik had started the tournament with two consecutive losses.

Much like Krush, Khotenashvili confidently entered a strategically advantageous endgame and showed good technique to grab the full point.

White has an extra pawn, but an inferior structure — with her doubled pawns on the e-file. More importantly, Black has a strong trio on the a, b and c-files. Khotenashvili went on to convert this position into a remarkable win to bounce back from her lacklustre start.

Bella Khotenashvili

Bella Khotenashvili | Photo: Austin Fuller

Krush 1 - 0 Dzagnidze

Irina Krush

Irina Krush | Photo: Bryan Adams

Results - Round 3

Standings - Round 3

All games

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.