Cairns Cup: Four co-leaders, Harika and Dzagnidze score

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/15/2024 – Two decisive results in round 2 left four players tied for first place at the Cairns Cup in Saint Louis, with Harika Dronavalli and Nana Dzagnidze joining Mariya Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi at the top of the standings. While Harika got the better of Alexandra Kosteniuk, Dzagnidze inflicted a second consecutive loss on defending champion Anna Zatonskih. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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No need to castle

The most interesting game in round 2 of the Cairns Cup saw Harika Dronavalli choosing to keep her king in the centre out of an English Opening. The Indian GM played 8.Ke2 in her game with white against Alexandra Kosteniuk.

This move had been played in the past, and both contenders were ready to face this line as per the amount of time they employed in the opening. In the end, it was Harika who prevailed in the 58-move encounter (see full analysis below).

Harika came from drawing her first-round game against Nana Dzagnidze in what turned out to be the longest game on opening day, lasting 126 moves. Kosteniuk, on her part, had defeated Elisabeth Paehtz on Thursday, as she became one of the three participants who grabbed wins at the outset of the event.

Cairns Chess Cup 2024

The playing hall during round 2 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The aforementioned game was not the only encounter that ended decisively, as Dzagnidze also scored with the white pieces. The Georgian GM inflicted a second loss on defending champion Anna Zatonskih after gaining a pawn in the early middlegame.

Dzagnidze is now one of four players tied for first place with 1½ points. Besides Harika and Dzagnidze, the leading group also includes Mariya Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi. While Muzychuk signed a quick draw with her sister Anna in the second round, Tan managed to get a draw from an inferior position against Irina Krush.

Co-leaders Tan and M. Muzychuk are set to face each other in Saturday’s third round, while both Harika and Dzagnidze will play with the black pieces, against Alice Lee and Kosteniuk, respectively.

Round 2 results

Nana Dzagnidze

Nana Dzagnidze got the better of Anna Zatonskih | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Harika 1 - 0 Kosteniuk

Analysis by Klaus Besenthal

Harika Dronavalli, Alexandra Kosteniuk

Harika Dronavalli and Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 2

All games


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.
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