GCL Day 2: SG Alpine Warriors succumb to Ganges Grandmasters

by Shahid Ahmed
6/23/2023 – The highly anticipated match of the day was between SG Alpine Warriors and Ganges Grandmasters. The sole reason could be deduced: it featured the battle between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand. We got a glimpse of the Carlsen we are familiar with — one tiny positional inaccuracy and he will punish you. However, that win did not turn out enough for the team as Richard Rapport and Bella Khotenashvili scored important victories over D Gukesh and Elisabeth Paehtz, which meant SG Alpine Warriors had lost to Ganges Grandmasters (6-11). Balan Alaskan Knights bounced back after their loss against SGAW by defeating upGrad Mumba Masters by a huge margin (5-14). Four matches will be played tomorrow, starting with SG Alpine Warriors vs Triveni Continental Kings from 3 p.m. local time, 4:30 p.m. IST. | Photo: Tech Mahindra Global Chess League

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Alaskan Knights overwhelm Mumba Masters

The shocking result of the day was Koneru Humpy (uMM) running out of time against Zhongyi Tan (BAK) after just 16 moves. The heartbreak of the day would be for Vidit Gujrathi (uMM), who missed a great opportunity against his wolfpack buddy Teimour Radjabov (BAK). When the latter managed to secure a draw in the final moments, he decided to get up and take a stroll in the arena while his clock was running. Well, his opponent was his friend and this is not a rated event, so it can be considered as showmanship.

SG Alpine Warriors - Balan Alaskan Knights: 3-0 (9-7)

The first result of the match was between Magnus Carlsen (SGAW) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (BAK). Although the world no.1 gained a pawn in the Petroff Defense, it never amounted to enough for him to gain anything substantial.

The first decisive game was Teimour Radjabov's (BAK) win over Arjun Erigaisi (SGAW). GM Irina Krush scored the first win for SGAW and then R Praggnanandhaa scored another win to put SGAW ahead.

Gukesh showed steady play in an inferior rook and opposite-colored bishop endgame against his arch-rival Abdusattorov. The draw ensured SGAW's victory over BAK.

D Gukesh (SGAW) set the board on fire by sacrificing his rook on move no.6 against Nodirbek Abdusattorov (BAK). The former World Rapid champion deviated from two games played previously with 11...Nf6. It was an exciting battle which seemed to be going Black's way when he ended up having the superior side of a rook and opposite-colored bishop endgame. Gukesh struck back with a nice trick in the end to salvage one point.

70.Rxc4+ allowed White to get back in the game. It ended in a draw after another 33 moves!

It was the last game of the match to finish, which brought everyone on their feet.

After missing an early opportunity to gain a slight edge, Arjun (SGAW) blundered 24.f3?? which dropped an exchange with Ne3!-+ The position went out of hand and White had to resign in another eight moves as checkmate was unstoppable.

While Radjabov (BAK) has not played a rated game since the World Teams Final in November 2022, this win is just the start he needed in Dubai.

GM Irina Krush (SGAW) has only way left to score a win - creating a passed pawn on the g-file by sacrificing the h-pawn on h6. The former Women's World Champion, GM Zhongyi Tan (BAK), missed that idea and blundered 46...Bf3?? 47.Bg6+- and White went on to win the game after Black had to give up his bishop to stop the pawn promotion.

Just when it seemed like the encounter between R Praggnanandhaa (SGAW) and Raunak Sadhwani (BAK) would end up in a draw, the latter trapped his own rook with 49...Kg7?? Black needed to drop the f6-pawn and ensure his rook remained free with 49...Re5.

The loss of a pawn wouldn't have affected Black's position. White found the correct move, 50.f4!, which tied up Black's rook, bishop and king. There is no way to free up either of Black's pieces without suffering a material loss. Try to find out the correct plan, which White found to win the game. 

Magnus Carlsen meditates before his first game | Video: ChessBase India

Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi had a tepid draw | Photo: Tech Mahindra Global Chess League

Magnus watches Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh and Arjun play | Video: ChessBase India

SG Alpine Warriors - Balan Alaskan Knights: 3-0 (9-7) | Photo: Offficial site

Replay SGAW vs BAK games

SG Alpine Warriors celebrating their first win

Triveni Continental Kings - Chingari Gulf Titans: 3-0 (8-7)

Nihal Sarin scored the first decisive victory for his team, Chingari Gulf, Titans against Jonas Buhl Bjerre (TCK). However, his win was subsided by Wei Yi's (TCK) victory over Daniil Dubov (CGT). Due to the tournament rules, a win with the black pieces earns 4 points, whereas a win with the white pieces fetches only 3 points.

GM Nana Dzagnidze (TCK) decided to draw her game against IM Polina Shuvalova (CGT) as she need not take any risk, as a draw was enough for her team to win the match, thanks to Wei Yi's win with the black pieces.

32...Rc1+? loosened the bind Black had on the fifth rank. 33.Kh2+- and now the bishop at b5 is attacked twice by the rook and knight. So it must move. 33...Bc4 34.Rb7 and White now crashed through the seventh rank and soon landed the black king inside a mating net.

The ever-creative Daniil Dubov (CGT) decided to spice things up by exchanging his queen for two rooks against Wei Yi (TCK) 27.Rxd8 Rxc4 28.bxc4 Qc5 29.h4 Nc2 30.Rd5 Qa7 it was quite difficult to play the complex position with white pieces in time trouble. He misplayed eventually and lost the game.

