The Cairns Queens Chess Award


A letter from the Saint Louis Chess Club co-founder and sponsor of the Cairns Cup, Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield.

Welcome to Saint Louis Chess Campus, Chess Capital of the US, and the 4th year of the Cairns Cup.

We have been a proud sponsor of women’s chess since 2009 of the US Women’s and US Girls Champions, SLU and Mizzou women chess players both teams winning the final four, USCF programming and US women’s training camp for the Chess, and Olympiad, first girls earning the chess MB, and support for 100 schools and 1,000 chess classes and videos. In 2019 we started the Cairns Cup to celebrate top women chess players.

Worldwide there are only 42 female GMs. Currently there are more than 2,000 male GMs in the world. Worldwide there are only 37 active female GMs. Only 16 countries have developed a female grandmaster. 11 only have one GM. Eight female GMs are playing in the 2024 Cairns Cup. Only 2% of all GMs are female, with none ranked in the top 100.

We can do better!

Starting July 4, 2024 through July 4, 2029 we will be adding a new Cairns Chess Queens Award. The Cairns’ Chess Queens Award is designed to encourage more US female chess players to become Grandmasters. We will award $100,000 for up to five players over the next five years who earn the GM award.

Eligibility will be limited to female chess players who are American Citizens or become American Citizens before earning the rank of grandmaster. Grandmasters will be confirmed by FIDE. The Awards Committee reserved the right to investigate any and all irregularities that may draw suspicion as to the proper attainment of GM rank. If a player or players have been shown to act in an improper or illegal manner the award may be withheld or deemed null and void. Only players acting ethically will be eligible for the awards.

In the future we hope that other countries will offer similar awards to encourage their female chess players. Additional awards for exceptional achievement by US female chess players will be considered in the future.

Today I am proud to present the first Cairns Chess Queens Award for exceptional achievement by a US Female chess player to GM Irina Krush. In 2013 Irina Krush became the first and only female players to earn the rank of GM while playing for the US. She is 8 time US Women’s Champion.

In conclusion I want to thank all the world class female chess players who are playing in this year's Cairns Cup.