Magnus Carlsen Wins, Loses Dramatically In PRO Chess Round 8

Magnus Carlsen Wins, Loses Dramatically In PRO Chess Round 8

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Like a black hole of drama, the world champion Magnus Carlsen's play has absorbed discussion and excitement each week. While Carlsen's results and play were likely frustrating to him this week, he dazzled the audience by playing a shocking swindle and a game of the week nomination, and losing one game despite a nearly successful fleeing of the king.

Five players scored a perfect 4/4 this week. Super-GMs Fabiano Caruana and Le Quang Liem are no strangers to perfect scores. Two of the other perfect scores were notched by Frenchmen, GMs Matthieu Cornette and Yannick Gozzoli. Gozzoli provided extra aid to his team by scoring perfectly from board three, upstaging the Migraines' board one, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The final perfect score was achieved by GM MR Lalith Babu, who defeated Carlsen. What a day he had.

Yannick Gozzoli, Marseille Migraines, PRO Chess League

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PRO Chess League Round Eight Highlights: Carlsen's Dramatic Day

The seven excellent Eastern Division teams who are not the Norway Gnomes must be frustrated by the Gnomes' refusal to let them share the limelight. Once again, the Gnomes and Carlsen in particular were the center of attention, despite the fact that they had a very bad day, losing 11.5-4.5 to the Delhi Dynamite.

Things started off with this incredible missed opportunity, which sent team manager, GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, into conniptions

Then Carlsen blundered a relatively simple tactic that cost him an exchange. His opponent failed to fully capitalize, reaching an endgame that seemed drawn until Carlsen swindled his way to victory with a beautiful mating conclusion.

In his third game, Carlsen seemed dead in the water early on after starting with 1.f3?, 2.Nh3, and 3.Nf2. Resilient defense in the heavy-piece middlegame kept a pawn advantage and sucked most of the pieces off the board, but just when it seemed he might escape, Babu picked off his queen to secure a win.

Making the world champion angry has always been tricky business and today was no exception. He rebounded with a vengeance, scoring a brilliant book win using GM David Smerdon's Scandinavian.

Unfortunately for the Gnomes, Carlsen doubled the rest of his team's score. Fortunately for the Gnomes, they still control their destiny in the final week. If they defeat the Estonia Horses, they will go through to the playoffs.

PRO Chess League Round Eight Highlights: Playoff Spots Secured


Teams in green are currently slated for the playoffs. Teams in red are currently slated for relegation.

With one week to go in the regular season of the PRO Chess League, many teams have secured playoff spots. In fact, the Central and Atlantic division teams are now locked in. In the Eastern and Pacific divisions, only the Noway Gnomes and the San Jose Hackers can get in.

More dramatic is the fight to avoid relegation. In every division, teams will be battling next week to retain their spots in the PRO Chess League without having to re-earn a spot in the qualifier.

PRO Chess League Round Eight Highlights: Song Shows Up Awonder

The 14-year-old GM Awonder Liang has been a huge asset for the current Atlantic Division leaders, the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers. However, this week he was outscored by their new board four, FM Edward Song, who scored an excellent 3/4.

His only loss was to Le Quang Liem, when he made an unfortunate endgame decision with seconds on his clock.

Much credit goes to Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers team manager Isaac Steincamp who has consistently found players who can score points on all boards.

Just learning about the PRO Chess League? Visit the site and read the rules.

Eastern Division

Central Division

Atlantic Division

Pacific Division

Reports compiled by Sam Copeland, Sam Thompson, Dylan Quercia, and Colin Stapczynski.

Mumbai Movers Draw Even With Riga Magicians, Qualify For Playoffs

The Eastern-Division-leading Mumbai Movers drew today with the Riga Magicians and clinched a 2018 playoff spot. As for Riga, to entertain any notion of a playoff berth the Magicians were on a mission to win their final two matches, starting today.

Round one went just according to plan for the Magicians as they shocked Mumbai with a perfect 4/4. Match victory already seemed somewhat like a foregone conclusion. However, in round two Mumbai scrapped its way back into contention with a strong 3/4 performance. It was clear that match victory would not come without a fight.

Riga's board-one GM Igor Kovalenko had a terrible day, scoring only 1/4. However, his board-three and board-four teammates rallied, scoring 3/4 and 2/4 respectively. Sadly, it was a half-point too little.

