Cairns Cup Slows Down In Results, Not In Content
The start of round in St. Louis. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Cairns Cup Slows Down In Results, Not In Content

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

The second round of the Cairns Cup in St. Louis was less spectacular in terms of results, but the 10 participants once again provided very interesting games. Bela Khotenashvili bounced back with a win over Elisabeth Paehtz.

Bela Khotenashvili
is the second-highest-rated female player in Georgia, behind Nana Dzagnidze who is also playing in St. Louis. Again she got into time trouble ("my last tournament was two months ago" - Khotenashvili) but this time she managed to keep things under control, and it was Elisabeth Paehtz who made some wrong decisions.

Nonetheless, the German player deserves credit for having made what was arguably best confession in the history of the chess confession booth. :-)

Bela Khotenashvili Cairns Cup 2019
"Georgian bounce-back girl" Bela Khotenashvili. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Alexandra Kosteniuk repeated her semi-serious remark the other day that she needs to work more on her openings. This time, having not expected the Petroff defense from her opponent Anna Zatonskih, she chose a sideline but was out of book by move seven!

The white king had to stay in the center and the offer to trade queens on move 19 was already an attempt to equalize, which the Russian GM managed, despite a small miscalculation later on.

Alexandra Kosteniuk Cairns Cup 2019
Alexandra Kosteniuk did not expect to face the Petroff. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Despite getting into heavy time trouble again (she was down to six minutes with 18 moves to make until time control), Valentina Gunina did very well and was close to scoring her second win. Irina Krush's kingside attack in a King's Indian Attack never really got off the ground, and she was looking at a dead lost position after she had to give up an exchange.

But, the fighter that she is, Krush kept on going and escaped when Gunina missed a winning maneuver—in fact only after the time control.

Valentina Gunina Cairns Cup 2019
Valentina Gunina, almost on 2/2. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Zhansaya Abdumalik, the youngest participant, again made a good impression with the black pieces against Marie Sebag. In this draw, it was black who had the best chances.

Zhansaya Abdumalik Cairns Cup 2019
A strong start for 19-year-old Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazakhstan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The most quiet game was the one between Harika Dronavalli and Dzagnidze:

Harika Dzagnidze Cairns Cup 2019
Harika vs Dzagnidze. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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 On site there is live commentary with WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and IM Tania Sachdev at the Kingside Diner in St. Louis.

Replay the live broadcast of the Saint Louis Chess Club.

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