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Latvian Champions Make Riga Magicians

Latvian Champions Make Riga Magicians

Dec 31, 2016, 3:45 PM 1

The Riga Magicians are undoubtedly one of the favorites in the Green Division. The Magicians are named after the most famous Latvian player in chess history: World Champion Mikhail Tal, who was nicknamed "The Magician from Riga."

The Magicians will be dangerous because at the top of their lineup they have two 2600 players leading the way. Let's look at some of their key players:

GM Igor Kovalenko: 27-year-old Kovalenko is the two-time Latvian National Champion, having won the title in 2013 and 2014. In 2016, he finished in second place in the European Individual Championship. A promising portend of Riga's future is Kovalenko's performance in major team competitions. In olympiads and European Team Championships, he has a combined win-loss record of 14 wins, 11 draws, and just 4 losses. The Magicians will be hoping for more magical results from their top-rated player.

Here is one of Kovalenko's victories in team play, over the great Teimour Radjabov.

GM Arturs Neiksans: Nieksans is the founder of the Magicians and should be a key component of their success. He is rated 2600+ and is a three-time Latvian Champion, winning the title in 1999, 2011 and 2015. It's an incredible achievement that he won his first and last national title 16 years apart.

IM Vitalijs Samolins: Despite just holding the international title, Samolins has won the Latvian National Championship in both 2009 and 2012. This means that the Magicians have a total of seven Latvian championships to their credit. Clearly Samolins is capable of big results and will be a key member of the Magicians.

Other high-rated members of the team include IMs Toms Kantans, Nikita Meskovs and Vadims Daskevics, all of whom are well above the 2400 mark. Rounding out the team are FM Arturs Bernotas, WIM Anna Kantane, Sergejs Klimakovs and Ritvars Reimanis.

This is clearly a team that can put together many combinations of lineups. They can go top heavy with two 2600's. They can use a balanced lineup of all 2400+ players, or they could use one 2600, and balance out the rest of the lineup with their litany of 2200-2400 players. This is a very dangerous team, filled with most of the recent champions of Latvia. With the strength of their lineup, they may not even need any magic tricks to win the Green Division. Other strong teams will attempt to stand in their way, such as the Norway Gnomes and Magnus Carlsen, the Delhi Dynamite, and the interne- savvy Ljubljana Direwolves.

The PRO Chess League welcomes the Riga Magicians!

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