Triveni Continental Kings - Chingari Gulf Titans: 3-0 (8-7) | Photo: Official site

Replay TCK vs CGT games

SG Alpine Warriors - Ganges Grandmasters : 0-3 (6-11)

A little over a year after their last encounter at Norway Chess 2022, Magnus Carlsen (SGAW) got the better of Vishy Anand (GG) when the latter made a tiny positional inaccuracy early in the middlegame. Richard Rapport (GG) scored the first win for his team against D Gukesh (SGAW) and then Bella Khotenashvili (GG) scored another victory to secure the match for her team, Ganges Grandmasters.

13...b5 cost Black his pawn at c5. 14.dxc5 Bxb2 Black is forced to trade the bishops 15.Qxb2 dxc5 16.cxb5 axb5 17.Rfc1 and now the loose c5-pawn will fall. 17...c4 18.bxc4 bxc4 19.Qc3 e5 20.Qxc4 White gained the e-pawn in the next few moves and arrived at a winning endgame.

Final moments: Magnus Carlsen vs Vishy Anand | Video: ChessBase India

Magnus Carlsen arrives late for his game against Vishy Anand | Video: ChessBase India

Gukesh's (SGAW) ambitious attack 28.g4? did not work out as things turned in his opponent Rapport's (GG) favor 28...f4-+ 29.Qd3+ e4 30.Qc2 Kg8 putting his own king into safety and unpinning the e4-pawn. 31.Kd1 exf3 32.exf3 Qxf3+ 33.Kc1 Nc5 34.g5 Re3 35.Bxg7 one last desperate attempt to gain something. 35...Nxb3+ 36.Kb2 Nxd2 Black won in five more moves.

Bella Khotenashvili (GG) delivered a beautiful checkmate 69...Be2# to secure the win for her team.

Ganges Grandmasters - SG Alpine Warriors: 3-0 (11-6) | Photo: Tech Mahindra Global Chess League

Replay SGAW vs GG games

upGrad Mumba Masters - Balan Alaskan Knights: 0-3 (5-14)

Raunak Sadhwani (BAK) made a short work of Javokhir Sindarov (uMM) in 25 moves. Zhongyi Tan (BAK) scored the next win over Koneru Humpy (uMM) on time! Nodirbek Abdusattorov (BAK) scored the third win for his team against Alexander Grischuk (uMM).

Despite needing a draw to secure victory for his team, Abdusattorov believed in his position and went for an exchange sacrifice 52...Rxg3! 53.Bxg3 Kxg3 and now Black has practical chances to win this. It would have taken a computer-like precision by Grischuk in time trouble to save the game.

Raunak (BAK) used his tactical vision when his opponent made a big mistake 21.Bg5?? f6! 22.Bxf6 Rh5 23.Qxd4 Bxh3 24.f4 Bxa3 25.bxa3 Bxg2+ and White resigned.

Vidit (uMM) got a decisive advantage early in the game after his opponent Radjabov (BAK) went for the audacious 11...Be6 12.d5 Bxh3 13.Nh2 Nxe4 14.Rxe4 Qf5 and White took quite some time to convert his advantage. Black's scare tactics panned out in the end as he escaped with a draw.

GM Koneru Humpy (uMM) shockingly ran out of time after 16 moves against GM Zhongyi Tan (BAK) | Photo: Tech Mahindra Global Chess League 

GM Harika Dronavalli (uMM) scored a crushing victory over GM Nino Batsiashvili (BAK) | Photo: Tech Mahindra Global Chess League

upGrad Mumba Masters - Balan Alaskan Knights: 0-3 (5-14) | Photo: Tech Mahindra Global Chess League

Replay uMM vs BAK games

The official commentators: IM Sagar Shah and Samay Raina | Photo: Sudhir Baliga

The official commentators: IM Tania Sachdev and Peter Svidler | Photo: WIM Jesse February

The official commentators: IM Tania Sachdev and FM James Canty | Photo: WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili

Standings after Day 2

Ganges Grandmasters gains sole lead 6/6 | Photo: Official site

Day 3 matches

SG Alpine Warriors vs Triveni Continental Kings from 3 p.m. local time, 4:30 p.m. IST

Balan Alaskan Knights vs Ganges Grandmasters from 4:30 p.m. local time, 6 p.m. IST

Chingari Gulf Titans vs upGrad Mumba Masters from 5:45 p.m. local time, 7:15 p.m. IST

Triveni Continental Kings vs Balan Alaskan Knights from 7 p.m. local time, 8:30 p.m. IST

What is the Scoring System?

Each team will have six players and a manager, who will be competing on six boards which will be played simultaneously. While each board will be called a game, all six combined boards will be termed one match. Once the board order is decided, it cannot be altered after drawing lots while deciding the run order of play. And in each match, all the players of one team will play with the same colour.

A game won with Black pieces will result in 4 Game Points (GP) to the winning player. A victory for a player with White pieces will see them win 3 GP. A draw will be rewarded with 1 GP, and a defeat gets the player 0 GP. Each players’ GP will contribute to the Team’s total Match Points (MP).

With regards to the calculations on Match Points (MP), a Team which scores more GP than their opposition will be rewarded with a bonus of 3 MP. If both the Teams are level on GP, they will be awarded 1 MP each. However, if a team scores lesser GP than the opposing team, they won’t get any MP for that Match.

Scoring System for Game Points (GP)

4 GP (3+1) 

A player wins the Game with Black Pieces 

3 GP 

A player wins the Game with White Pieces 

1 GP 


0 GP 


Scoring System for Match Points (MP)

3  MP 

The team that scores more Game Points 

1  MP 

If both teams are level on Game Points 

0  MP 

The team that scores lesser Game Points than  the opponent 

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.