Day 3 of the Cairns Cup, 2024: Kosteniuk beats Dzagdnize and joins the leaders

General manager Alexandra Kosteniuk joined the leaders by 2/3 at Cairns Cup 2024 after a great victory against the Georgian GM Nana Dzagnidze in the third round while the other tournament leaders; GM Great Dronavalli, Maria MouzychukAnd Tan Zhongyi designed their games.

General manager Elisabeth Paehtz pressed with blacks against GM Irina Krush but the veteran overcame time problems and launched into a crazy opposite-colored finish to secure her third draw.

Start of the third round Sundayon June 16, at 2 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CEST / 11:30 p.m. IST.

Third round results


To set the scene for the third day of play, Chief Referee and Director of the WIM Women's Chess Commission Anastasia Sorokina was given a tour of the Saint Louis Chess Club game room and expressed the importance of the Cairns Cup for women's chess.

The $200,000 fund for the event is just one indicator of the progress being made and the $50,000 first prize is just below the $60,000 prize Kosteniuk took home for winning the women's world championship 2008. Speaking of the “Queen of Chess”, she was the only player capable of getting a full point in the third round.

Kosteniuk 1-0 Dzagnidze

The crucial moment in Kosteniuk-Dzagnidze came unexpectedly and early, as memories and emotions from the second round threatened to push Kosteniuk away from the move that would ironically give him a decisive advantage.

Kosteniuk fought emotion with calculation on Saturday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Remembering his knight's jump which made him β€œwant to give up on move 15” against Harika, Kosteniuk thought twice before recovering the b-pawn hanging on move 11 of the Sicilian defense: Taimanov, Bastrikov variation.

Seeing no other way to proceed without condemning his knight to the edge of the board, Kosteniuk played 11. Nxb4 and subsequently played a pawn for a piece activity, unknowingly playing on the top mover line and producing a considerable advantage.

The resulting position allowed Kosteniuk to exert his influence over the bishop pair and exchange in an endgame where Dzagnidze was led by a pawn with several weaknesses. Our game of the day was analyzed by GM Dejan Bojkov below.

Zatonsky 0.5-0.5 Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk faces the defending champion. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The winner of the 2023 Cairns Cup IM Anna Zatonski was unable to make breakthroughs with its Jobava London system on Saturday and GM Anna Mouzychuk seemed to be the best prepared player. Zatonskih found a way to trick Muzychuk into retrieving a poisoned pawn, but after seven minutes of thinking, she ignored Zatonskih's attempts.

Lee 0.5-0.5 Excellent

IM, the youngest participant of the tournament Alice Lee checked all the preparation boxes during his duel with Harika, but avoided complications when the position opened up.

While a draw by repeat ultimately occurred, Lee reaffirmed his ambitions in a post-match interview, stating: “My goal is to win at some point.”

Harika looked over Lee's shoulder as the latter took on legendary GM Nona Gaprindashvili before the start of the tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Mary Muzychuk 0.5-0.5 tan

Former women's world champions Mariya Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi drew. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

In the battle between two of the co-leaders, Tan surprised Muzychuk at the first move by playing an opening she has only played three times and last played in 2017, the French Defense. Trying to catch Tan in a line in which she is less experienced, Muzychuk attempted the Alekhine-Maroczy Gambit but to no avail: Tan surrendered two pawns to achieve a tie.

When players repeated the knight and king moves on move 28, it was the Chinese top seed who could have chosen to continue playing against Muzychuk's suboptimal pawn structure.

Tan is one of the favorites to win the event. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Crush 0.5-0.5 Paehtz

A great fight ended in a draw. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Krush kept her chances of winning the tournament alive and increased her chances of having to perform a hip hop dance at the end of the Cairns Cup (Krush promised she would show off her newly acquired skills if she won the event) after a major hold against Paehtz in the third round. Krush and Paehtz followed a Nimzo-Indian defense line played by former American prodigy GMs Wonder Liang And Jeffrey Xiong during the 2016 Spice Cup and only diverged on the 19th move.

An older photo of the culprits (R: Liang, L: Xiong) who inspired the Nimzo-Indian that transpired on Saturday.

The position was a classic example of a good Nimzo-Indian for Black, as White's pawn structure was in tatters, but Krush managed to steady the ship and get a half point.

The top four players will take home the white pieces in their fourth round matchups, with the biggest disparity in ranking being Tan-Zatonskih. However, Kosteniuk will also be keen to try his luck against 14-year-old Lee. Will we finally see a single leader emerge?

The 2024 Cairns Cup is one of the strongest women's tournaments in the world. The event is a 10-player round robin with classic time control (120 minutes for the entire game, plus a 30 second increment per move). The 2024 Cairns Cup runs from June 13-23 and has a prize pool of $200,000.

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