Carlsen, Caruana Perfect PRO Chess Players After Week 3
After three weeks of PRO Chess League play, there are two players (Magnus Carlsen on 8/8 and Fabiano Caruana on 4/4) and one team (Minnesota Blizzard) with a perfect score. Two players aside from Carlsen and Caruana achieved perfect scores this week: Yu Yangyi (on an amazing 11.5/12) and Kiril Alekseenko (board three for the Stockholm Snowballs).
Who played the #prochess GOTW?— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) February 1, 2018
Chirila-Holt - https://t.co/XSzaklQMf5
Liang-Nagle - https://t.co/VgkftIm4n9
Becerra-Ramirez - https://t.co/qWUi6Th3su
Van Wely-Alekseenko - https://t.co/WtDNgf1YhT @Dallas__Destiny @pghpawngrabbers @MiamiProChess @SthlmSnowballs
Who played the #prochess MOTW? @IM_Rosen's 68...Kh8! - https://t.co/fpapVmvi9w @MagnusCarlsen's 27.Nxf7! - https://t.co/RiqJIaBfgB— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) February 1, 2018
@GMGawain's 21.Bg6! - https://t.co/EVVfESBo6G @FabianoCaruana's 48.Rf5! - https://t.co/hUUCbYAuyF
Week Three Highlights: Carlsen Wins With Sass
It's impossible to talk about week three without talking about Magnus Carlsen. The world champion's perfect score was necessary to elevate his team over their international rivals: the Oslo Trolls.
Carlsen did it all, playing crazy openings, winning positional gems, and offering gorgeous sacrifices. See the match report for a fine batch of highlights. Carlsen's excellence has been necessary for the Gnomes, who have struggled on board four. Their junior player, Elham Abdrlauf, has scored only a half-point out of 12 games.
Week Three Highlights: Blizzard Best Team In The League?
Are the Minnesota Blizzard the best team in the PRO Chess League? They are the only team with a perfect score, and their win this week did not come easy. They had to triumph over the only other undefeated team, the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers.
Their balanced squad has been strongly anchored on board one by GM Andrew Tang who has significantly overperformed relative to his rating, scoring a 2650 performance rating despite sporting a league rating (September 2017 FIDE) of below 2500!
Minnesota Blizzard won with the smallest margin again 8.5 to 7.5 against @pghpawngrabbers. Thanks to Pittsburgh for the hard fought games and we are humbled to be in this position. We are aware of the challenges ahead of us and will strive to bring up our best team work again!— Minnesota Blizzard ( @mnblizzardchess) February 1, 2018
- Armenia Eagles vs Delhi Dynamite: 8.5-7.5
- Mumbai Movers vs Estonia Horses: 8-8
- Riga Magicians vs Volga Stormbringers: 8.5-7
- Norway Gnomes vs Oslo Trolls: 9-7
- Marseille Migraines vs Cannes Blockbusters: 10-6
- Ljubljana Turtles vs Reykjavik Puffins: 8.5-7.5
- Stockholm Snowballs vs Amsterdam Mosquitoes: 8-8
- Cannes Blockbuster vs London Lions: 8.5-7.5
- Saint Louis Arch Bishops vs Miami Champions: 9-7
- Minnesota Blizzard vs Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers: 8.5-7.5
- Montclair Sopranos vs Montreal Chessbrahs: 8.5-7.5
- Webster Windmills vs Buenos Aires Krakens: 9.5-7.5
- Dallas Destiny vs San Jose Hackers: 8.5-7.5
- San Diego Surfers vs Seattle Sluggers: 9.5-6.5
- Australia Kangaroos vs Las Vegas Desert Rats: 10.5-5.5
- Chengdu Pandas vs Rio Grande Ospreys: 10-6
Reports compiled by Sam Copeland, Sam Thompson, Dan Clegg, and Colin Stapczynski.
The Armenia Eagles bested the Delhi Dynamite 8.5-7.5. Who knows what might have been if not for a poorly timed pre-move by Aradhya Garg that dropped his queen on move 15. Ouch! Garg fought on valiantly but the queen spot proved a bit too much and NM Artak Manukyan cruised to victory. Manukyan had a great day, taking home 3.5 points for Armenia.
Meanwhile GM Salem Saleh recalled flashbacks of Bobby Fischer when he went with the King’s Gambit against GM Manuel Petrosyan in round two. Saleh came to fight and the two GMs treated us to a great game filled with exciting positions that typify the aggressiveness of the KGA. You’ll definitely want to browse the game below and be sure to get a look at the position after move 28.Bc2.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Armenia Eagles vs Delhi Dynamite
The Estonia Horses' two-match winning streak has ended, finally stopped today by the unbeaten Mumbai Movers. Estonia's board one, GM Onischuk, had a very bad day, only scoring 1.5/4 including a loss to Mumbai's board four, WGM Eesha Karavade, who played an excellent game.
