2023 Cairns Cup - Day 5 Recap


The start of the day was marred by the unfortunate withdrawal of GM Humpy Koneru, who had to leave the tournament due to medical (non-COVID) issues. According to tournament regulations, Koneru’s results in the event will be annulled and won’t affect the final standings, but the games she played will still be FIDE rated.

The round only saw one decisive game as Khotenashvili narrowly managed to escape a mating attack at the hands of Dzagnidze to win her third game in a row, moving to clear second place in the standings with 3.0/5. Meanwhile tournament leader Zatonskih drew with Dronavalli, maintaining a half point lead with 3.5/5 going into the rest day tomorrow.

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.


The surprise leader of the tournament, Zatonskih, reached a typical Carlsbad structure against Dronavalli, but failed to achieve any kind of serious pull in the position, with the players eventually simplifying down into a drawn rook endgame.

IM Anna Zatonskih | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

The game of the round was undoubtedly Dzagnidze-Khotenashvili, which started as a quiet Reti Opening that at one point turned incredibly sharp, as Dzagnidze found a fantastic piece sacrifice in order to launch a mating attack against Khotenashvili’s king. But Dzagnidze failed to find all the right moves to finish the attack as she blundered near the first time control, allowing Khotenashvili to consolidate and win thanks to her extra knight.

24.Kg2!! left the bishop on d5 hanging in order to play Qd4 & Rh1, with a devastating attack. But Dzagnidze later went wrong and was left down a piece.

A hat trick and now clear second place for GM Bella Khotenashvili, who was on the verge of losing today. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

In Abdumalik-Kosteniuk, the players followed a familiar theoretical line in the Four Knights Scotch and drew without much drama. Meanwhile in Krush-Paehtz, the 8-time U.S. Women’s Champion played quite boldly out of the opening, which saw her king end up on c3 supporting a very early queenside expansion. However Paehtz responded well and eventually forced a repetition from a slightly more comfortable position.

After 12.b4, White's queenside expansion was impressive, but the lack of development gave Black time to generate good counterplay.

GM Zhansaya Abdumalik | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

Pairings for Round 6

The 2023 Cairns Cup continues Friday, June 9, 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.