PRO Chess: Halftime Report

With the playoffs nearing and a highly-anticipated Super Saturday tomorrow, let's take a look at the leading teams, top players, and best games for each division.

Atlantic Division

Score: 5.5 points

Six time Pan-Am Champions, Webster is unsurprisingly at it again, leading the Atlantic Division by a full point. In contrast to the teams leading the other three divisions, the Windmills rely mainly on local talent and a balanced line-up. Webster's top seed, Liem Le Quang, has turned in a fantastic 10.5 out of 12 games so far, but we've also seen strong supporting contributions from Aleksandr Shimanov, Ashwin Jayaram, Vasif Durarbayli, and Tamas Banusz. Le Quang Liem's 26 move victory over fellow grandmaster, Pascal Charbonneau, shows the simple, yet dangerous play responsible for his impressive score.

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 1"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.01.18"] [Round "?"] [White "LiemLe"] [Black "RealPascalC"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2505"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"]1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. e3 Bd6 7. Qf3 Nf6 8. Bd3 Bxf4 9. Qxf4 O-O 10. Nge2 Qe7 11. O-O-O c5 12. g4 Bxg4 13. Rhg1 Bh5 14. Rg5 Bg6 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Rxd5 cxd4 17. Nxd4 Na6 18. Nf5 Qe6 19. Kb1 Kh8 20. Rd6 Qe8 21. h4 f6 22. a3 Qe5 23. Qf3 Rad8 24. Bc2 Rxd6 25. Nxd6 Nc5 26. Rd5 1-0[/pgn]

One of Webster's most memorable moments was Eric Rosen's winning "Move of the Week" in round 3:

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 3"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.01.31"] [Round "?"] [White "LastHeroJr"] [Black "IMRosen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B35"] [WhiteElo "2362"] [BlackElo "2379"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5r2/3P4/1p5Q/1P5P/2P2PP1/1P3K2/8 w - - 0 69"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:00:16"] [BlackClock "0:00:04"]{In response to IM Morte's attempt to simplify into a winning King & Pawn ending with} 69. Qxf7+ {Rosen played the unexpected} Kh8 $1 {and the game ended in a draw by stalemate after} 70. h5 {Be careful what you pre-move!} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]


Pacific Division

Score: 4.5 points

The Chengdu Pandas, led by two 2700+ players (Yu Yangyi and Wang Yue) and supported by four more top-notch GMs (Ni Hua, Ju Wenjun, Bai Jinshi, Xu Xiangyu), have been the team to beat in the Pacific Division---and one of their highest players, Li Chao, hasn't even competed yet! Despite a loss in round 6 to the San Jose Hackers, the Pandas remain tied for 1st with the best tiebreaks.

One of Yu Yangyi's most interesting games was his draw against Fabiano Caruana while being down a rook for a pawn.

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Super Sunday"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.02.03"] [Round "?"] [White "FabianoCaruana"] [Black "chesspanda123"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2878"] [BlackElo "2862"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1r6/2k1p1KP/3p2B1/1pnP4/5R2/8/8 w - - 0 60"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "600+2"]60. h7 Rxh7 61. Kxh7 e5 62. dxe5 Nxe5 63. Rf8 Kb5 64. Rf5 Nd3 65. Rxd5+ Kc4 66. Rd8 Kc3 67. Bf6+ $2 Kd2 68. Rb8 Kc2 69. Rc8+ Kd2 70. Bg5+ Kd1 71. Rb8 Kc2 72. Rc8+ Kd1 73. Rd8 Kc2 74. Kg6 b3 75. Bf6 b2 76. Rc8+ Kd1 77. Rb8 Kc2 78. Bxb2 Nxb2 79. Kf5 Nd3 80. Ke4 Nc5+ 81. Kd4 Nb3+ 82. Ke3 Kc3 83. Rc8+ Kb4 84. Kd3 Nc5+ 85. Kd4 Nb3+ 86. Kd5 Nd2 87. Rc2 Nb3 88. Rc4+ Kb5 89. Rh4 Nc5 90. Rh5 Nb3 91. Rh8 Kb4 92. Rh3 Nc5 93. Rh4+ Kb5 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Wang Yue has also contributed greatly to the team, scoring 8.5 out of 12, including a saving move that was nominated for the Round 2 "Move of the Week". Can you find it?

