GCL: Jonas Buhl Bjerre wins thriller, Triveni Continental Kings clinch title

by Shahid Ahmed
7/2/2023 – The recently turned 19-year-old Danish GM Jonas Buhl Bjerre was the hero of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 2023 Finals. After three draws in the sudden-death matches, he checkmated Javokhir Sindarov (uMM) to etch Triveni Continental Kings as the winners of the inaugural edition. Before this game, Jonas had lost four times against Sindarov. It was not that he was playing bad. Even in the qualifier stage, he had many great positions, but he simply could not convert them. What's important is that the teenager won when it mattered the most. IM Sara Khadem (TCK) was applauded as well. She defended an inferior position against GM Harika Dronavalli (uMM) in the first sudden-death encounter. Triveni Continental Kings made a fantastic comeback from the bottom of the table to win the title. Did you enjoy the tournament and want a second edition? | Photo: Maria Emelianova

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A fairy tale ending

GM Jonas Buhl Bjerre (TCK) scored only ½/2 against the 44th Chess Olympiad Gold medallist GM Javokhir Sindarov (uMM) during the double round-robin stage. He lost four games against the same player at the Finals. What kept him going? Levon Aronian inspired him to fight throughout the tournament. The captain, GM Loek van Wely, also shared a piece of wisdom: it does not matter how many games you have lost, what matters is what you have done in your last game. That is the eternal truth for any sportsperson in any discipline — you are only defined and remembered by your last match.

The name Jonas Buhl Bjerre will reverberate for a long time | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Final 1: Triveni Continental Kings - upGrad Mumba Masters: 3-0

Triveni Continental Kings won the toss, and they opted for the white pieces. The first result of the Finals was a draw between Kateryna Lagno (TCK) and Koneru Humpy (uMM). Wei Yi (TCK) scored the first win for his team against Vidit Gujrathi (uMM). Javokhir Sindarov scored the first victory for uMM against Jonas Buhl Bjerre (TCK).

Wei YI (TCK) sacrificed an exchange a few moves ago. Then a few pieces got exchanged. Vidit's (uMM) king was stranded at the centre of the board. However, there was no way to harm it. 25...Nf4-d5 was the best way to consolidate the centre before going for long castle. 25...0-0-0? turned things in White's favour 26.Ne4 Nf4 27.Qa3 Qc4?? 28.Qxa6+ Kd7 29.Nc5+ and Black resigned as he had to incur heavy material losses to prevent checkmate.

Wei Yi (TCK) beat Vidit Gujrathi (uMM) for the second time with the white pieces in this event | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Before taking on f4, White needed to go 35.Nc3, then Jonas (TCK) would have won the game. Capturing the f4-pawn immediately turned things in Black's favour: 34...f4? 35.Bxf4? Rf6 -+ and now the bishop cannot move since the Rf1+ skewer drops the b1-knight. 36.Kxe2 Rxf4 Black won the game in another ten moves.

Jonas Buhl Bjerre (TCK) had another wild game against Javokhir Sindarov (uMM) | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Aronian (TCK) got a substantial positional advantage in the middlegame against Vachier-Lagrave (uMM). Even though it seemed like he was positionally winning, MVL obviously put up a tough fight.

After missing out, two moves later MVL did what he needed as a last resort: 52...Bxf2! 53.Rxf2 Qe4+. It would have taken computer-like precision for Black to save the game. Unfortunately for him, running low on time, he had to concede the exciting endgame eventually.

Final 1: Aronian vs MVL | Video: ChessBase India

Levon Aronian (TCK) beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (uMM) when it mattered the most | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Which team will grab the winner's trophy? | Photo: Maria Emelianova

When the team has Loek van Wely and Levon Aronian, the vibes are always going to be positive | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Team Mahindra along with Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group, watched all the action at the arena | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Triveni Continental Kings - upGrad Mumba Masters: 3-0 (9-7) | Photo: Official site

Replay TCK vs uMM games

Final 2: upGrad Mumba Masters - Continental Kings: 3-0

The first result of the second match of the finals was a draw between Vidit Gujrathi (uMM) and Wei Yi (TCK). Alexander Grischuk (uMM) brought the first decisive result of the match against Yangyi Yu (CHN). Harika Dronavalli (uMM) and Javokhi Sindarov (uMM) scored in two back and forth battles against IM Sara Khadem (TCK) and Jonas Bjerre Buhl (TCK).

