Saturday, 16 June 2018

Round 4 of the 2018 Crazyhouse World Championship

The round of surprises

Round 4 of the 2018 Crazyhouse World Championship is nearing completion, and so far it has been a round of surprises. This year-long event organised by FischyVishy will determine the Candidate to face incumbent champion JannLee and crown the 2018 Champion of Crazyhouse. All the matches are played on so the matches can be watched on a player’s TV channel on their profile. Some are streamed on Twitch, and spectators can also engage in live voice and text chat on the House Discord (users must type .iam cwc and .iam zh in role-assignments to access the crazyhouse channels). For reference, here is the draw of completed matches, the calendar of upcoming matches and the CWC forum where players post up arranged times and results which are then updated on the draw and calendar.

After the first 3 rounds, the winner’s bracket has 16 players who have survived without loss. The 4th round pairings are as follows:

All these matches look extremely even and we didn’t anticipate any one-sided matches. Who among these eight would progress to the final winner’s round undefeated? And who will have to play the elimination bracket?

xuanet – gsvc

The first to battle it out were xuanet, a very dangerous player from Catalonia and a Candidate last year, and gsvc, an International Master from Paraguay.  Already in this first match we were in for a surprise: after 10 games, the score board was 6-4 for gsvc who therefore progresses while xuanet is relegated to the elimination bracket and will have to play his next round against the winner of burpcow and TaylorEternity.

gsvc had chosen to play a well-known line from standard chess: the Scandinavian defence mainline, and his black games started with the same moves: 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5. Despite the rather suspicious reputation of the Scandinavian, gsvc showed that the opening is quite playable even at the highest level. xuanet, for his part, changed his black openings between e4 e5, e4 Nf6 and the 2…Nf6 line of the Scandinavian defence. White won in nine of the ten games, but considering how the games progressed, this might be a coincidence because in general the games were extremely even and exciting, both players have attacking chances and both players were often living on two-second increment.

In our view, game 2 was particularly instructive as well as featuring some useful tactics, so here it is annotated:

In game 3, both players missed their mating chances. gsvc as Black had mate in 4 in this position (Puzzle #1):

He missed it in time trouble, playing instead N@d7 leaving xuanet a mate in 4 chance the very next move. Can you find it (Puzzle #2)?

You need to have an eye for those intermediate moves! xuanet still took the game. A dramatic moment came in game 8; gsvc played the 6. d4 gambit variation against the 2…Nf6 Scandinavian defence – a line that JannLee has been playing a lot recently, and even just a couple of days prior to this match in a joint stream he did with GM Yasser Seirawan. xuanet, who hadn’t seen the stream, made the same mistake as Yasser did, sacrificing a whole rook while letting gsvc promote a new queen in the corner in order to not be distracted from keeping his own attack going. He managed to reach a position where he had mate in 3, but uncharacteristically for him, he didn’t find the finish. What’s the best move in this position (Puzzle #3)?

Had xuanet found it, the score would have been back level at 4-4. In the last game, they repeated the same line with the rook sacrifice which is objectively bad for Black. This time, gsvc didn’t offer up a mating chance and took victory in the match with a 6-4 win.

allyouneedisluft – HighContrast

The next battle of titans was but a few hours later, when International Master HighContrast clashed against the second seed and Candidate from last year allyouneedisluft. Before the match, allyouneedisluft was considered the favourite due to his harmonious playing style, playing very disciplined and positional crazyhouse.

As evidence of this, we need go no further than the first game, in which allyouneedisluft found a move that wins a pawn and maintains white’s advantage in this position. Can you find it (Puzzle #4)?

HighContrast was not to be discouraged but quite the contrary. In game 2, he provided a model example of why you can’t just sit back in crazyhouse playing pretty positional moves, punishing allyouneedisluft’s passivity. This second game forced allyouneedisluft to change his usual style and put him outside his comfort zone.

Then in game 4, HighContrast really showed why he has the potential to reach the Candidates. After the match, this game annotated below was being described as the masterpiece of the match. HighContrast won this game to level the match 2-2.

