Indian Super-GMs Face Off To Open PRO Chess League Playoffs

Indian Super-GMs Face Off To Open PRO Chess League Playoffs

NM SamCopeland
Mar 12, 2018, 4:11 PM |
20 | Fun & Trivia

The 2018 PRO Chess League Playoffs start at 9:00 a.m. Pacific tomorrow with 16 extremely talented teams including eight super-grandmasters vying for a trip to the finals weekend in San Francisco. Here are some things to look for in each of these thrilling matches!

Think you know who will win the finals? Fill out your PRO Chess League bracket to win prizes!

Eastern Division

Armenia Eagles vs Estonia Horses

The top-seed Armenia Eagles narrowly defeated the Estonia Horses earlier in the season, and this time around, they are bringing an even stronger lineup with GM Hrant Melkumyan on board one. The Horses will need an excellent outing to defeat the favored Eagles. Watch for their powerhouse board-three GM Jaan Ehlvest to be a key to this matchup. With a good day, he could turn the tide.

Jaan Ehlvest, Estonia Horses

Ehlvest has been one of the best board threes in the league.

Delhi Dynamite vs Mumbai Movers

They drew their match to open the season, but both teams have made huge upgrades in the meantime. Neither are pulling out the stops in this exciting showdown which features the top three chess players in India. Two are on the Movers, Viswanathan Anand and Vidit Gujrathi, while Pentala Harikrishna plays for the Dynamite. Together Anand and Gjrathi likely give the Movers an edge.

Pentala Harikrishna, Delhi Dynamite

Pentala Harikrishna was a mid-season signing for the Dynamite.

Central Division

Stockholm Snowballs vs Ljubljana Turtles

The Snowballs narrowly defeated the Turtles earlier in the season and should again be favored. Both teams are built similarly, with three solid GMs on the top three boards and a lower-rated board four to balance the ticket. The Snowballs have just a bit more experience and rating points on their side though.

Alekseenko, Stockholm Snowballs

Alekseenko scored 4/4 for the Snowballs on board three earlier this season! Can he rack up points again?

Marseille Migraines vs Cannes Blockbusters

The Migraines routed the Blockbusters in their regular season match 10-6, but the Blockbusters are actually a two-point rating favorite this time around. The match is sure to be tight, but a key factor will be the Blockbusters' GM Valentina Gunina. An esteemed rapid player, she has yet to perform well playing outside of her time zone. If she is on form, the Blockbusters will have a strong chance.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Marseille Migraines

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is both board one for the Migraines and their team manager.

Atlantic Division

Webster Windmills vs Minnesota Blizzard

The Windmills defeated the Blizzard by the slimmest of margins in the regular season, and they once again hold a slight rating edge over the consistently overperforming Blizzard. Despite missing their board one, GM Le Quang Liem, the Blizzard have a fierce lineup of prodigious talent on boards one through three with GMs Alexander Shimanov, Ray Robson, and Illia Nyzhnyk.

Ray Robson, Webster Windmills

Robson was a member of the gold-medal U.S.A. Olympiad team. Does he have more team success in his future?

Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs Saint Louis Arch Bishops

The Pawngrabbers defeated last year's champions, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, in the regular season, surprising many. They will have to overcome the rating odds again if they want to advance to the next round of the playoffs. GM Vladimir Fedoseev's performance on board one for the Arch Bishops will be key. Time zone difficulties have lead to subpar performances. If he struggles again, the Pawngrabbers have an excellent chance, but if he is on form, Pittsburgh's road to victory will be very slim.

Awonder Liang, Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers

Can Pittsburgh's super-GM-in-the-making outperform the Arch Bishops super-GM Fedoseev?

Pacific Division

San Diego Surfers vs Australia Kangaroos

After a slow opening, the Surfers finished strong with five wins including an 8.5-7.5 victory over the Kangaroos. They are on a roll, but the Kangaroos are in fact slim rating favorites in a match that is sure to be extremely tense.

Joshua Sheng, San Diego Surfers

Sheng has been one of the many excellent performers for the Surfers on the lower boards.

Chengdu Pandas vs Dallas Destiny

The Pandas got the best of the Destiny 8.5-7.5 during the regular season and are a bringing a stacked lineup to this match. The most questionable quantity in the match is Li Zhaoyang on board four for the Pandas. He has only played one match so far, scoring 1/4, a victory over WGM Tatev Abrahamyan. If he does well despite being hundreds of points outrated, the Pandas will be in great shape.

Ju Wenjun, Chengdu Pandas

Women's world rapid champion Ju Wenjun carries another high rating for a board three.

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