Check out a fine win by Mumbai's board one, GM B. Adhiban, sealing the deal in round four.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Mumbai Movers vs Riga Magicians

Magicians Movers B. Adhiban Surya Shekhar Ganguly Swapnil Dhopade Dharia Parnali 8
Igor Kovalenko 1
Arturs Neiksans 2
Arturs Bernotas 3
Ritvars Reimanis 2
8 3 3 2 0

Delhi Dynamite Defeat Magnus Carlsen And The Norway Gnomes, Qualify For Playoffs

The Delhi Dynamite defeated GM Magnus Carlsen and the Norway Gnomes today in a lopsided 11.5-4.5 match score. Although coming into this match tied for second place in the Eastern Division, Delhi needed at least a draw to clinch a spot in this year's playoffs. With Norway sitting just out of playoff qualification in the Eastern Division, a match win today was critical. However, in the end, board one for Delhi matched Carlsen's score and GM M R Lalith Babu on Delhi's board two managed a perfect 4/4, which made all the difference.

Interestingly, with everything on the line for Norway, Carlsen chose less than critical opening lines. He entertained the fans with truly risky and dubious opening play, essaying 1.Na3, 1.f3, and the Portuguese variation of the Scandinavian Defense rarely seen (if ever) at the top level.

After a bizarre loss by Carlsen in round three, he was out for blood. Check out his last-round game against his board-one opponent GM Vaibhav Suri, in which Suri walked right into a wild variation of the Scandinavian. The sacrificial line played by Carlsen is actually known, but it sure is fun to watch the sparks fly.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Delhi Dynamite vs Norway Gnomes

Gnomes Dynamite Vaibhav Suri M R Lalith Babu Sahaj Grover Hemant Sharma 11.5
Magnus Carlsen 3
Nils Grandelius 1
Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen 0.5
Francisco Silva Gonzalez 0
4.5 3 4 2.5 2

Fighting Relegation, Volga Stormbringers Pummel Oslo Trolls

Fighting relegation, the Volga Stormbringers rallied to beat the Oslo Trolls with a 10.5-5.5 final match score. Both teams came into today's match out of playoff contention. However, they were still highly motivated to avoid relegation, which bars the two lowest-scoring teams in each division from competing in 2019. Sadly, Oslo will not be participating in next year's season.

Oslo had a rough day all around with no team member scoring better than 2/4. Every board for Volga did his part with GM Sergey Grigoriants leading the way with 3.5/4. In round one, FM Eivind Olav Risting fell to Grigoriants in an entertaining battle.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Volga Stormbringers vs Oslo Trolls

Stormbringers Trolls Frode Urkedal Ori Kobo Tor Fredrik Kaasen Eivind Olav Risting 5.5
Sergey Grigoriants 3.5
Mikhail Demidov 2.5
Nikita Matinian 2.5
Mikhail Gorozhanin 2
10.5 2 2 0 1.5

Armenia Eagles Edge Out Estonia Horses, Qualify For Playoffs

The Armenia Eagles edged out the Estonia Horses by the slimmest of margins today with a 8.5-7.5 final score. They became the third team today in the Eastern Division to qualify for this year's playoffs. Estonia, although still holding up as the most likely fourth team to qualify, must battle it out next week to confirm its spot.

The Horses must be kicking themselves as their lower-rated board four went 0/4, always a soul-crushing result. For Armenia, the difference maker clearly was board three, GM Karen Grigoryan who outscored his teammates (as well his opponents) with a very fine 3.5/4 beatdown. Check out his round-one game against Estonia's board two, GM Ottomar Ladva.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Armenia Eagles vs Estonia Horses

Eagles Horses Gadir Guseinov Ottomar Ladva Jaan Ehlvest Sander Kukk 7.5
Hrant Melkumyan 3
Samvel Ter-Sahakyan 2
Karen Grigoryan 3.5
Artak Manukyan 0
8.5 2 2 2 1.5

Stockholm Snowballs Chill London Towers

The Stockholm Snowballs outplayed the London Towers board by board. Only on board one were GMs Georg Meier and Gawain Jones even at 3/4 each. On all other boards, the Snowballs scored more points in a solid victory.

The biggest imbalance was on board three where the Brazilian Diamant scored an impressive 3/4. Here is his thrilling game against the Towers' board four, IM Thomas Rendle.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | London Towers vs Stockholm Snowballs

Snowballs Towers Gawain Jones Roman Yanchenko Thomas Rendle Sue Maroroa 6.5
Georg Meier 3
Evgenij Agrest 2.5
André Diamant 3
Inna Agrest 1
9.5 3 2 1.5 0

Cannes Blockbusters Dazzle Ljubljana Turtles

The stars of the Cannes Blockbusters delivered in a big way against the Ljubljana Turtles as GMs Matthieu Cornette and Maxime Lagarde scored an amazing 7.5/8. With such an impressive score, it's no surprise the Blockbusters handily defeated the Turtles.

