Wednesday 28 November 2018

IM opperwezen is the 2018 Crazyhouse World Champion!

The CWC Final capping off the year-long Crazyhouse World Championship was won by the Challenger! While Carlsen-Caruana saw 12 draws of classical chess between them, opperwezen and JannLee played 60 games of 3+2 spanning 3 weeks with only one draw. At the end of week 1, JannLee led 11-9. opperwezen pulled into the lead on week 2 taking it 12-8, so 2 ahead 21-19 going into week 3. Needing 9½/20 on the final day, he secured a draw to almost guarantee a decisive result and left Jann needing a streak of six to hold his title. Jann won the first two, but in the end the opper proved too strong taking the series 32½-27½ overall. Below are highlights of some of the best games, and we were joined by the man himself for the last forty minutes:

To re-live the action live, you can watch the live streams:

JannLee (without commentary)
Day 1 
Day 2
Day 3

opperwezen: (silent)
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 

Day 1 Flourish & Antic (live commentary)

Day 2 Flourish & Antic (live commentary)

Day 3 okei, MMichael, Flourish, Fumitoks, and others from the House Discord

Finally, if you missed anything from the 2018 CWC, check out this CWC 2018 playlist of over 90 streams of commentary and analysis. Follow the streamers you like on YouTube. And check out all the recaps of each round posted earlier on this blog with embedded puzzles and annotated games.


Saturday 24 November 2018

Spot the Move! #2 Opper to Move!

Today (Saturday 24th November) is the final day of the 2018 Crazyhouse World Championship and Day 3 of the Final between opperwezen and JannLee is at 1800GMT. It will be followed by an Elite Arena (>2100 zh on lichess) at 2100GMT and opperwezen has expressed interest to team up with Jann for some hand-and-brain crazyhouse this weekend or over the coming few days. This is also the crazyhouse week of the FischyVishy variant tournaments on Lichess. See the crazyhouse calendar in the right sidebar for timings. But who will be crowned the Crazyhouse Champion in less than 8 hours?

Day 1 saw JannLee edge ahead 11-9 in the first 20 games. On Day 2, opperwezen bounced back winning 12-8. The score therefore stands at 21-19 in favour of opper with 20 games to play. If scores are tied at 30-30 tonight, then two more games are played and again until the deadlock is broken and someone is ahead. The event will be live-streamed by JannLee (with 3-minute delay and without commentary), by flourish_zhouse with Antic, and also by myself (okeizh on Twitch) with MMichael aka TheFinnisher from the House Discord. It can also be watched directly with in-game chat on Lichess by clicking on either JannLee TV or opperwezen TV.

For an in-depth analysis of game 1 of 60 of the CWC Final, check out the video on my YouTube and do subscribe! Also, following day 1 of the Final a fortnight ago, there was a re-enactment for the CWC of the leaked video prep of Caruana in the World Championship in this very instructive 90-minute long video sharing opening ideas on how to attack weak squares in crazyhouse from beginning ideas to advance. Along the way, at 1:03:25 - 1:09:10 the camera pans to a study of CWC novelties and games, specially created by opperwezen and myself for the purpose of this video.

As a prelude to the action on Day 3, I would like to share with you some puzzles from opperwezen’s games with JannLee, followed by hints, solutions and a link to a lichess study at the bottom with full variations. These are not necessarily mating studies, but critical positions in which opper either did or did not find the critical move (sometimes under time pressure), and we challenge you to do better! Before we begin the puzzles proper, let me share two examples where by contrast it was Jann to move against opper, with solutions included. These two are embedded on lichess so you can move the pieces, but the puzzles you will have to calculate in your head.

White (opperwezen) has just promoted on d8 and it is Black (JannLee) to move. This was from a game back in 2016, but opper still remembers it. Jann did find the critical move! It both stops mate, as well as carrying an imminent mate threat of its own which indeed came to pass. The second example is from a recent game, and perhaps the players were unaware, but there was a critical winning move which Jann missed:

Now, in all the following positions, you are opper at the board and it is your move. You are up against the World Champion JannLee. What do you play? Write down the first move. Hints, solutions and a study with full variations follow.

Puzzle 1

Puzzle 2

Puzzle 3

Puzzle 4

Puzzle 5

Puzzle 6

Puzzle 7

Puzzle 8

Puzzle 9

Puzzle 10

Puzzle 11

Puzzle 12


Puzzle 1: 
Don’t give up the centre!

