Cairns Cup: Gunina Catches Kosteniuk After 'Insane' Round
Round 6 in action. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Cairns Cup: Gunina Catches Kosteniuk After 'Insane' Round

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Feb 13, 2019, 1:17 AM |
26 | Chess Event Coverage

Valentina Gunina defeated Elisabeth Paehtz in what has been described as an "insane" round six of the Cairns Cup in St. Louis. Gunina is now tied for first place with Alexandra Kosteniuk, who drew with Irina Krush


The rest day in St. Louis didn't slow down the fighting spirit among the players, who came back to battle fully armed. There were three decisive games on Tuesday, when Gunina joined Kosteniuk in first place with three rounds to go.

“It was a complete draw, but she started to get nervous. I was trying to get all the chances. Yeah, what a game, I’m still shaking,” said Gunina after beating Paehtz in the crucial game for the standings. After her sacrificial win with 1.e4 in the previous round, the Russian player showed a more positional approach this time.

By move 23 all minor pieces had left the board, and it was almost certain going to be a draw. However, with little time on the clock Paehtz lost the thread in the rook endgame:

Valentina Gunina Cairns Cup
Valentina Gunina, now a co-leader at the Cairns Cup. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Tournament leader Kosteniuk got under some pressure vs Krush, who was well prepared for the 4...c5 line in the Nimzo-Indian. However, the opening advantage soon slipped away, on move 20.

“I loved my position and then I didn’t. And then I was just floundering for a couple of moves,” said Krush, who saw her kingside structure damaged but could hold the balance thanks to her control of the d-file.

Krush vs Kosteniuk Cairns Cup 2019
Krush vs Kosteniuk. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

After five draws, Harika Dronavalli scored her first win in the tournament. This was in fact another game that looked very drawish, but the Indian GM decided to avoid a move repetition and try some more.

When she missed 46...f5 she got in trouble, but Zhansaya Abdumalik, after getting a strategically winning endgame, didn't make the most of her chances. In fact, she completely collapsed in time trouble and lost a game that was almost impossible to lose.

Harika Dronavalli Cairns Cup 2019
Harika Dronavalli. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Nana Dzagnidze is back to 50 percent after beating Anna Zatonskih, but she's not very satisfied just yet. “Of course it’s not the best tournament for me, I am just trying to get in shape.”

She noted that she is already looking forward to the Women's Candidates' tournament and is trying new openings in St. Louis.

Her combination on move 46 was pretty; she had seen the Qd1 move in advance:

Nana Dzadgnize Cairns Cup 2019
Nana Dazgnidze watching Gunina-Paehtz. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.


The Cairns Cup is a new, 10-player women only round robin that takes place February 6-15 in St. Louis. At stake is a $150,000 prize fund with the top three finishers receiving $40,000, $30,000, and $20,000, respectively.

Each round is streamed live daily at 1 p.m. Central Time (8 p.m. CET, 2 p.m. New York, 11 a.m. Pacific) with the expert commentary team of WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley, as well as a Russian language broadcast with IM Almira Skripchenko and WGM Anastasiya Karlovich on www.uschesschamps.com. On site there is live commentary with WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and IM Tania Sachdev at the Kingside Diner in St. Louis.

Replay the round six live broadcast of the Saint Louis Chess Club.


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