Perhaps the most interesting moment though was a victory by the Turtles as GM Matej Sebenik refuted a resourceful defensive try from GM Valentina Gunina.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Cannes Blockbusters vs Ljubljana Turtles

Turtles Blockbusters Matthieu Cornette Maxime Lagarde Valentina Gunina Flavio Perez 10
Luka Lenic 1.5
Jure Skoberne 2
Matej Sebenik 2
Luka Skuhala 0.5
6 4 3.5 1 1.5

London Lions Maul Rekjavik Puffins

The London Lions got more great performances from GM Christian Bauer and FM Marcus Harvey in a sound defeat of the Reykjavik Puffins, brethren from another Atlantic Island known for its dreary weather. Although the Lions were the dominant team today, a definite move-of-the-week candidate was played by IM Bragi Thorfinnsson in his only win.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | London Lions vs Reykjavik Puffins

Lions Puffins Johann Hjartarson Helgi Olafsson Bragi Thorfinnsson David Kjartansson 6*
Christan Bauer 3.5
Edward Porper 2
Andrew P Horton 1
Marcus R Harvey 2.5
9 2.5 1.5 1 2

Marseille Migraines Smoosh Amsterdam Mosquitoes

The Marseille Migraines have consistently and unabashedly placed their hopes in an extremely top-heavy lineup. This week was no exception as the Migraines scored big on boards one through three to comfortably defeat the Amsterdam Mosquitoes.

The star of the day was board three, GM Yannick Gozzoli, who scored 4/4. However, we can't resist showing this undeserved win by GM Sebastian Maze, who was completely busted when his opponent checked his king all the way to g7, a perfect square.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Marseille Migraines vs Amsterdam Mosquitoes

Migraines Mosquitoes Loek van Wely Miguoel Admiraal Ilias van der Lende Jasel Lopez 5.5
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 3
Sebastien Maze 3
Yannick Gozzoli 4
Marc Andria Maurizzi 0.5
10.5 2 1.5 1 1

Buenos Aires Krakens Haze Montreal Chessbrahs

The Buenos Aires Krakens got their first full-point in the PRO Chess League as they defeated the Montreal Chessbrahs. Both teams were fearsome forces last year, but this year, they have struggled enormously. Both have been eliminated from the playoffs, and the Krakens are almost certain to be relegated while the Montreal Chessbrahs will be fighting for their life next week.

The crosstable for this match revealed absolute chaos as both teams got more points from their board four than their board one. In her debut, Hou Yifan scored a lackluster 2/4. Here is one beautiful game that she lost.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Montreal Chessbrahs vs Buenos Aires Krakens

Chessbrahs Krakens Federico Perez Ponsa Andres Carlos Obregon Mario Villanueva Maximiliano Perez 8.5
Hou Yifan 2
Robin van Kampen 2
Raja Panjwani 1
Michael Kleinman 2.5
7.5 1 2.5 3 2

Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers Stop The Webster Windmills

The Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers defeated the Webster Windmills by a score of 8.5-7.5. The matchup of the #1 and #2 teams in the Atlantic division did not disappoint. Pittsburgh not only upset the previously undefeated Webster team, but also moves into a tie for first place with Webster with a 6.5/8 score on the season. Webster’s first loss of the year may sting a bit, but both teams are locks for the playoffs.

One unusual factoid for this match was that the young GM Awonder Liang of the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers actually played this match at Webster’s campus.

The hero of the match for Pittsburgh was not Liang or GM Shabalov, but FM Edward Song. The fourth board for the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers put up a 3/4 performance, leading the Pawngrabbers to victory. Here is FM Edward Song’s victory over GM Tamas Banusz in a wonderfully played English Hedgehog.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs Webster Windmills

Pawngrabbers Windmills Le Quang Liem Tamas Banusz Aaron Grabinsky Joshua Colas 7.5
Alexander Shabalov 1.5
Awonder Liang 2
Atulya Shetty 2
Edward Song 3
8.5 4 1.5 1.5 0.5

Minnesota Blizzard Come Back Vs Miami Champions

Down 7-5 entering the final round, the Minnesota Blizzard mounted a monstrous comeback, scoring a perfect 4/4 and defeating the Miami Champions. In such a tight match, there are many moments the Champions might regret, but the point they would most certainly like to have back is this one against IM John Bartholomew.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Miami Champions vs Minnesota Blizzard

Champions Blizzard Andrew Tang Akshat Chandra John Bartholomew Sean Nagle 9
Eduardo Iturrizaga 3
Julio Becerra Rivero 2.5
John Ludwig 1.5
Nicholas Rosenthal 0
7 3 2.5 2 1.5

Saint Louis Arch Bishops Smash the Montclair Sopranos’ Playoff Hopes

The Saint Louis Arch Bishops easily defeated the Montclair Sopranos by a score of 11.5-4.5. This matchup has heavy playoff ramifications. With this win, Saint Louis is currently still in a playoff spot with a 5/8 season score with only one week left in the regular season. This defeat for Montclair means that their playoff hopes have now been dashed after falling to 3/8 on the season.

