Caruana, So Lead Arch Bishops In PRO Chess Week 1
Are the Arch Bishops early favorites to repeat as PRO Chess League Champions?

Caruana, So Lead Arch Bishops In PRO Chess Week 1

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The 2019 season of the PRO Chess League started strong with thrilling, competitive matchups and zero drawn matches. Only two teams, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops and the Montreal Chessbrahs, scored more than 10 points. Additionally, this year's new qualifiers made big splashes, scoring 4-2 in their 2019 debuts.

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Saint Louis Arch Bishops And Montreal Chessbrahs Win In Gaudy Fashion

In 2017, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops and the Montreal Chessbrahs contested one of the most exciting overtime playoff matches that the PRO Chess League has ever seen. At that time, Fabiano Caruana played for the Montreal Chessbrahs in a tense match ultimately won by the Arch Bishops, led by Wesley So. The Arch Bishops then went on to win the 2017 Pro Chess League Championship title.

Times gone by. | Fabiano Caruana playing in 2017 for the Montreal Chessbrahs.

In the next year, the Arch Bishops stole Caruana away from the Chessbrahs and returned to the championship weekend, finishing third on the season. The Chessbrahs' fortunes were thoroughly reversed as they were relegated, an emotional blow for their fans.

This year, the two teams both appear to be in top form after week one, as they shared the record for best score in the week at 10.5/16.

The Arch Bishops fielded the most top-heavy lineup yet seen in the PRO Chess League with Caruana and So on boards one and two. They balanced these with Hans Niemann and Nicholas Rosenthal on boards three and four. Both players seem capable of punching above their rating class. Niemann even defeated the Lions' board two, Sergei Movsesian, this week.

PRO Chess League, Wesley SoWesley So and Fabiano Caruana have joined forces this year.

The Chessbrahs took a different tack with "balanced" top three boards in GMs Ivan Saric, Robin Van Kampen and Eric Hansen. Saric and Hansen were in tremendous form this week, scoring 4/4 and 3.5/4 respectively. Solid results from Van Kampen and their 1800-rated board Brandon Eshleman were more than enough to secure victory. Will the Arch Bishops and Chessbrahs continue in this dominant fashion and perhaps contest another thrilling playoff battle? Only time will tell!

Qualifiers Impressive In Debut

Eight teams qualified for the 2019 PRO Chess League season. Two were re-entering the league after being relegated: The San Francisco Mechanics and the Montreal Chessbrahs. Six were brand-new PRO Chess League teams. Four of these (New York Marshalls, Moscow Wizards, Tbilisi Gentlemen, and Barcelona Raptors) won their first matches.

Such debuts really impress in a league that is known for being highly competitive. Perhaps the most impressive of these teams was the Barcelona Raptors, who won their match with last year's championship weekend contenders, the Ljubljana Turtles. They clinched victory with a round to spare, ultimately equaling the Chessbrahs' mark of 4/4 on board one (GM Hipolito Asis Gargatagli) and 3.5/4 on board three (Alejandro Alvarado Diaz). The Barcelona Raptors displayed a lot of spirit on social media and purport to offer something to all fans with their logo: architecture for those with refined sensibilities and dinosaurs for the child in all of us.

PRO Chess League, Barcelona Raptors

The PRO Chess League enthusiastically welcomes these new challengers!

Just learning about the PRO Chess League? Visit the site and check out the official information article.

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Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So Cheerlead Arch Bishops To Victory

With Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So on boards one and two, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops need only solid production on boards three and four to win their matches. They got more than that this week as both Hans Niemann and Nicholas Rosenthal scored 2/4. Niemann even upset the Lions' board one.

The Lions can be happy with their nine-year-old board four, Shreyas Royal, who scored a point in his opener.

