Triveni Continental Kings Win Global Chess League, Bjerre Stars In Sudden Death
The Triveni Continental Kings won a thrilling final on Sunday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Triveni Continental Kings Win Global Chess League, Bjerre Stars In Sudden Death

| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

The Triveni Continental Kings completed their comeback story with a victory in the finals of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 that went all the way down to sudden death. The 19-year-old GM Jonas Bjerre was the hero for the Kings as he took down the UpGrad Mumba Masters' board six, GM Javokhir Sindarov, in the fourth sudden-death blitz tiebreaker.

Celebrations were comparable to a Super Bowl final after the result was confirmed, and team icon and late call-up GM Levon Aronian held the winner's trophy aloft after a high-energy presentation ceremony. The team owner of the Kings received $500,000 for claiming the championship.

How to review?
You can review the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 on our events page here. The event was being streamed on numerous TV channels, as well as on the GCL's YouTube Channel

Finals Match Round One

Finals Match Round Two

Blitz Tiebreaks

Sudden Death

The format for the day required the teams to play two six-board rapid matches, much like the regular season, where the entire team played the same color in each fixture. If the teams won one match each, two matches of 3+2 blitz followed. A full review of the day's proceedings is below.

On paper, both teams looked poised to play out a tight match with just nine points separating their team's average ratings (2601 for Triveni Continental Kings and 2610 for UpGrad Mumba Masters), but no one could have predicted that the final would need to go all the way to a fourth sudden-death game to decide a victor.

Triveni Continental Kings 9-7 UpGrad Mumba Masters

The final started with a tight struggle that the Kings won by a margin of two. Wins by Aronian over Masters' icon GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and team MVP GM Wei Yi over GM Vidit Gujrathi made up six of the nine points accrued by the Kings. Aronian was in particularly electric form against Vachier-Lagrave and even staved off a brilliant move in the Sicilian Defense: Nyezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Variation, eventually finding himself up an entire rook.

Though they lost the first match, the Masters could take solace in the fact that they had come so close to winning while playing with the black pieces on each board. On board six, they picked up four points after Sindarov took advantage of an endgame blunder by his Danish opponent. 

The rivalry between the two board sixes would soon become one of the biggest talking points of the day...

All the action occurred on board six on Sunday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

UpGrad Mumba Masters 12-3 Triveni Continental Kings

The second rapid match was a blowout as the Masters played aggressively on all boards with the white pieces. Sindarov once again got the better of Bjerre on board six while GM Harika Dronavalli claimed her first win of the day over IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh out of a wild English Opening: Neo-Catalan Defense.

Harika picked up handy points on board five throughout the day. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

True to his style, GM Alexander Grischuk left it to the last second to put away GM Yu Yangyi, doing so in style with a puzzle-worthy brilliancy on move 39.

Although the UpGrad Mumba Masters were able to win by a sizeable margin, all that mattered were match points. After finishing his own game in a tame draw, Aronian spent the remainder of the round nervously awaiting blitz tiebreaks.

Blitz Tiebreaks

With momentum sitting firmly with the UpGrad Mumba Masters, all the pressure was on the Triveni Continental Kings which had the white pieces in the first 3+2 match, but matters went from bad to worse for the down-and-out team.

On the top boards, the Kings found some success with Aronian playing solidly to draw with Vachier-Lagrave while on board two, Yu got his revenge against Grischuk in a near-perfect game. The result was in vain, though, as the Masters had begun cleaning up on the lower boards. 

Mixed results for Grischuk on finals day. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Sindarov again displayed dominance over Bjerre and made it 3-0 against the Kings' board six, this time going one step further and clawing back from a worse middlegame. On the board next to them, Harika again toppled Khademalsharieh with 99-percent accuracy according to's Game Review.

The one game that stood out, though, was Wei-Vidit, which was won by the latter. If the Kings have come to realize one detail, it's that if Wei is losing, the team is in trouble. Vidit was all class when it came to punishing the dubious 16.c4??, a pawn break that lost the exchange.

With a 5-14 score in favor of the Masters, it started to look like the Kings would struggle to put up a fight in the second blitz tiebreak. However, just like in the regular season, the Global Chess League had a few twists and turns left yet.

The second blitz match was dominated again by the team playing with the black pieces, and the Kings were able to come back from the edge of defeat to take the finals into sudden death.

The majority of the Kings' points in the second blitz match came from a trio of wins on boards two, three, and four. Chinese GMs Wei and Yu as well as GM Kateryna Lagno led their team to victory.

On boards one and six, Vachier-Lagrave and Sindarov won their respective games, but as they were playing white, they managed to add just six points to their team's tally.

Sudden Death

With the teams having tied in each finals segment, it all came down to sudden death. Tension brewed in the playing hall as lots were drawn to decide which players would play blitz to decide the fate of the Global Chess League.

The first players drawn were Khademalsharieh and Harika, the latter of whom had defeated her opponent by a score of 3-1 in the earlier rounds. However, the Iranian IM held her own when it mattered most, working her way toward a completely drawn rook and bishop endgame.

The only IM left in the event, Khademalsharieh, held her own against Harika. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk and Yu were the next players drawn. With a 1.5-2.5 between them earlier in the day and just one draw, it was anyone's guess who would succeed. The Chinese GM held a slight edge for much of the game, but Grischuk was able to prove that he is a wizard with less than 10 seconds on the clock, forcing Yu to take a threefold repetition after a flurry of moves.

The UpGrad Mumba Masters came within a whisker of claiming the crown in the third sudden-death game between Lagno and GM Humpy Koneru, but time trouble and immense pressure saved the day for Lagno and the Kings.

A close shave for Lagno and the Kings transpired in the third sudden-death game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Now running out of potential pairings, the one which the Kings dreaded the most became reality. Bjerre, who had been defeated in all four games against Sindarov on Sunday, had been drawn to play Black against the Uzbek superstar.

Sindarov played in much the same fashion he had earlier in the day against Bjerre, slowly building an advantage and poking and prodding with his ominous bishop pair. Not wanting to let his team down, Bjerre defended like a lion with Black and not only liquidated into a drawn ending but sapped Sindarov's clock to below 10 seconds. With his entire team behind him watching in anticipation, Bjerre kept checking the white king, forcing Sindarov to come up with a new plan.

Ever-probing, Sindarov wanted to be the player to get his team over the line. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Smelling blood in the water, the favorite pushed his king to a3, sheltered by his own pawns, and looked to be making some progress but with six seconds on the clock, he spectacularly blundered checkmate in one! 

Shock dawned on Bjerre's face as he realized that he had just won the Global Chess League for the Kings, and heartbreak on Sindarov's juxtaposed the room. 

A magical moment. Bjerre confirms victory for the Kings. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The $500,000 blitz game, which is our Game of the Day, is annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Following the win, the teams mutually celebrated the success of the event, and Aronian accepted the inaugural Tech Mahindra Global Chess League trophy on behalf of the Triveni Continental Kings.

The Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 consisted of a preliminary group stage and a final contested by the top two teams. In each match, members of the same team played with the same color. All games were in the 15+10 time control.

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