Saint Louis Takes on Armenia in PRO Chess League Finals Sunday

America’s top players are set to face off in the PRO Chess League Finals on Sunday afternoon.  

Grandmasters Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez, and Jeffrey Xiong will represent the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in tomorrow’s final match at 10:00 a.m. Pacific on Chess.com, pairing up against the Armenia Eagles as the Professional Rapid Online league looks to crown its 2020 champion. 

Each of the four American superstars will play the four Eagles in a rotation of G/10+2 games on Sunday. Armenia will send GMs Tigran Petrosyan, Haik Martirosyan, Parham Maghsoodloo and IM Raunak Sadhwani against the Arch Bishops, who return to the familiar territory as the PRO League’s defending champions. Saint Louis has now made the global league’s finals in all four seasons of its existence, winning two championships. Armenia has also claimed a title. 

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The PRO Chess League featured 24 international teams and a healthy player mix of both titled juggernauts and rising stars, competing through a seven-week season of rapid games that began last January. In a normal year, the online season would set up playoffs and eventually produce four semifinal teams, who would then meet in a live setting to crown a champion: This year’s live “ChessParty 2020” was originally intended for Oslo, Norway. Hardly a normal year, however, as restrictions due to COVID-19 nixed any hope of a live event, the 2020 final was changed to be held online instead. 

Rounding out the final four teams were the China Pandas and the Canada Chessbrahs, who lost to St. Louis and Armenia respectively in their semifinal matches on Friday. The Chessbrahs and Pandas met on Saturday for the consolation finals, with China winning 10.5-5.5 and the $6,000 third-place prize. The winner of St. Louis and Armenia will earn a $20,000 first-place prize on Sunday, with the runner-up taking half that amount. 

Though the favorite to advance through Friday’s semifinal, the Arch Bishops were promised no walk in the park against the Pandas, who harbored the league’s only rapid player over 2800 in GM Ding Liren. And while a first-round result of all draws seemed to foreshadow a tight match, spectators hardly needed to wait until the end to declare its victor. 

All four Americans produced victories in Friday’s semifinal, including So and Xiong with two wins each, and not one single loss to the Chinese through 16 games. Saint Louis led the match 8-4 going into the fourth and final round, forcing the Pandas to sweep all four games just to earn a match draw – which they did not. The Arch Bishops won handily, 11-5. 

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Sunday’s PRO Chess League Finals will be played in the live chess server of Chess.com, and spectators can watch its broadcast on Chess.com/tv along with commentary by GMs Maurice Ashley and Robert Hess, and IMs Anna Rudolf and Danny Rensch. The games will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time/19:00 Central Europe. 

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