The inaugural edition of the Global Chess League kicked off in Dubai with Triveni Continental Kings going up against upGrad Mumba Masters.
After the coin toss, it was decided that the Continental Kings will be playing with white pieces, giving a small but important edge to the team in their first match.
Led by Levon Aronian, a super Grandmaster who has long been among the world’s best players, the Continental Kings played a steady match Mumba Masters. Despite the initiative of the first move, the Kings failed to capitalise on their advantage.
In a slightly better position and with more time, Levon Aronian misplayed and allowed Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (another Icon player of the Global Chess League) to equalise and bring the game to a draw. The team faced another setback when Chinese Grandmaster Yu Yangyi suffered a defeat at the hands of Russian heavyweight Alexander Grischuk, giving Mumba Masters an important advantage as a victory with black pieces counts as four points. Despite Yu’s compatriot Wie Yi scoring a victory against India’s Vidit Gujrathi and earning three points, the Kings were still a point short.
Unfortunately for them, all three other games ended in a draw. This meant that the final score saw Mumba Masters secure eight points while the Continental Kings ended on seven thus losing the match, despite the initial advantage. Apart from the eight points achieved in their games, the winning team is awarded another three points for winning the match.
In the post-match press conference, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagerave shared their thoughts about the match and the new concept of organising chess events.
“This event is unusual for us as we are in a team with players we know well, but with whom we have never actually been playing as team members, and, also, this event features a completely new concept.” both Levon and Maxime noted.
Ganges Grandmasters secure a huge victory over Chingari Gulf Titans
The second match of the day was between Ganges Grandmasters and Chingari Gulf Titans. The Ganges Grandmasters were lucky to make their debut at the GCL playing with white pieces.
The Ganges team has seasoned and experienced world players such as the legendary Indian Grandmaster and five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand as well as the former women’s world champion Hou Yifan.
The team also has Richard Rapport, one of the most creative chess players of the younger generation, who played a crucial role in Ding Liren’s path to securing the world chess crown.
The advantage of playing with white pieces and experience came in handy as Vishy Anand managed to defeat Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the former winner of the World Cup. Vishy’s early victory gave an important boost to the Ganges team.
Hou Yifan was the second to score, defeating another former women’s world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk in a thrilling game. Those two victories were the only decisive games of the match as the other four ended in a draw.
In the end, the Ganges Grandmasters won with 10 game points, while the Titans ended on four. With an added three match points following their victory, the Ganges Grandmasters have had an excellent start and have capitalised hugely on their advantage of playing with white pieces.
Vishy Anand was clearly happy after the match and excited about the prospects of the Global Chess League.
“My team started well and that’s great. We are in unchartered waters here. This is a new vibe for chess. We all came here curious to see what will happen and how this will play out and so far it is proving to be exciting and promises a lot”, said Anand.
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