Liang Defeats Caruana In Thrilling Day Of PRO Chess Upsets
There's no such thing as an easy PRO Chess League match.
Yet again in round five, many top teams and top players were nicked for half- or full-point upsets, and the biggest winner of the week, the Amsterdam Mosquitoes, came completely out of left field to score a massive 14-2 victory against the London Towers.
Here are some of the biggest surprises of the day: Viswanathan Anand drew his first three games. The Minnesota Blizzard smashed the Montreal Chessbrahs. The Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers defeated the Saint Louis Arch Bishops while Awonder Liang beat Fabiano Caruana. Both Super Saturday/Sunday winners, the Armenia Eagles and the San Jose Hackers, failed to win their matches.
As a fan noted, perhaps the best thing about the PRO Chess League is seeing unsung players go up against superstars and play well.
Who played the #prochess GOTW? @arturchix vs Fressinet - https://t.co/xcHJqMCMMm— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) February 9, 2018
Mamedyarov vs @masterostrovski - https://t.co/xgmeiolFaa
Mitkov vs Van Foreest - https://t.co/8o9ZX8QCB2
Ladva vs Gupta - https://t.co/c7msAlSDMk @NorwayGnomes @mnblizzardchess @delhidynamite64
Who played the #prochess MOTW?— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) February 9, 2018
41...Rh2+! by Wang Yue - https://t.co/EjOBOTLBjc
31...Qxb5! by Cornette - https://t.co/LSShK68tt8
26.Qc6+! by Thorhallson - https://t.co/v7QfEqBgwW
52...g6! by @Vachier_Lagrave - https://t.co/WqKqfuYIkw @ChessPandas @CannesProChess @RvkPuffins
PRO Chess League Round Five Highlights: League Leaders Start To Emerge
As you might expect, super-grandmasters have done really well in the PRO Chess League. Currently, Fabiano Caruana has the highest performance rating in the league. He's just ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
Really impressive is Awonder Liang who is in second place on our leaderboard based on game points and performance rating. Still just 14 years old, Liang bested Fabiano Caruana yesterday and Hikaru Nakamura on Saturday. He's also won game of the week once and come in second once.
Here is our leaderboard top 10. Who has most impressed you so far this season?
PRO Chess League Round Five Highlights: The Players Take To Twitter
The PRO Chess League always has an active community under the #prochess hashtag on Twitter, but this week the players seemed to be sharing just a little more fun and sadness on their feeds than normal.
Gawain Jones took a small pot shot at himself after the London Towers' dismal outing against the Amsterdam Mosquitoes.
Will @GMGawain and his @Lond0n_Towers be rock solid or will they be stung by @loekvanwely and the @amspros?— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) February 7, 2018
Watch #prochess on https://t.co/puNbtGu7Gn and https://t.co/l0ICpzQrHn! pic.twitter.com/zVrO8eM8nI
😬— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) February 7, 2018
Simultaneously, Reykjavik Puffins' fourth board and popular fantasy pick, Bjorn Thorfinsson, live-tweeted his rough outing.
Excited for our match tonight, @RvkPuffins against The Turtles. We will be fielding 3x GMs (Gretarson, Hjartarson and Thorhallsson) and one IM-muppet. The ship has been prepared and now we just have to sail it home. Check out the live action: https://t.co/rE7wgeW1N0 #prochess— Bjorn Thorfinnsson ( @BThorfinnsson) January 31, 2018
@BThorfinnsson) February 7, 2018
@BThorfinnsson) February 7, 2018
@BThorfinnsson) February 7, 2018
The pyramid attack is shit!!— Bjorn Thorfinnsson ( @BThorfinnsson) February 7, 2018
@BThorfinnsson) February 7, 2018
Other players such as IM Andrey Ostrovskiy were celebrating some special moments.
@masterostrovski) February 8, 2018
The Chessbrah himself lamented a season headed off the rails.
somehow we are failing on all fronts. Already in a must-win situation for #prochess— Eric Hansen ( @hansenchess) February 8, 2018
The Eagles' fourth board (a hero for them), Artak Manukyan, shared an interesting variation from his game on Facebook against the incredible prodigy, Nodirbek Abdussatorov.
#Prochess #Artak Manukyan in his FB account wrote— @ArmenianEagles ( @Armenian_Eagles) February 8, 2018
I was hoping that my opponent will take 28...Nxa4 and I will shock him with 29.Rxh6, but looks like at the end he noticed it...
