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.

One of Webster’s most memorable moments was Eric Rosen’s winning “Move of the Week” in round 3:

Standings


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.

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. 

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

Standings


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.

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.
Round 6 – Game of the Week

Standings


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.
Puzzle #4

Etienne Bacrot vs. Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson

White to move.
Standings



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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Comments

  1. 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 ….at 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

    • 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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