Gotham Knights Advance To Playoffs, Croatia Bulldogs Best Blitz In Tiebreaks

Gotham Knights Advance To Playoffs, Croatia Bulldogs Best Blitz In Tiebreaks


In the match against the formidable Shanghai Tigers, the Gotham Knights showcased the most dominant victory so far in this season of the Pro Chess League. In the second match, the Croatia Bulldogs overcame the Blitz in a toe-to-toe tug-of-war struggle that was resolved only in the blitz tiebreaks.

GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Vladimir Fedoseev were the MVPs of their team in the first match, winning three out of three games and clinching match victory without a fourth round. GM Aleksandar Indjic deserves all praise in the second match after scoring a near-perfect 4.5 points in five games, with two back-to-back victories against super-GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Week three concludes on Friday, March 3, 2023, starting at 7:30 a.m. PT/16:30 CET. The California Unicorns play Team MGD1 in the first match, and the Berlin Bears play the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in the second.

Gotham Knights 9 – 3 Shanghai Tigers 

This match was the biggest blowout so far in the Pro Chess League this season. Although the Tigers boasted three grandmasters and an IM with a peak rating of 2500, they were no match for the Knights on Thursday. 

Round one started with a 2-2 even score. The Knights could have gained a lead off the bat, but the blunder in the following game donated a point to the Tigers. 

It didn’t make much of a difference, though, and IM Mykola Bortnyk certainly redeemed himself without delay.

In the following round, the Knights scored 3-1 and took a two-point lead. The two top boards put in their work: Nakamura beat GM Xu Yi and Fedoseev defeated IM Yiping Lou.

However, the upset of the round (and match) was by Bortnyk as he took down Women’s World Champion and GM Ju Wenjun

He had the black pieces and brazenly accepted a piece sacrifice by his experienced opponent. While her attack should have been winning objectively, and likely would have in a slower format, his defensive skills and the practical difficulty of continuing the attack, proved too much for the Chinese GM. 

The match ended in the next round as the Knights won on every single board. 4-0. 

While it’s unfortunate to focus on two losses by Ju, an extremely strong player who won her first-round game, she was on the receiving end of some powerful play by her opponents on this day. Nakamura played the most instructive game, outplaying his world-class opponent in a game that makes it look easy—when it certainly isn’t. 

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

In round four—wait, there was no round four. The match was over.

In the post-match interview, IM Levy Rozman quipped: “It really helps when five minutes into the round, Hikaru already got you a point.” Asked whether he considers his team to be a favorite in the event, he responded:  “After seeing today, it’s kinda hard to argue [that we aren’t].”

The Knights are the second team to qualify for the Playoffs after winning three straight matches with zero losses. The Tigers lose for the first time this season and can afford two more losses in future weeks before elimination.

Blitz 9 – 11 Croatia Bulldogs

Team Blitz, boasting super-GMs and former world blitz champions on their top two boards, looked to be the favorites going into this match. The duel was one of the closest we’ve seen this season, and although Blitz managed to force tiebreaks in a clutch round four, they couldn’t pull it together in the end—as they had done previously.

After the first two rounds, the teams were locked in at an even 4-4 score. The Croatia Bulldogs won the first round by a one-point margin, but the Blitz struck back in round two. 

One highlight of the second round was the game in which IM Mahel Boyer successfully defended a lost position where he was down two pawns for nothing against super-GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac.

He found a cheeky checkmate threat with hardly any pieces left on the board and even had winning chances after gaining a full piece. The game ended in a draw, though.

Most of the games in round three ended in draws, with one win for IM Bardiya Daneshvar vs. IM Deimante Cornette

The results don’t do the round justice, however, as the games came down to chaotic time scrambles. Boyer demonstrated once again his ability to muddy the waters no matter what the objective evaluation, this time against IM Polina Shuvalova.

The tug-of-war continued as Blitz evened the score once again. Deac, after losing a piece, held GM Alexander Grischuk to a draw on board one, and Indjic with the black pieces upset Vachier-Lagrave on board two. The bottom two boards won their games to take the match to the blitz tiebreaks.

The most impressive game in the final showdown has to be Indjic’s second consecutive victory over the former blitz world champion, Vachier-Lagrave. He won an attacking game in 23 moves.

ln a heartfelt interview, Bulldogs Manager Vjekoslav Nemec explained his feelings after winning the match: “It’s a mix of happiness, disbelief, and a little bit of sadness for the opposing team who was also so close to winning…”

The Bulldogs move to week four with two wins under their belt, but the Blitz are just one match loss away from elimination this season.

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.

Previous coverage:


Source link

Tinggalkan Balasan