Top 5 Highlights: PRO Chess Week 4
The PRO Chess League week four turned up the chess excitement.

Top 5 Highlights: PRO Chess Week 4

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20 | Chess Event Coverage

It was another exciting week of online chess action in the PRO Chess League.

Let's look at the top highlights of the week:

  1. France recovers to draw
  2. Saint Louis and Canada on unbeaten collision course
  3. Germany learns to trash talk
  4. Eastern Division showdown
  5. France vs German grudge match
  6. Bonus announcement

1. PCL Teams rejoiced as France was going down..but France recovered in the final round to draw the match.

The Netherlands Mosquitoes took a shocking 4-0 lead against the France Roosters, and it looked like France's dominance of the Central Division might be coming to an end. Other PRO Chess teams took to Twitter to mock the Roosters:

Even Super GM Wesley So showed that he's fed up with the Roosters and their arrogant behavior. In one of the game chats he chimed in with:

GMGMWSO: "what is Mugsy boy doin ? no more trash talk for french guys tonight"

Mugsy boy refers to GM Romain Edouard, France's first board for this match, who goes by "Mugzyyy" on Chess.com.

Here was "Mugzyyy" being upset in round one vs the much lower-rated Dutch IM Ilias van der Lende:

Netherlands held an 8-5 lead in the final round and France would need all three wins to tie the match. Due to a dramatic mouseslip, it managed to do it. Watch the French jubilation and the Dutch heartbreak below: 

A loose translation from part of France's celebration: "That should get all the American trash talkers to shut up."

Once the playoffs begin, the Roosters will probably have to start playing the American teams. Chess fans will be in for a real treat when that happens.

2. Saint Louis and Canada remain unbeaten, and face off on Monday in an epic showdown.

Get ready for the biggest regular season match in PRO Chess League history. Six of the eight players in the match are above 2700 FIDE (Fabiano Caruana, Leinier Dominguez, Wesley So and Quang Liem Le for Saint Louis; Alexander Grischuk and Alireza Firouzja for Canada), while Canadian board three Ivan Saric was above 2700 very recently. 

The winner of this match will almost certainly win the Western Division and get a bye in the first round of the playoffs, and many pundits think we could be looking at a PRO Chess League championship preview.

Canada still holds first place in the division, but just by 3.5 points. Meanwhile Saint Louis woke up after last week's close call, beating California 11.5-4.5. Check out this nice win by Quang Liem Le, who scored an impressive 4/4 on board four!

White grabbed a pawn with 19. Rxc5 but loses a piece to 19....Qd6!


3. Germany has adopted France's trash talking techniques.

The constant goading from the Roosters has lit a fire under everyone in the Central Division, and the Germany Bears are joining the party. The normally polite and soft-spoken team announced its live stream as follows:

We will stream our victory, starting 20:45, in the #prochess league vs @SwedenWasabis with FM David Ortmann and Manager Bo Wimmer! Watch! https://t.co/4uOrVFWfZd

— Spaeti Bears Berlin (@BerlinBad) January 30, 2020

And while it was a very close match, at 6-6 going into the final round, in the end the Germany Bears were able to sing their victory song:

The @BerlinBad win and manager Bo Wimmer goes insane!#prochess pic.twitter.com/Alf5yMZcsk

— PROChessLeague (@PROChessLeague) January 30, 2020

4. A massive showdown  is coming in the Eastern Division.

The India Yogis have won every match this season, including a 12-4 thrashing of Turkey this week. Here's a dramatic highlight from the match as Harikrishna swindled his young opponent Isik Can:

Final cheapo Probably my toughest game today! https://t.co/bbfuJQnYsh

— Harikrishna (@HariChess) January 29, 2020

Meanwhile the China Pandas had a rough start to the season, but they are putting up massive lineups lately and smashing their most recent opponents. This week they used three players who have been above 2700 FIDE (Wei Yi, Li Chao and Wang Yue) and showed the reason why they are considered one of the favorites to reach the PRO Chess League finals. 

Here is a great game from Li Chao where he walks his king to g3 on move 10, and crushes his opponent in short order:

Next week these two powerhouses face off as the feature match on Wednesday morning. With China's numerous 2700+ stars, and India's mix of 2700+ players and young rising 2600+ stars (R.Praggnanandhaa and Nihal Sarin), this is going to be the most anticipated match of the season in the Eastern Division. Will this be the first time in 2020 that we see Ding Liren in the lineup? 

5. France has said that Germany was its only threat in the division...they play next week.

France and Germany are tied for first place in the Central Division, and now that Gibraltar is over the Roosters should have their top star, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, back in the lineup. But he will have to face the player who has been the league MVP thus far: Anton Korobov.

Korobov is 11.5/12 so far this season and has a performance rating above 2900! Here is his final round game against Alexei Shirov, in which he had four pawns for an exchange:

6. A bonus sixth highlight for this week:

The PRO Chess League final four will be held live once again, but this time it won't be in San Francisco. It will be held in Europe at a location that has yet to be announced. Keep your calendars open for May 21-24.

Next week, we will see the three biggest matches of the season in every division:

  • Canada vs Saint Louis, Monday, Feb. 3, 10 a.m. PST
  • India vs China, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 6 a.m PST
  • Germany vs France, Thursday, Feb. 6, 10:45 a.m. PST

This promises to be the most exciting week of the PRO Chess season to date, and we will see which teams can put themselves in the best positions to make the live finals in Europe.

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