Puzzle 2: 
Develop with tempo!

Puzzle 3: 
The threat is sometimes stronger than the execution!

Puzzle 4: 
Defend with a counter-attack!

Puzzle 5: 
Take advantage of the opponent’s lack of development!

Puzzle 6: 
Maintain initiative!

Puzzle 7: 
Sacrifice to make a breakthrough!

Puzzle 8: 
Pawns are the matches to ignite a mating attack!

Puzzle 9: 
Distract the defender!

Puzzle 10: 
Attack the back rank!

Puzzle 11: 
Create weaknesses!

Puzzle 12: 
Know your mating patterns!


Puzzle 1: d4! opper found the move twice in 2017, but subsequently missed it once in 2018. 8. Bxd4+ is the sharpest continuation for Black, followed by Qh4+, although this has never been played yet.

Puzzle 2: Bd6! opper missed the move! Nxd3 Bxd3 @b7 0-0 bxa8=Q is the sharpest continuation for White, but then Black has QxBa4!! QxQa4 B@b5 with multiple threats and Black is better.

Puzzle 3: NxNe5! followed by N@f7 recycling the threat. NxQd8 may also be equally good, so let’s count that as correct also. But opper missed the move, taking the rook which is certainly worse.

Puzzle 4: N@e2+! followed by @f3! attacking the White squares on which the White king must hide, dxQe7 can be met with fxg2+ Kxg2 @f3+ Kh1 BxPe7. White may have a queen on the board and a queen in hand, but RxNe2 is practically forced after which @g2 Kg1 fxRe2 and Black has three pawns on the second rank with a rook in hand and a fourth pawn threatening cxb2. opper missed the move.

Puzzle 5: Nd5! Black’s only defence of c7 is Kd8, after which Nxc7! anyway. Kxc7 falls to a mate in 11! There is a sharper defence in the study, but it still loses the Black queen. opper found the move!

Puzzle 6: Qxg5! Bxg5? falls to a beautiful knight mate. Can you spot it? opper found the move!

Puzzle 7: N@c5! dxc5 allows a stunning queen sacrifice Qxc7+!! followed by Nb5 which is mating. Ke8! is the best response from Black, but after Q@d7+ Kf8 QxNc6, White is clearly better. opper missed the move.

Puzzle 8: @f3+! Qxf3 or Kxf3! are both met by dxe4! and the former is worse because the threat is N@g1!! opper missed the move.

Puzzle 9: Q@h4! Taking the queen lets go of defence of f7, but not taking leads to a queen trade and the potential Q@g8+! followed by a double-take smother on f7. opper found the move!

Puzzle 10: Q@e7! BxQd1 falls to QxRf8 followed by R@h8+, R@e8+ Nxh7+ and @e7#, or even better R@h8+!! Kxh8 QxRf8 followed by Nxf7 with the smother. opper found the move!

Puzzle 11: N@h6+! is crushing for White, creating a weakness on g7. White may later even sacrifice his queen on g7 and finish with a minor piece mate. opper missed the move.

Puzzle 12: N@h3! White’s sharpest defence to stop R@g1# is B@g1, but then Black has NxBf4 and an inevitably mating attack via h3 and g2 although it could take over 20 more moves with best defence. This final puzzle was taken from a 97-move 3+2 game in April 2018. opper missed the move and Jann ultimately clinched the game.

In conclusion, opper hit a home run on 4 of these 12 critical positions. Bear in mind, a lot of these games were 1+0 zh and the opper of today would no doubt score much higher. How many did you manage? Check out the Opper to Move! Puzzle Study to play through any variations you might have been curious to delve deeper into. 


Thursday 8 November 2018

Announcing the 2018 CWC Final

On the eve of the World Championships in London between World Champion Magnus Carlsen from Norway and the number 2 Fabiano Caruana, there is another World Championship in chess underway this weekend — in crazyhouse! Organised by FischyVishy, the Crazyhouse World Championship (CWC) Final is the culmination of a grueling year-long event to choose a Challenger to play JannLee (real name Justin Tan, or tantheman on FICS), the inaugural Crazyhouse Champion who has dominated the game for two decades and won the first ever CWC in 2017. (In crazyhouse, players are not known by their real names, but by their usernames on lichess where the game is played intensively.) Last year’s final saw JannLee face off against the 17 year-old Canadian wunderkind TwelveTeen (real name Janak Awatramani, also known as bughouse legend cheesybread on FICS). The Final was 60 games spread over three days. After day 1, the scores were tied 10-10. After day 2, it was 20-20. But on day 3, JannLee managed to pull ahead 31½-28½ to secure a famous victory.

