A New Taste

A New Taste


A New Taste

by David Pruess, Manager

What is this new taste? So delectable, so different from any I have tasted before? A playoff victory?? The San Francisco Mechanics have won a playoff match??

Yes, it is a franchise first PCL postseason win. A match we would not even have been in without the support of fans yesterday in another franchise first: a win in a poll! The poll was to determine two third place teams to join the top 8 in the Summer Series Championships. Such a chance is not to be squandered, or slept through... though it nearly was. Read on for the tale of the awakening Mechanics.

Chapter 1: The Boy who Poked a Giant with a Bishop

One tricky logistic throughout the life of the PRO Chess League is figuring out time zones. With teams in the U.S., Australia, China, India, Russia, France, Brazil, etc. etc. it is not always easy to get together at a mutually convenient time to play a nice match of chess. Today we faced the Mumbai Movers, a playoff team from the Eastern Division, and also, the other size of the world. 8 am pacific / 8:30 pm Mumbai was the agreed upon start time-- any earlier and our team would have been in bed, and any later and theirs would have been. As it was, what we would normally call a "warm up" was really a "wake up" for SF.

Can you find how GM Diptayan Ghosh rang the first bell of the match:

The Mumbai team includes several incredible young talents, and today their lineup featured a 12 year old IM who gained 200+ fide points in one month earlier this year, International Master Aditya Mittal. In the first round he was paired with our top gun, 2018 US Champion Sam Shankland...

Yikes! This was a really scary sign for our team: either this boy was a genius who would ruin the match for us, or Sam Shankland was still half asleep-- either way, we might be in big trouble! Luckily for us, GM Naroditsky on board 2 was playing from the East Coast, and won his game, while we got a great upset of our own from 3rd board Andrew Hong-- the only west coaster who seemed fully awake from the get-go.

Chapter 2: It's really time to wake up!

Mumbai's second board, Harshit Raja is 17-18 years old, and quickly bounced back from that game with a powerful one of his own:

Shankland still had not found super-GM form, as he had to beg for a draw from IM Rakesh Kulkarni:

Mumbai took this round 2.5-1.5, and now it was looking like one more bad round for SF and the match would have slipped out of our control. On the broadcast Isaac asked if it was possible for the Mechanics to win the match if the Movers continued to score against their top board, Shankland, and my response was mathematically, yes, but realistically not really.

Chapter 3: The Sleepers Awaken

This round featured a showdown between the two players on 2-0 so far, GM Diptayan Ghosh and GM Daniel Naroditsky. Ghosh appeared to catch Danya in preparation, but anyone who follows the Mechanics knows that Danya finds incredible chances in the King's Indian Defense. Many have prepared for him, many have gained opening advantages, few have lived to tell the tale. Ghosh joined their ranks:

This was obviously huge for SF, as an in-form Danya at 3-0 again seemed intent on carrying the team for the n-th time this year. However, as it so happens, Sam and Ladia woke up at the exact same moment, and suddenly the team needed no carrying:

Andrew followed in Danya's footsteps, running into some serious preparation, but playing another excellent game:

And just like that, a 4-0 round had turned things from "yikes, this match is slipping away," to "clinched, and we don't even need round 4." Which was good, because just a few minutes into round 4, the Chess.com server broke down, and all hell broke loose. But not before Shankland put one last exclam on SF's magical performance.

Chapter 4: Take the Point and Run

Sam faced his toughest opponent of the day, but while the Mechanics were waking up, it's quite possible that the Movers were getting pretty tired.

After this, we waited an hour for the other 3 to finish their games (the final score was 11-7 in favor of the Mechanics), as the Chess.com staff raced to manually reconstruct games in multiple big events. Despite that, I can happily tell the fans that the mood of our 4 players was sky high after their fantastic team effort, and they will be ready for the Capybaras on August 30th. 

Look forward to another great match, more great streaming from Danya, and the return of our staff writer, Dana, to write up that match for you