PRO Chess Round 2: Nakamura Falters In Final Game
For the second week in a row, only four PRO Chess League players managed a perfect 4/4 score. In an amazing turn of events, two of the four weren't even board ones! GMs Gawain Jones and Eduardo Iturrizaga scored for their team, but then second board and second-youngest GM in the world, Awonder Liang, devoured the Montreal Chessbrahs. The real stunner though was IM Sean Nagle (board FOUR for the Minnesota Blizzard) getting a perfect score against the Buenos Aires Krakens, a feat we're not sure we'll ever see repeated!
On the flip side, the highest-rated player to debut in week two, GM Hikaru Nakamura, faltered in his final game, losing to his 2017 teammate Leinier Dominguez.
Cast your votes for game and move of the week!
Who played the #prochess GOTW?— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) January 26, 2018
Onischuk-Gorozhanin - https://t.co/bNRdK7GCuZ
Wang Yue- @AlexeyDreev - https://t.co/XXa3XKCSLn
Liang- @GMrobinVK - https://t.co/dE4D2kHUVZ
Ghosh- @gmjlh - https://t.co/6Xf3FSDlbj @NorwayGnomes @pghpawngrabbers @ChessPandas @Armenian_Eagles
What's the #prochess MOTW?— PROChessLeague ( @PROChessLeague) January 26, 2018
Lenderman's 18...Nxa3! - https://t.co/M807Knnv60
Wang Yue's 23.Bxb6! - https://t.co/XXa3XKCSLn
Bacrot's 60.Rxe7+! - https://t.co/jhrx3N1XaS
Melkumyan's 53.Qf5+! - https://t.co/i4SMeZJfHZ @MntclrSopranos @ChessPandas @MarseilleMigs @Armenian_Eagles
Ronud Two Highlights: Sean Nagle And The Terrific, Perfect, So Good, Very Great Day
Nagle is a many-time Minnesota champion and is Minnesota's second IM after John "Fins" Bartholomew. His perfect performance today started with a defeat of GM Sandro Mareco. Struggling to make progress in a pawn-up position, Mareco decided to exchange into a queen endgame where Nagle's passed pawn mattered more than any pawn deficit.
Round Two Highlights: Strong Emotions
This was one of the most exciting weeks in the PRO Chess League, and the players, managers, and commentators clearly felt the drama. First, there was this amazing moment in the "Match of Mate in Ones" between the Dallas Destiny and the Rio Grande Ospreys: Two foreheads separated by 3,000 miles were simultaneously smacked.
And who can forget the Puffins? One of 2017's most viral teams again had viewers (especially its captain) on the edge of their seats in this dramatic time scramble!
And though GM Jon Ludvig Hammer streamed his play this week in the PRO Chess League, he was not distracted, scoring 3.5/4. He also gave the fans insight into the intensity of Agdestein's fateful round-three time scramble.
- Mumbai Movers vs Norway Gnomes: 8.5-7.5
- Delhi Dynamite vs Oslo Trolls: 9.5-6.5
- Estonia Horses vs Volga Stormbringers: 10.5-5.5
- Armenia Eagles vs Riga Magicians: 10.5-5.5
- Marseille Migraines vsCannes Blockbusters: 10-6
- London Lions vs Amsterdam Mosquitos: 8.5-7.5
- Reykjavik Puffins vs London Towers: 8.5-7.5
- Stockholm Snowballs vs Ljubljana Turtles: 8.5-7.5
- Webster Windmills vs Saint Louis Arch Bishops: 8-8
- Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers vs Montreal Chessbrahs: 9.5-6.5
- Minnesota Blizzard vs Buenos Aires Krakens: 11.5-4.5
- Miami Champions vs Montclair Sopranos: 9-7
- Dallas Destiny vs Rio Grande Ospreys: 9-7
- Seattle Sluggers vs Las Vegas Desert Rats: 8-8
- Australia Kangaroos vs San Jose Hackers: 8.5-7.5
- Chengdu Pandas vs San Diego Surfers: 8-8
Visit ProChessLeague.com before each round to play fantasy chess.
