MVL Perfect, Leads Migraines To PRO Week 1 Win
In an action-packed season opener, the powerhouse board ones proved their worth. Four out of four scores from GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Li Chao and 3.5 and 3 points from GMs Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (who forfeited game one) proved sufficient to carry their teams (the Marseille Migraines, Montreal ChessBrahs, St. Louis Arch Bishops, and San Jose Hackers) to victory.
Similarly, a Norway Gnomes team without GM Magnus Carlsen struggled mightily in the opener and looks in need of his presence to make a deep playoff run.
Week 1 Contenders:
It's always tempting to draw conclusions from week one, but here are some teams that came out of the gate with a purpose.
The Riga Magicians had some black magic in store for the Norway Gnomes, who they defeated 10.5-5.5. The Gnomes played without Magnus Carlsen but still fielded a strong squad. Many anticipated them to be a favorite in the league, but based on week one, it's the Magicians who look like potential champions.
By far the zaniest moment of the day came when in a thrilling game versus GM Jon Ludwig Hammer, GM Artur Neiksans had an underpromotion and mate in one, but seemingly couldn't figure out how to turn off auto-promote.
I got swindled, but I had a trick of my own! Chose the line which required turning off auto-queen. https://t.co/9FwelTD760— Jon Ludvig Hammer ( @gmjlh) January 11, 2017
The San Jose Hackers defeated the touted Webster Windmills 11-5. That included a forfeit victory as Mamedyarov struggled with his live chess connection in game one. The Hackers owed a lot to Mamedyarov, but perhaps the prettiest win of the match came from their board two, GM Daniel Naroditsky.
@CristianChirila) January 12, 2017
The San Diego Surfers were dominant against a promising Seattle Sluggers team. They relied on board four, FM Craig Hilby, and GM Alexey Dreev on board one to cruise to 11-5. Both Dreev and Hilby scored 3.5/4. Here Dreev demonstrated his trademark sharp, positional style.
Week 1 Most Valuable Players:
He was in a bit of trouble against IM Thomas Rendle, but other than that brief moment, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was very impressive in his 4.0/4 start for the Marseille Migraines. As a leader on the team, one expects to see Vachier-Lagrave regularly in the lineup, and so long as he is playing like this, it will be tough to beat the Migraines.
Here is his smooth victory against GM Gawain Jones (London Towers) in the latter's favorite Dragon.
@pvossen) January 12, 2017
GM Walter Spoelman scored a dashing 4.0/4 against a tough Stockholm Snowball squad to deliver a resounding victory to the Amsterdam Mosquitos. One of his best games was the following sharp finish.
Li Chao is one of two super-grandmasters (the other GM Fabiano Caruana) on the Montreal ChessBrahs. Today, he helped them to an emphatic victory over the New Jersey Knockouts. His finest game was this positional beauty in which an exchange sac lead to a pawn race.
Any time a board four scores 50 percent, the team should be thrilled. Two outstanding fourth boards were FM Craig Hilby (2319, San Diego Surfers) who scored 3.5/4 against the Seattle Sluggers and FM Nikhil Kumar (2076, Miami Champions). Kumar scored 3.0/4 against the Atlanta Kings and was the bright spot on a Miami Champions squad that was otherwise lackluster.
Kumar is the reigning world under-12 champion and has gained hundreds of rating points since the official PRO Chess League rating cut-off in December. If the Miami Champions are destined to be PRO Chess League champions, it may be Kumar, and not their super-grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura, Lenier Dominguez, and Baadur Jobava, who is responsible.
Week 1 Shots:
It's always nice to cap an attacking game with a beautiful finale. FM Adrian Randazzo of the Patagonia Penguins did not disappoint!
GM Gadir Guseinov was a rock for the Atlanta Kings, scoring 3.5 points on board one. He found a nice opportunity here against the hapless IM Blas Lugo, who scored 0/4 for the Miami Champions.
The Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers got off to a rough start in a 10-6 defeat by the San Francisco Mechanics. The Mechanics' board two, GM Patrick Wolff, had the rare pleasure of playing a windmill against GM Alex Shabalov.
What were your highlights? Vote for best game ($200 prize) and best move ($100) below.
@PROChessLeague) January 12, 2017
@PROChessLeague) January 12, 2017
How did our panel of pundits do in their week one predictions? Only one panelist correctly had Riga beating Norway. Carolina outperformed all five of their expectations but still lost. Only our IM came close to guessing the margin of Patagonia's dominance.
Tarjei Svensen got 2/3 percent of his match predictions correct (16/24). He has an early two-game lead over NM Alex King (14/24). IM Robert Ris and Shaun McCoy are tied for third (13/24) and NM Pete Karagianis will have to try to get back over 50 percent next week (11/24).
We leave with you with this, an inexorably joyful celebration by the Reykjavik Puffins as they secured an 8-8 draw against the Hamburg Swashbucklers! It is everything chess and the PRO Chess League should be
Week 1 Results:
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