Robert Ris: Playing with four queens on the board!

by Robert Ris
6/15/2023 – The Cairns Cup is the strongest privately organized women’s tournament in the world. The third edition of the event came to an end on Monday, with Anna Zatonskih stunning the chess world by winning the closed competition with a round to spare. Alexandra Kosteniuk finished in second place, after grabbing three wins in a row in the final rounds. On Sunday, she defeated Bella Khotenashvili in a game that featured four queens on the board amid a fantastic tactical struggle. | Robert Ris analysed the formidable encounter.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


When getting two queens first is not enough

It was the penultimate round of the Cairns Cup. Anna Zatonskih entered the round leading the standings with 4½ points. Bella Khotenashvili, who had lost her first two encounters, came from winning four games in a row and stood a half point behind in sole second place. Alexandra Kosteniuk had just lost against Nana Dzagnidze and seemed to be out of contention for the top spots, as she had 3 points to her name.

Zatonskih had white against an out-of-form Zhansaya Abdumalik. Kosteniuk had white against a Khotenashvili on fire.

Once all was said and done, both Zatonskih and Kosteniuk scored full points. While the eventual champion made the most of a small edge in an endgame, Kosteniuk prevailed in an incredibly sharp tactical struggle.

Already in a winning position, the Swiss grandmaster promoted her b-pawn to a (second) queen — on the other side of the board, it had been four moves since Khotenashvili’s own queen pair had stood powerless near the white king.

Black could not give mate along the first rank since the queen on b6 is ready to defend from g1. Now White is simply a rook up, and Kosteniuk only needed three more moves to force her opponent’s resignation.

But the game was not as straightforward as the final sequence shown above. Kosteniuk, in fact, misplayed her superior position a couple of times. Well-known author and trainer Robert Ris looked at all the details and shared it with his YouTube audience.

Full analysis by Robert Ris

Calculation Training Booster

In this video course, twenty-nine examples with multiple questions are presented in the interactive format, which is ideal for a range of playing strengths. Step by step you will be taken through the complex positions.


Robert is an International Master who mostly spends his time training and coaching talented youngsters. On the PlayChess server The Fast and the Furious is a popular show where he explains sharp opening lines for a wider audience. He is also a well-known ChessBase author who produced numerous DVDs and regularly contributes to ChessBase Magazine as well. Since 2015 he is the organizer of the Dutch Rapid Championships in his home town Amstelveen. He has started a YouTube channel with chess analysis as well.