Top 10 Reasons To Watch PRO Chess League Wednesday
David Letterman playing chess with Garry Kasparov by phone in 1989.

Top 10 Reasons To Watch PRO Chess League Wednesday

| 38 | Fun & Trivia

Talk show host David Letterman made the "Top 10 List" famous but now that he's retired, is bringing it back!

Why now? There will be a world top-10 player competing during every hour of tomorrow's PRO Chess League round five, so it seems a fitting time for the return of The List.

When else can you imagine at least one world elite playing for 12 hours straight? (OK, OK, there was one day last month with all top-10 players competing in the concurrent tournaments in Wijk aan Zee and Gibraltar—darn you pedantic readers!)

pro chess league map

So, without further ado, direct from the home office in Palo Alto, Calif.—"Top 10 Reasons To Watch Pro League Round 5":

10. The defending champion Saint Louis Arch Bishops are currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs. At 2-2, they've struggled much more than in the inaugural season.

fabiano caruana

Supported by a chess club with nearly unlimited funds, will they shock the world and sign a mid-season free-agent? We hear GM Garry Kasparov is still available, although they may have to change the team name to the "Saint Louis MasterClasses."

9. Forget 10 reasons, there's $10,000 reasons. Fill out the perfect fantasy bracket and league commissioner IM Greg Shahade will show up at your house with one of the those giant checks.

Check that—Shahade will be at the Eagles' Super Bowl victory parade and will just wire you the money!

8. Two players of the Candidates' Tournament and two near-qualifiers are playing. Top-10 elites GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are joined by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Hikaru Nakamura in their teams' respective lineups.

hikaru nakamura

With one month before the Candidates', Caruana's coming off an awful Tata Steel, while Mamedyarov played a brilliant one. Vachier-Lagrave and Nakamura both fell just short in both Gibraltar, and also in Candidates' qualification.

7. The top two teams in this past Super Saturday and Sunday, the Armenia Eagles and Volga Stormbringers, get the pleasure of each other's company in this Eastern Division clash. It seems last Sunday was a good day to be an Eagle, but did they also riot on the streets of Yerevan?

6. Caruana and GM Le Quang Liem are currently tied for the league lead with twin 2859 performance ratings. Both are in the lineup this week, so who will overtake the other?

And in a case of over-reporting, has Le recovered from the night he had to spend at Heathrow on the way back from Gibraltar, due to not having a U.K. visa for his overnight connection? (This reporter was on the same two flights back with him to the U.S.)

5. GM Leinier Dominguez was benched! This strong 2700 grandmaster has thus far scored less than 50 percent while playing almost every match (compare that with 1918-rated Vinesh Ravuri, who has a plus score on board four!).

Like Bill Belichik's evasiveness after benching a former Super Bowl hero, Las Vegas Desert Rats Manager Mike Zaloznyy isn't talking, either (OK this isn't an in-depth report -- we didn't even ask him!)

leinier dominguez

4. Everyone knows that getting pandas to breed is vital to their survival, so is it any coincidence that the Chengdu Pandas are going with a two-man, two-woman lineup this week?

They are thriving with three wins and a draw atop the Pacific Division. You know, survival of the fittest and all.

Ju Wenjun

3. Does chess have 50 shades of grey? Well, yes, at the bottom of the PRO League tables! 

Just take a look at the logos of the teams sitting in the relegation zone of each division. Nearly all have grey as the dominant color. Maybe it's the chess variation of seasonal affective disorder? It's certainly no weirder than your surname influencing your grades in school.

Oslo Trolls

The Oslo Trolls.

2. The league debut, and frankly, the debut, of a certain GM Viswanathan Anand for the Mumbai Movers. Countdown until's Indian community goes apoplectic that this wasn't number 1? The comments section goes berserk in 3, 2, 1...

Viswanathan Anand

1. Will this be the return of GM Magnus Carlsen's streaming career? In Super Sunday's action this past weekend, the champ logged in to buddy GM Jon Ludvig Hammer's channel and promptly siphoned a majority of viewers from the official stream!

magnus carlsen

He insisted his commentary was even better than watching the Super Bowl, and this week he won't even have that as competition. He's not even in the lineup, so unless he's preparing for his Chess960 match with GM Hikaru Nakamura, maybe he willl log in and steal the show again.

Watch all the action this Wednesday, with 13 hours of action starting at 8 a.m. Pacific and going until 9 p.m Pacific. More information on the league can be found at

Be sure to tune in Wednesday, starting at 8 a.m. Pacific, on

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