Dzagnidze Leads Cairns Cup after Three Rounds

Nana Dzagnidze leads the 2020 Cairns Cup at 2.5/3 after three rounds of play. Three players – Harika Dronavalli, Kateryna Lagno, and Mariya Muzychuk – are half a point behind the leader as today’s Round 4 action kicks off at 1pm CST.

Round 2

courtesy STLCC

It is said that spectators “showered the board” with gold coins after Frank Marshall’s 23. … Qg3 in his 1912 victory over Stefen Levitsky.

Were modern day spectators prone to carrying gold, and were they not restrained by the rope line at the Saint Louis Chess Club, they might well have done the same after Valentina Gunina’s 13th move against Alexandra Kosteniuk.

While Kosteniuk eventually won the game, with Gunina’s 21. Nxg6? being one of the chief culprits in her defeat, 13. Bb6!! is for me already the move of the tournament… although I’ll be glad to revise my words if future brilliancies warrant it!

There were two other decisive results in Round 2. Mariya Muzychuk won a lovely attacking game over Humpy Koneru.

Kateryna Lagno defeated Carissa Yip after the young American lost the thread in the early middlegame.

Irina Krush, the second American in the field, continued her solid start with a draw against World Champion Ju Wenjun. It looked like Krush could grab a serious edge after Ju’s mistaken 19. Rxc4, but she missed the strongest continuation, and while both players did their best to complicate things, the game was eventually drawn in 74 moves.

Ju Wenjun-Krush (photo Austin Fuller)

Round 3

courtesy STLCC

After a tepid draw with Harika Dronavalli in Round 2, Nana Dzagnidze jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a crushing win over Carissa Yip. The “Hippo” is one of those openings that can quickly turn sour for Black, and here Yip was already under significant pressure after 15 moves. While Dzagnidze’s time pressure made things tricky, with Yip finding many practical defensive ideas, the result was never really in doubt.

Team America took another one on the chin in this round, with Irina Krush falling to Valentina Gunina. Here too time trouble took its toll, with Krush going from better to significantly worse as she worked to reach move 40.

Harika Dronavalli got her first win of the tournament, downing Alexandra Kosteniuk in a strategic Ruy Lopez.

The two remaining games of the round were drawn. Humpy Koneru and Ju Wenjun repeated moves fairly early, while Kateryna Lagno passed up a promising continuation to force a draw against Mariya Muzychuk.

Pairings for Round 4

courtesy STLCC

Quick Links:

2020 Cairns Cup Website

Pairings and Results

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  1. Awesome opening and early middle game by Wenjun Ju and Krush in their game; two elite players who consistently and excellently represent the best interests of chess and fans / spectators generally.

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