Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers Fall to St. Louis Archbishops in Playoff

Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers Fall to St. Louis Archbishops in Playoff

Mar 13, 2018, 8:39 PM |

Pittsburgh's 2018 PRO Chess League season came to an end with a disappointing 6-10 loss to the St. Louis Archbishops. The team can be proud of all they have accomplished this season, but for now they bid farewell to the league.

Underdog FM Edward Song continued to shine, even against the Archbishops' so-called "GGGg" lineup (GMs Fedoseev, Akobian, Zherebukh, and NM Forest Chen). Again, as the lowest-rated player on the team by 84 points, he scored 3/4. Unfortunately, the team's chances took a hit with GM Alexander Shabalov's 0/4 performance, and 1.5/4 scores by GM Awonder Liang and IM Atulya Shetty were not enough to make up the difference.

The Archbishops took an early 3-1 lead, in part due to NM Forest Chen's upset of GM Shabalov:


Meanwhile, 2731-rated GM Vladimir Fedoseev managed to avoid a similar upset when FM Song fell into time pressure. Can you find the missed win for White at the end?

The Pawngrabbers managed to score 2-2 in each of the 2nd and 3rd rounds, however finding themselves needing a big win in the last quarter. Key to holding those two rounds was FM Song's big win over GM Varuzhan Akobian:


Nevertheless, the St. Louis team held their edge with a 3-1 victory in the last round, including a tenacious grind by GM Akobian over GM Liang.


Congratulations to the Archbishops on a well-played match. They, of course, will continue on to the next round of the 2018 PRO Chess League final playoffs. The Pawngrabbers, having finished 7-2, will walk away having played a great season in many ways. Isaac has brought this up a few times, but it bears repeating: it's been an exciting transformation for a team that lost its first four matches last season!

Isaac, as well as FM Gabriel Petesch, were live throughout the match with our most popular weekly stream. You can view the replay here. Thanks to Gabe and everyone who's helped with commentary and promoting our team this season!

We will be back later this week with a true "season recap," but for now I'd like to extend a few shoutouts to our teammates, starting with, of course, manager Isaac Steincamp. The transformation of our team over the last year, is in very large part, due to his tireless work behind (and not-so-behind) the scenes on several fronts. Aside from that, I applaud his perseverence through several hours of weekly commentary in addition to all his other work happy.png.

As for our players, a few I'd like to mention in particular:

  • GM Alexander Shabalov, Pittsburgh's most well-known player and a big supporter of the team since its beginning, and as most people know, an exciting player in his own right;
  • GM Awonder Liang, one of the best performers in the league;
  • IM Minh Le, who gave us a much-needed boost late in the season, and played from his native Vietnam at all odd hours you can think of, to do it;
  • FM Edward Song, one of many excellent players we were fortunate to recruit from the surrounding region, and who has massively outperformed his rating and position.

Thanks to Isaac, our commentators and sponsors, and our players for all you've helped us to accomplish this season. Until next year!


-Beilin Li