Start of the second Cairns Cup

by André Schulz
2/6/2020 – Starting Friday, most of the world's best female players will play the 2nd Cairns Cup in Saint Louis. The field is led by World Champion Ju Wenjun. The tournament winner will receive USD $45,000 from the total prize fund of $180,000. Rounds begin daily at 19:00 UTC (20:00 CET / 14:00 EST) and the games will be broadcast live with commentary.

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Super-strong all-female tournament returns

For the second time, the Saint Louis Chess Club is holding an invitational tournament for top female grandmasters. The ten-player field consists of eight absolute world-class players and two strong USA players.

The international field is led by World Champion Ju Wenjun, who was able to defend her title again in a closely contested match in January. In the world rankings she has been steady in second place behind Hou Yifan (who continues her academic studies at Oxford). Humpy Koneru (3rd), Kateryna Lagno (5th), Mariya Muzychuk (6th), Harika Dronavalli (9th) and Nana Dzagnidze (10th) are five more top ten players. Alekasandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina belong are close behind in the world rankings. 

The U.S. American colours are represented by Irina Krush and the young aspiring player Carissa Yip. The 16-year-old is already number three in the US women's rankings behind Krush and Anna Zatonskih. She ranks sixth in the list of the world's best girls.

With the Cairns Cup, the organizers of the Saint Louis Chess Club want to promote international and women's chess in the USA. The eponym is Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield whose maiden name is Cairns. She and her husband Rex are sponsors of numerous tournaments in Saint Louis and are largely responsible for the upturn in chess in the USA.

A hefty prize fund of USD $180,000 awaits the players in this 2nd Cairns Cup. The staggering prizes for the top three finishers is $45,000, $35,000 and $25,000.

The Cairns Cup is held at the Saint Louis Chess Club and mirrors the well-established Sinquefield Cup. The games will be broadcast live with the now-customary top-notch live commentary.

Players starting rank

Rank Name Fed. M/F Rating
1 GM Ju, Wenjun CHN F 2583
2 GM Koneru, Humpy IND F 2580
3 GM Muzychuk, Mariya UKR F 2552
4 GM Lagno, Kateryna RUS F 2552
5 GM Harika, Dronavalli IND F 2518
6 GM Dzagnidze, Nana GEO F 2515
7 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra RUS F 2504
8 GM Gunina, Valentina RUS F 2461
9 GM Krush, Irina USA F 2422
10 FM Yip, Carissa USA F 2412

With this field, the tournament is one of the strongest round-robin tournaments for women in chess history.

The first round will be played on Friday, February 7th, with round starting every day at 19:00 UTC (20:00 CET / 14:00 EST).

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

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