In addition to playing well, Caruana and So were active in chat, supporting their team. IM Daniel Rensch observed that they were both great team leaders and team cheerleaders. Twitter user clawell69 provided photographic support for this disconcerting visual.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Saint Louis Arch Bishops vs. London Lions

Lions Arch Bishops Fabiano Caruana Wesley So Hans Niemann Nicholas Rosenthal 10.5
Romain Edouard 2.5
Sergei Movsesian 2
Justin Tan 0
Shreyas Royal 1
5.5 3.5 3 2 2

Marshalls Debut With Crosstown Win

The New York Marshalls came out ahead in a tight match against their crosstown rivals, the Montclair Sopranos. Both teams demonstrated depth in their lineup, with good scores on their lower boards. In fact, the Sopranos got their best score on board four from Carissa Yip.

PRO Chess League, Carissa Yip

However, the Sopranos were not able to score on board one as GM Alex Lenderman, a star in 2018, was only able to score 1.5.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | New York Marshalls vs. Montclair Sopranos

Sopranos Marshalls Anton Demchenko Sergei Azarov Khamrakulov Djurabek Grant Xu 9
Aleksandr Lenderman 1.5
Firouzja Alireza 2
Oliver Barbosa 1.5
Carissa Yip 2
7 2.5 3 2.5 1

Webster Windmills Blow Away Miami Champions

Both the Webster Windmills and the Miami Champions got their best scores on board two. Unfortunately for the Champions, the Windmills Nyzhnyk scored the first 4/4, outscoring Iturrizaga by a point. Here's his exciting victory against his counterpart.

The Champions also suffered on board one as SP Sethuraman only scored one point. He both suffered from a poor internet connection and an odd hour as it was quite early in the morning in India while he was playing. He lost one critical games against the Windmills' board four on time

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Webster Windmills vs. Miami Champions

Champions Windmills Le Quang Liem Illia Nyzhnyk Aleksandr Shimanov Joshua Grabinsky 9.5
S P Sethuraman 1
Eduardo Iturrizaga 3
Alexander Katz 1.5
Yan Miellier 1
6.5 2.5 4 2 1

Montreal Chessbrahs Get Vengeance Against Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers

The Montreal Chessbrahs are back with a vengeance! After getting relegated last year, they re-qualified and defeated the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers with a round to spare. Ivan Saric scored big on board one, getting the second perfect score in the division, but perhaps even more exciting for Chessbrah fans was the 3.5/4 that Hansen scored on board three. Seeing the original "brah" in great form must inspire their supporters.

Here is Hansen's exciting win against GM Alexander Shabalov.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs. Montreal Chessbrahs

Chessbrahs Pawngrabbers Awonder Liang Alexander Shabalov Levan Bregadze Atulya Shetty 5.5
Ivan Saric 4
Robin van Kampen 2.5
Eric Hansen 3.5
Brandon Eshleman 0.5
10.5 1.5 2 1 1

America's Newest IM Leads Hackers To Victory

The decisive factor for the San Jose Hackers came in the form of 12-year-old Christopher Yoo. America's newest IM won his first three games before faltering in the final round.

PRO Chess League, Christopher Yoo

Perhaps his most impressive win was his victory against Daniel Naroditsky, but his win against Yannick Gozzoli was even more fun.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | San Francisco Mechanics vs. San Jose Hackers

Hackers Mechanics Daniel Naroditsky Yannick Gozzoli Vinay Bhat Ezra Chambers 7.5
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 3
Zviad Izoria 2
Christopher Woojin Yoo 3
Ivan Ke 0.5
8.5 2 2 2.5 1

Nakamura's Sluggers Find Winning Lineup

GM Hikaru Nakamura has played each season in the PRO Chess League, but he's never seemed to have quite strong enough teammates around him for his team to make a playoff run.

This year, things look great for the Sluggers as they got great scores on boards two and three. Even a zero on board four did not slow them. Here is Nakamura's opening win.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Seattle Sluggers vs. San Diego Surfers

Surfers Sluggers Hikaru Nakamura Victor Mikhalevski Giorgi Margvelashvili Naomi Bashkansky 9
Alexey Dreev 2.5
Michael Brown 2
Craig Hilby 1.5
Keaton Kiewra 1
7 3.5 3.5 2 0

Mature Australia Kangaroos Defeat Dallas Destiny

The Australia Kangaroos surprised many in 2018 with strong play from two juniors on boards one and two. A year later, Sarana and Smirnov are much better known, and we can no longer be as surprised by their impressive performances.