Levon Aronian (TCK) had a great advantage against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (uMM) but this time it was not easy to convert it | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Grischuk (uMM) could have won a bit earlier if he had played 32.Nd3 c5 33.e5 fxe5 34.f6. Instead, he went for 32.Nd7+ Ka6 33.Nxf6 Re3 and soon White sacrificed the exchange to win the game using the e and f-pawns.

Alexander Grischuk (uMM) scored a crucial victory over Yangyi Yu (TCK) | Photo: Maria Emelianova

GM Harika Dronavalli (uMM) won a back and forth battle against IM Sara Khadem (TCK) | Photo: Maria Emelianova

The upGrad Mumba Masters team is getting ready for the blitz tie-breaks | Photo: Maria Emelianova

upGrad Mumba Masters - Triveni Continental Kings: 3-0 (12-3) | Photo: Official site

Replay uMM vs TCK games

Blitz Tie-break 1: Triveni Continental Kings - upGrad Mumba Masters: 0-3

GM Harika Dronavalli (uMM) struck first against IM Sara Khadem (TCK). Javokhir Sindarov (uMM) also won against Jonas Buhl Bjerre (TCK). Yangyi Yu (TCK) scored the first win of the match for his team against Alexander Grischuk (uMM). Wei Yi (TCK) lost to Vidit Gujrathi (uMM). The 'Icons' battle between Aronian (TCK) and MVL (uMM) ended in a draw.

Replay TCK vs uMM games

Blitz Tie-break 2: upGrad Mumba Masters - Triveni Continental Kings: 3-0

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (uMM) checkmated Levon Aronian (TCK) to set the tone for the second Blitz tie-break match. Yangyi Yu (TCK), Wei Yi (TCK) and Kateryna Lagno (TCK) won their respective games against Alexander Grischuk (uMM), Vidit Gujrathi (uMM) and Koneru Humpy (uMM) respectively. Thus, TCK had forced another tie-break. This time, randomly drawn players would play against each other.

Replay uMM vs TCK

Sudden death

The first draw of lots drew no.5. IM Sara Khadem (TCK) achieved a solid draw against GM Harika Dronavalli (uMM). The second draw of lots drew no.2. Alexander Grischuk (uMM) managed a massive save against Yangyi Yu (uMM) to draw the game. The next number which was drawn was no.4. GM Kateryna Lagno (TCK) saved a lost game against GM Koneru Humpy (uMM). The next number drawn was no.6 of the 'Prodigy' board. Jonas Buhl Bjerre (TCK) checkmated Javokhir Sindarov (uMM) to win the tournament for the Triveni Continental Kings.

Replay all four Sudden Death games

Statistically, the world's most successful chess coach, Peter Heine Nielsen, is delighted for his fellow countryman playing a key role in his team's victory

Photo Gallery

The tension at the Triveni Continental Kings den during the high-stakes sudden death games | Photo: Maria Emelianova

The emotions of two teams after Jonas Buhl Bjerre brought the championship home for Triveni Continental Kings | Photo: Maria Emelianova

What is the Scoring System?

The Final will be played over best-of-2 matches. There will be a drawing of lots to determine which Team is White in Match 1, this team will then be black in Match 2. The team who wins more matches will be the Champion. In the event of a tie:

• There will be a playoff blitz fixture, which will be a best-of-2 match. The team that was white in Match 1 and black in Match 2 will play white in Match 3 and black in Match 4. The time limit for each game will be all moves in 3 minutes plus 2 seconds. The Team that wins the most matches in the fixture will be the Champion.

• If the Teams remain tied, there shall be a drawing of lots to determine a board from 1 to 6. The player from each Team on this board will then participate in a sudden-death blitz game. The time limit for this game will be 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move. The player from the Team who was white in Matches 1 and 3, will play white in this game.

• If the sudden death blitz game is drawn, then the procedure is repeated except that the colour of the player from each team alternates from the colour the team had in the preceding sudden death blitz game.

• If the tie remains unbroken, the above procedure is repeated until a sudden death blitz game has a winner.


Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.