Reports compiled by Sam Thompson and Sam Copeland.
The Mumbai Movers beat the Norway Gnomes in an exciting match with a final score of 8.5-7.5. The Gnomes were down after rounds one and two but gathered themselves and made a valiant push to victory, only falling short in a heartbreaking round four.
Of course, one strong player missing from today's match was World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen, who is tied for first in Tata Steel masters. Today being a rest day, and with three rounds to go in Wijk aan Zee, he made the prudent decision to take it easy.
Board ones GM Diptayan Ghosh and GM Jon Ludvig Hammer delivered strong performances for their respective teams. Board two for Norway, GM Simen Agdestein, had a rough day, but nearly delivered a win for Norway in the final seconds of round two. Watch Hammer react as time trouble ensues!
@PROChessLeague) January 25, 2018
The Dehli Dynamite overwhelmed the Oslo Trolls today 9.5-6.5, moving to 1.5/2 on the season. With four very consistent boards and no obvious weaknesses, Dehli was just too much. GM Salem Saleh led the way on board one with a near perfect score of 3.5/4.
The remaining three boards for Dehli each scored 2/4. Aradhya Garg on board four actually notched a win against the Trolls' board one!
|Trolls||Dynamite||Salem Saleh||Vaibhav Suri||Sahaj Grover||Aradhya Garg||9.5|
|Lars Oskar Hauge||1|
The Estonia Horses scored a big win against the Volga Stormbringers today with a commanding 10.5-5.5 final score. The top three boards for Estonia were on fire, each scoring 3/4.
In round two, Estonia's board one GM Alex Onischuk played a fierce sacrificial mating attack against FM Mikhail Gorozhanin. A "Game of the Week" contender for sure!
@PROChessLeague) January 25, 2018
On board two for Volga is rising star GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov, an Uzbekistani chess prodigy. He recently became the second-youngest GM in history at 13 years, 1 month, 11 days. He had a tough day today, but check out his fighting game against Onischuk.
|Stormbringers||Horses||Alex Onischuk||Jaan Ehlvest||Meelis Kanep||Uku Valner||10.5|
The Armenia Eagles rolled past the Riga Magicians with a dominant 10.5-5.5 final score. On paper these teams are quite evenly matched with average ratings of 2497 and 2489 respectively. However, a huge discrepancy in results emerged on board one: The Eagles' GM Hrant Melkumyan scored 3.5/4 while the Magicians' GM Igor Kovalenko came away with a depressing half-point.
Play through their game against each other in round four, and see if you can spot White's surprising move after 52...Qe2.
|Magicians||Eagles||Hrant Melkumyan||Zaven Andriasyan||Manuel Petrosyan||Artak Manukyan||10.5|
In a battle between the two French PRO Chess League teams, the Marseille Migraines battered the Cannes Blockbusters 10-6 in one-sided affair. Boards one, two, and three for Marseille were nearly unstoppable, scoring 3.5/4, 3/4, and 3.5/4, respectively. GM Etienne Bacrot led his team with precise, energetic play. His third round win against GM Robert Fontaine was especially convincing.
Another close match in the Central Division today! The London Lions beat the Amsterdam Mosquitos by the slimmest of margins with a 8.5-7.5 final score.
When your board three player outscores board one 3.5/4 to 3/4, that's something special. Here's a fine win by London's board three, IM Justin Tan.
|Lions||Mosquitoes||David Klein||Quinten Ducarmon||Ali Bitalzadeh||Ilias van der Lende||7.5|
|Jean-Pierre Le Roux||3|
|Marcus R Harvey||1|
Reykjavik Puffins Survive London Towers
The Reykjavik Puffins survived the London Towers led by GM Gawain Jones with a perfect 4/4 score. Jones played from Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands today since he is playing at the Tata Steel masters. Given his tough loss to GM Magnus Carlsen in round eight, one might conclude that Jones is out for revenge! Just watch him take down IM Jon Viktor Gunnarsson with the swaggering 1.a3.