On board two, teammate GM Jann Ehlvest made up the difference with a blazing 3.5/4. Coming into round four, Estonia led by a full point, 6.5-5.5 and Ehlvest had a chance to bring home the bacon. However, Mumbai's GM Abhimanyu Puranik was up to the task.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Estonia Horses vs Mumbai Movers
The Riga Magicians know that they’ll need a trick or two if they expect to catch the Estonia Horses in the Eastern Division. The Magicians' 13-year-old phenom GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov seemed to have cast a spell on his round-one foe IM Nikita Meskovs, who mysteriously went pawn grabbing and allowed an exchange sacrifice on move 29 (see game below). Abdusattorov went on to win the first of his 3.5 points for the Magicians, who won the match 8.5 - 7.0.
A late lineup change cost the Volga Stormbringers a half-point penalty, starting the match at a deficit, and they struggled to get on track throughout the match.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Volga Stormbringers vs Riga Magicians
World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen scored a flawless 4/4 today leading the Norway Gnomes past the Oslo Trolls 8.5-7.5. Not only was Carlsen perfect, but his total PRO Chess League score is now an astounding 8/8! Today he was never in any danger and delivered some devastating attacks.
It was apparent Carlsen was in a swashbuckling mood, opening his white games with 1. a3 (followed by 2. h4!) in round two and 1. Nc3 in round four.
@PROChessLeague) January 31, 2018
He sewed up the round-two game with a beautiful sacrifice. Can you say "Move Of The Week"!?
In round three, Carlsen continued his offbeat play and essayed the Hungarian Defense! Possibly a tip of the cap to PRO Chess League commentator IM Anna Rudolf?
In round four, Carlsen found a nice unexpected checkmate in a rook and knight endgame and sealed the deal for Norway.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Norway Gnomes vs Oslo Trolls
With some good fortune that included a forfeit win against Lions board-one GM Christian Bauer, the Marseille Migraines overcame the the London Lions in a close match in which their board three, GM Yannic Gozzoli, again scored excellently.
London continues to be the most unpredictable team in the league. Last week it got three points from board three, IM Justin Tan, and this week it got three points from board four, FM Andrew Horton! If London's players all find their form at the same time, they will be ferocious!
Here is the game between Gozzoli and Horton. Gozzoli seemed to be pressing for a long time, but was actually fortunate to escape with a draw when the game turned in Horton's favor.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | London Lions vs Marseille Migraines
The Ljubljana Turtles had thus far depended on their board one, GM Luka Lenic. In the first two weeks of the PRO Chess League, he scored a league-leading 7.5/8! This week things fell apart as he only scored 1.5/4.
Fortunately for the Turtles, their boards two and four stepped up in big ways, scoring 3.0 and 2.5 points respectively. Here's a key draw from Luka Skuhala on board four, who hung on against GM Thorhallsson who sacrificed a piece.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Reykjavik Puffins vs Ljubljana Turtles
The Amsterdam Mosquitos stopped the Stockholm Snowballs dead in their tracks, drawing even with the central division leader in an exciting 8-8 match. Amsterdam, who came into the match today as the underdog, has struggled to put a point on the board the past two weeks. But today they were up to the challenge.
The teams were tied at the match halfway point and it remained close the rest of the way. Stockholm's board-three GM Kirill Alekseenko did the (nearly) impossible and scored a perfect 4/4, which sadly only balanced out the 0/4 performance of board four. Don't miss his exciting round-two encounter with GM Loek van Wely.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Stockholm Snowballs vs Amsterdam Mosquitos
Last week the London Towers benefited from a 4/4 performance from GM Gawain Jones on board one, but this week it was GM Matthieu Cornette on board one who led his Cannes Blockbusters to victory over the Towers.
Perhaps the most important game was their Sicilian Dragon matchup in the final round. Jones literally wrote the book on the Dragon, but Cornette seemed well-prepared and won a convincing game from the white side.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | London Towers vs Cannes Blockbusters
In a match with numerous brilliant moves, it was ultimately the battle between board ones GM Fabiano Caruana and Eduardo Iturrizaga that narrowly decided things in favor of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops. Iturrizaga was in a must-win position and was pressuring his opponent when Caruana dropped a beautiful bomb on the board!
While Caruana clinched the match, it was GM Julio Becerra who put the pressure on by previously defeating GM Alejandro Ramirez in a stylish fashion.
