Dramatic Tiebreak Win For Team MGD1 Over Levitov Chess Wizards; Indian Yogis Prevail Over Blitz

Dramatic Tiebreak Win For Team MGD1 Over Levitov Chess Wizards; Indian Yogis Prevail Over Blitz


The all-Indian Team MGD1 and Indian Yogis prevailed over the Levitov Chess Wizards and Blitz, respectively, in contrasting styles in the last two Quarterfinals to move into the Semifinals of the 2023 Pro Chess League.

Though leading by a score of 7-5 at the end of the third round, the all-GM Team MGD1 was dramatically defeated 1-3 in the final round by the Wizards to set up an exciting tiebreak clash. The match went to the wire and was decided in favor of MGD1 only in the final game of the tiebreak as they won with a slim score of 2.5-1.5 to win the quarterfinals with a combined score of 10.5-9.5.

In contrast, Indian Yogis dominated their match against Blitz and won with a final score of 9.5-6.5. Though none of the players could escape defeat, young GM M Pranesh was the top scorer for the team with three points from four games, including a win over heavyweight GM Etienne Bacrot.

The Semifinals are scheduled on Saturday, May 13, starting with the India Yogis vs. Shanghai Tigers at 6:30 a.m. PT / 15:30 CEST, followed by the Gotham Knights vs. Team MGD1 at 9:00 a.m. PT/18:00 CEST

Levitov Chess Wizards 9.5 – 10.5 Team MGD1

With almost all the boards looking evenly matched on paper, this match was expected to be an even fight and the first two rounds seemed to confirm the judgment.

GM Arjun Erigaisi looked in form from the beginning and he briskly started with a win over GM Alexandra Kosteniuk with a creatively played middlegame from the black side of a messy French Defense. His kingside knight danced all around across g8-h6-f7-d8-c6-a5-b3 in the middlegame, and Arjun’s victory is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Two more games of the round were decided in dramatic fashion:

The Wizards struck back in the very next round. After GM Baskaran Adhiban vs. Kosteniuk ended in a draw, GM David Paravyan held a huge advantage against GM Dronavalli Harika and was expected to win. Erigaisi once again scored a facile win taking advantage of a tactical point:

In the crucial game of the round, GM Diptayan Ghosh committed hara-kiri while playing with the final seconds on his clock:

Ghosh allowed the mate in one move, sending the commentators into a tizzy; though Sachdev kept her balance, Canty almost didn’t!

The third round was the most pivotal of the match, with Team MGD1 scoring a decisive 3-1 result to take a crucial 7-5 lead. Ghosh finished his game beautifully, checkmating Kosteniuk’s king in a dramatic fashion:

The final round proved to be the most dramatic of all the rounds, when the “Wizards literally came back from the dead,” as Sachdev remarked. It went all the way to the wire, and the Wizards showed that extra gumption to score a 3-1 victory to level the scores at 8-8 and force a tiebreak.

It proved to be the Waterloo for both Erigaisi and Adhiban, as they both played uncharacteristically passively and were soundly defeated by Sarana and Paravyan respectively in two heavyweight clashes.

Paravyan had a surprisingly smooth win over Adhiban in the final round from the word go. After Adhiban’s weakening of the kingside in the early middlegame, Paravyan conducted a simple kingside attack and it looked like Adhiban crumbled under the pressure of competition after trying an unsound exchange sacrifice for which he never achieved complete compensation: 

This well-conducted game prompted Canty to dub Sarana as “Sarana the Piranha” who played too powerfully. 

Even though Dronavalli defeated Kosteniuk, the Wizards equalized the match score thanks to the following dramatic endgame full of twists and turns:

Thus, the match reached the tiebreak games, when the teams played again with the same pairings of the fourth round with swapped colors in a 3+2 time control.

Erigaisi scored a win in a topsy-turvy game where the balance shifted on either side. With Adhiban-Paravyan ending in a draw and Kosteniuk defeating Dronavalli, the final game to end was GM Denis Lazavik-Ghosh, which was a well-played game by the latter:

All games | Quarterfinal 3

Results | Quarterfinal 3

Indian Yogis 9.5 – 6.5 Blitz

Blitz certainly seemed to miss the services of their star GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, as they had a tough time against another all-Indian young team, the Indian Yogis. Comparatively, the Yogis never seemed to be tested enough by the Blitz, and their path to the Semifinals was a smooth affair. 

Yogis defeated Blitz with a score of 3.5-1.5 and 3-1 in the first two rounds, thus starting off with a formidable 5.5-2.5 lead. 

Joining the commentary team on the first day of the quarterfinals, GM Magnus Carlsen was asked by Rensch, “Of all the boards, people you saw performing in the PCL, who impressed you the most this year?” Carlsen answered, “Pragg’s sister Vaishali. She did pretty well in a few matches.”

From the beginning of the match, IM  R Vaishali (sister of GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu) lived up to the praise from Carlsen, scoring a dramatic win over Bacrot in the first round itself. Though he looked in control, Bacrot erred in the middlegame and came under pressure himself during Vaishali’s time pressure, allowing the youngster to make her most in an advantageous endgame:

GM Vidit Gujrathi proclaimed that “this is Vidit 2.0,” and it was certainly refreshing to watch him play sharp chess in almost all the games:

By the end of the third round, Yogis had widened their lead to 7.5-4.5 and they coasted to a win in the match as expected.

GM Nihal Sarin was a solid performer for the Yogis, his win over GM Alexander Grischuk being a significant fight between two of the best-ever blitz players in the world. It was a gutsy fight between two blitz specialists, and Grischuk even held the upper hand for most of the game:

The Yogis wrapped up the match with a 2-2 tie in the fourth and final round. Terming the team a “Powerhouse,” Rensch reminded the audience of Carlsen’s prediction about the team’s potential:

Both the Levitov Chess Wizards and Blitz are awarded $7,500 for reaching the Quarterfinals.

All Games | Quarterfinal 4

Results | Quarterfinal 4

Playoffs Bracket

The Pro Chess League (PCL) is the number-one online global chess league for teams from all over the world. The Playoffs feature eight teams playing rapid games for their piece of the $150,000 prize fund.

Eight teams compete in a single-elimination knockout. The time control is 10+2. The first team to score 8.5 points wins the match.

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