The best performance this week came from GM Alexey Sarana, who scored 3.5/4, only conceding a draw in this game against GM Zhou Jianchao.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Australia Kangaroos vs. Dallas Destiny

Destiny Kangaroos Aleksey Sarana Anton Smirnov Temur Kuybokarov Laurence Matheson 8.5
Zhou Jianchao 3
Conrad Holt 2
Zurab Javakhadze 2
Zhu Jiner 0.5
7.5 3.5 2.5 2 0.5

Ding Liren Good At Chess; Chengdu Defeats Minnesota

Ding. Liren. The world number-four made a big splash in his debut in week one of the PRO Chess League. Ding scored a perfect 4/4 as his team overcame fierce resistance from the Minnesota Blizzard. Here is his final win against GM Fidel Corrales.

IM John Bartholomew was honored to play against Ding Liren and annotated his loss on YouTube.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Chengdu Pandas vs. Minnesota Blizzard

Blizzard Pandas Ding Liren Wang Yue Zhao Jun Zhang Di 9.5
Fidel Corrales 2.5
Mauricio Flores 1
Andrew Tang 2
John Bartholomew 1
6.5 4 2.5 3 0

Armenia Eagles Bring Board 4 Magic To Defeat Volga Stormbringers

For most of the match, the Armenia Eagles were slightly behind to the Volga Stormbringers, but they turned things around in the final two rounds.

As was often the case last year, the key points came on board four where Artak Manukyan again outperformed his rating for the Armenia Eagles. His third-round shot ...Qxg3+!! beautifully reversed a near-lost position, and eventually he even scored the full point.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Volga Stormbringers vs. Armenia Eagles

Eagles Stormbringers Dmitry Andreikin Nodirbek Abdusattorov Mikhail Gorozhanin Vitaly Rodchenkov 7
Zaven Andriasian 2
Haik Martirosyan 2.5
Shant Sargsyan 2
Artak Manukyan 2.5
9 1.5 3 0 2.5

Dobrov and Wizards Win Moscow Battle

GM Vladimir Dobrov was a star for the Moscow Wizards. He scored a perfect 4/4 and carried his team to victory with a round to spare against their crosstown rivals, the Moscow Phoenix. Dobrov demonstrated particularly good defensive skills in his games. Don't miss this game where he forks White's pieces with ...f6, but picks his moment to cash in.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Moscow Wizards vs. Moscow Phoenix

Phoenix Wizards Boris Savchenko Vlad Dobrov Mikhail Lushenkov Oleg Vastrukhin 9.5
Pavel Ponkratov 2
Dmitry Kryakvin 2
Mikhail Demidov 1.5
Vladimir Mikhailovsky 1
6.5 1.5 4 1.5 2.5

Adhiban, Sadhwani Star For Triumphant Mumbai Movers

Baskaran Adhiban got the second perfect score of the day, scoring 4/4 for the Mumbai Movers against the Estonia Horses. Also impressive was young Raunak Sadhwani who put together 3/4 on board three. Here's one of Adhiban's fine wins. The move 19.Nd6! presaged an even prettier 18.Nd6!! seen later in the day from Steven Berger for the Berlin Bears.

Never a subtle Twitter personality, Adhiban shared his joy with his many fans:

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Estonia Horses vs. Mumbai Movers

Movers Horses Jaan Ehlvest Ottomar Ladva Meelis Kanep Sander Kukk 6.5
Adhiban Baskaran 4
Abhimanyu Puranik 1.5
Raunak Sadhwani 3
Soumya Swaminathan 1
9.5 2.5 1.5 2.5 0

Tbilisi Gentlemen Best Dynamite In Debut

The Tbilisi Gentlemen had a great season debut, getting a fantastic 3.5/4 from GM Giga Quparadze on board three and defeating the strong Delhi Dynamite. However, there was a notable asterisk to their victory as their only point on board two came as GM Davit Jojua benefited from a shocking mouseslip from GM Nihal Sarin. Sarin otherwise played well in his first time playing board one for the Dynamite. Previously he had on the bottom boards, but his rating has been rising in recent years.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Tbilisi Gentlemen vs. Delhi Dynamite