Puzzle #1

Brandon Clarke vs. Wang Yue

Black to move. 

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 5"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.02.07"] [Round "?"] [White "B_Clarke"] [Black "chesswy"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2319"] [BlackElo "2699"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5q1k/7p/1p2pp1Q/p2pPr2/P2n1P2/1P4R1/2r4P/6RK b - - 0 41"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:00:05"] [BlackClock "0:02:24"]41... Rxh2+ $1 (41... Qxh6 $4 42. Rg8#) 42. Qxh2 (42. Kxh2 Qxh6+) 42... fxe5 43. fxe5 Nf3 44. Rg8+ Qxg8 45. Rxg8+ Kxg8 46. Qg3+ Kf7 47. Qh3 h5 48. Qg3 d4 49. Qf2 d3 50. Qe3 d2 51. Qd3 Kg6 52. Kg2 Ne1+ 0-1[/pgn]

In addition, Wang Yue's victory over Alexey Dreev was nominated for the Round 5 Game of the Week.

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 5"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.01.25"] [Round "?"] [White "chesswy"] [Black "Igrok3069"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D06"] [WhiteElo "2699"] [BlackElo "2648"] [PlyCount "113"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:03:18"] [BlackClock "0:00:05"]1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. c4 cxd4 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Nxd4 Nxd5 6. e4 Nb4 7. Qa4+ N8c6 8. Nxc6 Nxc6 9. Be2 g6 10. O-O Bg7 11. Rd1 Qa5 12. Qxa5 Nxa5 13. Bb5+ Nc6 14. Nc3 Bd7 15. Be3 Bxc3 16. bxc3 O-O-O 17. f3 Be6 18. Rdb1 Rd7 19. a4 f6 20. a5 Rc7 21. a6 b6 22. c4 Rd8 23. Bxb6 axb6 24. c5 bxc5 25. Bxc6 Ra7 26. Bb7+ Kc7 27. Ra5 Rd2 28. Rxc5+ Kd8 29. Rbc1 Ke8 30. R5c2 Rd6 31. Rc6 Kd7 32. Rxd6+ Kxd6 33. Rc6+ Kd7 34. Kf2 Bb3 35. Ke3 Ba4 36. Rc5 Kd6 37. Kd4 Bd1 38. Rc6+ Kd7 39. Kc5 Be2 40. Kb6 Rxa6+ 41. Bxa6 Bxa6 42. Rc2 Bf1 43. Rf2 Bc4 44. Kc5 Be6 45. Rb2 Ke8 46. e5 Kf7 47. exf6 Kxf6 48. Kd4Kf7 49. Ke5 Bc4 50. f4 h6 51. g4 Bd3 52. f5 h5 53. Rb7 Kf8 54. f6 exf6+ 55. Kxf6 Kg8 56. g5 Kh8 57. Rg7 1-0[/pgn]


Eastern Division

Score: 5 points

The Mumbai Movers, a team led by Viswananathan Anand and new to the PRO Chess League this season, are in clear 1st for the Eastern Division. The 15th World Champion's debut to the league has been successful so far. Anand has scored 6 points out of 8 games. Here is his first victory in the league, a miniature against GM Benjamin Glendora.

