2023 Cairns Cup - Day 6 Recap


by WGM Sabina Foisor

As the first round back after the rest day, the games from today’s Round 6 of the 3rd edition of the Cairns Cup certainly did not disappoint, bringing more exciting chess and decisive results.

The start of the round may have suggested a quiet day, but the intensity of the event was revealed as the players approached the time control. Anna Zatonskih won with the black pieces, another important game against Mammadzada, inching closer to her dream of achieving a GM norm. She would have to score 1 point out of 2 to score a norm (tomorrow she has a day off). In addition, Anna is leading the event with 4.5 /6 with two rounds to go. Paehtz and Kosteniuk won their games today, maintaining a close trail behind American Zatonskih.

Standings After Round 6

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes, with a 30 second increment starting from move 1.

Results of Round 6

IM Anna Zatonskih continues to impress with a stellar performance with the black pieces, having won all 3 of her games. In today’s game, she took advantage of her opponent’s dubious 7.Na3 in a Closed Catalan and made sure to keep the advantage of the extra pawn until the end of the game. 

 IM Anna Zatonskih | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

In an advantageous position Dronavalli, had a blind spot in her calculation and failed to see a defensive resource that allowed her opponent, Abdumalik to survive with a threefold.


In this position Harika played 27. Rc4?? giving away the advantage as it allows Black to defend with 27… Rb6 28. Nd7 Rc6!. Instead, 27. Nc4 followed by Rb1 could have brought the game in another direction.

GM Elisabeth Paehtz deep in though | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

In the post-game interview Paehtz suggested she was surprised by Dzagnidze’s choice of opening - The Dragon Sicillian, so she opted for the Yugoslav Attack. Paehtz dominated for most of the game, but the following position is instructive.

After 21…e6 , Elisabeth played 22. b4! - a nice zwischenzug that pushes the queen to an uncomfortable position that allows White to win an exchange. 

The game wasn’t decided at this moment, as Dzagnidze defended valiantly for quite some time. Unfortunately for her, she blundered in time trouble with 38…Nd6?? , which allowed Paehtz to activate her rooks and convert the game. 

The most disputed game of the round was the one between Kosteniuk and Krush. Kosteniuk may have surprised Krush opting for the Chekhover Variation in the Sicilian. The game seemed for a long time to be going in the direction of a draw. Kosteniuk was able to build a king-side attack, but Krush defended fearlessly. As they were approaching time control, Krush may have rushed to trade queens which weakened her pawn structure. Though the position was still holdable, Kosteniuk continued pressing and in the end converted on opposite-color bishop endgame with a pawn up into a win.

Former Women’s World Champion , GM Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller


 Pairings for Round 7

The 2023 Cairns Cup continues Saturday, June 10, with tournament action live starting at 1:20 PM CT with commentators Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, International Master Nazi Paikidze, and International Master Almira Skripchenko on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.