Team Chess Battle Heats Up Ahead Of Nakamura-MVL Match

Team Chess Battle Heats Up Ahead Of Nakamura-MVL Match

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Team France will have to expect the unexpected in next week’s Team Chess Battle against the USA. Ahead of the anticipated battle on March 15, IM Daniel Rensch gave thousands of viewers a taste of his unorthodox chess in a warm-up team match with IM Levy Rozman against IM John Bartholomew and IM David Pruess on March 8.

On this week’s trans-Atlantic match, Rensch will team up with GM Hikaru Nakamura, in an attempt to take on GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and NM Kevin Bordi (aka Blitzstream) in a 25’+10” consultation match. The three rapid games will be live on on Friday, March 15 at 9 a.m. PDT / 12 p.m. EDT.

In the first Team Chess Battle last Friday, Rensch & Rozman kept up with their pre-match anticipations with an amusing combination of trash-talk, fizzy sacrifices and bitter losses. Team Bartholomew & Pruess gave convincing demonstrations of how to calmly punish over-optimistic opening choices and aggressive middlegame plans.

The two teams got into shape with two games of Chess960 ahead of the rapid match. The Rozman & Rensch fans got a taste of sweet victory in sacrificial style, when the duo gave an exchange for a considerable space advantage and forced the opponents to slip in time trouble. Their ambitious conduct backfired pretty soon, though, as Bartholomew & Pruess owned the first rapid game manoeuvring around a far too advanced white center:

“We got in a fist fight against better punchers, and missed our chance,” was Rozman’s philosophical analysis of the game.

Game two looked like all or nothing for Rozman & Rensch, who got themselves in a thrilling side-line of the Blumenfeld Gambit. The excitement didn’t last long, since Bartholomew & Pruess completed their development at the cost of a couple of pawns and got rewarded by an unstoppable central attack.

“This line is fine for black, I just didn’t remember it,” commented Rensch, and then added: “We didn’t survive any opening in this match.”

“I haven’t played chess like this in six years,” said Pruess, who was delighted by the match format as well as the team’s results. Some efficient cooperation gave him and Bartholomew a constant time advantage on the clock which allowed them to convert their opening advantage in both games.

In fact, exploiting faulty opening choices wasn’t all that Bartholomew & Pruess could do. A few more blitz wins followed the brilliant rapid performance, with a disappointed Rensch running out of plans to get back on track. He questioned Bartholomew’s Scandinavian Defense and proposed a game in this opening.

The thematic game didn’t go as planned for team Rozman & Rensch, who allowed Black to equalize and gave away the game with a gallivant sacrifice.

You can replay all the action of the rapid showdown here:

Bekijk Team Chess Battles: IM Not a GM! van Chess op

“I'm going to get myself a better partner next week,” joked Rensch, who will enjoy having his enterprising plans double checked by Nakamura against Team France. This Friday’s show will surely feature great action on and off the board.

The two top-GMs Nakamura and MVL and the two streaming superstars Rensch and Bordi are set to engage in top class analysis of their games in progress while debating with their opponents.

We’re going to wreck them!

Vachier-Lagrave and Nakamura will meet again on the screen after their Puzzle Rush competition went viral last week. MVL’s attempted to match Nakamura’s 55 points record in a 2-hour long puzzle race failed, leaving Nakamura on top of the game’s leaderboard.

Watch Vive la France! MVL's Puzzle Rush record attempt from mvlchess on

On Friday, the two GMs will take the competition to the next level as they will have to defend their country’s honor in the rapid matchup.

Beside the patriotic honor, the winning team will gain $750, while the losing side will be awarded $250. However, Vachier-Lagrave raised the stakes with a pushy statement: “If France beats America, I'm going to stream my next show with a uni-brow." Rensch re-raised: "But if they lose, they will have to shave their beards."

Don’t miss any of the action! You can watch the Team Chess Battle live on on Friday, March 15 at 9 a.m. PDT / 12 p.m. EDT.

The match format:

  • Two teams of two chess masters each.
  • Players may only talk to their teammates on their own move.
  • Each team must come to a consensus for each move played.
  • Fans will be able to hear and learn from each team's thought process as moves alternate.
  • Time control: rapid chess, 25 minutes plus a 10-second per move increment.
  • If either clock gets under one minute, both teams may talk freely at all times. 


  • If the match is tied after the three rapid games, the event becomes a last-man-standing format, with individual members from each team facing off against their opponents at a blitz time control of three minutes plus a two-second increment per move.
  • Players are eliminated with a loss.
  • Drawn games are replayed with the colors reversed.
  • Last team standing wins.


  • $1,000 total prize pool per match
  • $750 to the winning team
  • $250 to the losing team 

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