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Band Stand Ka Raja wins the scenic GCL Invitational at Bandra Fort

by Sagar Shah - 29/05/2023

The Global Chess League by Tech Mahindra and FIDE with Vishy Anand as a key partner, will bring forth something truly unique to the world of chess. The event is going to begin in the month of June from the 21st. Before that there are going to be five invitational events taking place in five major cities of the world - Mumbai, Dubai, London, Berlin and New York. The event in Mumbai called the GCL Invitational took place on the 26th of May 2023 and we have an illustrated report to tell you all that happened. 

The Genesis of the Global Chess League

It all began with one tweet:

Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, tweeted this while watching the finals of the FIDE Online Olympiad 2020. When a fan wrote to him asking if he could support or help create a chess league, this is what the man who is worth US$2.1 billion replied:

These couple of tweets laid the foundation of what was to be known as the Global Chess League. It took the Mahindras close to 3 years to make this dream into a reality, but as they say - all good things take time to materialize. The Global Chess League (GCL) in collaboration with FIDE and Vishy Anand is going to take place from the 21st of June to the 2nd of July 2023 in Dubai and the event will witness the participation of 15th, 16th and 17th World Champions - Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren. With a prize fund of 1 million USD, six teams in franchise format, top players along with young talents and much more, it is going to be a massive sporting spectacle for the world of chess.

The official logo of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League

The Global Chess League Invitational in Mumbai

In order to kick off the excitement, Tech Mahindra has planned a series of promotional events in different cities of the world - Mumbai, Dubai, Paris, Berlin and New York. The first GCL Invitational event took place in Mumbai. It was organized by ChessBase India with NODWIN Gaming. An iconic place had to be found in the city where this had to be done. The natural idea was Gateway of India. However, due to technical issues, we could not manage it. While looking for some good spots, overlooking the Bandra Worli Sea Link, we found the Bandra fort to be an ideal location.

Castella De Aguada, also known as Bandra Fort is situated in Bandra where the land ends. This is the final structure before you meet the Arabian Sea. It was built by the Portuguese in 1640 as a watchtower overlooking Mahim Bay.

The ground work begins a few hours before the players are going to pour in

Within a couple of hours it is all set up!

The view for anyone who visited the venue was absolutely spectacular!

A total of 32 teams signed up for this event with each team having 3 players. That's a total of 96 players and close to 50 parents/guardians/spectators. The Bandra Fort witnessed 150 chess lovers enjoying the game of in one of the most picturesque locations out there!

Starting Rank of the teams

1Bandstand Ka Raja2262
2The Bongclouders2217
3Mumbai Musketeers1895
4Ninja Rookstars1820
5Tactical Titans1654
6Zoro Ftw1630
7The Endgame Assassins1539
8Darkknights Chess Academy1444
9Comeback Kings1398
10The Family Fork1366


The team to beat were the top seeds - Band Stand Ka Raja. The team had 3 of the strongest players of the city - IM Shantanu Bhambure (left), IM Raahil Mullick (center) and IM Nubairshah Shaikh (right)

The second seeds were FM Vedant Panesar (left), WIM Srishti Pandey (Center) and Akash Dalvi (right). The name of their team was Bongclouders. 

Regular players of Mumbai were a part of the event. They included the team Mumbai Musketeers of Vishwesh Kochrekar (left), Gopal Rathod (center) and Rajababu Gajengi (right)

They named their team the Family Fork! The chess loving family of Mumbai - Kriti Patel (left), Mayur Patel (center) and Yuti Patel (right)

Chess Chartereds was a team of three Chartered Accountants playing! Srikant Maheshwari, Harsh Shah and Ketan Shah.

The best way to beat Mumbai heat!

As the sun went down, it started to get cooler!

It was an honour to have one of the finest speed players of India IM Nubairshah Shaikh taking part

So many kids got an opportunity to shine at the event!

Matching outfits to boost the team spirit!

Chief Guest for the event - GM Pravin Thipsay, the first GM from Mumbai and the third GM of India.

Also present at the event was the CEO of Global Chess League, Sameer Pathak, from Tech Mahindra. He interacted with the players asking them how they could make the Global Chess League more exciting.

Sameer has been working hard to put things together for the Global Chess League for more than a couple of years now!

Another important guest at the event was Sneha Waykar. She is the current national chess boxing champion of India and also the silver medalist at the World Chess Boxing Championships.

Tournament report

By Chief arbiter IA Vivek Sohani

Pool Stage:

It was a team event with 3 - 1 - 0 - 4 scoring system, which means that a win with white pieces fetches you 3 points, a draw gives both players 1 point, a loss is 0. The most interesting innovation in this event as well and this new idea will also been seen in the main GCL tournament, is the fact that the winner with black pieces gets 4 points. The event attracted the registration of 32 teams and they were divided into four pools of equal average rating. The pool stage was played in a Swiss League of three rounds, which is a total of six games as each team has to play two games with an opposing team with both white and black colours. At the end of the pool stage, the top team from each pool qualified for a knockout stage.