P.S. Anyway, I am responsible for our team loss pic.twitter.com/EbPD7couQh
Finally, your author talked his way into buying a Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers hoodie in conversation with their manager.
It's on! @Sam_Copeland has told us he would buy one of our hoodies if we beat the @stlarchbishops tonight! Want to get in on the action? Use the code LOLOLSAM to get a quick discount with the link below 😉 Expires on 2/8. Check out our storefront here ➡️ https://t.co/ytF2aJyXcN pic.twitter.com/WXeken8cur— PGH Pawngrabbers ( @pghpawngrabbers) February 7, 2018
The Riga Magicians foiled a final-round comeback by the Norway Gnomes with a convincing 9.5-6.5 final score. Actually the final margin is quite deceptive considering Norway was trailing at halftime 7-1!
GM Laurent Fressinet led Norway on board one. Both GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Jon Ludvig Hammer were conspicuously absent although Hammer reportedly offered his team free pizza during an emotional halftime pep talk.
Both rounds one and two were massacres! Riga scored a perfect 4/4 followed by 3/4 giving them a seemingly insurmountable lead. But somehow Hammer's motivational strategy paid off and Norway turned the tables in round three with a stunning 4/4 comeback!!! Going into round four they trailed 7-5, however it was not meant to be.
Don't miss Fressinet's tactical round-three win against GM Arturs Neiksans.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Norway Gnomes vs Riga Magicians
|Magicians||Gnomes||Laurent Fressinet||Johan Salomon||Johan-Sebastian Christiansen||Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen||6.5|
GM Viswanathan Anand and his Mumbai Movers outfoxed the Oslo Trolls with a 9-7 final score. Coming into today's match Mumbai was the clear favorite, being tied for first in the Eastern Division with the Armenia Eagles. Plus, having Anand as your board-one can't hurt!
Anand's participation was also significant since apparently he had never officially played on Chess.com until today! Would the current world rapid champion score a perfect 4/4?
Shockingly, the commentators were at a loss for words as Anand drew his first three games. In round four he finally drew first blood and notched a nice win against GM Benjamin Gledura.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Mumbai Movers vs Oslo Trolls
|Trolls||Movers||Viswanathan Anand||Swapnil Dhopade||Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh||Kathmale Sameer||9|
|Lars Oskar Hauge||1|
The Delhi Dynamite blasted the Estonia Horses for a 8.5-7.5 nail-biting finish. This match was neck-in-neck. Estonia played well on its top three boards, but sadly scored 0/4 on board four, which is a difficult margin to make-up.
In round three, Dehli's GM Meelis Kanep blundered mate-in-one against GM Jaan Ehlvest after a heart-stopping tactical battle. Don't miss this one!
Going into the final round, Estonia led 6.5-5.5, but Delhi would not be turned away, scoring 3/4 and seizing match victory from the (equine) jaws of defeat. Watch Gupta claim his revenge in his round-four game vs GM Ottomar Ladva.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Delhi Dynamite vs Estonia Horses
|Dynamite||Horses||Ottomar Ladva||Jaan Ehlvest||Meelis Kanep||Uku Valner||7.5|
|M R Lalith Babu||3|
Don't count out the Volga Stormbringers! Today the Eastern Division's top and bottom teams were pitted against one another. The outcome was already decided, right? Not exactly. Volga upset the Armenia Eagles with a surprising 9-7 victory.
Blitz and rapid expert GM Dmitry Andreikin led the way for Volga with a scintillating 3.5/4 score. Going into round four, Volga was nursing a slim 6.5-5.5 lead, and Andreikin played an excellent game to seal the deal.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Armenia Eagles vs Volga Stormbringers
|Stormbringers||Eagles||Zaven Andriasyan||Samvel Ter-Sahakyan||Manuel Petrosyan||Artak Manukyan||7|
Do the Marseille Migraines have the best top-three boards in the PRO Chess League? GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Etienne Bacrot, and Yannick Gozzoli are sufficient to defeat many teams.
They had to do just that this week as all of their top boards scored 3/4 while their much-lower-rated fourth board, Marc Andria Maurizzi, wasn't able to claim a point today. The Turtles also played without their usual board one, Luka Lenic, who has been excellent. In his place, Jure Borisek was undefeated with 3/4.
The match highlight was this excellent finish from Vachier-Lagrave, whose pawns defeated White's knight in the endgame.
