The strongest Women’s tournament on U.S. soil, the inaugural Cairns Cup, opened on February 5, 2019 at the World Chess Hall of Fame, with a groundbreaking gift. I announced a partnership on behalf of US Chess between the Saint Louis Chess Club and US Chess that includes a $100,000 commitment from the club to help us continue on our drive to promote, retain and encourage girls and women in chess.
In my opening speech, I also expressed my gratitude to the ten players who came to the very first edition of the Cairns Cup, some at late notice, some directly from Gibraltar and some with young children. Despite the challenges, it was important to get this event on the calendar for 2019, and both Rex and Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield indicated that the Cairns’ Cup will be a fixture on club’s future plans.
Continuing on the theme of widening the base of girls in our game, on February 3, 2019, members of the Cairns Cup field led the first girls in history to Scouting chess merit badges. Scouts BSA expanded to girls on February 1, 2019 so this was the first time girls could earn the chess badge. Five years ago, Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield was instrumental in getting the Boys Scouts chess merit badge, and the timing is now perfect for girls to join the fun.
Several members of the US Chess Women’s committee attended the opening, including chair Maureen Grimaud, Kimberly Doo McVay and International Arbiter Sophia Rohde. Executive Director Carol Meyer also spoke on behalf of US Chess and thanked Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Chess Club for their continuing support of girls and women in chess. FIDE Vice-President Michael Khodarkovsky also attended on behalf of FIDE, continuing the positive momentum.
International Arbiter Carol Jarecki and Saint Louis Chess Club ED Tony Rich officially opened the Cup with a drawing of lots, as each player selected an oversized queen designed by the House of Staunton. Find round one pairings here. Long live the Queen!
Follow the Cairns’ Cup on uschesschamps.com February 6-16 starting at 12:50 CT with live coverage from GMs Maurice Ashley, Yasser Seirawan and WGM Jennifer Shahade. You can also attend live to hear commentary from IM Tania Sachdev and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan.