2020 Cairns Cup Opens with Thrilling Field and Grant Renewal Announcement

The second annual Cairns Cup opened on February 6th, 2020 with a thrilling nine Grandmaster field, headlined by reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun. World Rapid Champion Humpy Koneru of India is also new to the field, playing her first event in the Saint Louis Chess Club. Rounding out the trinity of World Champions, World Women's blitz champion Katerina Lagno is back in Saint Louis for the first time since the 2011 K vs Q event. Reigning Cairns Cup champion, Valentina Gunina and runner-up Alexandra Kosteniuk are back and join Lagno in representing Russia. Seven-time U.S. Champion Irina Krush and 16-year-old Carissa Yip wave the American flag in the super-women's tournament named after Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, nee Cairns.

US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer and I also spoke at the Opening Ceremony about the Women's Program Grant partnership with the Saint Louis Chess Club. We were thrilled to announce the renewal of the grant to help women and girls outreach and development, to an increased amount of $125,000 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The theme of outreach continues throughout the event, as a BSA Scouting workshop for girls is scheduled for the rest day. Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield spearheaded the BSA chess merit badge in 2010, and in 2019 the first girls in the country earned the chess merit badge at the Saint Louis Chess Club. The ceremonial drawing of the lots featured cozy winter gear, as the audience learned round one pairings, which include some titanic matches, including Former Women's World Champion Mariya Muzychuk vs. reigning champ Ju Wenjun.

Follow the Cairns Cup starting on February 7 at 12:50 ET at uschesschamps.com, which will feature commentary from WGM Jennifer Shahade and GMs Alejandro Ramirez and Yasser Seirawan. 
World Women's Champ Ju Wenjun contemplates a question from emcee Tony Rich, Photo Lennart Ootes

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