2018 PRO Chess League | Ronud 5 | Marseille Migraines vs Ljubljana Turtles
|Turtles||Migraines||Maxime Vachier-Lagrave||Etienne Bacrot||Yannick Gozzoli||Marc Andria Maurizzi||9|
Something is very wrong in London. The Amsterdam Mosquitos massacred the London Towers today 14-2 in a decidedly lopsided rout. Yes, you read that score correctly. London has now lost five matches in a row.
By the third round it was already over. Amsterdam clinched the match with a ridiculous score of 10-2 with one round to spare. Commentator IM Lawrence Trent was heartbroken and had some choice words for his compatriots. Boards one and two for Amsterdam lived the dream and scored perfectly, while boards one and two for London each scored one point. By the end, that's all the points London would collect.
The nightmare began in round one, when GM Gawain Jones lost to Amsterdam's board-four FM Jasel Lopez.
At least in round two, Jones played a very entertaining game!
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Amsterdam Mosquitos vs London Towers
|Mosquitoes||Towers||Gawain Jones||Peter Roberson||Thomas Rendle||Blair Connell||2|
|Loek van Wely||4|
The Cannes Blockbusters contributed to a very difficult day for London in the PRO Chess League. Whereas the London Towers had a record-setting poor performance, the London Lions definitely got in some punches against the Cannes Blockbusters. The biggest difference was on board four where the Cannes Blockbusters got 2/4 from Flavio Perez (who upset Maxime Vachier-Lagrave last year) while Marcus Harvey scored 0.5/4.
The Blockbusters are still hoping to get a better performance from GM Valentina Gunina on board three. She is renowned for her victory in the London Chess Rapid (and her positive disposition), but she has yet to get in a groove in the PRO Chess League. One player who did get in a groove was Matthieu Cornette who found a magnificent way to win a pawn in the following highlight.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Cannes Blockbusters vs London Lions
|Lions||Blockbusters||Matthieu Cornette||Maxime Lagarde||Valentina Gunina||Flavio Perez||9|
|Andrew P Horton||1|
|Marcus R Harvey||0.5|
In a strong showing, the Reykjavik Puffins punished the Stockholm Snowballs 10-6. The pugnacious Puffins could not be stopped today with strong scores on their top three boards (3.5/4, 3/4, 3.5/4 respectively).
Watch GM Johann Hjartarson entertain commentators IM Lawrence Trent and WGM Jennifer Shahade with a lovely combination in round three against GM Evgenij Agrest.
Trent had a little fun at the expense of GM Georg Meier, given that Meier's style is quite positional and methodical. Has Meier delivered checkmate in the past three years? Spoiler alert: Yes.
It just wasn't Stockholm's day. Meier must have been rattled by Trent's jabs because in round four he actually hung his queen! Goes to show even the best players in the world are mortal.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Stockholm Snowballs vs Reykjavik Puffins
|Puffins||Snowballs||Georg Meier||Evgenij Agrest||Erik Blomqvist||Inna Agrest||6|
The Minnesota Blizzard do not look like a fearsome force on paper, but after four weeks, It is the only team with a perfect score in match play. This week it bested the fan favorite Montreal Chessbrahs, and did it in style, scoring 10.5 to the Chessbrahs' 5.5.
The weakest point for the Chessbrahs proved to be their Dutch contingent as GMs Robin Van Kampen and Jorden Van Foreest combined for only 2.5/8 against the lower-rated Blizzard squad. Here's one magnificent victory from GM Nikola Mitkov against Van Kampen.
One humorous moment happened late in the match as IM Thomas Beerdsen had mate-in-one on the board but was focused elsewhere.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Montreal Chessbrahs vs Minnesota Blizzard
|Blizzard||Chessbrahs||Robin van Kampen||Jorden Van Foreest||Shiyam Thavandiran||Michael Kleinman||5.5|
The Saint Louis Arch Bishops sport an extremely top-heavy lineup with super-GMs on boards one and two and a very strong GM in Alejandro Ramirez on board three. Their lineup is most like that of the Marseille Migraines, who won today. The Arch Bishops were not so fortunate as the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers revealed the cracks in this lineup construction as they snagged some key points off the top boards and held Ramirez and Forest Chen to only one point each.
The turning point was round three. First GM Awonder Liang defeated Fabiano Caruana with the key move 28.Bc4.