The match came down to the wire in round four and could have been decided in a wild time scramble between the board-two players, IM Ameet Ghasi and GM Helgi Olafsson. At one point it even appeared that Olafsson had run out of time!
|Puffins||Towers||Gawain Jones||Ameet Ghasi||Keith Arkell||Peter Roberson||7.5|
|Jon Viktor Gunnarsson||2|
The Stockholm Snowballs edged out the Ljubljana Turtles in a nail-biting finish with an 8.5-7.5 final score. Wow! There were so many highlights from this match. The two teams found themselves even in the fourth round and every game was not only consequential, but exciting as well!
Watch the battle of board threes as GM Matej Sebenik and GM Kirill Alekseenko trade blows in this tactically rich, queenless middlegame position that quickly turns into a mate-in-one diagram.
It ultimately came down to the battle of the board-two players, GM Evgenij Agrest of Stockholm against GM Jure Škoberne of Ljubljana. The winner of the following knight endgame would decide the match!
|Turtles||Snowballs||Georg Meier||Evgenij Agrest||Kirill Alekseenko||Inna Agrest||8.5|
With a 7-5 lead entering the final round, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops looked destined to claim victory over their crosstown rivals, the Webster Windmills, but a disastrous final round allowed the Windmills a 3-1 score and a match tie. Oddly, the weak point in the Arch Bishops' lineup proved to be the 2017 runner-up in the World Rapid Championship, Vladimir Fedoseev. Scoring only 2/4, his underperformance on board one was critical.
In the final game, Fedoseev missed a brilliant resource that would have likely sealed the match victory for the Arch Bishops.
|Arch Bishops||Windmills||Jorge Cori||Aleksandr Shimanov||Ray Robson||Thalia Cervantes||8|
The 14-year-old GM Awonder Liang must be one of the most valuable free agents in the PRO Chess League. As board two for the impressive Pittsburgh Pawgrabbers, he scored a perfect 4/4 to lead his team to victory over the Montreal Chessbrahs.
Barely avoiding relegation last year, the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers look like a force to be feared this year. Meanwhile the Montreal Chessbrahs seem to really be missing GMs Fabiano Caruana and Li Chao who were so impressive on a shared board one last year. Here is one of Liang's several nice wins—a miniature against Chessbrah fourth-board IM Michael Kleinman.
|Pawngrabbers||Chessbrahs||Robin van Kampen||Renier Castellanos||Aman Hambleton||Michael Kleinman||6.5|
Wow! IM Sean Nagle set a truly remarkable PRO Chess League record this week, scoring 4/4 as a board four for the Minnesota Blizzard. Almost any credible performance from the remaining boards would have won the match, but the Blizzard looked sturdy on all boards and got great play from IM Daniel Gurevich on board three as well.
The Blizzard are now 2/2 as a team with a dominant performance this week, and a victory last week over the 2017 champions, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops. So far they look like the best team in the Atlantic Division.
Here is one of Nagle's exciting wins, a clever exploitation of a vulnerable rook.
|Blizzard||Krakens||Sandro Mareco||Andres Carlos Obregon||Mario Villanueva||German Della Morte||4.5|
GM Eduardo Iturrizaga was the only board one to achieve a perfect score in the Atlantic Division in week two of the PRO Chess League. His good play led the Miami Champions to victory. Also notable this week was the addition of the Champions' champion, Nicholas Rosenthal who played board four for the victorious Saint Louis Arch Bishops in the 2017 season. He did not particularly impress this week, scoring one point, but good performances in future from him may make the Champions one of the best teams in the league.
