Today, the 2018 PRO Chess League officially restarts—with 5 of the World top 10 and a former World Champion joining this season: Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, and Viswanathan Anand.
Carlsen and MVL will compete in the first round while Caruana, Nakamura, and Anand will join their teams in later weeks.
Fabiano Caruana has taken the motto “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” to heart—abandoning his 2017 PRO Chess team, the Montreal ChessBrahs, to join the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, the St. Louis ArchBishops.
The ChessBrahs aren’t replaying sappy songs with the diminishing hope of Caruana’s return, though. They’ve moved on—to the top woman in the world, adding Hou Yifan as their new board 1.
Hou also has a score to settle against Caruana: he knocked her out of the Chess.com Speed Chess Championship this summer.
The two teams will face off in Week 5 on February 14. Will Hou Yifan and the ChessBrahs be able to claim vengeance on Fabiano Caruana?
Hikaru Nakamura has also changed teams this year, switching from east to west and joining the Seattle Sluggers. The team has already proved to be a good fit, qualifying for the season by placing 2nd at the Qualifier Tournament last October.
World #3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov will return as a free agent for the San Diego Hackers along with Rauf Mamedov. They join local favorites, such as Daniel Naroditsky, Zviad Izoria, Christian Chirila, Kostya Kavutskiy, and Christopher Yoo, who made master at age 9, breaking the record for the youngest American master at the time (Woo held the record for 6 months and was succeeded by Liran Zhou last summer).
Another Pacific team not to be underestimated is on the other side of California, the San Diego Surfers. American Prodigy Samuel Sevian joins Top Seed Alexey Dreev and and the 3rd highest woman in the U.S., Tatev Abrahamyan, along with local International Masters Michael Brown, Keaton Kiewra, John Bryant, Craig Hilby, and Joshua Sheng. The Surfers went undefeated the first 5 weeks of the 2017 season—the only team to do so.
The World Champion will be returning with his team, the Norway Gnomes. The Gnomes have added Laurent Fressinet as their free agent to their local stock of grandmasters Jon Hammer, Aryan Tari, Kjetil Lie, and Johan Salomon. With an even stronger team than last year, the 2017 playoff runner-up’s chances are looking promising.
Viswanathan Anand is debuting in the PRO Chess League with the Mumbai Movers.
“A lot of new events are happening in chess and it is good to try them out. The league is a very interesting tournament that has taken the best of chess’ sporting qualities. The speed and use of technology is a good platform to provide a lot of entertainment to spectators around the world.”
-Viswanathan Anand, Hindustan Times
In addition, the Movers’ board 2 is the ambitious 23-year-old Vidit Gujrathi who recently crossed 2700 for the first time.
World #5 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave returns with the Marseille Migraines along with 2700+ Etienne Bacrot.
Round 1 begins at 8 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, January 18 (see below for the full schedule, all in PT). Watch your favorite teams compete live on Chess.com/TV
Round 1 Pairings
Complete Team List
For more information, visit:
- Previous report: PRO Chess Qualifier Preview
- Greg Shahade’s “10 Reasons to Watch the 2018 PRO Chess League”
- The Official PRO Chess Website
- Chess.com’s Week 1 Preview: “PRO Chess League Begins with Carlsen and More”
- The PRO Chess League Twitter
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