Praggnanandhaa Carries Team Carlsen To The Top
The powerful SG Alpine Warriors in full force. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Praggnanandhaa Carries Team Carlsen To The Top

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Praggnanandhaa R. was the hero on the fourth day of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 after scoring a win with black over UpGrad Mumba Masters' GM Javokhir Sindarov, securing victory for the SG Alpine Warriors and pushing them into the sole lead.

Despite conceding their first match loss to the UpGrad Mumba Masters, the GM Viswanathan Anand-led Ganges Grandmasters still sit in second place on the leaderboard with a match in hand over the first- and third-placed Warriors and Masters respectively.

The action will continue on June 26, starting at 7.30 a.m. ET/13:30 CEST.

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

The fourth day saw four matches take place—two from round four, bringing this to its completion, and two from round five. 

Round Four  

Round Five

Chingari Gulf Titans 6-11 SG Alpine Warriors

GM Magnus Carlsen's SG Alpine Warriors continued to show strong form and trounced the struggling Chingari Gulf Titans, with two important Black wins, blowing out the score between the sides.

The Carlsen-led SG Alpine Warriors are leading the event, and it's no wonder with this lineup! Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While the world number-one was unable to crack a resolute GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda on board one, teammates Praggnanandhaa and GM Elisabeth Paehtz were able to defeat their respective opponents and accommodate for the three points conceded in GM Gukesh D's inexplicable loss on time to GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in an equal position.

Praggnanandhaa's victory over countryman and fellow prodigy GM Nihal Sarin was a gripping affair. While Nihal seemed to be taking control in the middlegame, the position quickly fell apart after the flawed moves 45.f3? and 46.Bxc4?.

For Praggnanandhaa and Nihal, whose combined ages of 35 would still make them younger than several of the league's participants, the game was a preview of a rivalry that is sure to last many years.

UpGrad Mumba Masters 11-6 Ganges Grandmasters

Playing with the white pieces in their match against the UpGrad Mumba Masters, the Ganges Grandmasters looked to keep their unbeaten streak intact in round four, but the Mumba Masters came ready to fight.

With a 3/4 score after day four, Anand has not drawn a single game on board one. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

A vintage win for Anand on the white side of the Petrov's Defense: Classical: Millenium Attack against Vachier-Lagrave got the Ganges Grandmasters off to a fine start in a game that the former expressed was "very, very difficult to calculate." While the Indian legend felt that he was "suffering" in the early stages of the game, Anand said that "something changed in the chaos," and he was able to take full advantage.

With draws materializing on the boards around them, the board-one win looked as though it would prove decisive in the match. However, Vachier-Lagrave's team rallied in response and managed to score two crucial wins on boards two and five to tip the result in their favor.

Harika scored an important win in round four. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

On board two, GM Alexander Grischuk won his clash with GM Richard Rapport, quelling the Romanian representative's Trompowsky Attack and demonstrating the versatility of the bishop pair. In his trademark style, Grischuk dropped to just two minutes on the 20th move and played until move 74 while in time trouble.

GM Harika Dronavalli was the other victor for the UpGrad Mumba Masters, putting on a rook endgame masterclass and sweeping aside GM Bela Khotenashvili with the utmost precision. 

With four points accrued for each of their wins with the black pieces, the UpGrad Mumba Masters didn't just defeat the league leaders but did so convincingly. With their eyes now turning to the round-five clash with the SG Alpine Warriors, the team had momentum on their side.

SG Alpine Warriors 8-7 UpGrad Mumba Masters

The match of the day was undoubtedly the showdown between the SG Alpine Warriors and UpGrad Mumba Masters, and rightly so given that the winner of the match would assume the lead at the halfway point of the tournament. While the teams technically drew 3-3 by normal scoring methods, Praggnanandhaa's win over Sindarov with the black pieces procured his team four points for the win as opposed to Vachier-Lagrave's win with White, which was worth three points.

Early in the match, Vachier-Lagrave, who had to play two former world champions on day four, bounced back in scintillating style, dealing Carlsen his first loss of the event. The Ruy Lopez Opening: Berlin, l'Hermet, Berlin Wall Defense was the battleground for the board-one faceoff, and Vachier-Lagrave steered the game away from the usual drawish lines.

Vachier-Lagrave takes down the former world champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Ever the initiative vacuum, Carlsen was unfazed by the Frenchman's aggression and liquidated into an equal rook and pawn ending but was exposed moves later after missing a key pawn break and instead played the imprecise 34.Re6?. Vachier-Lagrave would later state that he felt that after this, it was an "impossible position to defend in time trouble."

Though Vachier-Lagrave's gallant victory over Carlsen was of huge benefit to the UpGrad Mumba Masters, his teammates were unable to score wins on the remaining boards.

The entire match came down to the game between team prodigies, Praggnanandhaa for the SG Alpine Warriors and Sindarov for the UpGrad Mumba Masters. The Indian GM proved once again that he is a big match player and claimed a key win with Black to give his team a match win by the narrowest of margins.

MVP! Praggnanandhaa has been tough to stop so far. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Our Game of the Day has been annotated by GM Rafael Leitao.

This result leaves the UpGrad Mumba Masters just outside of the top two and they will be ruing what could have been. A win over the SG Alpine Warriors would have given them frontrunner status in terms of qualifying for the playoff at the end of the event.

For Praggnanandhaa, his 4/5 score is the talking point for the SG Alpine Warriors and as the day's MVP, he will look to continue making his influence on board six.

Balan Alaskan Knights 3-15 Chingari Gulf Titans

The Global Chess League is probably the only current event in the world where teams comprised of the likes of GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi, Duda, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and Tan Zhongyi could be positioned at the bottom of the leaderboard, signaling the strength of the event.

Kosteniuk is yet another illustrious member of the Chingari Gulf Titans. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Looking for their first match win, the Chingari Gulf Titans dominated with the black pieces and posted the highest match score of the first five rounds, defeating the Knights 15-3. GMs Nepomniachtchi, Teimour Radjabov, and Nino Batsiashvili were the only players who could manage a draw for the Knights, but this did little to stop the bloodbath.

Mamedyarov made it 2/2 for the day courtesy of a win over Abdusattorov featuring a clever pawn break in the Grunfeld Defense while Nihal scored a messy win against GM Raunak Sadhwani in another all-Indian bout.

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, whose start to the event was suboptimal for one of the Gulf Titans' major drawcards, found her first win over former women's world champion Tan. Brilliant moves were on the menu for Kosteniuk who finalized the team's outstanding effort in round five.

With the Ganges Grandmasters due to face the Triveni Continental Kings to complete the fourth round, the top of the leaderboard will continue to be hotly contested by the four teams who have picked up multiple match wins.

Global Chess League Standings After Day 4

# Team Played Wins   Losses Draws Game Pts Match Pts
1 SG Alpine Warriors 5 4 1 0 42 12
2 Ganges Grandmasters 4 3 1 0 38 9
3 UpGrad Mumba Masters 5 2 2 1 37 7
4 Triveni Continental Kings 4 2 2 0 32 6
5 Chingari Gulf Titans 5 1 3 1 38 4
6 Balan Alaskan Knights  5 1 4 0 38 3

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

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