Magnus Carlsen in action watched by Mahesh Bhupathi, a long-time friend of Anand, during the match between Warriors and Kings. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Day nine of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League proved to be a roller-coaster ride for the participating teams, with five out of six teams now within a chance to move into the top two and contest the final. Making a big move were Triveni Continental Kings while Balan Alaskan Knights being the only ones heading out of the exit door in the exciting inaugural edition of the tournament.

Kings had to play two matches on the day — against SG Alpine Warriors and Balan Alaskan Knights — and they won both, with Levon Aronian of Armenia showing the way. The icon player proved to be a giant-killer as he defeated the world’s best player Magnus Carlsen of Warriors and two-time world candidate Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Chingari Gulf Titans upset Ganges Grandmasters

On the other hand, upGrad Mumba Masters, after losing their first game to Chingari Gulf Titans, upset the applecart of Ganges Grandmasters. The Grandmasters and Warriors looked set and headed to the final past the halfway mark. Vishwanathan Anand’s team were in pole position to capitalise on Warriors’ defeat to the Kings but the Masters outclassed them 10-4.

The famous Indian tennis player, Mahesh Bhupathi, a long-time friend of Anand, visited the event and made a ceremonial move in the match between Warriors and Kings.

Chingari Gulf Titans vs upGrad Mumba Masters (12:3)

The upGrad Mumba Masters were the slight favourites. The team led by Maxime-Vachier Lagrave was always around the top but slipped in the final days. Chingari Gulf Titans were on the bottom of the board and went all out using the advantage of white pieces.

The Titans’ Vidit Gujrathi made a blunder giving a dominant position to Daniil Dubov, who soon converted this into a victory in just 23 moves. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk drew their game. More bad news followed for team Mumba as Alexandra Kosteniuk and Polina Shuvalova defeated their opponents. With a final tally of 12:3, Titans staged a huge upset and opening up the mid-table field.

SG Alpine Warriors vs Triveni Continental Kings (8:10)

Kings, who were on the brink of exit before Thursday, started with black pieces against one of the top teams in the league with the formidable Carlsen in charge. In their second head-to-head clash, Carlsen again lost to Aronian. After opening with the unusual move 1.b3, Carlsen gained more special initiative but in a relatively stable position made a blunder leading directly into a defeat. He laughed it off but was clearly unhappy.

Warriors’ Gukesh D managed to take the initiative against Yu Yangyi. The Chinese Grandmaster found himself in a lot of trouble trying to fend off checkmate. Despite avoiding a mate, his position was lost and he resigned. Kings quickly hit back with a victory on board three where Wei Yi outplayed Arjun Erigaisi in a queen and rook endgame.

In a duel between Praggnanandhaa R and Jonas Bjerre, the talented player from India managed to win what was a completely lost position. After misplaying in the middle game, Praggnanandhaa defended the best he could. In a queen and rook endgame, he managed to take over the advantage and win. With seven wins and two draws, Praggnanandhaa is continuing his amazing performance in the league. Elisabeth Paehtz and Sara Khadem made a relatively quick draw in 36 moves, as did Irina Krush and Kateryna Lagno.

Viswanathan Anand of Ganges Grandmasters in action on Friday. Image Credit: Supplied

upGrad Mumba Masters vs Ganges Grandmasters (10:4)

With Warriors losing, it was Ganges Grandmasters chance to seize the opportunity. Instead it was the upGrad Mumba Masters and the first to blink was Grandmasters’ hero from the previous round — Andrey Esipenko. He allowed Javokhir Sindarov in black to get into a better position, undermined the threats from the two bishops pinning his king and in the end overlooked checkmate.

Although a pawn up, former world champion Anand knew that the position in his game is drawn and there was no need to push it against the likes of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave so the two decided to call it a day. The match saw a huge upset on board four as former women’s world champion Hou Yifan went for a combination, which completely overlooked the threat of checkmate from Koneru Humpy.


Triveni Continental Kings vs Balan Alaskan Knights (10:9)

With other teams showing the way, the final contest of the day also saw a spirited challenge mounted by Balan Alaskan Knights and the job was not yet done for the Kings.

With just three victories and five defeats, the team of Balan Alaskan Knights also needed to win. Kings’ late substitute entrant Sara Khadem defeated Nino Bastiashvili, after she overlooked a piece in an even endgame. Tan Zhongyi then levelled for the Knights when Kateryna Lagno Lagno chose the wrong continuation from an even position and eventually lost.

Levon Aronian defeated two-time candidate for world champion Ian Nepomniachtchi. Image Credit: Supplied

The sharpest game of the match was played between Teimour Radjabov and Wei Yi. At one point, Kings’ Wei forced too much and blundered, but in time trouble Radjabov misplayed and went down.

Then came the winning stroke from Aronian as he defeated the two-time candidate for world champion, Ian Nepomniachtchi. In the endgame, Nepomniachtchi lost a pawn and his position weakened in a knight for a rook exchange and completely lost. The Knights reduced the margin when Raunak Sadhwani beat Jonas Buhl Bjerre.


Match 23

Chingari Gulf Titans 12-3 upGrad Mumba Masters

Queen of the match — Polina Shuvalova

King of the match — Daniil Dubov

Match 24

SG Alpine Warriors 8-10 Triveni Continental Kings

Queen of the match — Elisabeth Pähtz

King of the match — Gukesh D

Match 25

upGrad Mumba Masters 10-4 Ganges Grandmasters

Queen of the match — Koneru Humpy

King of the match — Javokhir Sindarov

Match 26

Triveni Continental Kings 10-9 Balan Alaskan Knights

Queen of the match — Tan Zhongyi

King of the match — Wei Yi