One of the missions of the forward-thinking Saint Louis Chess Club is to help promote and support chess across the country for all ages and genders. And at the opening ceremony for the Second Annual Cairns Cup, Jennifer Shahade, Women’s Program Director for US Chess was thrilled to receive a donation of $125,000, a further increased commitment from the club and its founding patrons that she says will “…help us continue our drive to promote, retain, and encourage girls and women in chess.”
Last year’s $100,000 gift funded 11 projects that were awarded after grant proposals submitted to US Chess from around the country. Executive Director Carol Meyer of US Chess said, “I express my gratitude to the team in Saint Louis. It is a real honor to be partners with them, and none of this would be possible without the vision of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.”
The generous support shown by the club and the Sinquefields helped fund initiatives for female empowerment across the country through chess, whether that be in local clubs, tournaments, coaching and education. The grand plan is to see a balanced gender ratio in chess going into the future, as they expect many girls who benefit from the grant program to be inspired to go on to play in top events like the Cairns Cup (named in honor of Dr Jeanne Sinquefield’s maiden name).
And after four straight losses in the latest edition of the ongoing Cairns Cup, 16-year-old-old IM-elect Carissa Yip – the youngest and only non-GM in the field, and seen as the future of US Women’s Chess – is now the one showing inspiration for all girls in chess, as she makes a dramatic comeback after her bad start by scoring two big back-to-back wins – the latest showing no love for Valentina Gunina, last year’s winner of the inaugural Cairns Cup.
1-2. GM Ju Wenjun (China), GM H. Koneru (India) 4/6; 3-4. GM N. Dzagnidze (Georgia), GM A. Kosteniuk (Russia) 3½; 5-7. GM K. Lagno (Russia), GM M. Muzychuk (Ukraine), GM D. Harika (India); 8-10. GM V. Gunina (Russia), GM I. Krush (USA), FM C. Yip (USA) 2.
Photo: Top teenage US star Carissa Yip now has something to smile about! | © Lennart Ootes / Saint Louis Chess Club
FM Carissa Yip – GM Valentina Gunina
2nd Cairns Cup, (6)
Alekhine’s Defence, Modern Larsen Variation
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Arguably one of the best ways to meet the Alekhine’s Defence, as White commits to a game based on a positional advantage rather than going for the aggressive pawn storm of chasing the knight. 4…dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 The Modern Larsen Variation has been the modern-day antidote to the steady 4.Nf3, where Black adopts a sort of Slav Defence set-up. 6.Be2 One of the main reason the Black set-up works, is that White can easily fall for the trick of trying to chase the knight with 6.c4, only to see 6…Nb4! where the easily-made blunder of 7.a3? walks right into 7…Qxd4! with the fork on c2 winning Black a pawn. 6…Bf5 7.0-0 Nd7 8.c4 Nb4 As we said in the above note, chasing the knight allows Black tricks – and we soon see another. 9.Nd3 e5! 10.Re1N A harmless novelty, as Black has complete equality now. Previously seen has been: 10.d5 Bxd3 (Better though is 10…cxd5! 11.Nxb4 Bxb4 12.Qxd5 (If 12.cxd5 0-0 Black is ahead in development with no worries.) 12…Qc7 and Black will soon be castling and then centralise his rooks on c8/d8/e8 with a free and easy game.) 11.Bxd3 cxd5 12.cxd5 Nxd3 13.Qxd3 Bd6 14.Be3 0-0 15.Nc3 f5 16.Nb5 ½-½ (46) Audie,A (2280)-Squires,M (2287) ICCF email 2017. 10…Be7 11.Nxb4 Bxb4 12.Bd2 Qa5 13.Nc3!? The game now takes a turn for the complicated! 13…exd4 14.a3 Bxc3 15.Bg4+ Be6 16.Bxe6?! More accurate was 16.bxc3 first. 16…0-0-0 It is very hard to be critical here of Yip, as heart would have been pounding, alarm bells ringing, telling her that she had to do something about the danger towards the Black king, and the very human thing to do is to castle to safety – but the engine has no nerves nor fear, and ‘calmly’ finds the radical solution of 16…Bxd2!? 17.Bxd7+ Kxd7 18.Qg4+ Kd8! (A nice finesse, as it all goes complicated – and probably the move the human doesn’t first see, as more likely it will be 18…Kc7? allowing 19.Re7+ Kb6 20.b4! Bxb4 21.Rb1! Qxa3 22.Qxd4+ with a raging attack.) 19.Qxg7 Bxe1 20.Qxh8+ Kc7 21.Qxa8 Qd2! 22.h3 Qxf2+ 23.Kh2 Qf4+ 24.Kg1 Qf2+ 25.Kh2 Qf4+ and a draw. Of course, in the heat of battle, such fantasy solutions are rarely spotted! 17.bxc3 dxc3 18.Bxc3 Qxc3 19.Rc1 Too optimistic about her attacking chances. Better was 19.Bxf7 Nc5 20.Qg4+ Kb8 21.Rad1 with an equal position. 19…Qxa3 Black has two pawns – but White is claiming the attack is good enough compensation for it. 20.Bh3 The immediate threat is Qd4 hitting g7 and threatening Ra1. 