Despite Iturrizaga's performance, we can't resist concluding our summary with this gorgeous move from GM Alexander Lenderman. It's sure to be a game of the week contender.
|Champions||Sopranos||Aleksandr Lenderman||Anatoly Bykhovsky||Nicolas Checa||Advait Patel||7|
|Julio Becerra Rivero||1|
In this season's "Texas Showdown," the Dallas Destiny triumphed over the scrappy Rio Grande Ospreys 9-7 in another fighting Pacific Division encounter. GM Conrad Holt led the way for Dallas on board two, scoring an impressive 3.5/4. With any great score, a little luck is sometimes involved. Watch below as Holt's round-one opponent, IM Guillermo Vazquez, repeatedly misses mate-in-one and eventually gets mated himself. The commentators cannot believe their eyes!
Missing checkmate in one has been the theme of the Pacific Division Round 2.
Freeze frame! GM Conrad Holt checkmates IM Guillermo Vazquez.
|Ospreys||Destiny||Julio Sadorra||Conrad Holt||Andrey Gorovets||Steven Breckenridge||9|
The Seattle Sluggers drew even with the Las Vegas Desert Rats, in a high-profile match. Board one for the Sluggers this week was GM Hikaru Nakamura, who scored a respectable 3/4, losing to the tenacious Las Vegas board one, GM Leinier Dominguez. Dominguez struggled in the first three rounds, accumulating one point. However, he rose to the occasion and punished Nakamura with the black pieces to ensure a drawn match result. Interestingly, according to live ratings, Dominguez edges Nakamura in rapid chess by a whole three rating points.
It should be pointed out that Nakamura was actually playing from the Tradewise Gibraltar Festival, local time 3 a.m.!
In round three IM Bryce Tiglon fell to former U.S. women's champion IM Nazi Paikidze in a fascinating knight endgame. Find out if a king and knight can stop three isolated pawns from queening.
|Desert Rats||Sluggers||Hikaru Nakamura||Giorgi Margvelashvili||Bryce Tiglon||Anthony He||8|
The Australia Kangaroos upset the San Jose Hackers in the final seconds of round four, taking the match by the slimmest of margins, 8.5-7.5. In round four, with the match result up for grabs, it all came down to the board-one battle between GM Rauf Mamedov and GM Alexey Sarana...and (apparently) an internet connection.
In the final position, White has a clear perpetual by just checking back and forth on g8 and h8 with the rook, which would have sealed a drawn match. Unfortunately, according to Mamedov (in the chat after the game), he lost connection in that final moment, losing on time.
On a positive note, Mamedov delivered one of the most memorable checkmates of the day in round three against GM Anton Smirnov.
|Kangaroos||Hackers||Rauf Mamedov||Zviad Izoria||Faik Aleskerov||Teemu Virtanen||7.5|
The San Diego Surfers drew with the Chengdu Pandas after a tense last-round comeback by the Chinese team. Once again, GM YU Yangyi played well, scoring 3.5/4, a half-point off his perfect score last week, but who's counting? Certainly a candidate for game of the week occurred in round three. Watch GM Wang Yue find a cunning sacrifice (and a not-so-obvious follow-up) against San Diego's board one, GM Alexey Dreev. The resulting endgame play is instructive as well.
Entering round four with a match score of 7-5, San Diego had only to maintain the balance with a comfortable two-point advantage. Chengdu would have to score 3/4 in the final round to draw even. Once again, the Chengdu board four, this time Li Zhaoyang, surpassed expectations and turned a bad position in a winning one to help clinch the comeback.
What a finish! Chengdu found their form and managed to come back: we scored 1-3 in round 4, so ended 8-8. An exciting match from start to finish, with lots of drama. Gotta love #prochessleague! Thanks to our lineup, Dreev, Sevian, Bryant, @Tatev_A, for a hell of a show!— San Diego Surfers ( @SD_Surfers) January 26, 2018
|Pandas||Surfers||Alexey Dreev||Samuel Sevian||John Daniel Bryant||Tatev Abrahamyan||8|