Cairns Cup: Kick-off with four World Champions

by André Schulz
6/14/2024 – The 2024 Cairns Cup kicked off yesterday in St. Louis. Three World Champions take part in the strong women's tournament, and all three won in the first round. Chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili opened the tournament as guest of honour. | Photos: St. Louis Chess Club/ Lennart Ootes

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The Cairns Cup, the equivalent of the Sinquefield Cup for top female players, started on Thursday in Saint Louis. The tournament is named after its initiator and co-founder of the Sinquefield Cup, Dr Jeanne Cairns-Sinquefield, and aims to promote women's chess. Dr Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield also offered other incentives for women to play more chess.

Guest of honour at the opening ceremony was Nona Gaprindashvili, women's world champion from 1962 to 1978. The Georgian took part in the tournament's warm-up, the Ultimate Move event on the eve of the tournament, and opened the 2024 Cairns Cup with the official bell-ringing ceremony on the first day of play.

The ten-strong field includes three players from the USA, Irina Krush, Anna Zatonskih and 14-year-old Alice Lee. Other top international players include former world champions Alexandra Kosteniuk, Mariya Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi, as well as top players Harika Dronavalli, Nana Dzagnidze, Anna Muzychuk and Elisabeth Pähtz. With the exception of Alice Lee, all of these players hold the title of Grandmaster.

The opening round saw three decisive games. Tan Zhongyi defeated Alice Lee and Mariya Muzychuk won against Anna Zatonskih. Alexandra Kosteniuk also beat Elisabeth Pähtz, so the world champions had three wins to their name.

Tan Zhongyi (right)

Mariya Muzychuk (left)

Irina Krush and Anna Muzychuk drew their game, as did Harika Dronavalli and Nana Dzagnidze.

Alexandra Kosteniuk and Elisabeth Pähtz know each other from many tournaments and are good friends. But in their games they fight hard against each other.

Alexandra Kosteniuk wants to know what is happening

Elisabeth Pähtz soon knew that she was in trouble

Elisabeth Pähtz has a rather poor record against Alexandra Kosteniuk, especially in the Sicilian Defence. The two grandmasters engaged in a theoretical duel in the Rossolimo Variation, which gradually developed in Kosteniuk's favour.

Nona Gaprindashvili




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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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