Tan Draws With Kosteniuk, Wins Cairns Cup
Tan scored an unbeaten 6/9 en route to her first Cairns Cup win. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Tan Draws With Kosteniuk, Wins Cairns Cup

| 5 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Tan Zhongyi was crowned as the winner and will receive the $50,000 first prize after a quick draw with GM Alexandra Kosteniuk secured her a 6/9 score in the final round of the Cairns Cup 2024 on Saturday.

GM Anna Muzychuk finished on a high note by defeating IM Alice Lee and claimed $40,000 for outright second while draws on the remaining boards led to a four-way tie for third among GMs Alexandra Kosteniuk, Harika Dronavalli, Nana Dzagnidze, and Mariya Muzychuk. Each will receive a $19,000 payout for third-sixth places.

Round 9 Results

Final Standings

A 30-minute, 19-move draw between Tan and Kosteniuk brought the fourth edition of the Cairns Cup to a close, and the winner spent most of her afternoon taking photos with patrons Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield and Rex Sinquefield. This was Tan's first-ever super-GM tournament victory, and she also reached a new FIDE rating high of 2545.

Tan and the Sinquefields who are the benefactors of the Saint Louis Chess Club and this event. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.
Tan was all smiles as she posed for photos with the world's largest chess piece in the background. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

With three wins and six draws to her name and a lead that lasted from start to finish, Tan seemed to have cruised through the tournament; however, she revealed that things were not as simple as they seemed. "The process was much more dangerous for me than it looked. For several games I was having to fight for the draw, especially yesterday. That was really challenging."

The process was much more dangerous for me than it looked.

 —Tan Zhongyi

Tan's full post-match interview, where Lee's mum acted as a translator, gives more insight into her tournament.

Post-Cairns Cup, Tan has set some lofty goals for herself, including working toward the 2600 FIDE-rating mark as well as attempting to wrest the women's world championship title back from her compatriot GM Ju Wenjun in 2025.

Tan lost her world women's championship title to Ju in 2018. Photo: Gu Xiaobing/Tournament website.

Kosteniuk was not only happy to draw with Black but may have finally played a game worthy of the calm, balanced style she had hoped to display. The final position, with queens still on the board and an almost symmetrical pawn structure, is a picture of peace.

With the winning spot snapped up by Tan early in the round, second place became the ambition of the four players in contention for the position. If one of these players were able to win and the others draw, she would receive $21,000 more than the others. The player who managed to achieve this was Anna Muzychuk.

Anna Muzychuk came prepared for a fight to the last pawn. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

A gritty win from the white side of the Petroff Defense against Lee allowed Muzychuk to finish on a high note, and her technical rook endgame play makes this game a fitting choice for the Game of the Day. Check out GM Rafael Leitao's analysis below.

The only other player who came close to winning her game and joining Muzychuk in second was Harika, who missed a small window of opportunity where she could have established some authority in her game against GM Elisabeth Paehtz

Every move could be a $21,000 decision. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Paehtz once again played the Closed Catalan, but her round-nine game took on a different shape to her previous games in the opening. Trading straight into an ending, piece placement and pawn weaknesses became the key themes of the encounter. Harika then declined the opportunity to snap up one of Paehtz's loose pawns, and when the players decided they could no longer make progress, they repeated moves.

GM Irina Krush and IM Anna Zatonskih didn't manage to find wins in this year's Cairns Cup, although Krush did possess a small edge against the 2023 winner at different points of a queen and rook ending. As the players drew close to move 40, it became evident that neither was interested in prolonging the duel with their time dwindling below two minutes and, thus, also repeated moves.

The mid-year tournament fiesta does not stop with the conclusion of the Cairns Cup, and attention will swiftly move to the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the Superbet Romania Classic which will feature an illustrious lineup, including GMs Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Gukesh Dommaraju, and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa.


How to review?

You can review the round's broadcast on the Saint Louis Chess Club's YouTube or Twitch channels. The games can also be checked out on our dedicated 2024 Cairns Cup events page

The live broadcast was hosted by GM Yasser Seirawan, IM Jovanka Houska, and IM Nazi Paikidze.

The 2024 Cairns Cup is one of the strongest women's tournaments in the world. The event was a 10-player round-robin with a classical time control (120 minutes for the entire game, plus a 30-second increment per move). The 2024 Cairns Cup ran from June 13 to June 22 and featured a $200,000 prize fund.

Previous Coverage

    More from FM JackRodgers
    Naroditsky Wins 21st Brawl, Closes In On Nakamura's All-Time Record

    Naroditsky Wins 21st Brawl, Closes In On Nakamura's All-Time Record

    Naroditsky Outscores Nakamura, Carlsen, Erigaisi, Praggnanandhaa

    Naroditsky Outscores Nakamura, Carlsen, Erigaisi, Praggnanandhaa