Sunday, June 16, 2024

Global Chess League: Ganges Grandmasters reclaim lead as Sara Khadem lifts Triveni Continental Kings

The Triveni Continental Kings secured a hard-fought victory with a score of 10-9 against the Chingari Gulf Titans in a tense round eight match of the Global Chess League, led by a crucial win from substitute player Sara Khadem, here on Thursday.

Ganges Grandmasters made an important comeback after two losses, defeating Balan Alaskan Knights with 8:7, in a tense match decided by a game which lasted 114 moves.

Chingari Gulf Titans vs Triveni Continental Kings (9:10)

Both the Titans and the Kings started round eight at the bottom of the scoreboard, struggling in the league. Both teams had won two matches each, but the Titans had an additional match draw, giving them a total of seven match points, one more than the Kings.

The previous match between these two teams ended in a draw. This was one of the last chances for the Kings team to turn their fortune around and they had to do it with black pieces.

After about thirty minutes of play with mostly balanced positions, the tide started to turn.

First, Titans’ Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Yu Yangyi as Black, after the Chinese Grandmaster made an error in the middlegame and had to exchange his queen, entering a completely lost position. Then, Nihal Sarin defeated Jonas Buhl Bjerre after White made a mistake in the endgame, bringing the Titans’ advantage to eight points.

It seemed like the Kings were once again heading towards a difficult situation. However, fortune smiled upon them as Levon Aronian seized his advantage against Duda and confidently brought his opponent to defeat. After a mistake in the early stages of the middlegame by Kings’ Dubov, Wei Yi got the initiative and eventually ended up with as many as four free pawns on the queenside, and won the game.

Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lagno drew their game, bringing the score to 9:7 in favour of the Chingari Gulf Titans. The fate of the match rested on the game between Sara Khadem and Polina Shuvalova. The Kings needed a win to secure the match, while a draw would be sufficient for the Titans.

Luckily for the Kings, Sara Khadem (who came in as a replacement for Nana Dzagnidze who left the event for personal reasons) scored a confident – and, as it turned out – crucial victory, bringing the result to 10:9 for the Kings. A well-deserved triumph for the Triveni team.

“We just told ourselves that we haven’t been playing well. We should win every single match but let’s go match by match,” said team leader Levon Aronian in the post-game interview.

Still, a tough path lies ahead for both teams.

Balan Alaskan Knights Vs Ganges Grandmasters (8:7)

Ganges Grandmasters were dominating the League from the outset but then suffered two consecutive defeats, leaving them on 12 match points and in second place. For the result, but also for their psychological stability, Ganges Grandmasters had to make a comeback.

The team of Balan Alaskan Knights started the round in the middle of the standings, on six match points. With a two-match winning streak behind them, and playing with white pieces, in this match they had to push themselves further.

The first to finish was a game between Teimour Radjabov and Leinier Dominguez who reached a drawn endgame and decided to call it a day.

In a match where both sides held their own for a long time, the positions gradually started to look more favourable for Balan Alaskan Knights, but the team of Ganges Grandmasters were fighting back on all boards.

Viswanathan Anand got into a somewhat uncomfortable situation on board one against Ian Nepomniachtchi. The two-time candidate for World Champion managed to create two free pawns on the queenside but then came a pawn exchange where White ended a pawn up. Still, it was even and in the end the game ended in a draw.

In the duel of prodigies, Andrey Esipenko gained more initiative and had a rook for a knight against Raunak Sadhwani. The player from the BAK’s team was managing to hold the position but it was becoming more difficult, especially as Esipenko created a passed pawn on the queenside. In time trouble, Sadhwani could not keep on holding and the game went to team Ganges.

Hou Yifan and Tan Zhongyi also drew their game. Things in the match were going the way which favoured team Ganges as they were in the lead with 7:3.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Balan Alaskan Knights played a sharp game with Richard Rapport. He ended with two pawns up but, somehow, Rapport was resisting. In the end, Abdusattorov managed to make a breakthrough and win, securing three important points for BAK. Now the result was 7:6, still favouring Ganges Grandmasters.

For the second time in the day, the outcome of the match depended on the last game being played. BAK’s Nino Batsiashvili took the early initiative against her compatriot from Georgia, Bella Khotenashvili. Despite having a better position, she dropped her advantage. The tense game ended in an even position.

However, both kept on playing — Nino had to win for her team to take the match while a draw was enough for Khotenashvili and Ganges Grandmasters. A series of positional maneuvers took place on the board as Nino was trying to force a victory. Despite her efforts, Khotenashvili did not give way and the game was drawn.

A narrow but important victory for Ganges Grandmasters, keeping their hopes for the finals alive.

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