Super-GM Fabiano Caruana played on board one for the Arch Bishops, and put up a perfect 4/4 performance. In this game GM Fabiano Caruana plays a King’s Indian Attack versus IM Nicolas Checa. After getting squeezed for a bit by GM Caruana’s bishop pair, IM Checa tries an interesting pseudo-piece sacrifice with 28...Nd4?. but it fails to work after GM Caruana’s 31.Qa2. and subsequent 32.Bb4, picking up the exchange and the full point.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | St. Louis Arch Bishops vs Montclair Sopranos

Arch Bishops Sopranos Sergey Erenburg Anatoly Bykhovsky Nicolas Checa Advait Patel 4.5
Fabiano Caruana 4
Varuzhan Akobian 3
Yaroslav Zherebukh 3
Forest Chen 1.5
11.5 1 1.5 2 0

Rio Grande Ospreys Fly Above Las Vegas Desert Rats

In an incredibly tight match, the Rio Grande Ospreys pulled out a close 8.5-7.5 victory over the Las Vegas Desert Rats. With both teams out of the playoffs, this was a grudge match to see who stays off the bottom of the standings. Unfortunately for the Rats, they failed to find their first match win.

GM Oleksandr Bortnyk led the Ospreys to this victory by winning three games and losing only one. He won the clutch game against GM Melik Khachiyan with a fascinating practical sacrifice in the ending. Watch the commentators IM Pruess and GM Yermolinsky come to the realization of how Bortnyk won this game.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Rio Grade Ospreys vs Las Vegas Desert Rats

Desert Rats Ospreys Oleksandr Bortnyk Andrey Stukopin Felix Ynojosa Joshua Ruiz 8.5
Melikset Khachiyan 1.5
Robert Aghasaryan 2
Joel Banawa 1.5
Hans Niemann 2.5
7.5 3 2 2.5 1

Seattle Sluggers Bunt Past San Jose Hackers

In a night of incredibly tight matches, the Seattle Sluggers pulled off a final inning squeeze play over the San Jose Hackers. The match finished with a 8.5-7.5 score that is very disappointing to San Jose as it had a chance to break into the top four. Seattle stays in sixth place, still one match point behind San Jose.

For the Sluggers, GM Hikaru Nakamura showed why he is one of the best in the world with a dominant 3.5/4 performance. Despite the loss, GM Zviad Izoria kept the Hackers close with an unbeaten 3/4 performance holding Naka to his only draw.

Either way, let's see why it is so painful for the Hackers:

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | San Jose Hackers vs Seattle Sluggers

Hackers Sluggers Hikaru Nakamura Giorgi Margvelashvili Bryce Tiglon Andrey Chjumachenko 8.5
Daniel Naroditsky 2
Zviad Izoria 3
Cameron Wheeler 2
Faik Aleskerov 0.5
7.5 3.5 3 1 1

San Diego Surfers Ride A Wave Of Wins Over Australia Kangaroos

The San Diego Surfers' match with the Australia Kangaroos was very close, coming down to the final round with an 8.5-7.5 win. This win clinches San Diego's playoff berth while Australia barely hung onto the fourth spot with a San Jose loss.

GM Alexey Dreev and GM Samuel Sevian led San Diego, with both scoring an undefeated 3/4. In the final round, GM Anton Smirnov faced Sevian with both players getting down to eight seconds each. Watch IM David Pruess call out how one player would blunder. In the end, that was Smirnov who dropped a piece.

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Australia Kangaroos vs San Diego Surfers

Kangaroos Surfers Alexey Dreev Samuel Sevian John Daniel Bryant Siddharth Banik 8.5
Tan Zhongyi 2
Anton Smirnov 1
Moulthun Ly 2.5
Temur Kuybokarov 2
7.5 3 3 1.5 1

Chengdu Pandas Deny The Dallas Destiny

The Chengdu Pandas barely beat the Dallas Destiny with a final-round win leaving the score 8.5-7.5. With this win, Chengdu holds onto the top spot and clinches a playoff berth. For Dallas, this loss leaves it in third place.

A beastly duo of GM Yuang Yi on board one and GM Li Chao on board two carried the Pandas with undefeated scores of 3.5/4.  Despite the loss, GM Jeffrey Xiong kept the Destiny in the match, only losing to Chao and drawing the higher-rated Yi. Let's take a look at their game:

2018 PRO Chess League | Week 8 | Chengdu Pandas vs Dallas Destiny

Pandas Destiny Jeffery Xiong Conrad Holt Elshan Moradiabadi Sabina-Francesca Foisor 7.5
Yu Yangyi 3.5
Li Chao 3.5
Li Di 1.5
Chu Ruotong 0
8.5 2.5 2 2 1
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