After that gem, HighContrast started to play like a beast. He won the next two games running off to a 4-2 lead. In the 7th game, allyouneedisluft deviated from his normal 1. d4 and opened with 1. e4 instead. HighContrast replied with the Scandinavian defence’s 2…Nf6 line and allyouneedisluft chose the same 6. d4 continuation that was seen in the gsvc-xuanet match. HighContrast had clearly seen it before and this is how the game continued.

The eighth game was the last game of the match as HighContrast found a spectacular mate with all his knights in hand and took a 6-2 victory in the match. Can you find the mate (Puzzle #5)?

allyouneedisluft will continue his tournament in the elimination bracket, where he will next face off against the winner of profz against Fumitoks. Both the latter match (breaking news: Fumitoks won 6-4) and the head to head against allyouneedisluft promise to be superb.

FeegLood – Mugwort

The chess Grandmaster FeegLood was paired up against the crazyhouse specialist Mugwort in a tense encounter, which featured new opening ideas, sharp tactics and dangerous sacrifices. Both players are very evenly matched and we knew that neither was going to walk away from this encounter unscathed. But who would win? After a level start (1-1), Mugwort picked up a quick 4-2 lead, but an unbelievable 4 game win streak by FeegLood winged him to a 6-4 match victory. Let’s take a look at few of the match highlights.

In the first game, FeegLood most certainly surprised Mugwort with the knight jump novelty 1. e4 Nc6 2. Nc3 Nd4. Despite being ambushed in the opening, Mugwort was commanding this whole game, but due to starting slowly and bad time management, he lost on time.

In the second game, it was Mugwort’s turn to show his preparation. FeegLood played the d4 c3 line of the Italian Four Knights Game and Mugwort got to play 6…@h3, which gives black a pleasant position. FeegLood decided to give up a losing position after 13 moves.

The fourth game was an extremely sharp Scotch. Both players were showing their tactical skills in both defensive and offensive ways. Here is an annotation of the game:

FeegLood’s opening as black was Nc6-Nf6-d5 which proved to be quite a weapon in his hands. This same nine move sequence was seen in 4 games out of 10: 1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. Bc4 e6 6. O-O P@g4 7. Ne1 h5 8. d4 Nb6 9. Bb5 Bd7. In the 5th game, Mugwort tried to destabilize black’s structure with 10. f3, FeegLood responded with this pawn sacrifice.

In the 6th game FeegLood started with 1. d4 and even though Queen’s pawn opening is often described as a peaceful opening, this one wasn’t lacking any fireworks as both players were trying to attack each other with sacrifices. In the end, Mugwort was stronger and found mate in 6 that includes a queen sacrifice. Can you find it (Puzzle #6)?

After this, FeegLood pulled off an amazing win streak and won the last 4 games, taking the match 6-4. Can you find the mate in 3 that he played in the 7th game (Puzzle #7)?

The most fascinating game of the series was game 9 in which FeegLood was under heavy pressure but managed to maintain a light-square defence.

Mugwort will continue to play in the elimination bracket, where his next round will be against the winner of arjelol and IgorBugMate.

littleplotkin – retardedplatypus123

The fourth round also featured a Canadian derby, as NM littleplotkin and his compatriot retardedplatypus123 clashed. A common prediction was that littleplotkin was a slight favourite, but in the match he showed his killer instinct and stunned retardedplatypus123 with 9 straight wins. Even the adoption (10-0 victory) was close, but retardedplatypus123 dodged the humiliation by winning the last game, so the scoreboard read 9-1. retardedplatypus123 will play his next round in the elimination bracket against the winner of ArtofDeception and apterigo/JohnStuckey.

The match was surprising not only for the result, but also for the lack of change of opening repertoire from either player in the business part of the match. Despite littleplotkin having a reputation for avoiding theory, he found himself better out of the opening in most games and retardedplatypus123 didn’t mix up his game as no doubt he should have. When retardedplatypus123 was White, littleplotkin played the Italian Four Knights game, but with a delayed Nc6, offering the pawn on e5 with no obvious compensation, but retardedplatypus123 declined the gambit and himself deviated from mainline theory by playing 7. Na4?! When littleplotkin was White, the games went 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Bf5 3. Bg5!? a quite popular line that goes in and out of fashion, tempting black to play f6. In game 1, retardedplatypus123 assayed 3. … h6 but the weakening of Black’s position together with the trade of pieces gave White a healthy edge, an edge which littleplotkin promptly wasted with his notorious predilection for playing c4 and undermining his light squares. But by this time, both players had less than 50 seconds on the clock and it turned into a messy game in time trouble. Can you find littleplotkin’s mate in 4 (Puzzle #8)?

