The chess revolution has started: Global Chess League kicked off with the first two matches
Dubai, 22nd June 2023 – The inaugural edition of the Global Chess League, which aims to revolutionise chess, has started in Dubai, with the first two matches taking place.
Just before 5.30 PM local time in Dubai when the first match was due to start, viewers from across the world tuned in to a broadcast to follow the games live on TV. In a first for chess – the game was broadcast live to sports networks on both sides of the Atlantic, from America to Australia. They were all witnessing history in the making as the first two matches of the Global Chess League unfolded on a world stage.
For the first time ever, chess is employing a well-established football practice of flipping the coin to choose the side. In the case of chess, the flip of a coin was used to decide the colour of the pieces. In another novelty, the entire team was playing with the same colour of pieces, unlike in standard chess events where both teams have an equal number of black and white boards. In the new circumstances, the side playing with white pieces has the initial advantage of the first move which might prove valuable for the outcome.
The first teams to face each other were the Triveni Continental Kings who were up against upGrad Mumba Masters.
After the coin toss, it was decided that Triveni 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 Triveni Continental Kings played a steady match upGrad 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 upGrad 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 upGrad Mumba Masters secure eight points while the Triveni 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.
“I feel a lot of responsibility. You are familiar with these players but usually as opponents, not as members of the same team. Also, as the leading player in the team I feel I have to motivate others”, said Levon Aronian.
“In our team Sasha Grischuk [one of the most experienced top players in the Global Chess League] made us all feel inspired. He showed us motivation and that is what is needed when in a new surrounding, playing a new event”, said Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
Both agreed that this new concept brings “excitement” and “novelty” to chess which will improve the way the game is seen.
“Both Levon and I are strong advocates for bringing the media and the public more into chess and events like this help a lot”, said Maxime Vachier Lagrave.
Final Score: upGrad Mumba Masters 8 (Game Points) – 7 (Game Points) Triveni Continental Kings
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 Vishy 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 (acting as his second and advising him during the match for the world title).
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.
Final Score: Ganges Grandmasters 10 (Game Points) – 4 (Game Points) Chingari Gulf Titans
Day two of the Global Chess League will start at 3 PM GST on 23rd June. Four matches are set to take place:
SG Alpine Warriors vs Balan Alaskan Knights (at 15:00)
Triveni Continental Kings vs Chingari Gulf Titans (at 16:20)
Ganges Grandmasters vs SG Alpine Warriors (at 17:45)
upGrad Mumba Masters vs Balan Alaskan Kings (at 19:00)