Day ten; Global Chess League: From the bottom to the top; Triveni Continental Kings first team to qualify for the finals
Dubai, 1st July 2023 – With a four-streak winning run in the last four matches, including a dominating victory over tournament favourites Ganges Grandmasters, the squad of Triveni Continental Kings have become the first team to qualify for the big final of the inaugural edition of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League.
In the other match earlier today, SG Alpine Warriors suffered a defeat to Chingari Gulf Titans putting a big question mark on which team will get the second place in the finals.
Triveni Continental Kings vs Ganges Grandmasters (11:6)
This match was the last chance for Triveni – if they had lost, they would have been out of the tournament. For Ganges, this was their final chance to score points and secure the top place in the round-robin.
While a draw was enough for team Ganges, Triveni had to win and that put them in a psychological mindset to do it.
In the Caro-Kann defence, Aronian gained more initiative and posed serious threats to Anand. Unphased, 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 Triveni as she defeated Bella Khotenashvili in a sharp game. By this point, the Triveni team was dominating on three of the four remaining boards. 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. Triveni was on the edge of a historic victory.
In a complete twist – Yu Yangyi of Triveni lost against 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. Esipenko tried and delayed resigning, but he couldn’t escape defeat. The final result was 11:6, for Triveni.
A crushing loss for the Ganges and an amazing step up by Triveni. With this victory, they have taken the top of the scoreboard with 18 match points and have become the first team to reach the finals. Triveni, who have been struggling since the outset and had to replace a player, have won four of their last matches to reach the top. A spectacular success!
“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 Levon 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 Levon Aronian.
Team manager Loek van Wely said that he was proud of his team, “We don’t care much about the results, we feel we had a slight psychological advantage as they were in a much comfortable position (with the wins in a row) and we were in an upswing position. Most important for us was to get the first win after the round of losses to get a sweet taste of victory once again and get it going from there. We have to wait and see who we play in the finals first, I think we lost twice to upGrad and Alpine looks strong on paper but in the finals it’s anybody’s game so we will prepare accordingly.”
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. SG Alpine Warriors have been in strong contention for first place since the start of the league. Given the open race for the top, the outcome of this match could prove crucial (or fatal) for either teams’ ambitions to reach the finals on Sunday.
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. Team Chingari 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. In a game which saw a lot of twists and turns, 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 was hanging on the last remaining 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 so she was desperate to complicate things and score but it was futile. In the end, having exhausted all the options, Paehtz agreed to a draw.
Having the world’s highest rated player in the team isn’t always enough for victory. Despite winning the last three games, Magnus Carlsen’s team lost the last three matches.
A minimal but important victory for Chingari Gulf Titans which, with 13 points, are still holding on in the race for the top, while SG Alpine Warriors remain on 15.
Match results – 1 July 2023
SG Alpine Warriors 7-8 Chingari Gulf Titans
Queen of the match – Irina Krush
King of the match – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Triveni Continental Kings 11-6 Ganges Grandmasters
Queen of the match – Sara Khadem
King of the match – Wei Yi