Dynamite Gentlemen Baadur Jobava Davit Jojua Giga Quparadze Nika Volkov 9
Nihal Sarin 2
Priyadharshan Kannappan 2
Sahaj Grover 1.5
Tania Sachdev 1.5
7 3 1 3.5 1.5

Spoelman Takes Another Super-GM Scalp

It's not entirely fair to say that any match ever comes down to one game, but sometimes it feels that way. Wouter Spoelman was the hero for the Amsterdam Mosquitoes as he defeated French number-one Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in an exciting final-round game. Spoelman previously made waves last year when he bested Magnus Carlsen.

You can catch Vachier-Lagrave's own perspective on the game on his new Twitch channel. For the first time, Vachier-Lagrave streamed the Marseille Migraines' matches.

Watch MVL and the Marseille Migranes #prochess from mvlchess on

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Marseille Migraines vs. Amsterdam Mosquitoes

Migraines Mosquitoes Wouter Spoelman David Klein Quinten Ducarmon Liam Vrolijk 9
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 3
Etienne Bacrot 3
Alban Delorme 1
Alexandre Bacrot 0
7 4 2 1 2

Snowballs Put Bears Into Hibernation

What a match! The Baden-Baden Snowballs started disastrously against their German counterparts as they lost 0.5-3.5 against the Berlin Bears. A critical first-round game was this beauty from FM Steve Berger against GM Kirill Alekseenko.

Fortunately for Alekseenko, he redeemed himself in an amazing final round as the Snowballs put the Bears into hibernation with a 3.5-0.5 victory of their own!

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Berlin Bears vs. Baden-Baden Snowballs

Bears Snowballs Georg Meier Kirill Alekseenko Dmitrij Kollars Inna Agrest 8.5
Niclas Huschenbeth 1.5
Leon Mons 2.5
Steve Berger 2
Raphael Lagunow 1.5
7.5 2.5 2 3 1

Brand-New Raptors Best Last Year's Divisional Champions

In an impressive PRO Chess League debut, the Barcelona Raptors scored 4/4 and 3.5/4 on boards one and three respectively as they overcame last year's divisional champions, the Ljubljana Turtles. In fact, they secured victory with a round to spare. This win from IM Alejandro Alvarado Diaz made a particularly striking impression.

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Ljubljana Turtles vs. Barcelona Raptors

Turtles Raptors Hipolito Asis Gargatagli Carles Diaz Camallonga Alejandro Alvarado Diaz Jose Herrera 9.5
Jure Borisek 1.5
Matej Sebenik 2
Boris Markoja 2
David Stevanic 1
6.5 4 2 3.5 0

Gnomes Defeat Blitzstreams To Fanfare

The Norway Gnomes and the Cannes Blitzstreams each performed to big audiences as GM Jon Ludvig Hammer and Kevin Bordi streamed their team's matches. The Gnomes had the slightly more impressive support as they played their matches together at "The Good Knight" pub in Oslo. You can feel the energy in this clip they posted on Twitter.

Hammer's commentary was also streaming live from The Good Knight, and the Gnomes credited the fanthusiasm with helping them overcome a worthy foe. The Blitzstreamers had even more Twitch fan support, but they came just short in the final round.

Watch PRO Chess League saison 2019: Cannes contre la Norvège from BlitzStream on

2019 PRO Chess League | Week 1 | Cannes Blitzstreams vs. Norway Gnomes

Blitzstreams Gnomes Aryan Tari Johan Salomon Kristian Stuvik Holm Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen 8.5
Maxime Lagarde 2.5
Matthieu Cornette 1.5
Deimante Cornette 1.5
Sebastien Joie 2
7.5 2.5 3 1.5 1.5
NM Sam Copeland

I'm the VP of Chess and Community for I earned the National Master title in 2012, and in 2014, I returned to my home state of South Carolina to start Strategery: Chess and Games. In late 2014, I began working for and haven't looked back since.

You can find my personal content on Twitch , Twitter , and YouTube where I further indulge my love of chess.

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