Humpy Koneru Wins Cairns Cup

Grandmaster Humpy Koneru won clear first at the 2020 Cairns Cup with 6/9, taking home $45,000 for her victory. This continues a fantastic season for the Indian player, who visited the US for the first time for the elite women's tournament. Koneru started off the event with a majestic victory over Carissa Yip. We wrote about the Yip game in our initial report, but can you remember how Koneru brilliantly gains an edge in this position?

White to Move  Show Solution

20. Ne6! Humpy sacrifices a pawn to seize total light square control. Nxe6 21. dxe6 Bxe6 22. Bc4! this is the key point to grab all the light squares if Bxc4 23.bxc4 Rxb7 and White has ample compensation for the pawn.

Full game:

[pgn] [Event "Cairns Cup"] [Date "2020.02.07"] [White "Koneru, Humpy"] [Black "Yip, Carissa"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E73"] [WhiteElo "2580"] [BlackElo "2412"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "India"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "IND"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Na6 8. h4 Nc5 9. Qc2 c6 10. h5 cxd5 11. cxd5 Qa5 12. Bd2 Bd7 13. h6 Bh8 14. Nh3 Qc7 15. Ng5 Rac8 16. Qd1 a5 17. O-O Qd8 18. Rb1 Ne8 19. b3 f6 20. Ne6 Nxe6 21. dxe6 Bxe6 22. Bc4 Nc7 23. Nb5 Qd7 24. Nxc7 Bxc4 25. bxc4 Qxc7 26. Qb3 Qxc4 27. Bxa5 Qxb3 28. Rxb3 Rf7 29. Rfb1 Rb8 30. Bd2 f5 31. a4 fxe4 32. a5 Rbf8 33. Rxb7 Rxf2 34. Bb4 e3 35. Bxd6 Re8 36. Rb8 Rxb8 37. Rxb8+ Kf7 38. Rxh8 Rb2 39. Kf1 Ke6 40. Bc5 1-0 [/pgn]
This gem was followed by disappointment: a resounding defeat at the hands of GM Mariya Muzychuk.  Humpy had a double white in rounds 3 and 4, but drew both, including a game vs. Katerina Lagno where she got nothing against the Grunfeld defense. The tournament turned around for Koneru in round five, when she defeated GM Nana Dzagnidze and followed up with another victory against Kosteniuk, who would end up being her main rival in the event.
[pgn] [Event "Cairns Cup"] [Date "2020.02.11"] [White "Dzagnidze, Nana"] [Black "Koneru, Humpy"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D58"] [WhiteElo "2515"] [BlackElo "2580"] [PlyCount "128"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Georgia"] [BlackTeam "India"] [WhiteTeamCountry "GEO"] [BlackTeamCountry "IND"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 b6 8. Be2 Bb7 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. cxd5 exd5 11. Qb3 Re8 12. O-O c6 13. Rfe1 Na6 14. e4 Nc7 15. e5 Be7 16. Rad1 Ne6 17. Bf1 Qc7 18. g3 Rad8 19. h4 a6 20. a3 c5 21. dxc5 Nxc5 22. Qa2 Ne4 23. Ne2 Bc5 24. Ned4 Rxe5 25. Rc1 Qb8 26. Red1 Ree8 27. b4 Bxd4 28. Nxd4 Rc8 29. Qb3 Qe5 30. Qe3 Qf6 31. Re1 Kf8 32. Rxc8 Rxc8 33. Ne2 Re8 34. Rc1 Rc8 35. Rxc8+ Bxc8 36. Bg2 Qc6 37. Bxe4 dxe4 38. Nc3 f5 39. Qd4 Bb7 40. Kf1 Kf7 41. Ke2 b5 42. Ke3 g5 43. hxg5 hxg5 44. Ne2 Kg6 45. Qd8 Kh5 46. Qd1 Kg6 47. Qd8 Kh5 48. Qd1 Qb6+ 49. Nd4+ Kg6 50. Qd2 Bd5 51. Qc3 Bc4 52. Kd2 f4 53. Ke1 Qf6 54. a4 fxg3 55. fxg3 Qf1+ 56. Kd2 bxa4 57. Nc2 Qd3+ 58. Qxd3 exd3 59. Ne3 Bb5 60. Kc3 Kf6 61. Ng4+ Kf5 62. Nf2 a3 63. Kb3 d2 64. Kxa3 Be2 0-1[/pgn]
[pgn] [Event "Cairns Cup"] [Date "2020.02.13"] [White "Koneru, Humpy"] [Black "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E51"] [WhiteElo "2580"] [BlackElo "2504"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "India"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "IND"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. e3 O-O 6. Bd2 b6 7. Rc1 Ba6 8. Qa4 Qe7 9. a3 Bxc3 10. Bxc3 Ne4 11. Be2 Nxc3 12. Rxc3 dxc4 13. Bxc4 Bb7 14. Be2 Rc8 15. Qc2 c5 16. dxc5 Rxc5 17. Rxc5 Qxc5 18. Qxc5 bxc5 19. Bb5 Na6 20. Ke2 Nc7 21. Bd3 Nd5 22. Rc1 Rc8 23. Nd2 Nb6 24. f3 Kf8 25. Nc4 Bd5 26. Na5 c4 27. Bb1 e5 28. e4 Be6 29. Ba2 Ke7 30. b3 cxb3 31. Rxc8 Nxc8 32. Bxb3 Bxb3 33. Nxb3 Kd6 34. Kd3 Nb6 35. Kc3 Na4+ 36. Kb4 Nb2 37. Kb5 Nd1 38. Nd2 Nc3+ 39. Kb4 Ne2 40. Nc4+ Ke6 41. Kb5 g6 42. Ka6 f5 43. Kxa7 fxe4 44. fxe4 Nc3 45. Kb6 Nxe4 46. Ne3 Nc3 47. Kc5 Ne4+ 48. Kb5 Nd6+ 49. Kc5 Ne4+ 50. Kb4 Nd6 51. Nc4 Nf5 52. Kc5 h5 53. Nd2 Nd6 54. a4 Nb7+ 55. Kc6 Nd8+ 56. Kc7 Ke7 57. a5 Ne6+ 58. Kc6 Kd8 59. a6 Kc8 60. a7 Nd4+ 61. Kb6 1-0[/pgn]
Humpy's penultimate victory against Gunina put her in prime position heading into the final round, a half point ahead of the field, with her nearest contender, Alexandra Kosteniuk, facing the Women's World Champion.  Koneru held a solid draw against Harika Dronavalli. Harika had pointed out in previous interviews that she was not feeling well during the event and the result was not surprising. Meanwhile, a wounded Women's World Champion bit back against Alexandra Kosteniuk's Berlin defense.
[pgn] [Event "Cairns Cup"] [Date "2020.02.16"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"] [Black "Ju, Wenjun"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2504"] [BlackElo "2583"] [PlyCount "112"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Russia"] [BlackTeam "China"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "CHN"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Rd1+ Ke8 10. Nc3 Bd7 11. b3 Be7 12. Bb2 Rd8 13. Ne4 h5 14. Rd2 Bc8 15. Re2 c5 16. Rae1 Rh6 17. c4 Kf8 18. Rd2 Rxd2 19. Nexd2 Ra6 20. a4 g5 21. Ne4 g4 22. Nfd2 Nd4 23. Nc3 c6 24. Nce4 b5 25. Nd6 Be6 26. cxb5 cxb5 27. axb5 Ra2 28. Bxd4 cxd4 29. N2c4 h4 30. Kf1 h3 31. gxh3 gxh3 32. Re2 Ra1+ 33. Re1 Rxe1+ 34. Kxe1 Bg5 35. Ne4 Bf4 36. Ng3 d3 37. Nf1 Ke8 38. Nb2 Bf5 39. Ng3 d2+ 40. Kd1 Bg4+ 41. Kc2 Bxe5 42. Nd1 Bf4 43. Nf1 Be2 44. Ng3 Bf3 45. Nf1 Be4+ 46. Kc3 Bg2 47. Ng3 Bf3 48. Kc2 Kd7 49. Nc3 Kc7 50. Nf1 Kb7 51. b4 Kb6 52. Nxd2 Bg2 53. Nde4 Bxh2 54. Nd5+ Kxb5 55. Nec3+ Kc6 56. b5+ Kb7 0-1 [/pgn]
Ju Wenjun's victory sealed the deal as Koneru takes $45,000 for her efforts, along with the glorious Cairns Cup trophy designed by Tiffany's.

