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Spanish Maniac Shrimps Qualify For PCL Main Event

Spanish Maniac Shrimps Qualify For PCL Main Event

AnthonyLevin
| 5 | Chess Event Coverage

The Spanish Maniac Shrimps won the Pro Chess League 2023 Qualifier, finishing first in both segments of the two-day event. They fill the 16th and final spot of the PCL main event this year.

After making it to the Qualifier Knockout through the Swiss tournament on the first day, the Ferocious Tacticians finished second, while the Chinese Kungfu and Hungary Hunters tied for third.

The main event, bringing together some of the world's strongest grandmasters including GM Magnus Carlsen, starts on February 14, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. PT/16:30 CET. 

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Pro Chess League Qualifier on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by GM Daniel Naroditsky and FM James Canty III.


The PCL is back for its fifth season after a two-year hiatus, with a familiar vibe but some key changes. There will be 16 teams this year with no region restrictions. This allows for some never-before-seen team rosters—for example, GMs Anish Giri, Ivan Saric, and Carlsen (from three different countries) are playing for the Canada Chessbrahs. Indeed, there are limits in place for team lineups, like a total rating cap of 10200 (2550 average per player).

The prize fund, originally $110,000, was recently bumped up to an even $150,000. The format is an "Elimination Swiss," a format that will be explained in more detail in the main event's first report (you can the rules here).

One final change: for the first time this event is named the "Pro Chess League," as opposed to the "PRO Chess League." PRO used to stand for "Professional Rapid Online," but since rapid chess has become a well-accepted time control, it no longer seems necessary to specify this in the acronym. 

Qualifier Swiss

The Spanish Maniac Shrimps, led by Spanish GM Eduardo Iturrizaga (2638 FIDE), finished first with 22 points in total. The other three teams—Chinese Kungfu (21.5 points), Ferocious Tacticians (20.5 points), and Hungary Hunters (20 points)—took the other three top spots to place in the Knockout.

The first segment of the two-day Qualifier featured a nine-round Swiss tournament. There were 10 teams in total, with four players each. All participants played as if it were an individual tournament and their cumulative scores were added as a team—players on the same team did not get paired against each other.

The time control for all games this season is 10 minutes plus a two-second increment, a time control commentator Naroditsky called "the sweet spot" between rapid and blitz.

Round three was a key breakthrough for the Spanish team—it was just one of two rounds where a team scored a perfect four points (the other was the Argentina Krakens in round five). The nicest win was by board-three GM Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez against GM Leandro Krysa of the Argentina Krakens.

An innocent developing move by Black was a fatal misstep as it allowed a temporary piece sacrifice on the e6-square, an opportunity Ibarra pounced on with razor precision. The piece was regained a few moves later, with two pawns' interest.

A strong performance in rounds four-eight, scoring no less than two points in every round, allowed them to win the tournament outright even despite a rough round nine where they scored only one point. 

Second-place Chinese Kungfu's strongest single-round performance was in round six, where they earned three wins and one draw. Their top player, GM Yu Yangyi, took down Hungary Hunters board two GM Tamas Banusz.

Can you find the final tactic to finish the game?

Qualifier Swiss | Final Standings

Teams  Avg Rating Total
Spanish Maniac Shrimps 2546.3 22.0
Chinese Kungfu 2537.8 21.5
Ferocious Tacticians 2514.0 20.5
Hungary Hunters 2511.0 20.0
Mighty Tigers 2388.8 18.0
Argentina Krakens 2471.3 17.5
Mighty Dragons 2476.8 17.0
Turkey Knights 2479.8 16.0
Chartres Chess Club 2488.5 14.5
Ukraine 2424.5 6.0

The top four teams advanced to the next stage.

Qualifier Knockout

The Knockout phase featured matches between four teams. Each team member played against every member of the opposing team—meaning four rounds in the match, with a possible fifth to break a tie. The first team to reach 8.5 points won the match and advanced to the final.

Chinese Kungfu was the only team with a 2700-rated GM on board one. On the other hand, Spanish Maniac Shrimps had the highest average rating among the four players: 2546.3.

