PRO Chess League Summer Series: Baden Baden Steals Group B Lead Heading Into Final Week
GM Dmitrij Kollars' resilient defense pushed Baden Baden to the top of Group B.

PRO Chess League Summer Series: Baden Baden Steals Group B Lead Heading Into Final Week

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Saturday's action in Group B of the PRO Chess League Summer Series saw each of the four teams do just enough to keep their Summer Series Championship hopes alive. With all four teams scoring points in the standings, fans will have to wait until next week's matches to see who make the playoffs in August.

When the Barcelona Raptors entered Saturday's clash with Reykjavik, they expected to take a commanding lead in the standings, but the Puffins' fan club and the Snowballs' top-board GM Dmitrij Kollars had other thoughts. With Reykjavik beating Barcelona and Pittsburgh holding Baden Baden to a draw, the Group B standings saw a last-minute shakeup at the top:

All teams will have their shot at Summer Series Championship spot next week, but Pittsburgh will regret ceding a last-second draw to the group-leading Snowballs.  

    Live Club Match: Reykjavik Pulls Second Summer Series Upset, Briefly Takes Group B Lead

    This pairing was intriguing because both the Puffins and Raptors had won their Live Club Matches last week. Barcelona entered the match a heavy favorite, both on top-board with GM Daniel Forcen Esteban and in fan totals.

    With Reykjavik's IM Gudmundur Kjartansson starting the match with an unfortunate mouse slip, it seemed like Barcelona was on pace to win the match. Luckily for Kjartansson, the Puffins were quick to respond on their lower boards. Group A's Best Fan winner, Moscatel87, drew first blood on the lower boards:

    Reykjavik was quick to build a five-point lead, but the Raptors' experienced fans brought the match within one point when greatgatsby23 converted after a complex game in the King's Indian:

    For a moment it seemed like Barcelona would reclaim the lead, but just like last week, the Puffins continued to impress. With his second win of the day, 2kRated pushed Reykjavik in front by handling a Smith Morra Gambit novelty with a nice defensive resource:

    The win put Reykjavik out of reach. Even with Barcelona's Forcen Esteban swindling Kjartansson, the Puffins took the match 27.7-20.5:

    With Reykjavik winning the match, the Puffins earned three points that put them on top of Group B entering the Knockout Battles. The Raptors, having entered the day with a chance to lock their spot in the Summer Series Championships, now needed a solid result to keep up with their Group B rivals. 

    Knockout Battles: GM Kollars Wins Rematch Against Forcen Esteban

    Unlike traditional playoff formats, the Summer Series Knockout Battles offer players only one game each round to progress to the finals. Alongside Forcen Esteban and Kjartansson, Pittsburgh's GM Alexander Shabalov and Baden Baden's GM Dmitrij Kollars completed the four-player knockout:

    Once again Kollars won the Knockout Battle, though this week's path to the top was far from simple.

    Making his Summer Series debut, Shabalov needed a win against Kollars to give the Pawngrabbers a much needed jolt. While time trouble saved Kollars in the end, Shabalov's fighting spirit produced one of the most entertaining games of the PRO Chess League Summer Series:

    Forcen Esteban won his rematch with Kjartansson that set up a critical third-place match between Pittsburgh and Reykjavik. Shabalov avenged his loss to Kollars with a crushing attack:

    With Barcelona and Baden Baden both advancing to the finals, Forcen Esteban and Kollars were set for their fourth game of the Summer Series. Once again Kollars entered a complicated position but managed a draw and force a bullet tiebreak:

    The draw meant the first bullet tiebreak between Kollars and Forcen Esteban, where Kollars held on to a bullet advantage for the duration of the game:

    Baden Baden's Knockout Battle win earned three points in the standings. Barcelona earned two points, and Pittsburgh earned their second point of the Summer Series. Additionally, Kollars won a first-place prize of $100, Forcen Esteban won $60, and Shabalov won $40 for their performances in the Knockout Battles.

    Live Club Match: Baden Baden Ties Pittsburgh in Final Moments, Steals Group B Lead

    Unlike last week, Pittsburgh's fans came through this week against a talented Baden Baden team. In what what was the closest Live Club Match of the season, both teams' fans delivered in critical moments.

    Pittsburgh took an early lead when NM Artak Manukyan, the Armenia Eagles General Manager, converted a drawn rook-and-pawn endgame:

    The Eagles' appearance in the match means he has now played for two teams (San Francisco, Pittsburgh) this Summer Series. With Group C starting in two weeks, the Armenian should be ready for action when he plays for the Armenia Eagles.

    For Baden Baden, OptymuS played strong defensive chess to score a point despite Black's queenside attack:

    The teams continued to trade blows, but Pittsburgh took a 19-18 lead when Ferd_the_Absurd scored for the "Black and Gold" after grinding a rook and opposite-color bishop endgame:

    That meant Kollars needed to beat Shabalov for the Snowballs to avoid a loss. Shabalov had some chances early, but the German teenager found the equalizing point late in the endgame:

    The draw meant Pittsburgh and Baden Baden both earned a point towards the standings, with the Snowballs earning a bonus point for the bigger fan growth. Pittsburgh can still make it to the Summer Series Championships, but it will take another top performance from the "Black and Gold" to beat Group B's biggest club, Barcelona.

    Next Week's Matches

    Next week is the last chance for each of the Group B teams to make the Summer Series Championship. No team has clinched yet, and any of the four teams can find themselves on the outside looking in this time next week.

      Team Points Club
    Baden Baden Snowballs 8 Fan Club
    Barcelona Raptors 7 Fan Club
    Reykjavik Puffins 6 Fan Club
    Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers 3 Fan Club

    Tune into the Summer Series this Saturday, July 6, at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Twitch.tv/chess to watch the action live!


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