Cairns Cup trophy as designed by Tiffany's, Photo Austin Fuller

The final round was another good one for American women, as GM Irina Krush won her first game of the event, while IM-elect Carissa Yip followed her sensational win over the Women's World Champ with a draw against Muzychuk. Both gained around 10 rating points and will have some great practice in advance of the upcoming US Chess Championships (April 9-24).

[pgn] [Event "Cairns Cup"] [Date "2020.02.16"] [Round "9.4"] [White "Krush, Irina"] [Black "Dzagnidze, Nana"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A73"] [WhiteElo "2422"] [BlackElo "2515"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Georgia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "GEO"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. e4 g6 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Na6 10. Bf4 Nc7 11. Nd2 Nfe8 12. a4 f5 13. exf5 Bxf5 14. Bg3 h5 15. h3 Bd4 16. Nf3 Bf6 17. Bd3 Ng7 18. Ne4 Be7 19. Re1 h4 20. Bh2 b6 21. Ra3 Rb8 22. Bb1 Nh5 23. Qd2 Kg7 24. Rae3 Rf7 25. R3e2 Bxe4 26. Rxe4 Nf6 27. Rxh4 Ng8 28. Rg4 Rxf3 29. Rxg6+ Kh8 30. gxf3 Qf8 31. Qc3+ Bf6 32. Qd3 Re8 33. Rxe8 Nxe8 34. Qf5 Nh6 35. Qe4 Ng8 36. Bf4 Bxb2 37. Be5+ 1-0[/pgn]
Find out full information of the Cairns Cup on uschesschamps.com and look for an upcoming episode of Ladies Knight featuring Humpy Koneru in conversation with Jennifer Shahade.  

GM Humpy Koneru, Photo Crystal Fuller

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