Indian Yogis Qualify For Playoffs; Chessbrahs Stage Reversal With Carlsen’s Perfect Score

Indian Yogis Qualify For Playoffs; Chessbrahs Stage Reversal With Carlsen's Perfect Score


The Indian Yogis are the first team to qualify for the playoffs after defeating the Levitov Chess Wizards in the Pro Chess League. In the other match, the Canada Chessbrahs defeated the Garden State Passers. 

The two siblings, GM Praggnanandhaa R and IM Vaishali R, were the MVPs for the Yogis on Wednesday. The brother scored the highest number of points, with 3/4, while the sister upset super-GM Daniil Dubov and went 50 percent against grandmaster opposition.

In the second match, the Chessbrahs lagged behind after two rounds, but they managed to turn things around with a nearly 4-0 sweep in round three. GM Magnus Carlsen‘s perfect 4/4 score in the match certainly did not hurt.

Week three continues on Thursday, March 2, 2023, starting at 7.30 a.m. PT/16:30 CET. The Gotham Knights will play the Shanghai Tigers in the first match. Then Blitz will take on the Croatia Bulldogs.

Levitov Chess Wizards 6.5 – 9.5 Indian Yogis 

The commentators could not identify a favorite in the first match. The Chess Wizards boasted grandmasters on every board and an ever-so-slightly higher average rating, 2574, against the Yogis’ 2561. (Players above 2700 count as 2700, and women over 2350 count as 2350 for the lineup, thus meeting the under-2550 requirement.)

The average age of the Indian Yogis’ lineup was 18.

Praggnanandhaa was the highest scorer for the Yogis. In the very first round, he came up with an inventive rook maneuver against GM Valentina Gunina. It led to an irresistible attack. 

The sister, board four IM Vaishali R, was the true dark horse for the Yogis on Wednesday. In her four games, she scored an even 50 percent against all-GM opposition, and she also scored the greatest upset of the day.

After an even 2-2 score in the first round, the second was the turning point of the match. The Indian Yogis dropped just one loss as GM David Paravyan beat Pranesh M, but they won the other three games. GM Praggnanandhaa R beat GM Denis Lazavik, and GM Nihal Sarin defeated Gunina.

But the major upset of the match (and the day) was board four IM Vaishali R‘s victory over the opposing board one, Dubov. The Russian grandmaster overlooked a zwischenzug after playing 26.b4??, attacking her knight. Can you find what he missed?

Black to play and win material.

After winning the pawn, she went on to convert the endgame without any significant mistakes. Even in the end, she nearly had to demonstrate the difficult bishop and knight checkmate with under 10 seconds on the clock, but fortunately, she was able to avoid that scenario and win the game with ease.

In round three, all the games were drawn except for Vaishali-Gunina, which the former won. The Yogis needed just one more point to win the match after the round, meaning the Chess Wizards would need to score at least 3.5 points—a tall order.

The last round finished with a 2-2 score, consolidating a victory for the Yogis after not losing a single round.

Lazavik defeated Vaishali in a sharp game where both players found many difficult moves to keep the game going… 

… but this would be their only victory in round four.

Pranesh struck back with a victory of his own, serving Gunina her fourth defeat. It was a good showing for the young grandmaster-elect, who also drew Dubov in the first round. At 16 years old, he recently reached all the requirements to become India’s 79th grandmaster and is waiting for his title to be confirmed.

Every player on the winning team scored 50 percent or greater against their formidable opponents. Board one Praggnanandhaa scored the highest, with 3/4 after two wins and two draws.

The Yogis are the first team to qualify for the playoffs with a perfect score of three victories in three matches. The Chess Wizards lose their first match and continue to week four. 

Garden State Passers 7.5 – 8.5 Canada Chessbrahs

Any team boasting the reigning world champion on their first board attracts high expectations. As the Yogis proved last week, however, the Chessbrahs are not impervious to losing.

The Passers took the lead in round one. GM Sam Sevian defeated WGM Maili-Jade Ouellet, while GM Oleksandr Bortnyk took down GM Eric Hansen

IM Carissa Yip was one move from defeating the world champion but ultimately gave up one point.

Naroditsky aptly summarized the round: “If you’re the Passers for James Canty, you really can’t complain about a first-round victory.” 

Round two ended in a 2-2 stalemate, but what a turnaround round three produced! The Canada Chessbrahs retaliated with a 3.5-0.5 near-sweep that turned the match around. After trailing in the first two rounds, they then led by two points.

In this third round, the Passers’ board four Yip played another impressive game against Hansen, finding the incredible 20.e5 dxe5 21.Bg6!!. 

Although the position was completely winning according to the engine, defeating the resilient Chessbrah is never so easy. He pulled out with a draw, saving his team from a single loss in the round.

Ouellet upset GM Abhimanyu Mishra and GM Ivan Saric converted a pawn-up rook endgame against Sevian. Incredibly, Sevian resigned in a position that—it’s hard to believe—was drawn, despite having just one pawn for a rook!

Meanwhile, Carlsen played a stunning positional masterclass, dismantling Bortnyk’s Alekhine’s Defense in a game that looked as easy as pie.

This is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Round four went smoothly. With the black pieces, Carlsen, playing the French Defense, beat Sevian. And Saric, who was winning against Bortnyk, saw that match victory demanded only a draw and prudently forced a repetition. They clinched the match with the first two games.

Mishra beat Hansen, but it was a pyrrhic victory. Yip closed out the match with a win over Ouellet, locking in a 2.5-1.5 score in the final round.

Carlsen finished on a perfect 4/4 score, while Saric helped pave the way to victory as the second top-scorer. The world champion was equally humorous and ruthless in his assessment of the day:

Both teams move on to week four, but the Passers are one match loss away from elimination.

Standings | Week 3

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 will continue throughout March and features top players like GMs Magnus Carlsen, Daniel Naroditsky, and Hikaru Nakamura.

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