GLC Day 4
Harika Dronavalli got the first victory of the match for Mumba Masters against Ganges Grandmasters, having defeated Bella Khotenashvili, gaining important four game points. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: SG Alpine Warriors usurped Ganges Grandmasters to go into the lead after Day 4 of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League yesterday.

Also showing some fight were upGrad Mumba Masters, who were undone by India’s Praggnanandhaa R in the final match of the day when they went down 7-8 to the Warriors.

The Warriors made for perfect timing new occupants on the leaderboard with brand ambassador Yuzvendra Chahal, the Indian cricketer, making an appearance at the venue. Chahal is the only player to represent India in cricket and chess. His presence added to a massive turnout in the audience at Le Meridien hotel. The Warriors had two matches on the day and impressively won both with black.

Despite having Magnus Carlsen, the highest-rated chess player in the world in their squad, Warriors were evenly matched against Masters in the final match. In time trouble, Carlsen made a fatal move towards the end directly entering a lost position against counterpart icon player Maxine Vachier-Lagrave. Magnus was in disbelief as he shook his head after the loss.

Huge blunder

Irina Krush then made a huge blunder against Koneru Humpy, but the Masters player missed the opportunity and the game ended in a draw. However, the Masters were still in the match, pushing on the last two boards. In the end, Harika Dronavalli drew with Elisabeth Paehtz, but Praggnanandhaa was confident and won against Sindarov, securing important four game points for SG Alpine Warriors.

The day started on a bad note for Ganges Grandmasters as they lost to Ronnie Screwvala’s Mumba Masters despite starting with white for the first-move advantage. Harika Dronavalli got the first victory of the match, having defeated Bella Khotenashvili, gaining important four game points.

As other games ended in a draw, Viswanathan Anand managed to strike back on board one where he was playing Vachier-Lagrave. The Frenchman opted to give up a pawn in the opening but create more initiative. In a sharp exchange, the Frenchman misplayed when he put his queen on the wrong square and ended in a losing position which he couldn’t save.

Rapport is the hero 

Despite this victory, Grandmasters’ Richard Rapport lost to Alexander Grischuk, who became the hero of the match having sealed the victory and three crucial match points.

In the second match of the day, Warriors won the coin toss against Chingari Gulf Titans. They opted to play as black in a surprise decision, only the second time in the tournament. The black team gets an extra point for a win.

On board one, it was Jan-Krzysztof Duda against the reigning world champion in rapid and blitz, Magnus Carlsen. It was Duda who ended Carlsen’s world record run of 125 games unbeaten and who in 2021 knocked him out of the World Cup. Despite Duda creating a slightly better position, Magnus managed to unsettle the white king and in the end went for a three-fold check repetition.

One-point edge

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was the first to score for the Titans, defeating Gukesh D and bringing the Titans three game points. However, Nihal Sarin made a fatal error under time pressure in a setback for Titans, giving the Warriors a one-point edge. As three more games ended in a draw, all eyes turned to the game between Polina Shuvalova and Elisabeth Paehtz. In a rook endgame, Elisabeth Paehtz then defeated Polina Shuvalova to secure victory for Warriors.

Balan Alaskan Knights took on Chingari Gulf Titans in a bottom table scrap with Knights playing first after winning the toss. Both teams had suffered three defeats in four matches. While the Knights managed to win one team encounter, the Titans were yet to bag their first match victory.

The Titans came out swinging from the start – both Mamedyarov and former women’s world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk gained a decisive advantage in their matches. In the match of the women’s world champions, Kosteniuk, playing as black, forced Tan Zhongyi to surrender. Moments after, Mamedyarov, also as black, defeated the 2021 world rapid champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov giving more wind to the Titans’ sails. A 15:3 result gave Titans their first win.