Over a year has passed since the Crazyhouse World Championship (CWC) was created by FischyVishy on Lichess. The first CWC was 2017 when we had a qualification round to reduce the field to 64 players, then three knockout rounds after which eight Candidates remained. Each match was a head-to-head of 10 games of 3 minutes each no increment (3+0) with matches continuing another 2 games in case of a tie. Those final eight players then played a round-robin Candidates Tournament, in which ties stood. The top Candidates were TwelveTeen and JannLee who then played 60 thrilling games over three weeks to decide the Championship. There were long streaks when TwelveTeen dominated tearing up the board with his attacks, then JannLee fought his way back with masterful play. After the dust settled on this epic showdown, the final score was 31.5-28.5 in favour of JannLee, making the Australian (real name Justin Tan) the first Crazyhouse World Champion.
Now, since February 2018, the second iteration of the CWC has begun. Will there be new theoreticians of the game that break through or will the old guard be wily enough to maintain their dominance? As before, each match will consist of 10 games (plus two in case of a tie until the tie is broken), but the time control is 3+2 (2 seconds extra per move) to avoid chaotic time scrambles and dirty flagging techniques, making the ending of games higher quality and more spectator-friendly. In 2018, the Candidates Round will consist of 10 players: TwelveTeen as the runner-up last year, opperwezen as the wildcard who finished third last year and 8 more players who have to qualify from a double-elimination knockout tournament which is on-going. The current standings can be seen here. The winner of the round-robin Candidates will play the incumbent World Champion JannLee in a grand final. The loser will qualify automatically to next year’s Candidates. Again, we have FischyVishy to thank for both funding and organising this spectacular event.
We hope to keep you updated on this blog as the tournament progresses, both the matches to look out for, and to keep you updated on matches you might have missed. The top 10 seeds still seeking to qualify through to the Candidates are led by FM gnejs (2878), who is known to be an elite bughouse and crazyhouse player for over a decade now. He is followed by allyouneedisluft (2870), mastertan (2837), xuanet (2748.5) and blitzbullet (2739), who were all playing in the 2017 Candidates Tournament. It’s quite clear that any of these players have the skill and ability to progress far this time as well. Seeded 6th is GM FeegLood (2717), who recently confirmed his title on Lichess, a very talented chess-variant player, as they also managed to reach the semi-finals of the Atomic World Championship before being taken down by the current Atomic King GM Arka50. Seeded 7th seeded is littleplotkin, who despite his moniker “little” is quite a giant when it comes to playing crazyhouse and was runner-up to JannLee in chess.com’s 2018 Crazyhouse Swiss championship. 8th seed is GM-elect and popular streamer penguingim1 (real name Andrew Tang). 9th seed is a new player from Finland, Vempele, who despite only joining Lichess at the end of July 2017, has quickly rocketed to be among the top crazyhouse players and is highly respected as a great theoretician and artist of the game. Last but not least among the top 10 is B0N0B0, who has been playing crazyhouse for many years and is a familiar name in the community.
From last year’s top 10 rankings, JannLee is obviously the Champion, while TwelveTeen and opperwezen are directly through to the Candidates, so only FM chickencrossroad and eekarf are absent. Chickencrossroad was the runner-up to JannLee in the chess.com 2016 Swiss Crazyhouse Championship, but pulled out of the Crazyhouse World Championship because of other commitments and has not returned this year. Other top players from last year who have not returned include saturos, Atrophied, IM Bugzilla, puressence, ikaravodah, sharkmeister and Lance5500, while mariorton, YScorpion and trataredeganart, have never taken part. Nevertheless, these are the exceptions. And we are glad to see a lot of new names this year, among them FM gnejs and Vempele already mentioned but also FM garnek123 (#12), IM gsvc (#13), JohnStuckey (#14), and the popular streamer helmsknight (#16). Some other well-known names: IM HighContrast (#18), atamek (#19), apterigo (#20), profz (#21), Kleerkast (#22) and pknm (#24) are also taking part for the first time in this pinnacle of Crazyhouse talent. Crazyhouse has clearly been attracting virtuosos of standard chess too, as there are many titled chess players, among the participants such as NM chewythechewer (#29), IM larso (#32), NM ArtOfDeception (#35), FM amaidel (#40), FM MagicAndy (#46), GM Orlando_Gloom (#59) and IM lovlas (#100). The size of the competition has doubled, going from 64 players to 128 players, which is a clear sign that the crazyhouse community is growing. The first round (Round of 128) of this tournament has already been played and currently round 1.5 of those who lost their first round is underway with the round of 64 beginning next week.
If you want to follow the battle for the craZyHouse crown, we recommend you join the House: Chess Variants Discord Server. There you can chat in real time about the tournament and matches, receive notifications when games are being played and once they are in play, you can join the voice channel to listen in and discuss the games with other spectators. On the server you’ll also find links to the draw, the calendar, the rules and the official website of the competition and the crazyhouse community blog. As an aside, if you are new to Discord, we’d also recommend you to join the Lichess Discord Server to keep yourself updated about the Lichess community and developments. If Discord is not your thing, all the information you need can also be found on the official CWC team page on Lichess where the tournament organiser FischyVishy will post updates and where players schedule their matches and post their results. To watch the live games, click on the player tv (the tv icon) of the player on the Lichess website. We will continue to post updates onwith round previews, match analysis and much more — stay tuned!
Let’s make crazyhouse chess flourish!
—MMichael (with okei)