Day four; Global Chess League: A day of drama as SG Alpine Warriors march towards the top
Dubai, 25th June 2023 – The fourth day of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League started with a huge upset as the team of Ganges Grandmasters who have been dominating the first three days of the event suffered a defeat at the hands of Ronnie Screwvala’s upGrad Mumba Masters.
It was a busy day in Dubai as a large number of spectators gathered to follow the matches in the Global Chess League. The crowd exploded with excitement when the famous Indian cricket player Yuzvendra Chahal appeared, to support the team of SG Alpine Warriors.
Ganges Grandmasters vs upGrad Mumba Masters (6:11)
This was an encounter between the leaders of the Global Chess League and the team in the middle. The Ganges Grandmasters have been dominating the league, having won all three matches played and securing nine match points. The story was somewhat different for upGrad Mumba Masters: they won one match, lost one and drew one, and started day four from the middle of the scoreboard, with four match points.
Having won the coin toss, the Ganges Grandmasters decided to play with white pieces. Despite the first-move advantage, things didn’t go their way. Harika Dronavalli got the first victory of the match, having defeated Bella Khotenashvili, gaining important four game points for the upGrad Mumba Masters. As other games ended in a draw, Viswanathan Anand managed to strike back on board one where he was playing the best French player Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who was leading black pieces. The Frenchman opted to give up a pawn in the opening but create more initiative. In a sharp exchange, the Frenchman misplayed when he put his queen on the wrong square and ended in a losing position which he couldn’t save. Despite this victory, the team of Ganges Grandmasters were staring at defeat in the match as Richard Rapport was losing to none other than the great Alexander Grischuk, who became the hero of the match having sealed the victory and three crucial Match Points for the upGrad Mumba Masters.
The playing hall at the Le Meridien Hotel erupted with excitement and joy after the match, as team upGrad Mumba Masters supporters celebrated their victory. A big blow for Ganges Grandmasters and a huge confidence boost for upGrad Mumba Masters.
Chingari Gulf Titans vs SG Alpine Warriors (6-11)
In another surprise of the day, the team of SG Alpine Warriors won the coin toss but opted to play as Black. This is the second time it has happened in the Global Chess League that a team winning the coin flip decided to pin their hopes more on Black (due to an extra point in case Black wins) than on the initiative of the first move.
On board one, it was Jan-Krzysztof Duda against the reigning world champion in rapid and blitz, Magnus Carlsen. It was Duda who ended Carlsen’s world record run of 125 games unbeaten and who in 2021 knocked him out of the World Cup. Despite Duda creating a slightly better position, Magnus managed to unsettle the white king and in the end went for a threefold check repetition. It seems Carlsen wanted to avoid taking any risks against the man who broke his longest winning streak.
The match was tough as halfway on neither side managed to make a breakthrough. Mamedyarov was the first to score, defeating Gukesh and bringing the Titans first three game points in the Match. Then came a giant blow: in a completely winning position, Titans’ Nihal Sarin was under time pressure and made a fatal error giving away the victory to the Warriors and a one-point edge in the match. As three more games ended in a draw, all eyes turned to the game between Polina Shuvalova and Elisabeth Paehtz. In a rook endgame, Paehtz was better and defeated her opponent with black pieces, securing victory for the Warriors.
The victory launched the SG Alpine Warriors to the top, next to Ganges Grandmasters, with both teams now on nine match points (but team GG has a better game points score – 38 vs 34).
Match results – 25 June 2023
Ganges Grandmasters 6-11 upGrad Mumba Masters
Queen of the match – Harika Dronavalli
King of the match – Viswanathan Anand
Chingari Gulf Titans 6-11 SG Alpine Warriors
Queen of the match – Elisabeth Pähtz
King of the match – Praggnanandhaa R