Day five; Global Chess League: Triveni Continental Kings fail to stop Ganges Grandmasters’ charge
Dubai, 26th June 2023 – Tech Mahindra Global Chess League has hit a significant milestone on its fifth day. With half of the matches already in the books, the competition now embarks on the crucial second phase of the round-robin tournament.
After day five, Ganges Grandmasters and SG Alpine Warriors are on top with 12 match points. The team of Ganges Grandmasters is in first place due to a better difference in game points – 52:51, upGrad Mumba Masters are third, with 8 Match Points.
This was a day of big hope for Triveni Continental Kings. The team which features top-world players such as Levon Aronian, Yu Yangyi, and three-time women blitz champion Kateryna Lagno had high hopes ahead of the match with Gangese Grandmasters. With two victories in four matches, they needed to win to have strong chances of reaching the finals. However, this wasn’t their day.
Ganges Grandmasters vs Triveni Continental Kings (14:2)
This was the last match in the event where the colour of pieces was determined following a coin toss. After this match, the teams start the second phase of the round-robin, where those who have been white in the first encounter now play black, and vice versa.
The final coin toss was won by the team of Ganges Grandmasters who, after three successive victories, suffered a defeat in the fourth round which removed them from the lead in the League. They were up against the team of Triveni Continental Kings who have won two out of the four matches played.
The Ganges Grandmasters took the initiative early in the match thanks to Georgian GM Bella Khotenashvili who achieved a strong position against compatriot Nana Dzagnidze in the first stages of the opening. Soon, team Ganges Grandmasters were dominating all over the place.
While the first game to finish ended in a draw – between Rapport and Yu on board two – all other boards but one saw results in favour of Ganges Grandmasters.
Khotenashvili scored against Dzagnidze. This was quickly followed by Hou Yifan’s victory over the famous Kateryna Lagno on board four. Then, on board three, Dominguez was better against China’s Wei Yi.
The only two left holding from team Triveni Continental Kings were Jonas Buhl Bjerre (who turned 19 today) and Levon Aronian. The birthday boy did a good job holding a level position against the very strong Andrey Esipenko. On board one, former World Champion Viswanathan Anand got the upper hand against Levon Aronian and wasn’t letting go. Despite his best efforts to complicate things and prolong the game to finish last of all boards, Aronian could not manage to hold.
With four victories as White and two draws, the team of Ganges Grandmasters won the match, 14:2. A great comeback from Ganges Grandmasters. With another three match points and a large number of game points, team GG once again reached the top.
Loek van Wely, manager of Triveni Continental Kings was blunt after the game: “It was a crushing defeat for us. I think the rest day and the visit to the Dubai Mall was a bit overwhelming for some of the team and they still haven’t recovered. We will seriously need to think about what to do next”.
Balan Alaskan Knights vs SG Alpine Warriors (10:9)
This was a duel between one of the tournament leaders and the team at the bottom of the scoreboard. SG Alpine Warriors have won four of the five matches played, while the Balan Alaskan Knights won just one.
The standings don’t do justice to the strength of the Balan Alaskan Knights who have a tremendous team led by none other than one of the currently best players in the world, Ian Nepomniachtchi.
While the Warriors had two matches on Sunday, the Knights had an advantage of a day of rest. They were leading white pieces.
The two sides were evenly matched at the outset. Knowing they needed to make a push, the Knights opted for more sharp play, avoiding drawish lines.
On board five BAK’s Nino Batsiashvili created a winning position against the strongest German woman player Elisabeth Paehtz and won. On board four Tan Zhongyi had more initiative over America’s eight-time women’s champion, Irina Krush.
On board two, 2021 World Rapid Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov was pressing hard against Gukesh D and managed to win. One of the top performers in the BAK team, Praggnananadhaa scored another important victory for his squad, against Raunak Sadhawani.
Some glimmer of hope for SG Alpine Warriors came with a draw on board three between Radjabov and Erigaisi.
The victory of the Balan Alaskan Knights was dependent on what Tan Zhongyi did against Irina Krush. Despite entering time trouble, the former Women’s World Champion from China managed to win against Krush, securing her team a victory in the match. It was noticeable that Tan was shaking after the game from the excitement.
The match was already decided as the board one game was still going on. Ian Nepomniachtchi was playing against Magnus Carlsen. (The two know each other well and Dubai was the home of their 2021 match for the World Championship title, which Carlsen won.) Nepomniachtchi gave up a pawn early to get more initiative, however, Carlsen coordinated his pieces well and as they were moving towards the endgame he started raising the pressure on White. Nepomniachtchi was on the back foot and gradually started to fall behind. By the end, he was lost and Carlsen scored another victory but that wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the match. The final result was 10:9 for the Balan Alaskan Knights.
Balan Alaskan Knights have won the match and made a strong comeback. A huge success for the team, raising hopes for the second part of the event.
Match results – 26 June 2023
Ganges Grandmasters 14-2 Triveni Continental Kings
Queen of the match – Hou Yifan
King of the match – Viswanathan Anand
Balan Alaskan Knights 10-9 SG Alpine Warriors
Queen of the match – Tan Zhongyi
King of the match – Nodirbek Abdusattorov