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 6"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.02.14"] [Round "?"] [White "mumbaimover64"] [Black "kuli4ik"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2794"] [BlackElo "2521"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"]1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd6 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 a6 6. Bd3 Bg4 7. h3 Bh5 8. O-O Nc6 9. Ne4 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 e6 11. c3 Bg6 12. Bxc6+ Qxc6 13. Ne5 Qb6 14. c4 O-O-O 15. Be3 c5 16. d5 Bd6 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Qg4 Rhe8 19. b3 Kb8 20. Rad1 e5 21. f4 exf4 22. Bxf4 Re7 23. Qg3 Bxf4 24. Qxf4+ Qd6 25. Qxd6+ Rxd6 26. Rfe1 Rdd7 27. Rxe7 Rxe7 28. Kf2 Kc8 29. Re1 Rxe1 30. Kxe1 Kd7 31. Ke2 Kd6 32. Kf3 Ke5 33. Ke3 Kf5 34. Kf3 Ke5 35. Kg4 b6 36. a4 f6 37. h4 a5 38. h5 f5+ 39. Kg5 gxh5 40. Kxh5 Kf6 41. d6 Ke6 42. Kg5 Kxd6 43. Kxf5 Ke7 44. Kg6 Kf8 45. g4 Kg8 46. Kg5 Kh7 47. Kf4 Kg6 48. g5 Kh5 49. Kf5 Kh4 50. Kg6 Kg4 51. Kxg7 Kxg5 52. Kf7 Kf5 53. Ke7 Ke5 54. Kd7 Kd4 55. Kc6 Kc3 56. Kxb6 Kb4 57. Kc6 Kxb3 58. Kb5 1-0[/pgn]
Second seed, Vidit Gujrathi, has turned in a nearly 2800 performance so far, winning both the "Move of the Week" and "Game of the Week" prizes for the only round he's competed---becoming the first player to win both prizes simultaneously. Can you find his surprising move that won MOTW?

Puzzle #2

Vidit Gujrathi vs. Aleksey Ivlev

White to move.

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 6"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.02.14"] [Round "?"] [White "viditchess"] [Black "ALeks_Ivlev"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D30"] [WhiteElo "2702"] [BlackElo "2259"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3qrk1/p2n1ppp/1pNb4/3P1b1n/1PPBp3/2Q5/P2N1PPP/R3RBK1 w - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:09:08"] [BlackClock "0:07:42"]20. g4 $1 Bxg4 21. Rxe4 Qc8 22. Rxg4 Ndf6 23. Rg2 Kh8 24. Bxf6 Nxf6 25. Ne4 1-0[/pgn]
Round 6 - Game of the Week

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 6"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.02.14"] [Round "?"] [White "viditchess"] [Black "2Vladimirovich90"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B47"] [WhiteElo "2702"] [BlackElo "2708"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:03:29"] [BlackClock "0:03:55"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 6. g3 d6 7. Bg2 Bd7 8. O-O Nf6 9. Re1 Be7 10. a4 O-O 11. Nxc6 Bxc6 12. a5 Rc8 13. Be3 Qc7 14. Bb6 Qb8 15. Nd5 Bd8 16. Bxd8 Rcxd8 17. Nxf6+ gxf6 18. Qd4 e5 19. Qb6 Bd7 20. Rad1 Bg4 21. Rd2 Rc8 22. Rxd6 Rxc2 23. Rxf6 Be6 24. Qe3 Rxb2 25. Qg5+ Kh8 26. Rh6 Qc7 27. Qf6+ Kg8 28. Qg5+ Kh8 29. Rc1 Qxa5 30. Qh4 Qd2 31. Rxh7+ Kg8 32. Rf1 Rc8 33. Rh8+ Kg7 34. Qh7+ Kf6 35. Rxc8 Bxc8 36. Qh8+ Ke7 37. Qxc8 a5 38. Bf3 a4 39. Bh5 a3 40. Qc7+ Qd7 41. Qxe5+ Qe6 42. Qc7+ Kf8 43. Qc5+ Qe7 44. Qc3 Qb4 45. Qf6 Qb3 46. Kg2 Qe6 47. Qd4 Rc2 48. Ra1 a2 49. Bd1 Rc6 50. Qb4+ 1-0[/pgn]


Central Division

Score: 4.5 points

The Marseille Migraines, led by World #6 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, top the Central Division, going undefeated the first 5 rounds and then losing a very close match in round 6 to their closest rival, the Stockholm Snowballs. The Migraines' strategy has been a very top-heavy line-up, placing top notch GMs on boards 1-3 and an underdog, Marc Andria Maurizzi, who is rated under 2000, on board 4. Although Maurizzi has struggled against much higher rated competition, excellent performances from MVL, Etienne Bacrot, and Yannick Gozzoli have carried the team through. In addition, Bacrot has been nominated for the "Move of the Week" twice. Can you find each one?

