Cairns Cup: Fighting draws

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/18/2024 – All five games ended drawn in round 5 of the Cairns Cup, with Alice Lee (pictured) and Alexandra Kosteniuk escaping with half points from clearly inferior positions, against Nana Dzagnidze and Irina Krush, respectively. The results left Tan Zhongyi as the sole leader with four rounds to go. Mariya Muzychuk and Harika Dronavalli are tied for second place a half point back. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Lee and Kosteniuk escape

The fifth round of the Cairns Cup was the first one to feature all games ending drawn. Plenty of fighting chess was seen at the World Chess Hall of Fame, though, with many of the players choosing to enter complicated endgame struggles. Sole leader Tan Zhongyi defended a somewhat difficult position with the black pieces against Anna Muzychuk to remain atop the standings with a +2 score (3½ out of 5).

Meanwhile, Alice Lee, the 14-year-old US rising star who came from beating Alexandra Kosteniuk, escaped with a draw against experienced Georgian GM Nana Dzagnidze.

Lee, playing white, is two pawns down, and engines here evaluate the position with a -4. But converting this into a win requires some precision, especially given the broken pawn structure on the kingside, and the fact that Black has a dark-squared bishop and her pawn on the h-file promotes on a light square.

The great defensive resourcefulness demonstrated by the 14-year-old allowed her to eventually achieve a draw.

84...Bf2 was the deciding blunder by Dzagnidze, as it allows 85.Nh4+, and 85...Bxh4, as played in the game, leads to forced draw after 86.Kg1 Kg3 87.Kh1 h2 with a stalemate. Black cannot promote the pawn on the light square if the king approaches the corner in time, as in this case.

Black could have won the game with 84...Bc5 85.Nh4+ Kg4 86.Ng6 Kg3, and the pawn queens.

Results - Round 5

Anna Zatonskih

Defending champion Anna Zatonskih signed a 36-move draw with Elisabeth Paehtz | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Krush ½ - ½ Kosteniuk

Analysis by André Schulz

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 5

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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