Thursday, 16 February 2017

PRO Chess League On Chess.com

The popular playing site www.chess.com launched its Pro league in the first half of January. They managed to attract the world's best players, including the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, So, Caruana, Nakamura, Vachier,  to name but a few. The main idea is that any city on this planet can form their team and participate.

I have excellent relations with the people of Chess Informant (I am also a regular contributor to the publication) and they invited me to be part of their team, the Belgrade Sparrows. The team has great spirit as I can hear every time we speak on Skype - they meet at the Informant's venue in Belgrade and play all together. I am the only player who plays from home as I don't live in Belgrade. After every match we chat on Skype and the cheers are loud and can be heard clearly!

So far the team's run has been good - we won 3 matches, lost 2 and drew 1. The next round will be decisive for qualification for the knock-out stage and the pairings for it should come out soon.

To my own surprise, my result is great. I've won 13 games, lost 3 and drew 2. I played some very strong players like GMs Vidit, Gledura, Ghosh, Borisek, Skoberne and Pavasovic. The time control is 15 minutes with 2 second increment, so the quality of the games is acceptable, at least to a certain point. A typical example where I managed to use some old preparation in the Breyer Spanish (does anyone remember the move 11 Nh4, successfully used by Fischer in the 60s?) is against the Indian GM Diptayan Ghosh, currently rated 2573. I quickly got a winning position, played well and then missed a mate in 2! Luckily, the position was still easily winning even after that.

Another curiousity from my games is that except for one, all my black games started with 1 d4 or 1 Nf3. For this league I prepared the set-up with ...b6 and ...g6 in the QID and had great success with it! It also worked for the London System (1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 b6 3 Bf4 and also 3 Bg5).

It's a lot of fun to play in the league, plus I am usually facing strong opponents. I will try to post some games in a later post, as for some reason the Blogger platform experiences problems with the chess.com board.

The last round of the group phase is on Wednesday, so I hope we qualify!

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