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.
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.