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Gotham Knights Beat Shanghai Tigers To Win 2023 Title, Yogis Finish 3rd

Gotham Knights Beat Shanghai Tigers To Win 2023 Title, Yogis Finish 3rd

VSaravanan
| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

The Gotham Knights overcame the Shanghai Tigers with a dominating score of 9.5-6.5 in the Finals to emerge as the champions of the 2023 Pro Chess League. The Knights won the top prize of $25,000 while the Tigers settled for $20,000.

GM Vladimir Fedoseev sizzled the opposition with a 4/4 score and was also selected as the MVP ("Most Valuable Player") of the season to pocket a prize money of $5,000. GM Hikaru Nakamura suffered his only loss in the knockout stage of the league against GM Wei Yi in the final round. He nevertheless finished with an impressive 3/4 score.

In an all-Indian match-up, the Indian Yogis comprehensively beat Team MGD1 with a 10.5-5.5 score to capture third place. For the Yogis, GM Nihal Sarin scored an impressive 3.5/4, while GM Vidit Gujrathi and GM M Pranesh both scored 3/4 enabling their team to post a big score.

The Yogis won $15,000 while MGD1 settled for $10,000.

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Live broadcast of the match, hosted by IM Tania Sachdev and FM James Canty III / IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess.

Gotham Knights 9.5 - Shanghai Tigers 6.5

The Knights defeated the Tigers with a margin of 2.5-1.5 in the first round, 3-1 in the second round, and drew the final two rounds 2-2 to achieve the victory. When the Knights led with a score of 5.5-2.5 after the second round, it was a foregone conclusion that they were the favorites to win the title, with the quality of the players on the team effectively ruling out any disasters in the further rounds.

Nakamura continued to stream from the Kick platform even though it was the all-important finals, discussing his positions with the followers of the stream, with music such as Selena Gomez & The Scene's "Love You Like a Love Song" playing in the background.

As Rensch observed in commentary, it was not from his usual streaming setup but a different remote location, and Nakamura even admitted on stream that he was sitting on a suitcase all the time playing the finals. Later he even added a pillow over the suitcase as suggested by the spectators when he admitted to feeling uncomfortable with his sitting arrangement after the third round.

However, all such inconveniences never seemed to bother him, as Nakamura briskly produced three wins in the first three rounds and thus proved to be an important asset for his team. All of Nakamura's wins were typically long grinding affairs where he slowly outplayed his opponents producing a steady stream of consistent play probing the opponents' resistance, often stretching into the endgame. A case in point was his patient and persistent endgame technique against GM Xu Yi in the second round:

When Nakamura suffered a rare defeat in the fourth round against Wei, Hess observed, "He did well throughout the year.... He lost the first game of the year against [WGM] Josefine Heinemann, and he lost the last game of the year. But in between he was sensational!"

Another brilliant performance for the Knights came from Fedoseev, who won all four games of the day to help his team smoothly win the title. His most impressive effort was in the final round against Women's World Champion GM Ju Wenjun, which is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov below. 

Fedoseev was modest and generous in the post-game chat with Rensch and Hess, praising his teammates, especially Nakamura whom he called "the weapon which (can) destroy opponents by just being on the team!"

WIM Alua Nurmanova of Kazakhstan is a curious presence on the Knights team. With an Elo rating of 2118 in classical chess, she is far below the other members of her illustrious team in rating strength. She hadn't scored a win in the PCL for her team until the finals, only to produce her best result in the second round of the finals against Ju:

This effort from Nurmanova received high praise from the commentators:
All games | Finals

Results | Finals

 

Indian Yogis 10.5 - 5.5 Team MGD1

Indian Yogis won big with an identical margin of 3-1 score in the first, third, and fourth rounds, even while losing the second round by a 1.5-2.5 margin, to post a commanding final score of 10.5-5.5 to achieve third place.

This was actually the first match of the day, which was an all-Indian fight, with the curious subtext of two teams of players who should know each other much better than others in the league. The Yogis have been consistently changing their team lineup throughout the event, and they once again made two changes from their semifinals team, bringing back Nihal and Vidit for the playoff for the third and fourth places.

The commentators were impressed by Nihal's play throughout the day. Canty dubbed him as a "lesser version of Nakamura," whereas Sachdev praised his blitz prowess: "His best chess is played when there are 10 seconds on the clock. Anything more than that is a classical game for Nihal!"

Nihal himself has proclaimed having a liking for "playing simple positions, making quick moves here and there." Such a demonstration of play came in his game against GM Diptayan Ghosh, where Nihal showed excellent endgame technique:

It was once again "Vidit 2.0" who turned up to play, enjoying tactical positions and dynamism. Vidit's play was at its best when he defeated another heavyweight, GM Arjun Erigaisi:

Understandably, Vidit's play won him lots of praise from all around:

Once again, young Pranesh continued to impress, especially in the following game when he beat his strong opponent in a surprisingly one-sided game:

 

All Games | Playoff for 3rd-4th places

Results | Playoff for 3 - 4 placings

 Final Standings:


 MVP Winners

After the finals, a jury consisting of Hess, IM Kassa Korley, WIM Ayelen Martinez, and FM Anna-Maja Kazarian voted to elect the three best "Most Valuable Players" of PCL 2023 with these results:

The Pro Chess League (PCL) is the number-one online global chess league for teams from all over the world. The Playoffs featured eight teams playing rapid games for their piece of the $150,000 prize fund.

Eight teams competed in a single-elimination knockout. The time control was 10+2. The first team to score 8.5 points won the match.


Previous coverage:

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