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Road To The PCL Finals: Saint Louis Arch Bishops

Road To The PCL Finals: Saint Louis Arch Bishops

PeterDoggers
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The PRO Chess League finals start on Friday, so it's high time to take a closer look at the four teams that will be fighting for the title. Today, in our final preview: the Saint Louis Arch Bishops.

The PRO Chess League finals will take place on September 25-27 on Chess.com/Live with commentary on Chess.com/TV. Below are the four teams and their lineups.

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

Saint Louis Arch Bishops

We are providing a closer look at all four teams and their roads to the finals. In this final article, the focus is on the Saint Louis Arch Bishops.

The preseason line-up for the Arch Bishops included 14 players but only half of them actually played. The most active were GMs Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez with 32 games followed by GM Fabiano Caruana with 28 games. Of these three, So was the MVP this season with 24.5 points and a 2826 performance rating.

GM Jeffery Xiong completes the powerhouse quartet from St. Louis. Although he only played 12 games for the team so far, his online experience on Chess.com in 2020 is tremendous.

Xiong's participation in the recent Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz was a true gift for him. He tends to play the Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix each week and he is currently also involved in the Junior Speed Chess Championship where he beat GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov the other day.

The list of players for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops this season.
The list of players for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops this season.

With Caruana, Dominguez, and So available in so many matches, it's no surprise that the Arch Bishops won all their matches before the playoffs—just like the Armenia Eagles.

St. Louis won the Western Division with 147 board points, 22.5 more than runner-up Canada Chessbrahs who also made it to the finals.

Season results for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in the Eastern Division.
Season results for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in the Eastern Division.

The team that got closest to beating the Arch Bishops was Chicago Wind, who eventually went down with the smallest possible margin in week three. Caruana won a nice game in the fourth round of this match against GM Ray Robson

As the winner of the Western Division, the Bishops could sit out the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, they defeated the India Yogis 9.5-6.5 with the same lineup that we will see in the finals.

Halfway through the match, the score was 4-4, which was half a point too much for the Yogis. Dominguez was the one playing for a win when he suddenly lost on time against GM S.L. Narayanan:

The Cuban-American GM, who happens to be celebrating his 37th birthday today, recovered by defeating India's top board GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (as well as GM Pentala Harikrishna in the final round).

Leinier Dominguez Pro Chess League

The Saint Louis Arch Bishops are the only team that has won the PRO Chess League title twice. They have reached the playoffs in all three seasons and ended up winning the title in 2017 (vs. the Norway Gnomes) and 2019 (vs. the Baden-Baden Snowballs).

As the only team with four 2700-players (rapid ratings), the Bishops won't be satisfied with anything other than a third title. In terms of ratings, they'll face their biggest rival in the semi-finals: the China Pandas, led by GM Ding Liren on board one. These teams have never played each other before.


Of all 16 players who will play in the coming weekend, Caruana has the best stats. He played the most games in the PCL of all (121) over the last four years, followed by So (82) and Xiong (77). Caruana also has the best four-year performance in percentage: 77% with a score of 93/121.

And of the 16 finalists, it was also Caruana with the best single performance rating in one season: 2872 in 2018, from scoring 24.5/28.

Fabiano Caruana PRO chess league

The other semifinal is played between the Armenia Eagles and the Canada Chessbrahs. The two losing teams will then face each other on Saturday, Sept. 26, for a fight for third place, while the big final is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27.

Like in the regular season, time control for all games will be 10 minutes plus a two-second increment. Every player on a 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.


See also:

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