Riga Magicians - PRO league here we come!!
I have some exciting news to share with you - I have the honor to be a part of an extremely strong team in the PRO league, which starts on Wednesday this week (11 January) here on chess.com!
Why is this so exciting?! - well, for starters as chess.com has informed earlier, there are going to participate countless Grandmasters from all over the world (I think in the last news article they mentioned there are going to be more than 100 GMs participating!). None the less, stars like Magnus Carlsen, Fabio Caruana, MVL and others will play there as well.
Some time ago my friend GM Arturs Neiksans (here on chess.com known as arturchix) contacted me and asked if I'd like to join his team for the PRO league. While back then I didn't know anything about the tournament, I said yes, as I am always excited to take part in new chess-related and non-chess projects. Plus, the team is full of my longtime-chess friends from Riga, so that means lots of fun at the team matches!
Our team is called Riga Magicians in honor of the great World Champion Mikhail Tal, who is from Riga and has played some really magical games in his lifetime.
Who is on the team?
1) GM Igor Kovalenko - FIDE elo 2651
While until now, I haven't spent much time with Igor, I have learned that he is a true chess professional, who loves the game and is extremely hard working aiming to become one of the best players in the world. (You can read more about him here)
2) GM Arturs Neiksans - FIDE elo 2628
I have played in quite a few tournaments together with Arturs. It's always a delight to play chess with Arturs and hear his insights on different chess related topics or just simply chill and have fun while having a beer during some summer chess festival. Not only Arturs is a really strong chess player, he also devotes some his time to teaching chess, so if you want to learn from the best, don't hesitate to get in touch with Arturs. He has several students, who are currently fighting for IM and GM titles! (You can learn more about Arturs here)
3) IM Toms Kantans - FIDE elo 2491
With Toms I have a special relationship - not only he is my cousin, but exactly with him I have spent together most of my chess journey. We have traveled together to countless tournaments, seen it all and done it all! As regards of chess, while Toms already plays on a GM level, he is still missing his last GM norm to get the title. (You can find out more about Toms here)
4) IM Nikita Meskovs - FIDE elo 2476
I've had the pleasure to play quite a few tournaments together with Nikita as well. While back in the days I could put up a good fight in games we played against each other, than today Nikita pretty much outplays me most of the time (except for the times I flag him in completely lost positions here on chess.com! ) Not only Nikita plays chess really well, he also has a very entertaining blog (target towards the Russian speaking audience). (You can get to know Nikita better here)
5) IM Vadims Daskevics - FIDE elo 2441
Vadims has taught me quite a lot about chess. I still am playing a few lines that he taught me when I was around 16. We've also played in quite a few tournaments together and on top of that, we were also teammates in some of the Latvian team competitions.
6) IM Vitalijs Samolins - FIDE elo 2402
Vitalijs is just a year older than me, so we did compete in many youth competitions back in days. However, Vitalijs always has been much stronger chess player than I, so when I was a kid, I really admired his play. Today Vitalijs has stepped a little away from chess to pursue other goals in life (also known as Master's degree), nevertheless, he still is a really strong player! (More about Vitalijs here)
7) FM Arturs Bernotas - FIDE elo 2332
Arturs and I also go way back. If perhaps 8 years ago it was me who would wipe his bottom on the chess board, than now Arturs has improved his game a lot and it is me on the receiving side. While Arturs takes seriously his chess learning, he is also a fun guy to hang out with! (You can learn more about Arturs here)
8) Sergejs Klimakovs - FIDE elo 2263
Thanks to Sergejs I sort of became addicted to online chess. It was many years ago that he helped me to get a permanent player account on one of the biggest online chess platforms and I sure did spend lots of time there. (You can learn more about Sergejs here)
9) WIM Anna Kantane - FIDE elo 2248
Anna is one of the leading women chess players in Poland. I don't know how, but Toms convinced her to marry him, so now that's why she is partially also living in Riga now! While I don't know Anna for a long time, from the encounters we've had I can say she is a really fun person to be around!
10) and then it's me - FIDE elo 2199
On top of the exciting lineup of Riga Magicians there is another thing - our first match, on Wednesday (11 January) will be against Norwegian Gnomes. In their lineup they have one and only Magnus Carlsen! Let's see if the World Champion will make his appearance against Riga Magicians.
If you wish to follow our team's successes in the PRO league and see some interesting chess content in the upcoming weeks please follow us on Facebook here and you are also more than welcome to join our Fan Club here on chess.com!
See you at the tables!