In another day of huge upsets at the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League, two of the teams which dominated from the beginning – Ganges Grandmasters and SG Alpine Warriors – were knocked out while Triveni Continental Kings and upGrad Mumba Masters made it to the summit clash.
Triveni Continental Kings vs Ganges Grandmasters (11:6)
While a draw was enough for Grandmasters, the Kings had to win to reach the final.
In the Caro-Kann defence, Levon Aronian posed serious threats to Viswanathan Anand but the former World Champion got his knight and rook to the bottom of the board and found a perpetual check to hold a draw.
In the meantime, Sara Khadem scored a huge victory for the Kings as she defeated Bella Khotenashvili in a sharp game. Wei Yi struck on board three against Leinier Dominguez. Despite being in a weaker position, Kateryna Lagno managed to draw the game with Hou Yifan.
In a complete twist – Yu Yangyi of Triveni lost against Richard Rapport despite dominating the game from the beginning. The result was 8:5 for Triveni – Ganges had to win on the prodigy board to take the win. However, Esipenko was losing to Jonas Bjerre who took the initiative early on and forced a winning rook endgame.
With this victory, Kings reached the top of the scoreboard with 18 match points and became the first team to reach the finals.
“We came back from the dead. We’ve gone so far and we have one more match to go. We were just focused and playing for a win”, said icon player Aronian.
The team also praised Sara Khadem who came in as a replacement after Nana Dzagnidze left the tournament for personal reasons. “Sara really changed the atmosphere in the team – she helped team morale and here we are”, said Aronian.
SG Alpine Warriors vs Chingari Gulf Titans (7:8)
The Warriors and the Titans were the only remaining teams to play two matches on the final day.
The Warriors started with white pieces. Both sides played cautiously and steadily – avoiding risk but after about 45 minutes of play, the positions began to unravel.
Magnus Carlsen won his game after Jan-Kryzstof Duda misplayed approaching the endgame, overlooking a piece. Titans struck back on board two when Shakhriyar Mamedyarov got the upper hand against Gukesh D in the endgame.
An unusual game took place between Irina Krush and Titans’ player and former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. While Kosteniuk got more initiative in the opening, she misplayed in the middlegame, allowing white to take over the advantage. Kosteniuk managed to get a significant material advantage but Krush found a way for a perpetual check and save a draw. With two more games ending in a draw, the result was: 7:6 for the Titans.
Everything depended on the last game between Warriors’ Elisabeth Paehtz and Titans’ Polina Shuvalova. In the Sicilian, White gained more initiative early on but then overforced allowing Black to counter. The two transpired into an even rook endgame but Shuvalova made a mistake that brought White to the crisp of victory. However, Paehtz dropped the advantage and it was even. Paehtz knew her team needed her to win and tried to complicate things and score. In the end, having exhausted all the options, Paehtz agreed to a draw.
SG Alpine Warriors vs upGrad Mumba Masters (2:18)
Following a loss in the previous round, the Warriors needed to win this match to secure first place. With the advantage of the first move, they needed to push hard.
However, things started to go more in the direction favouring the Masters thanks to the top two Indian women players in the team. On board five, Harika Dronavalli dominated Elisabeth Paehtz and then treated a mate in three. On board four, Humpy Koneru was significantly better against Irina Krush and was the first one to win, scoring important four points for the Masters.
On the prodigy board, Mumba’s Javokhir Sindarov managed to stop Praggnanandhaa – the top-performing player in the league - and held him to a draw, with black pieces.
In the meantime, Magnus Carlsen drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrove, despite having a slight advantage. Just as Carlsen was getting up, Harika Dronavalli converted her advantage against Paehtz which meant that the Masters had won the match.
Gukesh resigned to Alexander Grischuk having ended up in a significantly weaker position, thus handing over another four points to the Masters. The last game to finish was on board five where Vidit Gujrathi converted his advantage against Arjun Erigaisi, and secured the most convincing victory any team in the Global Chess League has achieved so far: 18:2.
Chingari Gulf Titans vs Balan Alaskan Knights (4:12)
The Chingari Gulf Titans had destiny in its own hands and was playing with white pieces. It was ahead of the Balan Alaskan Knights and needed to win.
The first game to finish was on the icon boards, between Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Ian Nepomniachtchi. The game followed well-known theoretical waters, finishing in an even endgame.
However, on board two Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had a huge advantage over the 2021 World Rapid Champion, Nodirbek Abdusattorov.
In the meantime, the second game finished: Daniil Dubov and Teimour Radjabov drew. In a Four Knights Game, the two quickly exchanged pieces on the board and headed for a drawn rook endgame where neither side had any chances. While things were even on board four, boards five and six were more in favour of the Titans. On board four, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Tan Zhongyi were locked up in a queen’s endgame with four pawns each.
Then the tables started to turn on Titans: In a completely dominating position, Mamedyarov made an error and ended up significantly weaker, eventually losing.
As Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani drew their game, Titans’ Polina Shuvalova lost to BAK’s Nino Batsiashvili. Approaching the endgame, Shuvalova made a mistake and gave an exchange up to Black, finishing in a completely lost position. This was a second board victory for Balan Alaskan Knights which gave it a lead of 11:3.
The game between Kosteniuk and Tan dragged on and ended in a draw.
The Knights signed out with a victory, ultimately making upGrad Mumba Masters the second finalist.
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