20…g6 21.Ra1 Qc5 22.Qb3! Now with the coming Reb1 White will have a dangerous attack – so Black needs to counter quickly now. 22…f5 The best approach to break the pin on the knight was with the very useful move of 22…Kb8! that also defends a7, where now White has to ‘go for it’ with 23.Qg3+ Ka8 24.Qc7! Qb6 25.Rxa7+! Qxa7 26.Bxd7 and it’s a little awkward for Black wih his rooks effectively out of the game, and his king and queen in danger stuck on the open a-file, and having to play accurately – but this should be enough for equality, as there doesn’t seem to be any forcing way for White to win. 23.Reb1 Nb6 24.Rxa7 It certainly is a lot easier and more fun here to attack with White than it is to defend as Black! 24…Rd7 25.g3 Kb8 26.Ra2 Qxc4? This is too greedy. The safe option was 26…Nc8! covering the weak points. 27.Qa3 The threat of Qa7+ now sees the pendulum swing firmly to White. 27…Rhd8 28.Qa7+ Kc8 29.Raa1 Black has a tiny breathing space for now, as 29.Rxb6? gets mated after 29…Rd1+ 30.Kg2 Qd5+ 31.f3 Qd2+!! 32.Rxd2 R8xd2#. 29…Nd5 30.Qa8+? What White needed was to think out of the box with a little redeployment to maximise her attacking forces, namely the Bh3 doing zilch on the kingside. After the strategic retreat of 30.Bf1! attacking the queen with tempi, Black is doomed, as there’s no way to stop Ba6 and the attack crashing through for victory. For example: 30…Qc3 31.Ba6!! Rc7 32.Bxb7+ Kd7 33.Rc1 Qf6 34.Rxc6! Qxa1+ (If 34…Rxc6 35.Bxc6+ Kxc6 36.Ra6+ wins the queen.) 35.Qxa1 Rxc6 36.Qg7+ Kd6 37.Bxc6 Kxc6 38.Qxh7 easily winning. 30…Kc7 31.Rxb7+ Kd6 32.Rxd7+! Rxd7 33.Qb8+ White should have tried again to bring the bishop into play with 33.Bg2! as Bxd5 is a strong threat, as it leaves the Black king precariously loose and vulnerable in the middle of the board. 33…Ke7? Of course, you just want to cut and run with the king – but safer was 33…Rc7 34.Bg2 where now the engine again shows no nerves mor fear with the solution of 34…Qb4! 35.Qd8+ Rd7 36.Qf8+ Re7 37.Bxd5 Kxd5 38.Rd1+ Ke6 and equality. Now we all saw that, didn’t we? 34.Re1+ Yip is just clearly winning now – but in the mad dash to the time control, the winning tactic is really not all that easy to spot. 34…Kf6 35.Qe8? [see diagram] Something internally would have have been screaming that there just had to be a clean kill here somewhere – and there is, but not so obvious. The ‘killer’ – and spotted in a fraction of a nanosecond by the engine – was 35.Bxf5! Kxf5 (The point that is perhaps not fully realised, is just how useful the g-pawn was in shielding the Black king from checks. If 35…gxf5 36.Qf8+ Kg5 37.Qg8+ Kh5 (There’s no escape.. If 37…Kh6 38.Re6+ Kh5 39.Qe8+ Kg5 40.Qxd7 is just as bad for Black.) 38.Qe8+! picks up the rook and winning.) 36.Qe5+ Kg4 37.Re4+ Qxe4 38.Qxe4+ Kg5 39.Qh4+ Kf5 40.Qh3+ Kf6 41.Qxd7 easily winning. 35…Re7 36.Qh8+ Gunina looks as if she’s just dodged a bullet, but with the flag on her digital clock metaphorically hanging by now, it is all too easy to inadvertently walk right back into the line of fire. 36…Rg7?? Oops! After the correct 36…Kf7! 37.Qxh7+ Kf6 38.Rxe7 Nxe7 the game looks as if the game is fizzling out to a draw. 37.Bxf5 Right killer move, just a little too late in playing it! The clinical kill now was 37.Qd8+ Re7 38.Bg2! Qb4 The only solution to the threat of Bxd5 and winning the pinned rook – but White has a sting in the tail with 39.Qf8+ Rf7 40.Re6+!! Kxe6 41.Bxd5+ and now the …Qb4 is hanging. 37…Qc3 38.Qf8+ Kg5 39.h4+ Kh6 40.Re6 Threatening to win with Be4. 40…Qa1+? And with the frantic dash to reach the time control made, Gunina throws away any slim hopes of saving the game. After 40…Qb4! 41.Rd6 Qe1+ 42.Kg2 Qe7 43.Qxe7 Rxe7 44.Rxc6 White has a ‘winning’ endgame, but there’s still a lot of work needed to convert for the full point. 41.Kg2 What is probably suddenly dawning on Gunina by now, as she’s safely made the time control, is that her opponent is threatening Bxg6! winning, as after …hxg6 White has the sequence Qh8+ and she can’t play …Rh7 to cover the check, as there’s the little matter of the …Qa1 now hanging! 41…Qa7 Looking to try and hang on by her fingertips with …Qf7. 42.Be4 It is still all winning for Yip, but she’ll be kicking herself for missing the stunning mating net of 42.g4! Qf7 43.g5+ Kh5 44.Kg3!! Qc7+ (There’s forced mates after 44…Qxf8 45.Bg4# and 44…Qxf5 45.Qxf5 gxf5 46.Rh6#) 45.Qd6! and no way to stop the mate(s) noted above. 42…Qd7 No better was 42…Qf7 43.Qd8 Nf4+ 44.gxf4 Qxf4 45.Qf6 and an easy win with the forced trade of queens. 43.Qf5! Qd8 44.Rxc6 It really is all over now bar the shouting, or, in this case, a couple of spite checks. 44…Ne3+ 45.fxe3 Qd2+ 46.Qf2 Rd7 47.Qxd2 Rxd2+ 48.Kf3 Rd1 49.Rc7 Now the mating threats resurface. 49…Rf1+ 50.Ke2 Rf8 51.g4 Rh8 52.Rf7 Rg8 53.g5+ Kh5 54.Rf4 1-0