Tan Zhongyi wins Cairns Cup, Anna Muzychuk grabs second place

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/23/2024 – Tan Zhongyi signed a quick draw with Alexandra Kosteniuk to become the outright winner of the Cairns Cup in Saint Louis. The Chinese star finished the event with an undefeated 6/9 score. In the one decisive game of the final round, Anna Muzychuk defeated Alice Lee to secure sole second place. This was Muzychuk’s second win in a row, after having collected seven draws in the first seven rounds of the event. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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An ambitious World Championship challenger

Tan Zhongyi is having a remarkable year. After barely making it to the Women’s Candidates Tournament by finishing third (on tiebreak criteria) at the 2023 Grand Swiss, the Chinese GM obtained a convincing victory at the Candidates to gain the right to challenge Ju Wenjun in the next match for the women’s crown.

The 33-year-old from Chongqing was the women’s world champion between 2017 and 2018, and is likely to put up a great fight against Ju in the next match for the title. After gaining 4.6 rating points in Saint Louis, Tan stands in fifth place in the women’s live ratings list, as one of the ten women players with a 2500+ Elo rating.

At the Cairns Cup, Tan scored wins over Alice Lee, Anna Zatonskih and Elisabeth Paehtz to end the event with an undefeated 6/9 score. In the final round, she faced Alexandra Kosteniuk, who came from playing decisive games in seven out of the eight rounds that had taken place at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The Swiss representative was happy to finally keep things under control and signed a 19-move draw while marshalling the black pieces. Tan entered the round with a 1-point lead, so the draw was all she needed to secure overall victory.

In the first four editions of the Cairns Cup — one of the few elite women’s events not organized by FIDE as part of the World Championship cycle — players from four different countries have obtained tournament victories: Valentina Gunina (Russia), Humpy Koneru (India), Anna Zatonskih (United States) and Tan Zhongyi (China).

Results - Round 9

Tan Zhongyi, Jeanne Cairns

Co-founder of the Saint Louis Chess Club, Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield, congratulates the very deserving tournament winner | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk was in a fighting mood throughout the event, but signed a quick draw in the final round | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Elisabeth Paehtz, Harika Dronavalli

Elisabeth Paehtz and Harika Dronavalli | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Anna Muzychuk climbs to sole second place

Unlike Tan, Anna Muzychuk did not perform well at the Candidates in Toronto. After that setback, though, the Ukrainian GM has grabbed two consecutive second places in top women’s events. Earlier this month, Muzychuk finished as the clear runner-up at the inaugural edition of the Norway Chess Women tournament. Now, in Saint Louis, the 34-year-old scored consecutive wins in rounds 8 and 9 to also grab clear second place at the Cairns Cup.

After signing seven draws in a row, Muzychuk defeated Kosteniuk and Lee on Friday and Saturday to end the event as the only player with a 5½/9 score.

While her victory over Kosteniuk featured a tactical middlegame struggle, Muzychuk’s win over 14-year-old Lee saw her prevailing in a tricky endgame.

Muzychuk 1 - 0 Lee

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Final standings

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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