Final Standings for Pool Stage Matches: Pool A: Click Here | Pool B: Click Here | Pool C: Click Here | Pool D: Click Here


Team Bandstand ka Raja who finished in top spot in Pool A faced team Zoro FTW. Something quite unexpected happened - in the first match, team Zoro FTW comprising of Vishal Dharia, Mihir Shah and Shailesh Baria demolished the top seeded team of IMs with a score of 1-9 (two wins with black and one draw). The only IM who managed to hold the game was Nubair. It seemed like this would be the upset of the event, but Band Stand ka Raja came back strongly. IM Nubairshah Shaikh and Raahil Mullick scored convincing victories while Shantanu drew his game. This meant that the scores were now tied 10-10. For the playoffs a random board was called. Nubairshah Shaikh took on Vishal Dharia. He managed to win both the games and took his team to the finals!

Zoro Ftw played amazing chess and gave the top seeds a run for their money!

Semi-Finals 2 was played between the top finishers of Pool B and Pool D. It was The Bongclouders taking on the Tactical Titans. The Bongclouders with a rating average of 2217 against the rating average of just 1654 for the Tactical Titans, were the clear favourites. However, the first match ended in an equal score. Jeet Shah outwitted Shrishti Pandey while Yohan Boricha held Akash Dalvi to a draw on board 2. Vedant scored a comfortable win against Rachit Gurnani and thus the match was tied. Jeet Shah was in his element as he once again beat Shrishti Pandey in the second match, but this time both Vedant and Akash Dalvi scored wins helping their team to advance to the finals and setup a dream clash with Band Stand Ka Raja. The top two seeds were through to the finals. 

Tactical Titans didn't back down easily and gave a very tough fight to the BongClouders

Third Place Match:

The losers of both semi-finals faced each other in the third place match. Zoro FTW won the first match 6-4, but Tactical titans pulled off a miraculous victory in the second match with a massive score of 9-0. With this they managed to beat Zoro FTW and took home the third place.


The entire setting was quite intense for the finals

It started to drizzle a bit as the finals kicked off late in the night between Bandstand Ka Raja and The Bongclouders. It was a perfect atmosphere as we had GM Pravin Thipsay closely watching all three games, and all the fans closing in on the boards to witness the spectacle. Bandstand ka Raja were flawless in the first match as they won all their games with the white pieces to take the score to 9-0. It seemed like a comeback was nearly impossible. However, great turnarounds had been witnessed at this event and the Bongclouders went all out. Akash Dalvi scored the first win with the white pieces to give his team three points. The score was now 9-3. Shrishti Pandey was in a dominating position but Vedant was in trouble against Raahil Mullick. Just when Vedant started to turn the tide around and it seemed like a 9-9 score was a real possibility, Nubair managed to draw the game against Shrishti. With this the chances of the Bongclouders winning the event came to an end. Team Bandstand ka Raja had survived all the dangerous attacks at them and emerged as the true Band Stand ka Raja (The king of Band stand!)

What a frame! 3 IMs from the winning team Bandstand ka Raja with their trophies, Ipads and GM Pravin Thipsay.

2nd Place went to "The Bongclouders". (From left to right): Sudhir Baliga, head of Talent at NODWIN Gaming, FM Vedant Panesar, WIM Shrishti Pandey and Aakash Dalvi, Pravin Thipsay. The took home beautiful trophies.

Team Tactical Titans finishing third: (L-R): Supriya Bhat, Head of Sales at ChessBase India, Jeet Shah, Rachit Gurnani and Yohan Boricha. 1 year ChessBase Premium Account is what they received for their efforts.

Zoro FTW finished fourth. (L-R): Shailesh Baria, Vishal Dharia, Mihir Shah and GM Pravin Thipsay. They all received ChessBase India Premium chess sets.

Dark Knight Juniors took home the prize for the youngest team and each one got a copy of ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park. (L-R): GM Pravin Thipsay, Vihan Pandey, Rish Kamble and Trisha Jagtap with Sneha Waykar (the national chess boxing champion of India).

There was a small pop quiz that was held which included questions on Mumbai Chess and Global Chess League. It was won by talented youngster of Mumbai chess Kriti Patel.

Three people who worked extremely hard behind the scenes to make this event a success - IA Vivek Sohani, Supriya Bhat and Sudhir Baliga
The video of the entire day | Shot and Edited by Abhyudaya Ram
A vlog that gives you an idea of what happened through the eyes of Sagar Shah!

Make sure you follow the Global Chess League from the 21st of June to the 2nd of July 2023.


Important Links

All photos of the event

Global Chess League Official website

Twitter page of the Global Chess League

Instagram page of the Global Chess League

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