Team MGD1 Dominates Passers, Advances To Playoffs

Team MGD1 Dominates Passers, Advances To Playoffs

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Team MGD1 made it to the playoffs after eliminating the Garden State Passers in week five of the 2023 Pro Chess League. This was the last match of the regular season.

Board three, GM Diptayan Ghosh, scored the most points with 3/4, but every member of the team deserves credit for the victory. Not a single player scored below 50%, from board one through board four.

Before the Playoffs, the special Arena Royale takes place on March 24, starting at 8 a.m. PT/16:00 CET, where all the teams will return for an arena tournament. This will be the last chance this season to see all the teams, even the eliminated, in action.

Now that eight teams have qualified, the Playoffs will begin on May 11, 2023, starting at 7:30 a.m. PT/16:30 CET.


Garden State Passers 6 – 10 Team MGD1

The Passers never quite found their rhythm in the match on Friday. On top of that, every player on team MGD1 was in good form. It helps when even the board four is a grandmaster, and GM Harika Dronavalli showed she could beat anyone, even the opposing board one.

Team MGD1 simply dominated round one with a score of 3.5-0.5. GM Aleksandr Lenderman drew GM Adhiban Baskaran, but the Indian team won on all the other boards.

Board four Dronavalli took down the opposing board one, GM Sam Sevian, after transforming an overwhelming positional advantage to material gain. She calculated a lengthy tactical sequence with precision and had an extra rook after the smoke cleared.

Meanwhile, Ghosh was simply on fire during the entire match. His nicest win came in the first round against GM Oleksandr Bortnyk. He swallowed his opponent’s pawn sacrifice in the middlegame and was coldhearted in his conversion of the advantage. It was a remarkably clean game.

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

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The Passers cut the three-point lead to two in the next round with wins by Bortnyk against Dronavalli and Sevian over Ghosh. However, this would be the only round they’d win in the match.

Team MGD1 continued to show unmatched form and nearly took the whole match in round three. Sevian, who was slated to play GM Hikaru Nakamura over the board at The American Cup later the same day, blundered a pawn against Adhiban and lost.

GM Arjun Erigaisi, in the last game of the round, was coasting to victory against Bortnyk when a single lazy move allowed his opponent a draw. Commentator Hess nicely explains the sequence in the clip below.

This didn’t make a difference in the overall trajectory of the match, as the Indian team needed just one point in round four to win. With a score of 2.5-1.5, they delivered—and won the match convincingly. 

Adhiban was in good spirits during the interview. He jokingly said he didn’t expect to play in two matches: “So I was like, oh, I have to play another one… now I had to ruin my 100% score, but okay, I’m very happy that the team made it!” 

Team MGD1 moves on to the Playoffs, where they will face the Levitov Chess Wizards in May, while the Passers finish their season earning $5,000 for making it this far. We will, of course, see them back at the Arena Royale next week before truly saying goodbye.

Standings | Week 5

Playoffs Pairings

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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