In that same round, IM Atyula Shetty turned around a game that looked to be nearly over.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs Saint Louis Arch Bishops
|Pawngrabbers||Arch Bishops||Fabiano Caruana||Vladimir Fedoseev||Alejandro Ramirez||Forest Chen||7.5|
The Webster Windmills defeated the Miami Champions by the close score of 8-7.5. The Windmills remain undefeated and are now sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4.5/5 score for the season. Despite yet another strong performance from GM Eduardo Iturrizaga, the Champions have now lost four matches and are sitting at 1/5 for the season.
The Windmills are aided by super-GM Le Quang Liem. Here is a fine victory where he shows how to use the two bishops in this beautiful checkmating net starting with 49.Bh6+!
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Webster Windmills vs Miami Champions Team
|Champions||Windmills||Le Quang Liem||Tamas Banusz||Aaron Grabinsky||Joshua Colas||8*|
The Montclair Sopranos kept the Buenos Aires Krakens winless on the season with a 8.5-7.5 victory. With this win the Sopranos catch up with the Montreal Chessbrahs and the Saint Louis Arch Bishops who are all tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a 2/5 score on the season. The unfortunate Buenos Aires Krakens slide to 0/5.
The Sopranos achieved this victory thanks to GM Lenderman’s strong 3.5/4 performance today. The following game vs GM Leadro Krysa started with an early queen exchange in the English opening, and ended with GM Lenderman showing impeccable technique as he spotted an exchange sacrifice for the win with 70.Rxd5+!
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Montclair Sopranos vs Buenos Aires Krakens
|Sopranos||Krakens||Alan Pichot||Leandro Krysa||Maximiliano Perez||Jacques Blit||7.5|
Riding a wave of victory, the San Diego Surfers defeated the Rio Grande Ospreys 9.5-6.5. The Surfers improved to third in the Pacific division with a 3.5-1.5 record. The Ospreys remain winless with a 0.5-4.5 record.
IM Keaton Kiewra carried the team on board three with a great 3.5/4 performance. Top board GM Alexey Dreev also finished strong with a 3/4 performance. In the final game below, he pulled out a comeback victory after a necessary queen sac in the early middlegame.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Rio Grande Ospreys vs San Diego Surfers
|Ospreys||Surfers||Alexey Dreev||Michael Brown||Keaton Kiewra||Craig Hilby||9.5|
With superstars on board one GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Jeffery Xiong squaring off, it was destined to be a great match. In the end, the Destiny squeaked out a victory in the final round finishing off the Sluggers 8.5-7.5
Xiong led the Destiny with an excellent score of 3/4, only losing to Nakamura. Everyone else on the team played very solidly with the Sluggers having trouble on the bottom boards. Despite the loss, the moment of the match belongs to Nakamura converting a knight-and-rook-vs-rook ending.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Dallas Destiny vs Seattle Sluggers
|Destiny||Sluggers||Hikaru Nakamura||Tigran Petrosian||Roland Feng||Anthony He||7.5|
The San Jose Hackers held off a pack of Las Vegas Desert Rats and finished the match tied at 8-8. Despite going into the final round down 6-8, San Jose pulled out two extra points to hold onto fifth place just a half-point out of the top four in the Pacific Division with 2.5-2.5. Las Vegas failed to get its first win dropping to 1-4.
The young NM Christopher Yoo played a brilliant game in the final round against GM Jacek Stopa. He had been 0-3 in the previous rounds but came through when his team needed him the most. Below, he puts on a clinic in creating counterplay.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Las Vegas Desert Rats vs San Jose Hackers
|Desert Rats||Hackers||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov||Daniel Naroditsky||Konstantin Kavutskiy||Christopher Woojin Yoo||8|
The Chengdu Pandas remain undefeated by crushing the Australia Kangaroos 10-6. The match was nearly over after round three with Chengdu holding a lead of 8-4. Chengdu remains in first place in the Pacific with 4.5-0.5 while Australia drops to fourth place with a 3-2 record.
The top three Panda boards, GM Wang Yue, GM Ju Wenjun, and GM Xu Xiangyu came through with strong performances finishing with 3/4 points. Wang Yue went undefeated with two wins and two draws and Ju Wenjun won three games with one loss. Below she fends off an all-out assault on her king by GM Alexey Sarana for a quick 30-move win.
2018 PRO Chess League | Round 5 | Australia Kangaroos vs Chengdu Pandas
|Kangaroos||Pandas||Wang Yue||Ju Wenjun||Xu Xiangyu||Zhai Mo||10|