Cunning Carlsen, Unbeatable Praggnanandhaa Fall To Team Nepomniachtchi

Cunning Carlsen, Unbeatable Praggnanandhaa Fall To Team Nepomniachtchi


The Balan Alaskan Knights leaped back out of last place with a victory over the previously leading SG Alpine Warriors in a close battle on day five of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023. The Knights’ gained the match win despite victories with Black by both GM Magnus Carlsen and the so far invincible Praggnanandhaa R., who has reached 5.5 points out of six games. 

 GM Viswanathan Anand led the Ganges Grandmasters to nearly shut out GM Levon Aronian‘s Triveni Continental Kings, winning 14-2.

The action will continue on June 27, starting at 6.30 a.m. ET/13:30 CEST.

How to watch?

You can follow the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 on our events page here. The event is being streamed on numerous TV channels, as well as on the GCL’s YouTube Channel

Today, to celebrate the Global Chess League’s enterprising take on competitive chess, professional skydiver Joglekar Sachin took on the unique endeavor of setting up a chess board while falling from the sky. 

The fourth day saw two matches take place—one to finish off round five and one to start round six. 

Round Five  

Round Six

Ganges Grandmasters 14-2 Triveni Continental Kings

Entering the round, the Ganges Grandmasters were second to the SG Alpine Warriors but with an extra round ahead to prove themselves. They were up to the challenge, nearly cleaning house with the white pieces vs. the Triveni Continental Kings. 

The 15th world champion continues his streak of all decisive games. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the battle of the icons, Aronian’s attempt at kingside play went sideways due to his undefended queenside rook, allowing Anand to win a pawn and soon trade into a winning ending.

On board two, GM Richard Rapport and GM Yu Yangyi traded queens and repeated to draw in 26 moves. 

In a thrilling Classical Sicilian, GM Leinier Dominguez rebuffed GM Wei Yi‘s aggressive intentions with a strike of his own. How did he do it?

White to move.

Dominguez shut down Wei’s attacking ideas. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Hou Yifan also retaliated against her opponent’s aggressive play with black. GM Kateryna Lagno stormed her kingside pawns up the board first, followed by breaking in the center with 21…d5. However, her eager advances overlooked Hou’s tactical counter. 

Despite her opponent’s zealous play, Hou was unfazed, pinpointing the tactical error in the chaos. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the matchup between Georgia’s top two women, GM Nana Dzagnidze overestimated her king’s safety in the center. GM Bela Khotenashvili struck sharply, stirring up a mating attack. How would you hunt down the black king?

White to move.

Though his team struggled, GM Jonas Buhl Bjerre celebrated his birthday with a peaceful result against the higher-rated GM Andrey Esipenko, holding his own in a rook ending. 

The Ganges Grandmasters’ convincing result allowed them to seize first place from their closest rival, the SG Alpine Warriors. 

The halfway point

With the start of round six, we enter the second half of the event. Due to the format, this will bring about a vast difference in the opening stages, as noted by Anand: 

“The rest of the tournament, we are not going to find out our colors half an hour before the game, we know. And so it’s like a separate tournament now.

In this first phase, you needed some adjustment because you’re preparing, but you don’t know [if you’re playing] White or Black. Now, suddenly, we might see a whole different change. You might see much more prepared ideas, and people going for the jugular. The second half is quite radically different from the first in that sense.”

You might see much more prepared ideas, and people going for the jugular. 

-Vishwanathan Anand

Balan Alaskan Knights 10-9 SG Alpine Warriors

Beginning the round in last place, the Balan Alaskan Knights had their shot with the white pieces vs. Carlsen’s SG Alpine Warriors. Despite their struggle in the earlier rounds, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi‘s Knights came ready for a fight, hoping to shake the leaders in the standings. 

Anand’s insight on the openings starting this round certainly rang true for Nepomniachtchi, who played very aggressively vs. Carlsen by sacrificing a center pawn so all of his developed pieces could eye Black’s weak f7-pawn. 

Nepomniachtchi’s barely developed forces are already out for blood

While the two-time challenger succeeded in surprising the 16th world champion, he failed to gain the upper hand. Carlsen sacrificed the pawn back and calmly finished his development. When the dust cleared, the Norwegian icon had a powerful grip on the center, which he traded for a pawn-up ending. Then, he grinded down his rival in his classic Carlsen-esque style, turning a minuscule edge into a four-point victory with the black pieces. As commentator GM Peter Svidler stated, “He is not really that much worse, but if anyone can create problems here for Ian, it is Magnus.”

Magnus Carlsen: surprised in the opening, wins anyway. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Also winning with Black for the SG Alpine Warriors was the so far unbeatable Praggnanandhaa vs. fellow Indian 17-year-old GM Raunak Sadhwani.

Raunak threw his kingside pawns at his opponent’s castled king, yet Praggnanadhaa created enough counterplay and defensive resources from the queenside that Raunak’s fearsome-looking attack didn’t actually cause a dent. In fact, Praggnanadhaa took his opponent to an ending where the advanced kingside pawns become a losing liability. 

Praggnanadhaa’s astonishing fifth victory out of six rounds is our Game of the Day has been annotated by GM Rafael Leitao.

Can anyone stop Praggnanadhaa? Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Despite these two impressive victories with Black, the Balan Alaskan Knights gained the upper hand on the majority of the other boards. 

In the fascinating fight vs. youngsters GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov and GM Gukesh D., the Uzbek grandmaster flipped his opponent’s queenside counterplay on its head with an unexpected tactical idea. 

Abdusattorov scored a critical victory for his team. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Nino Batsiashvili lured GM Elisabeth Paehtz into a trap, giving up a knight to set up a tactic that ultimately won the German grandmaster’s queen. Can you find it?

White to move and win.

GM Teimour Radjabov and GM Arjun Erigaisi drew the most balanced game of the round, a stonewall structure that traded into an opposite-color bishop ending. 

This left the match in the hands of GM Tan Zhongyi vs. GM Irina Krush, the 16th women’s world champion vs. the eight-time U.S. women’s champion. Tan expanded on the queenside while Krush gained space on the kingside. However, the American grandmaster curiously closed off the kingside pawn structure herself, leaving all the active play on the other side of the board where Tan had the advantage. With an abundance of time to maneuver her pieces to their optimum positions, the Chinese grandmaster eventually broke through for the kill, sealing the match for the Knights. 

Global Chess League Standings After Day 5

# Team Played Wins   Losses Draws Game Pts Match Pts
1 Ganges Grandmasters 5 4 1 0 52 12
2 SG Alpine Warriors 6 4 2 0 51 12
3 UpGrad Mumba Masters 5 2 2 1 37 7
4 Balan Alaskan Knights 6 2 4 0 48 6
5 Triveni Continental Kings 5 2 3 1 34 6
6 Chingari Gulf Titans 5 1 3 1 38 4

Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 consists of a preliminary group stage and a final contested by the top two teams. In each match, members of the same team play with the same color. All games are in the 15+10 time control.

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