PRO Chess League Summer Series: Action Sets Stage For Championship Weekend
Another triumphant performance from Montreal broke the record for points scored this summer, as the Norway Gnomes were eliminated on Saturday.

PRO Chess League Summer Series: Action Sets Stage For Championship Weekend

PROChessLeague
PROChessLeague
|
15 | Chess.com News

Saturday's Group D finale was only the start of an action-packed weekend in the PRO Chess League Summer Series. The Montreal Chessbrahs completed their group stage by beating the Minnesota Blizzard in their live club match, while the Cannes Blitzstreams denied the Norway Gnomes a spot in the playoffs.  

GM Ivan Saric (@dalmatinac101) led the Canadian side to another perfect six-point week, extending its score to 17 points. The Chessbrahs' unprecedented performance broke the record set by the Saint Louis Arch Bishops (14) in June, and clinched the second overall seed in the Summer Series Championship bracket. 

Due to a conflict with the French championship, the Cannes Blitzstreams elected to discontinue their participation in the Summer Series, meaning the Blizzard secured the automatic qualifying spot. Norway declined a spot in the third-place vote.

In Group D, fans proved to be the difference. @IvanKovalenko0406, who played and streamed in every live club match this month, scored an important two points for Cannes, including this endgame struggle:

Kovalenko won the group's best fan prize of $250 following Saturday's action. 

Third-Place Vote: San Francisco, Mumbai Advance To Play-In Round:

Fans had their opportunity to choose which two teams could advance to the play-in round.

With Norway electing to not participate in the third-place vote, fans voted for the San Francisco Mechanics, Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers or the Mumbai Movers on the PRO Chess League Twitch Channel.

With GM Daniel Naroditsky streaming, the Mechanics quickly established the lead, earning a total of 79 votes after the four hours concluded on Saturday. Despite the awkward time of day, Mumbai fans proved their loyalty, amassing 72 votes and finishing clear second. The Pawngrabbers were eliminated as their 52 votes were not enough to secure a position in the play-in round.

With 10 teams now advancing to the Summer Series Championship, the bracket was set for Sunday's play-in round and the quarterfinals on August 30:

The Sao Paulo Capybaras secured the top seed due to their fan growth during the Summer Series. San Francisco and Mumbai rounded out the bracket.

With the play-in set, the Mechanics were paired with the Movers for a quarterfinals berth against the tournament's top-seed, Sao Paulo. Meanwhile Minnesota and Reykjavik, who both qualified during group play, were paired for a berth in the quarterfinals against the Montreal Chessbrahs.

San Francisco Recovers From Early Scare, Beats Mumbai 11-6:

With players like GM Daniel Naroditsky and former U.S champion GM Sam Shankland, the San Francisco Mechanics were favored to win their first playoff game since their 2015 U.S. Chess League wildcard win against the Seattle Sluggers. When the Movers had to make a late substitution, the Mechanics started the match with a 1-0 advantage and draw odds.

Even with the setback, Mumbai's IM Aditya Mittal started the match by upsetting Shankland to draw first blood. In an interview after the match, Shankland noted that he missed Mittal's winning combination entirely:

With Mittal's shocking upset, the Movers kept the match close. Trailing only 2-3 after the first round, Mumbai kept the momentum with GM Diptayan Ghosh earning his second win of the match:

By the end of the second round, the Movers had tied the match, 4.5-4.5, overcoming their initial penalty. The Movers seemed destined to win the match. Shankland had only scored a draw to this point, and the Mechanics' lower boards had yet to find themselves in the match.

The third round started with Shankland finding his form with Black, beating IM Raja Harshit in a strategic dogfight:

With Shankland's win, the Mechanics only needed three points in the next seven games to win the match. The pressure proved too much for the Indian side. Both IM Andrew Hong and IM Ladia Jirasek won their games for San Francisco, which meant that Naroditsky's third win of the match secured the win for the Mechanics:

Mumbai outscored the Mechanics in the final round, but it was too late. San Francisco took the match 11-6, and the Movers will have to wait until next season to capture their first playoff win since the 2018 conference semifinals.

San Francisco's general manager IM David Pruess analyzed the games in detail for the Mechanics' club on Chess.com.

Minnesota Holds Off Late Charge, Downs Reykjavik 9-7:

After securing its automatic qualifying spot in Group D, the Minnesota Blizzard entered the play-in match against the Reykjavik Puffins with draw odds. While the Blizzard had neither GM Andrew Tang nor IM John Bartholomew, Minnesota brought its classic balanced line-up, featuring GM Mauricio Flores Rios on top board. The Puffins brought their all-Icelandic line-up from the 2018 PRO Chess League season, with GM Hannes Stefansson on top board.

Minnesota started the match with a 3-1 lead after Flores ground out David Kjartansson in a long endgame:

Flores proved to be the unexpected hero in the match. Despite only scoring 2.5/8 in the 2019 regular season, the Minnesotan scored 3.5/4 against the Puffins. His second-round swindle may have been the tipping point in the match:

In the third round, GM Vladimir Georgiev added to Minnesota's lead, using his activity to outplay his opponent in a symmetrical pawn structure:

The Puffins trailed for the duration of the match, and needed to sweep the Blizzard in the final round, as they trailed 4.5-7.5. Through the Icelandic-side emerged from the opening better in three positions, it scored just 2.5 points.

With Minnesota winning the match 9-7, the Blizzard advance to the quarterfinals, where it will play the Montreal Chessbrahs.

PRO Chess League Summer Series Quarterfinals

With the Summer Series Championship on the line, the quarterfinals offer a lot of intense match-ups, including the Saint Louis Arch Bishops facing the Chengdu Pandas.

Next on the PRO Chess League Summer Series calendar is championship weekend on August 30 and 31. The quarterfinals already promise intense match-ups, including Saint Louis' first-ever encounter with the Chengdu Pandas. While both teams have reached the live semifinals in the past two seasons, they have never faced each other outside of a Battle Royale.

Another intriguing match-up is the Sao Paulo Capybaras vs the San Francisco Mechanics. The Capybaras will play their first ever standard match, but will have a lineup that includes players like GM Sandro MarecoGM Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian and GM Alireza Firouzja. Can they find the perfect fourth board to round out the lineup?

In the other two matches, the 2019 finalists, Baden Baden, will face the Moscow Wizards in their first-ever PRO Chess League clash, while the Minnesota Blizzard and Montreal Chessbrahs will face off in a Group D rematch.

Tune in to the Summer Series on Friday, August 30, on Twitch.tv/chess to watch all of the PRO Chess League Quarterfinals live.


Commentary for this week of #summerseries was provided by IM David Pruess, NM James Canty III and Isaac Steincamp.

The primary commentary shows and archives are available at Twitch.tv/chess.


Just learning about the PRO Chess League Summer Series? Visit the site and check out the official information article.
More from PROChessLeague
PRO Chess League Summer Series: Chessbrahs Sneak By Blitzstreams; Minnesota Upsets Norway

PRO Chess League Summer Series: Chessbrahs Sneak By Blitzstreams; Minnesota Upsets Norway

PRO Chess League Summer Series: Sao Paulo Has Perfect Week, Mumbai Falters

PRO Chess League Summer Series: Sao Paulo Has Perfect Week, Mumbai Falters