Puzzle #3

Etienne Bacrot vs. Robert Fontaine

White to move.

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "PRO Chess - Round 2"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.01.25"] [Round "?"] [White "baki83"] [Black "RobertFontaine"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B17"] [WhiteElo "2728"] [BlackElo "2558"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/3kbPp1/p1p3Pr/1p1p2K1/1P1P4/P1P1R1B1/8/8 w - - 0 60"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:00:08"] [BlackClock "0:00:05"]60. Rxe7+ $1 Kxe7 61. Bd6+ 1-0[/pgn]
Puzzle #4

Etienne Bacrot vs. Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson

White to move.

Show Solution

[pgn] [Event "PRO Chess - Round 1"] [Site ""] [Date "2018.01.18"] [Round "?"] [White "baki83"] [Black "arnaroli"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C77"] [WhiteElo "2728"] [BlackElo "2567"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "Q7/2p2pkp/3p4/1p2r3/1P2P1r1/4RRP1/2P1KP2/1q6 w - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "15"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [TimeControl "900+2"] [WhiteClock "0:02:35"] [BlackClock "0:01:12"]36. Rxf7+ $1 Kxf7 37. Rf3+ Ke7 38. Qf8+ Kd7 39. Rf7+ Kc6 40. Qa8+ {and Black resigned. If} Kb6 41. Qa5+ Kb7 42. Rxc7+ Kb8 43. Qa7# 1-0[/pgn]

Don't miss Super Saturday on February 24, when the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions compete against the Eastern and Central Divisions.

Super Saturday Pairings
February 24


Vanessa West is a regular writer and digital assistant for US Chess News. She won the 2017 Chess Journalist of the Year award. You can follow her on Twitter: @Vanessa__West


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Fabulous coverage anew Vanessa West ... although Shahade the wizard does not in the slightest dream it ....his creation is actually the ONLY way the INDIVIDUAL world chess championship will soon be played by 160 chess nations! (welcome to ..THE SHAHADE WORLD) in one day opening round ... played in preliminaries with strict eyewitness arbiters in every city and NO money ever paid out until the final live round of 16 one location person finale present what is really happening HERE... master garage mechanics of many cities each meet in their secret garages to determine the Mercedes Benz MASTER automobile mechanics TEAM of the year....meanwhile everyone else in the world whizzes by in Volvos aside the secret obscure,ignored closed garages and go about their merry way filling up at the local gas mart... Both China and Africa are not included and this is tragic. BUT IN THE END the GREG SHADADE MODEL IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT..100 PERCENT THE FUTURE.. ALSO COMING 3 POINTS FOR A WIN ...ONE GAME WITH EACH COLOR WITH EACH OPPONENT IN EVERY ROUND, ALL DRAW OFFERS BANNED (THANK YOU MR. LEVON ARONIAN!) AND FINALLY NEVER LEAVE THE BOARD EVER DURING THE GAME period. This prevents almost all computer whispered message fraud in big money world events..And with someone like Shahade GUARANTEED watching every move in the final world title games. ALL world chess championship GAMES MUST END IN ONE HOUR FLAT,ABSOLUTELY NO TIME ADDED EVER / WORLD WIDE BROADCAST/500,00O,000 ESTIMATED CHESS PHONE APP USERS!!) DEMANDS THIS. GET REAL, NO DRAW OFFERS EVER ALLOWED.PREARRANGED NON GAMES CALLED AS DOUBLE FORFEIT /NOT RATED / regarded as FRAUD PERIOD IN BIG MONEY PLAY....declared No contest as in boxing and double zero.. Mr. ARONIAN is absolutely right. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just sort of found it humorous, Webster "relying on local talent".

In reply to by scot (not verified)

Incredulous just arriving people are so swept up in serious St. Louis pro chess promotion/teaching /world rated play ...chess to the world.. they suddenly move to St. Louis in awe.They really are mushrooming local.I personally know 6 people who have moved there in the past two years.It is real. It is happening big time. Chess mecca. "they support me"-Nakamura Jude Acers/ New Orleans

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