As in 2017, any crazyhouse player could enter the 2018 CWC, but the time control was increased to 3+2 from 3+0 to avoid games being won by flagging skills. First, there was a qualification arena, then a double elimination knockout and finally an 11-Candidate round-robin. Each match comprised 10 games of 3+2. To stay updated or join in future Championships, join the Crazyhouse World Championship team on lichess, while to read recaps of past rounds, check out the Crazyhouse Chess blog where you can also find puzzles and instructive content.

At the end of it all, International Master opperwezen (real name Vincent Rothuis, affectionately known as opper) emerged as the Challenger with a stunning 9½/10 record in the Candidates, beating off another International Master gsvc in second place on 8½/10 and National Master TwelveTeen in third on 8/10, and losing only half a point to the crazyhouse specialist sexy_and_I_know_it. Opper is a fan favourite online pulling off spectacular results, most recently third place in Titled Arena 8 only behind GMs penguingim1 and DrDrunkenstein (Magnus Carlsen himself). He is not short of experience in facing JannLee. The two have played over 5000 games on lichess, and although opper is historically worse over that period trailing 2063-3731, he is beginning to hold his own, scoring even an 11-game streak at the beginning of September, although JannLee responded in kind a day later.

The final begins this Saturday at 1800GMT with the first set of 20 games, with the next sets of 20 games on the two following Saturdays. The player who surpasses 30.5/60 will be declared the 2018 Champion, although the players may play on to complete the full 60 games. In case of a 30-30 tie, an additional 2 games are played and again until the tie is broken.

JannLee will be live streaming the CWC Final on his JannLeeCrazyhouse channel on Twitch. Flourish also promises a more fun stream commentating along with Antic. To catch up on past streams from the Candidates phase of the 2018 CWC and earlier, check out the 2018 CWC playlist on YouTube. As a prelude to the Final, we leave you with six annotated games between JannLee and opperwezen.

Keep an eye out on the Crazyhouse Blog for an upcoming Spot the Move Puzzle series based on positions opperwezen faced in games against JannLee, as well as a Data Crunch blog co-written by Flourish and schwinggggg

According to their statistical analysis, in ~2000 head-to-head games in 2018, JannLee has a 55% win-rate putting the odds of a JannLee victory in the Final at 82% with a most likely score of 34-26:

They will also answer the questions you always wanted answering such as which time of day do Jann & opper play best?

The most common times of day when JannLee and opperwezen play each other are between 1000GMT-1500GMT and 1800GMT-2000GMT. The Final will take place during the latter time period (5-7AM for JannLee in Sidney, Australia), partly to accommodate the viewership from around the world and North America in particular which would be just waking up during the earlier time period, and partly so that JannLee can play without distractions from his family and his lovely daughter Bella who has featured at the end of many a JannLee stream. But is Jann a morning person when it comes to crazyhouse? Below is a graph of their win percentage according to time of day, the vertical line representing match time.

Both players play well at this time. Jann is remarkably steady with dips at 0200, 0800 and 2100GMT, corresponding to 1pm, 7pm and 8am in Sidney, Australia. Could these be Bella times? Opperwezen meanwhile dips considerably in the late evening. Stamina will be key to stay focused and maintain intensity for the full two and a half hours that the match is likely to last.

Check back later to the crazyhouse blog to read the full Data Crunch article by Flourish & schwinggggg, including analysis of Jann-opper head-to-heads against other players, the frequency of times they move each piece, the number of touchdowns they have achieved in which they have marched their king to the opposing side of the board, and much more.

Good luck to JannLee & opperwezen both! As well as the glory, the Champion will receive $400 and the Challenger $200, from a $1000 prize fund for the tournament generouslty donated by FischyVishy and supplemented by a further $1111 in donations from viewers which JannLee has almost fully raised for all the 11 Candidates who competed.

You can watch the board live with in-game chat on Lichess by clicking on either JannLee TV or opperwezen TV depending on which side of the board you want to see, or better still with 3-minute delay on the Twitch channel of either jannleecrazyhouse or flourish_zhouse, with both videos being posted later to YouTube.

Here's looking forward to a great Final! 


Acknowledgments to Bakkouz for the image banner, Flourish & schwinggggg for the charts offering a sneak preview of their full analysis and opperwezen for helping with the game annotations.

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