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On Chess: St. Louis Arch Bishops Return To PRO Chess League Final Four In San Francisco

The Armenian Eagles celebrate victory at the  2018 PRO Chess League Final Four.
Eric Rosen | St. Louis Chess Club

The St. Louis Arch Bishops are going back to the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League final four in San Francisco.

To make it to the final rounds, they defeated their crosstown rivals, Webster Windmills, in a thrilling 9-7 victory that came down to the final round. International master (IM) Nikolas Theodorou’s triumphant rook sacrifice proved to be too much for his grandmaster (GM) opponent to handle.

The regular-season matches and playoffs of the PRO Chess League up to this point have all been played online with teammates and opponents spread across the globe. All four teams will converge at San Francisco's Folsom Street Foundry, a converted warehouse turned into an esports arena, to play against each other.

The competitors will sit across from each other but still be logged into chess.com to make their moves. While that may seem a little odd, there is yet one more exciting twist: The players will be wearing noise-canceling headphones. This makes for a tremendous atmosphere for the fans, as they can cheer for their favorite players and listen to the live commentary onsite.

The PRO Chess League is made up of 32 teams from around the world. Three of the four teams will be making a return trip to San Francisco to compete for the PRO Chess League title. The Armenia Eagles, winners of last years event, will play the St. Louis Arch Bishops in the first round.

The Eagles were extremely fortunate to have upset the Arch Bishops in the same round last year. Also returning is the 2018 runner-up, the Chengdu Pandas. They play the only newcomer, the Baden-Baden Snowballs, led by Webster University alum GM Georg Meier.

The St. Louis Arch Bishops will bring a formidable squad to San Francisco. They are led by the second best player in the entire world, St. Louis’ own Fabiano Caruana. He will be flying in from a tournament in Germany, the 2019 Grenke Chess Classic, in which he took first place last year.

Alejandro Ramirez of the Arch Bishops shows his dismay after defeat in the 2018 PRO Chess League Final Four.
Credit Eric Rosen | St. Louis Chess Club
Alejandro Ramirez of the Arch Bishops shows his dismay after defeat in the 2018 PRO Chess League Final Four.

Playing on boards two and three, respectively, are St. Louis University (SLU) students and dormmates, GM Benjamin Bok and IM Nikolas Theodorou. The duo helped SLU win the inaugural U.S. Collegiate Blitz Championship earlier this year in March. Rounding out the team is National Master Julian “The Pro” Proleiko. Manager Mike Kummer is banking that "The Pro" can cut it in such an intense environment.

To cheer on the hometown Arch Bishops, log onto chess.com/tv or join us in San Francisco May 4-5, 2019. The games start each day at 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. 

Mike Kummer has been involved with the St. Louis Arch Bishops from the beginning in 2010. He managed the team to victory over World Champion Magnus Carlsens' Norway Gnomes to win the 2017 PRO Chess League title. Kummer is also assistant manager at the St. Louis Chess Club and an international arbiter.