Cairns Cup R2: Wins For Kosteniuk, Lagno, Muzychuk
Alexandra Kosteniuk defeated Valentina Gunina in round two. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Cairns Cup R2: Wins For Kosteniuk, Lagno, Muzychuk

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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15 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Alexandra Kosteniuk, Kateryna Lagno, and Mariya Muzychuk won their games in the second round of the Cairns Cup in St. Louis. There's a four-way tie for first place now.

You can follow the tournament here as part of our live portal. Chess.com is offering a daily, live commentary broadcast with GM Robert Hess, IM Hans Niemann, GM Roeland Pruijssers and WFM Anna Cramling on Chess.com/tv. The rounds start at 1 p.m. local time which is 11 a.m. Pacific and 20:00 Central European Time, with rounds on Feb. 7-11 and 13-16.


The official broadcast has WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Alejandro Ramirez, and there's a Russian-language broadcast with IM Almira Skripchenko and WGM Anastasiya Karlovich, on www.uschesschamps.com.

2020 Cairns Cup round 2 results.
The Cairns Cup round 2 results. Image: Spectrum Studios.

There's a small side-story connected to the second Cairns Cup, which is about the ratings of the world's number two Ju Wenjun (2583) and number three Humpy Koneru (2580). They are so close, that yesterday Koneru moved to second place in the live ratings thanks to her win, but losing in round two got her back to 50 percent in the tournament (like Ju), and back to number three.

Koneru lost to Muzychuk, who executed not one but two rook lifts, Paul Morphy's "last gift to chess."  Don't miss Arne Moll's recent article about this topic.

Rook lifts Muzychuk Koneru Cairns Cup
The two rook lifts by Muzychuk.
Mariya Muzychuk 2020 Cairns Cup
Mariya Muzychuk. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

After two rounds, it's more or less clear that Valentina Gunina is not going to retain her title in St. Louis. Also in the second round, she suffered a loss, this time against her compatriot Kosteniuk. 

It was a bitter pill for the younger of the two Russian ladies, as Gunina (31) was winning after the opening but failed to cope with the material imbalance and allowed Kosteniuk (35) too much counterplay.

13.Bb6 was a great move that should have won the game.

Like Gunina, Carissa Yip is still on zero points after a loss to Kateryna Lagno. The two followed a game played in the same playing hall last year (Jeffery Xiong’s quick victory over Sethuraman S.P. from the 2019 Winter Classic) but when Lagno deviated, Yi spent 40 minutes on the clock but got outplayed in the queenless middlegame.

Kateryna Lagno. 2020 Cairns Cup
Kateryna Lagno. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The other two games were drawn, with Ju vs Irina Krush lasting almost five hours. The third round will be played on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. local time which is 11 a.m. Pacific and 20:00 Central European Time. The tournament is a 10-player round-robin with a prize fund of $180,000.

2020 Cairns Cup Round 2 Standings
The standings after the second round. Image: Spectrum Studios.

Round 2 games

The round 3 pairings Cairns Cup 2020
The round 3 pairings. Image: Spectrum Studios.

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