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.
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.
One of Webster’s most memorable moments was Eric Rosen’s winning “Move of the Week” in round 3:
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.
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?
In addition, Wang Yue’s victory over Alexey Dreev was nominated for the Round 5 Game of the Week.
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.
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.
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?