7 Memorable Moments From The 2020 PRO Chess League

7 Memorable Moments From The 2020 PRO Chess League‎

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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With 15 days to go until the finals of the PRO Chess League, let's look back at some of the best moments of the 2020 season so far. Great chess, heart-breaking drama, and fun moments: the PCL had it all.

  1. Endgame Technique Gets The Croatia Bulldogs Into The Competition
  2. Wei Yi's Puzzle Rush Moment
  3. So Misses Knight Fork: Blunder Of The Season?
  4. The Incredible French Comeback: Van Wely's Mouse Slip
  5. Firouzja Beating Caruana: Game of the Season?
  6. Commentator's Curse: Suggested Queen Sac Gets Played
  7. The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat

1. Endgame Technique Gets The Croatia Bulldogs Into The competition

You could say that the 2020 season started in November 2019 when a qualifier tournament with eight teams from all over the world was held. Halfway through the tournament, they didn't look impressive just yet, but with a strong finish, the Croatia Bulldogs managed to become the 24th team to enter the league.

Led by IM Le Tuan Minh of Vietnam, one of the most experienced blitz players on our site where he is known as @wonderfultime, the Bulldogs clinched a final-round match with Azerbaijan Wolves and advanced with a 22-point tally. 

A big game was Le's clash with GM Rauf Mamedov, where the Bulldogs' top board converted a rook endgame with an extra pawn in textbook fashion:

2. Wei Yi's Puzzle Rush Moment

The 2020 season then took off for real on January 6. In the second week, China lost one of its few matches of the season to the Armenia Eagles.

However, it was GM Wei Yi who found the move of the match in his round-two game against GM Tigran Petrosian, the Armenian grandmaster who bears the same name as the ninth world champion.

White to play after 22...Nd5.
  

Wei Yi found the stunning 23. Qxd5!! with an unstoppable mate on h8 after White adds another rook to the h-file.

3. So Misses Knight Fork: Blunder Of The Season?

In week three, Chicago Wind put up a great fight against the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, who only narrowly won the encounter 8.5-7.5 from a 6-6 tie earlier on. The most dramatic moment came when super-grandmaster Wesley So missed a fork in time trouble:

So's opponent, GM Illia Nyzhnyk, scored an amazing 3.5/4 against a team of three super-GMs in this match.

4. The Incredible French Comeback: Van Wely's Mouse Slip

Week four saw one of the most memorable matches of the season so far. The Netherlands Mosquitoes took a shocking 4-0 lead against the France Roosters and then held an 8-5 lead in the final round. The French team needed a win in all three remaining games and, due to a dramatic mouse slip, managed to do it. Watch the French jubilation and the Dutch heartbreak below: 

5. Firouzja Beating Caruana: Game Of The Season?

The PRO Chess League was arguably the strongest online competition from once upon a time when the world wasn't fully focused on the coronavirus just yet. And that means that even when it was "just rapid" and "just online chess," sometimes some truly superb games were being played.

In the match where the Saint Louis Arch Bishops beat the Canada Chessbrahs 10-6, GM Alireza Firouzja played possibly the game of the season against GM Fabiano Caruana. He sacrificed a piece with 24...Nxc2 and went on to win in impressive fashion against the number-two player in the world:

The game sent shockwaves around the Twitterverse, as even FIDE jumped in to congratulate the young star on his win.

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After calling the match live, Rensch needed a second look at Firouzja's stroke of brilliance. Here he is breaking down the game:

6. Commentator's Curse: Suggested Queen Sac Gets Played

We've now reached the playoffs, in which the China Pandas defeated the Germany Bears 9.5-6.5. GM Yu Yangyi played an important role as he scored 3.5/4, which included the following win against GM Anton Korobov. In the live stream, commentator GM Robert Hess displayed a beautiful queen sacrifice mate that could occur if Korobov erred. While Hess was explaining the mate, it miraculously happened on the board!

7. The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat

The Armenia Eagles also reached the finals, for the third time in three years, partly thanks to their 9.5-6.5 win against the New York Marshalls. Armenia's fourth board, GM Petrosian, scored 3.5/4. The following screengrab, from just after his win against New York's GM Eduardo Iturrizaga, summarizes the emotions perfectly.

The PRO Chess League Finals will be played on Sept. 25-27 with three days of exciting, top-level chess as the season's semifinals, third-place match, and finals get underway with live expert commentary. More information can be found here.

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