Indian Grandmaster Humpy Koneru Wins Second Annual Cairns Cup

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Rebecca Buffington
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Indian Grandmaster Humpy Koneru Wins Second Annual Cairns Cup

Highest-Rated Women’s Tournament on American Soil Concludes with Hard-Fought Victory & $45,000 First Place Prize

SAINT LOUIS, February 17, 2020 – Indian Chess Grandmaster (GM) Humpy Koneru was named champion on Sunday, February 16, of the second annual Cairns Cup, an elite tournament for the top female chess players worldwide. Koneru claimed the tournament victory in the ninth and final round with a draw against fellow Indian GM Harika Dronavalli, concluding play with 6/9 points and taking home the $45,000 first place prize. The momentous victory is the latest achievement in a string of successes for Koneru, who won the Women’s World Rapid Championship in December.

“After my second round loss, I did not expect to make it all the way to the top,” said GM Humpy Koneru following her Cairns Cup victory. “This was quite a strong tournament and very similar to the Women’s Grand Prix. There were rounds in the Cairns Cup that did not have a single win, which shows the strength of this year’s field.”

Rounding out the remaining Cairns Cup leaders, current Women’s World Champion - GM Wenjun Ju - edged former Women’s World Champion - GM Alexandra Kosteniuk - to take the second-place $35,000 prize. With the setback, Kosteniuk tied for third with GM Mariya Muzychuk to earn $22,500 respectively.

The two Americans battling for the Cairns Cup, GM Irina Krush and WGM Carissa Yip, tied for seventh with Georgian GM Nana Dzagnidze, each taking home $8,000 in prize money. Yip, the 16-year old wildcard and youngest competitor in the field, staged an incredible comeback at the end of the tournament. In Round 8, Yip defeated Women’s World Champion Wenjun Ju to rank among the top 50 female players in the world, as well as the youngest American female to defeat Ju in classical chess. Both Yip and Krush will return to the Saint Louis Chess Club to compete for the U.S. Women’s Championship from April 9-23.

The Cairns Cup, now a staple of the Saint Louis Chess Club’s annual tournament schedule, is one of the world’s premier women’s chess tournaments, established with the goals of elevating the sport and inspiring future events for women in chess worldwide. The 2020 Cairns Cup prize fund increased to $180,000 this year, the largest sum for any women’s chess tournament outside of the Women’s World Championship, and Saint Louis Chess Club co-founders Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield announced the renewal of a $125,000 grant to US Chess to continue the promotion, retention and encouragement of girls and women in chess.
“I thought it would be hard to top the inaugural Cairns Cup we hosted last year, but the 2020 Cairns Cup was among the most exciting, interesting and historic tournaments I’ve seen,” said Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield, namesake of the tournament. “We brought the top female players from around the world to America’s Chess Capital here in Saint Louis, Missouri. The games included astonishing upsets, twists and turns throughout all nine rounds. Congratulations to GM Humpy Koneru and all the players that participated in this year’s Cairns Cup.”

About The Saint Louis Chess Club

The Saint Louis Chess Club is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to making chess an important part of our community. In addition to providing a forum for the community to play tournaments and casual games, the club also offers chess improvement classes, beginner lessons and special lectures. Recognizing the cognitive and behavioral benefits of chess, the Saint Louis Chess Club is committed to supporting those chess programs that already exist in area schools while encouraging the development of new in-school and after-school programs. For more information, visit

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