Before that, it was GM Vladimir Fedoseev who won a thrilling game with the inspiring shot 28.Qxf2!!, a fitting conclusion to a game with many tactical turns.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Saint Louis Arch Bishops vs Miami Champions
The Minnesota Blizzard and Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers were the only two undefeated teams left in the PRO Chess League prior to this match, other undefeated teams having lost earlier in the day.
After the match, it is only the Minnesota Blizzard who have survived the difficult gamut, reaching that coveted 3-0 score. It's been a remarkable run for the Blizzard who struggled last year and needed to win the fan vote to make it into the 2018 season. America's newest GM, Andrew Tang, has been critical to their success.
Despite the Blizzard's success, we can't resist presenting a game from America's youngest GM on the opposing team. The 14-year-old GM Awonder Liang and his opponent, IM Sean Nagle, both scored a perfect 4/4 last week, but this week it was Liang who was victorious in a magnificent Tal-esque attacking game.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs Minnesota Blizzard
Two bright spots could not save the match for a Montreal Chessbrah team that suffered a horrific double catastrophe in the final round against a victorious Montclair Sopranos team. The Chessbrahs had two solid performers as GM Jorden Van Foreest scored 3.5 and Elias Oussedik notched 2/4, the best board-four score in the division. Oussedik earned a lot of fan love when he flagged GM Sergey Erenburg in a balanced position and mistook his computer desk for a dance floor.
The Sopranos had a strong lead early in the match thanks in part to GM Aleksandr Lenderman's 3.5/4. The Chessbrahs came within striking distance with the above victory, but two near simultaneous rook blunders from GM Eric Hansen and GM-elect Aman Hambleton.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Montclair Sopranos vs Montreal Chessbrahs
The Webster Windmills took down the Buenos Aires Krakens by a 9.5-5.5 score. With this win the Windmills are now sitting on 2.5/3 for the season, which puts them only a half-point behind the unblemished Minnesota Blizzard in the Atlantic Division.
The top boards for the Buenos Aires Krakens are currently in Gibraltar, and their secondary squad wasn’t up to the task of staying with the powerful Webster team. With this loss the Krakens move to 0/3 on the season. The Krakens didn’t exactly have the best luck either. In the very last game of the match, IM German Della Morte pre-moved 70.h5 in a completely winning position vs IM Eric Rosen for an almost unbelievable stalemate.
IM Danny Rensch’s reaction sums it up for all of those who were watching live.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Webster Windmills vs Buenos Aires Krakens
The Dallas Destiny defeated the San Jose Hackers by the narrow margin of 8.5-7.5. This victory moves Dallas to 2.5/3 for the season, which puts them in shared first place in the Pacific Division with the Chengdu Pandas. After suffering this defeat, the San Jose Hackers are now at 1/3.
Dallas won this narrow match on the shoulders of GM Jeffery Xiong and his 3.5/4 performance. The turning point of the match occurred in the matchup between GM Xiong and GM Izoria. After an interesting opening battle in the Benko gambit, GM Xiong appeared to be in big trouble until GM Izoria blundered with 40..Rxa3 in mutual time trouble.
The game of the match and a game-of-the-week candidate had to be GM Conrad Holt's assault against GM Cristian Chirila that harked back to a more sacrificial era in chess.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Dallas Destiny vs San Jose Surfers
Last year, the San Diego Surfers were one of the top performers in the league. This week they trotted out a classic Surfers lineup with all of their best 2017 performers to soundly defeat the Seattle Sluggers.
Solid as a rock on board one was GM Alexey Dreev who scored 3.5/4. Here's a nice game he won that demonstrated a perfect pawn breakthrough in a bishop and knight endgame.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Seattle Sluggers vs San Diego Surfers
The Australia Kangaroos, a new entrant to the PRO Chess League, found their footing this week, putting up the highest match score in week three. The Kangaroos defeated the Las Vegas Desert Rats 10.5-5.5. They got great scores on board one and board three with 3.5 points each. Here's Temur Kuybokarov's defeat of the Desert Rat's board one, Josh Friedel. The endgame appeared drawn until Friedel permitted the exchange of bishops in the final moments.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Australia Kangaroos vs Las Vegas Desert Rats
The Chengdu Pandas put together another powerful performance to defeat the Rio Grande Ospreys. Previously, they relied on their board four, Chu Ruotong, for a high score, but this week she pulled a goose egg.
In her place, the other three boards stepped forward, losing only two other games. Yu Yangyi continues to be an incredible board one for the Pandas. He currently has 11.5/12 and leads the league among players who have played all three weeks.
One humorous point the Pandas picked up was this final-round victory by their board three, Xu Xiangyu.
2018 PRO Chess League | Week 3 | Chengdu Pandas vs Rio Grande Ospreys