Koneru Humpy wins second edition of Cairns Cup

India’s top Grandmaster Koneru Humpy scored 6/9 to clinch clear first at the world’s strongest women’s tournament in history— Cairns Cup. Humpy will take back home, $45,000 as prize money and a glittering trophy!

The 2020 Cairns Cup is a 10-player round-robin tournament taking place from 7-17 February in the St. Louis Chess Club, USA.

Humpy started her campaign by beating the 16-year-old US talent Carissa Yip in the first round but had to suffer a bitter defeat in the hands of Mariya Muzychuk in the second round.

However, India’s top female Grandmaster clinched an unbeaten five points in the next seven rounds. First by drawing Ju Wenjun and Kateryna Lagno. And by getting the better of players like Nana Dzagnidze,  Alexandra Kosteniuk, and Valentina Gunina.

The Final round: Harika Dronavalli – Humpy Koneru: ½ – ½

While this encounter was hugely crucial for the standings, the game itself didn’t offer much bloodshed. In the post-game interview, Koneru explained her strategy: “I felt like I needed to just draw today to be risk-free.” The quick draw propelled Humpy to 6/9. With Kosteniuk falling to Ju, the score was enough for Koneru to be crowned champion. Given her slow start to the event, Koneru explained that she didn’t have the highest expectations: “After my second-round loss, I did not expect to make it to the top.” She also admitted to struggling with jet lag for the first half of the tournament. However, this didn’t stop her from playing some of the best chess of the field and rising to the top.

Photo: Crystal Fuller

Since September 2019, the Indian star won the first event of the Grand Prix series in Skolkovo, got second place at the second stage in Monaco, became Women’s Word Rapid Champion and now got clear first place at the Cairns Cup. This remarkable run of good results allowed her to overcome Ju Wenjun in the live ratings list, as she is currently in second place behind semi-inactive Hou Yifan.