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Road To The PCL Finals: Canada Chessbrahs

Road To The PCL Finals: Canada Chessbrahs

PeterDoggers
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The PRO Chess League finals are a week away and so it's high time to take a closer look at the four teams that will be fighting for the title. Today: the Canada Chessbrahs.

The PRO Chess League finals, the culmination of the fourth season of the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League in 2020, will take place on September 25-27 in Chess.com/Live with commentary on Chess.com/TV.

The four teams that qualified for the finals are the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, the China Pandas, the Armenia Eagles, and the Canada Chessbrahs.

For the semifinals on Friday, Sept. 25, the Eagles face the Chessbrahs while the Arch Bishops play the Pandas. The two losing teams will then face each other on Saturday, Sept. 26, for their fight for third place, while the big final is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27.

A week before the start of the games, the line-ups of all four teams have been released. All four are star-studded teams:

Lineups PRO Chess League Finals

# Logo Fed Saint Louis Arch Bishops Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Fabiano Caruana 2773 19 28 2768
2 Leinier Dominguez 2786 20 32 2713
3 Wesley So 2741 24 32 2825
4 Jeffery Xiong 2730 7 12 2658
# Logo Fed China Pandas Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Ding Liren 2826 6 8 2733
2 Yu Yangyi 2738 8 12 2747
3 Wei Yi 2752 24.5 36 2769
4 Li Chao 2645 11 19 2671
# Logo Fed Armenia Eagles Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Parham Maghsoodloo 2532 7 12 2687
2 Haik Martirosyan 2278 17 24 2766
3 Tigran Petrosian 2637 7.5 16 2618
4 Raunak Sadhwani 2454 5.5 8 2798
# Logo Fed Canada Chessbrahs Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Alexander Grischuk 2784 26 36 2772
2 Anish Giri 2731 9 12 2841
3 Ivan Saric 2650 10 23 2583
4 Aryan Tari 2519 7.5 8 2848

Canada Chessbrahs

We'll be providing a closer look at all four teams and their roads to the finals. In this article, the focus is on the Canada Chessbrahs.

The most active players for the Brahs have been GM Alexander Grischuk with 36 games (with 26 points also the MVP), GM Eric Hansen with 32 games (he scored 17.5 points), and Hansen's last-minute replacement, GM Ivan Saric with 23 games (10 points). GM Alireza Firouzja (14/20, TPR 2807) was not chosen for unknown reasons.

GM Evgeny Bareev and IM Nikolay Noritsyn also played for the Brahs but won't be active in the finals. GMs Aman Hambleton and Robin van Kampen were listed as well before the start of the season but did not make appearances.

Canada Chessbrahs players
The list of Chessbrahs players

In the regular season, the Chessbrahs scored seven wins. They tied 8-8 with the New York Marshalls and lost only one match, to the big favorites for the title, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops.

Season results for the Canada Chessbrahs in the Western Division.
Season results for the Canada Chessbrahs in the Western Division.

With their 14-2 victory over the Argentina Krakens in week two, the Brahs impressed from an early stage. By that point, the team had the highest overall performance rating in the league, at 2750. Grischuk led his team to this big victory as he scored 4/4 on board one.

Alexander Grischuk PRO Chess League
After four straight wins, the Chessbrahs had to bow for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops: 6-10. The winners came up with a team consisting of four 2700+ players, including world number-two GM Fabiano Caruana. He had an impressive attacking win over Saric. Early in this game, he was down four pawns.

Watch commentators IM Danny Rensch and IM Anna Rudolf give the call when Caruana finds the crushing 39.Rxg5:

Finishing second in the Western Division behind the Arch Bishops, the Brahs started their playoffs with an 11.5-4.5 win against Sweden Wasabis. In the quarterfinals, Chicago Wind was beaten in a closer match: 9.5-6.5.

The Man of the Match was playing team captain Hansen, who scored a superb 3.5/4 in this match. Here's his crushing win against GM Illia Nyzhnyk.

Whatever happens. the 2020 season is the best season so far for the Chessbrahs, who never made it to the finals and only reached the playoffs once before, in 2017. Their semifinal will be against the Armenia Eagles, whom they never played before.

With the world number-six (Grischuk) and world number-10 in classical chess (Anish Giri) in their line-up, the Brahs come to the finals strongly on the top boards while boards three and four are full of experience. Both Saric and Tari played three earlier seasons in the league, the latter for the Norway Gnomes in 2018 and 2019.

The PRO Chess League finals will take place on September 25-27 on Chess.com. Like in the regular season, time control for all games will be 10 minutes plus a two-second increment. Every player on one team will play every player on the other team for a total of 16 games. The four finalists will be competing for a $40,000 prize fund with $20,000 going to the winner. All matches will be streamed live with expert commentary on Chess.com/TV.


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