PRO Chess League: Snowballs, Eagles Book Final Tickets To San Francisco

PRO Chess League: Snowballs, Eagles Book Final Tickets To San Francisco

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With Baden-Baden and Armenia both winning today, four teams have booked their ticket to the live PRO Chess Leagues semifinals in San Francisco this May. The Snowballs and the Eagles join St. Louis and Chengdu in qualifying for the event.

With Tuesday's action coming to a close, the results mean that three of the four contestants will be returning to the semifinals, as Ljubljana was relegated during regular season play. The semifinals will see a rematch between St. Louis and Armenia, as Chengdu will take on newcomer Baden-Baden.

For crosstables and games from all matches, visit our weekly results page.

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Eastern Division: Shant Sargsyan Shines As Eagles Knockout Gentlemen

General manager CM Artak Manukyan made a key change to Tuesday's lineup by placing IM Shant Sargsyan on third board. Sargsyan, who had missed Armenia's regular season matchup against Tbilisi, had consistently registered dominating performances for the Eagles in the regular season.

Seeking revenge from the regular season match-up, GM Zaven Andriasian bested Nika Volkov to start the match, using his massive time advantage to build pressure on the board:

With GM Baadur Jobava scoring for the Gentlemen, the Eagles took a 2.5-1.5 lead in the first round. While PRO Chess League fans expected this quarterfinal to be close, Armenia put together an unprecedented scoring run, tallying 6.5/8 over the next two rounds. By this point, IM Shant Sargsyan had scored three consecutive wins for Armenia, including this pairing with Jobava:

After taking a 9-3 lead after three periods, Armenia had booked its spot in the live semifinals to defend their PRO Chess League title. The Georgian team, now eliminated from PRO Chess League contention, register three points in the final round, including GM Levan Pantsulaia's win over GM Haik Martirosyan:

The late comeback did not put a stop to the Eagles' party, and fans even saw top board Andriasian "photobomb" Manukyan's interview with Danny Rensch:

While Armenia's dominant performance kept the Gentlemen out of contention in this match, Tbilisi will be back in 2020 for more editions of this budding rivalry. But for now, the Eagles can focus on defending their PRO Chess League title first.

Central Division: Baden-Baden Freezes Late Comeback Effort

Both teams had something to prove heading into the central division quarterfinal. The Gnomes were playing their most important match since the 2017 PRO Chess League final, as Norway had narrowly missed the postseason in 2018. Baden-Baden (formerly Stockholm), had suffered its own bad luck in the postseason, losing to Norway in the 2017 PRO Chess League semifinals, and then a dramatic first-round exit against Ljubljana after dominating the 2018 regular season.

Norway had won the prior encounter with Baden-Baden, 8.5-7.5, and held the tiebreaker, so pressure was on the Snowballs to win and reach the semifinals. GM Georg Meier, the Snowballs second board, was not deterred by the task and opened the match with a 112-move win against IM Lars Oskar Hauge:

With a 2.5-1.5 lead in hand, the Snowballs doubled down on their advantage in the second period with Meier landing a mate-in-one, and GM Kirill Alekseenko earning a point against Hauge. To end the round, GM Dmitrij Kollars navigated dangerous waters to stun GM Jon Ludvig Hammer:

Baden-Baden now leads by three heading into the third period, and in scoring another 2.5 points, took an 8-4 advantage that Norway could not recover from. Coupled with a win from IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen, Hammer's quick win against Alekseenko gave Gnomes fans some hope with an 8-6 scoreline:

However, with draws coming from both Meier and Kollars, the match finished 9-7 in favor of the Germans, as the Snowballs clinched their place in the live semifinals this May. Baden-Baden will take on the Chengdu Pandas in San Francisco, the first-ever matchup between the two teams.

Commentary for this week of #prochess was provided by Robert Hess, Alexandra Botez, and Danny Rensch. All shows and archives are available at

Just learning about the PRO Chess League? Visit the site and check out the official information article.

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