2023 Cairns Cup - Day 2 Recap

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk jumped out to a stellar 2/2 after defeating GM Harika Dronavalli in another dramatic round which saw four decisive games. Scoring their first wins were GMs Elisabeth Paehtz, Nana Dzagnidze, and IM Anna Zatonskih, who nearly allowed a miraculous escape.

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.


After defeating the top seed and one of her main rivals in GM Humpy Koneru yesterday, today Kosteniuk continued her perfect start with a victory over Dronavalli, the fourth seed in the event. However the game was not nearly as smooth today, as Kosteniuk ended up worse as White out of the opening, after some complications landed her in a slightly worse opposite colored bishop endgame. But a timely exchange sacrifice left Harika in huge trouble, as her rook ended up powerless against Kosteniuk's king, bishop, and pawns.

43.Rxa6! was a brilliant exchange sacrifice, leaving Black with serious problems dealing with White's kingside passed pawns.

The 2008-2010 Women's World Champion, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

Bouncing back from her loss yesterday was GM Elisabeth Paehtz, who won a nice attacking game in the Sicilian against Mammadzada:

27.Bxf7! allowed White to break through, winning after 27...Kxf7 28.Qh5+

Paehtz-Mammadzada | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

Also winning her first game was GM Nana Dzagnidze, who executed flawlessly to deal a second loss to Abdumalik.

22.Rd6! was a kill-shot, meeting 22…Qa5 with 23.Rxf6!, winning material in view of 23...gxf6 24.Qg4+

1.5/2 for GM Nana Dzagnidze. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

One of yesterday's winners, GM Irina Krush, held comfortably as Black against GM Humpy Koneru. While in the final game of the day to finish, 4-time U.S. Women's Champion IM Anna Zatonskih was able to convert a winning rook endgame against Khotenashvili, but not before allowing a miraculous stalemate trick: 

62.Rxa3!! would have forced a draw, as it's stalemate after either recapture, with 62...Rb1 answered by 63.Rb3!=

Zatonskih nearly had a heart attack when shown the missed chance for her opponent. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Pairings for Round 3

The 2023 Cairns Cup continues Monday, June 5, 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.