In games 3 and 5, retardedplatypus123 played instead Nf6, but littleplotkin maintained his initiative as White with good attacking games. The games as Black would have been even more disappointing for retardedplatypus123, who had the right ideas but lacked precision in execution and move order. The deciding game 6 is particularly instructive.

sexy_and_i_know_it – larso

sexy_and_I_know_it against IM larso was an all-European contest between a strong crazyhouse theoretician who was rated 2700 at the beginning of last year and the Norwegian International Master larso (real name Lars Oskar Hauge) who used to play last year under the username IM hauge3000 with which he also reached a peak rating above 2700, scoring some good wins against JannLee. Larso is famed for his stubborn defensive skills in tough positions as well as his flagging abilities, but as against mathace in round 3, any mistakes in his openings would surely be punished. So it proved, as sexy_and_I_know_it walked away with a 6-4 victory, lucky that the match didn’t go into a tiebreak and that larso never really found his form.

In game 1, larso had a strong advantage as white and some complex mating opportunities, but walked into an easy mate:

In game 2, can you find the mate larso found (Puzzle #9)?

sexy_and_I_know_it missed a nice mate in game 3. Can you find it (Puzzle #10)?

In game 5, larso had a complex mating idea which would have surely won the game, but after a long think instead went for a cheapo. It deserved to be punished, but sexy_and_I_know_it missed the obvious mating threat and it paid off:

Finally, in game 10, larso’s must-win game as black to take the match into a tiebreak, he played into an e4 e5 opening trap that even intermediate crazyhouse players should know. In the Italian Four Knights Game, 7. … Bg5 is met by 8. Bxf7+ with the threat of a Ng5+ follow-up and sacking the queen for the bishop on g4 with a crushing attack. sexy_and_I_know_it seized the gift and the match with a flawless game:

larso will play in the elimination bracket against the winner of ciw and the match between gekkokamen and Kleerkast (a match scheduled for this weekend Sunday 17th June at 20:00GMT).

blitzbullet – garnek123

blitzbullet against garnek123 was yet another top quality match full of see-saw games and sharp positions. After 10 games it was 5-5 before blitzbullet won the next two to take the match 7-5.

At 2-2, game 5 was the match in miniature as garnek123 missed a forced mating sequence, hanging mate himself. Blitzbullet missed his opportunity and with 45. …Kd8 in this position garnek123 would have been back in control. But after 45. …Ke8, can you spot the forced mate for white which blitzbullet duly converted (Puzzle #11)?

blitzbullet also won game 6 after another king safety error. What should white play in the following position and can you calculate why the alternatives lead to mate (Puzzle #12)?

So blitzbullet advances to round 5, while garnek123 will play the winner of mathace and another match scheduled for this Sunday (at 00:01GMT) between TCubes & Karagialis.

The two remaining matches of round 4:
are both scheduled for this weekend. The winner of the former will play FeegLood, the winner of the latter will play sexy_and_I_know_it. The two other matches in round 5 of the winner’s bracket will be littleplotkin against HighContrast scheduled for Wednesday 20th June and gsvc against blitzbullet. The four winners in round 5 will be Candidates in 2018!

Meanwhile, there has also been lots of action in the elimination bracket, from which four of the final eight candidates will also emerge. As a fitting example of this, we saw CrazyHome upset atamek despite the latter being rated over 200 points higher. For our last puzzle, can you find the beautiful mate CrazyHome found in the following position (Puzzle #13):

Do join us to watch all the upcoming action on lichess and on Discord. You can also check out some YouTube videos of completed round 4 matches:

Finally, we hope to keep you updated with recaps, puzzles and instructional crazyhouse content on this crazyhouse blog:

MMichael (with okei)

An interactive study of all the annotated games and puzzles found in this blog may be found here.

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