Full Team Lineups

Fed Title Full Name Username Rating
Spanish Maniac Shrimps GM Eduardo Iturrizaga Iturrizaga 2636
Avg. Rtg: 2546.3 GM Miguel Santos Ruiz Miguelito 2587
GM Jose Carlos Ibarra jcibarra 2563
IM Karina Ambartsumova karinachess1 2399
Chinese Kungfu GM Yu Yangyi CHESSPANDA123 2716
Avg. Rtg: 2537.8 GM Lu Shanglei wudileige 2605
GM Xu Yinglun XuYinglun 2553
WGM Li Xueyi xiaopang123 2277
Ferocious Tacticians GM Vasif Durarbayli Durarbayli 2612
Avg. Rtg: 2514.0 GM Aydin Suleymanli LastGladiator1 2543
GM Vugar Rasulov vugarrasulov 2525
IM Gulnar Mammadova Korona_91 2376
Hungary Hunters GM Viktor Erdos Magicmaster17 2591
Avg. Rtg: 2511.0 GM Tamas Banusz bancsoo 2609
GM Adam Kozak MrTattaglia 2558
WIM Zsoka Gaal crazy_girl99 2286

Spanish Maniac Shrimps vs. Hungary Hunters 9-7

The Hungary Hunters started with a small early lead. In the first round, three draws left just one decisive game: Banusz (board two) beat IM Karina Ambartsumova (board four). 

Round two was an even affair in terms of score, 2-2, but this time there were no draws. Four decisive results—major blood was spilled. Round three, however, was the turning point for the Spanish team as they won three games and drew one, taking a two-point lead that would not diminish for the rest of the match. 

Seeing the downward trend in round three, GM Adam Kozak (Hungary Hunters board three) took a risk against Ambartsumova. With both players under 15 seconds, he declined a draw by repetition and took on a worse position to keep the game going. The Russian IM held her own and converted the advantage with confidence. 

With an even score in the last round, 4-4, their dominant performance in round three pushed the Spanish Maniac Shrimps through to the final. 

Chinese Kungfu vs. Ferocious Tacticians 7-9

The Ferocious Tacticians got off to a powerful and ultimately insurmountable lead against Chinese Kungfu. They won the first round by a small margin, with 2 points against 1.5, but brought down the hammer in round two. Three wins, one loss. The Chinese team was never able to recover in the last two rounds.

GM Vasif Durarbayli defeated GM Xu Yinglun with a blistering attack featuring a rook lift, a bishop sacrifice, and a swarm of white pieces flying at the black king.

Round three didn't change much; one win apiece and two draws left the Ferocious Tacticians in the lead.

All four games were decisive in the last round, and a final score of 9-7 score granted the Ferocious Tacticians a spot in the final. 

Spanish Maniac Shrimps vs. Ferocious Tacticians Final 8.5-6.5

The gloves came off from the get-go. Fascinatingly, just one game ended in a draw in all four rounds (16 games total), Iturrizaga-Durarbayli in round four. The scores were level for the first two rounds, but the Spanish Maniac Shrimps took the lead in round three. A hand-wringing fourth round nearly saw a comeback, but good fortune in some close calls secured the win for the Spanish team. 

In round one, the Ferocious Tacticians had a shot at an early lead. But when GM Aydin Suleymanli overpressed in a rook endgame, Ibarra punished him unflinchingly to even the score.

Round two saw yet another four decisive games yet still an even score. Then after another four decisive games in round three, something budged: the Spanish Maniac Shrimps broke through with three wins and one loss.

Perhaps the key result in this round, if not the overall match, was a win by GM Miguel Santos Ruiz with the black pieces over the opposing team's board one Durarbayli.

The final round was full of suspense as the Ferocious Tacticians were on the brink of a comeback. Their board two GM Vugar Rasulov was coasting to victory, up a full piece, when he allowed a passed pawn too far up the board and actually lost.

Another miraculous save was that of Ambartsumova against Ferocious Tacticians board four IM Gulnar Mammadova. Knowing the stakes of this last round, the Azerbaijani player unleashed a tremendous attack from the Italian Opening. Although the engines claimed her attack was winning, an imprecise knight trade allowed Black to defend, and her Russian opponent even went on to win.

"We were really lucky in the last game," said Santos Ruiz in the post-match interview. And he also answered the question we were all asking: what's the story behind that team name?

The Spanish Maniac Shrimps advance to the main event where they are guaranteed to win a minimum of $2,000. 

The Ferocious Tacticians win $1,000 for finishing second, while the Chinese Kungfu and Hungary Hunters earn $500 each for finishing third.


The Pro Chess League (PCL) is the number-one online global chess league for teams from all over the world. The event features 16 teams playing rapid games for their piece of the $150,000 prize fund.

The main event kicks off on February 14 at 7:30 a.m. PT/16:30 CET and features top players like Carlsen, Naroditsky, and GM Hikaru Nakamura.

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