Chess Super League Gets Underway With Sparkling Indian Vibe


The brand new Chess Super League got underway on Monday with its first round, covered live with a sparkling Indian vibe. The teams Brutal Bishops, Krazy Knights, and Pivotal Pawns started with wins.

The contagious positivity and enthusiasm of commentators IM Sagar Shah and Samay Raina, who were bringing their thoughts to the live audience for the first time from an actual studio, ensured a highly entertaining start of the very first Chess Super League. Would any other chess duo get away with an unscheduled phone call live on air (with Raftaar, team owner of the Brutal Bishops)?

Chess Super League phone call
Samay taking a phone call having just started the broadcast. Image: Samay Raina/Youtube.

Six teams (with six players each) compete this week in a single round-robin followed by a knockout phase on Saturday and Sunday. All squads happen to have their own musical songs, resonating names, and dedicated team logos, adding to the experience.

The teams form an interesting mix of ages and nationalities. There are six top grandmasters (male and female), six top players from India (male and female), and six top Indian juniors (boys and girls). Each round sees three team matches played after each other for maximum exposure and coverage. 

Krazy Knights vs. Quintessential Queens: 4-2

Bo. Fed 1 Krazy Knights Rtg 4 : 2 Fed 6 Quintessential Queens Rtg
1.1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2736 1 – 0 GM Koneru, Humpy 2586
1.2 GM Sasikiran, Krishnan 2640 0 – 1 GM Karjakin, Sergey 2743
1.3 GM Muzychuk, Mariya 2536 1 – 0 GM Hou, Yifan 2658
1.4 WGM Gomes, Mary Ann 2354 1 – 0 IM Tania, Sachdev 2392
1.5 GM Aryan, Chopra 2585 1 – 0 GM Iniyan, P 2529
1.6 WIM Mrudul, Dehankar 2256 0 – 1 WIM Priyanka, K 2218

The event started with a bang as no draws occurred in the opening round between Krazy Knights, led by GM Hikaru Nakamura, vs. Quintessential Queens, who placed their top ace GM Sergey Karjakin on board two. This is possible for the swapping rule, where teams are allowed to swap boards one and two (international and Indian player) and boards three and four (international and Indian women players). Both top GMs won their game.

A key game in this match was played between two former women’s world champions and it was GM Mariya Muzychuk who scored an upset victory over GM Hou Yifan.

“Usually when you play …e5 [allowing] Nf5, then you should have something concrete,” Muzychuk explained her opening advantage. “It looks like Black has weakened her queenside and therefore my position was very prospective.” The 2015 women’s world champion got to decide the game with a pretty bishop sacrifice:

Mariya Muzychuk Super Chess Leage
Mariya Muzychuk, interviewed after the match. Image: Samay Raina/Youtube.

Pivotal Pawns vs. Ruthless Rooks: 3.5-2.5

Bo. Fed 2 Ruthless Rooks Rtg 2½ – 3½ Fed 5 Pivotal Pawns Rtg
2.1 GM Radjabov, Teimour 2763 ½ – ½ GM Ding, Liren 2799
2.2 GM Karthikeyan, Murali 2630 0 – 1 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2628
2.3 GM Muzychuk, Anna 2533 1 – 0 IM Kulkarni, Bhakti 2388
2.4 GM Harika, Dronavalli 2511 0 – 1 GM Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2507
2.5 IM Raja, Harshit 2494 0 – 1 GM Arjun, Kalyan 2537
2.6 WFM Salonika, Saina 2206 1 – 0 WIM Savitha, Shri B 2281

For the second match, the top boards weren’t swapped. Therefore, top GMs Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren played each other and drew. Pivotal Pawns decided to swap their boards three and four and this helped them as Gibraltar Grand Prix winner GM Zhansaya Abdumalik defeated Indian GM Harika Dronavalli, who did miss a chance:

Zhansaya Abdumalik
Zhansaya Abdumalik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Brutal Bishops vs. Kingslayers: 4.5-1.5

Bo. Fed 3 Kingslayers Rtg 1½ – 4½ FED 4 Brutal Bishops Rtg
3.1 GM Giri, Anish 2774 ½ – ½ GM Wang, Hao 2744
3.2 GM Sethuraman, S.P. 2620 0 – 1 GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2726
3.3 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 2524 0 – 1 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2518
3.4 IM Soumya, Swaminathan 2351 0 – 1 IM Karavade, Eesha 2345
3.5 GM Gukesh, D 2640 ½ – ½ GM Sadhwani, Raunak 2555
3.6 WIM Arpita, Mukherjee 2229 ½ – ½ WFM Tarini, Goyal 2164

The Brutal Bishops scored the biggest win of the day vs. the Kingslayers, in what was the third and final match of this first round. Also here, the top guns drew their game: GM Anish Giri and GM Wang Hao, who luckily not completely retired from chess altogether.

GM Vidit Gujrathi scored a nice win against his compatriot GM S.P. Sethuraman, creating play on both sides of the board.

Afterward, Vidit said he had checked the other boards and wrongly assumed he was in a must-win situation for his team: “So I tried to push it even more, not to settle for a draw.”

Vidit Gujrathi Super Chess League
Vidit explaining his game on the stream. Image: Samay Raina/Youtube.

All games day 1

The Chess Super League will continue with rounds 2-5 on Tuesday-Friday, followed by playoffs and finals on Saturday and Sunday. The games are played with a time control of 15 minutes plus a 10-second increment. The total prize fund of the event is Rs.40 lakh (U.S. $54,000).

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