Friday, 1 March 2019

Season 3 of the ZH-ero 10+10 Lichess League

Season 3 of the ZH-ero league (organised by Zher0 as an offshoot of the Lichess4545 classical league) concluded in February 2019. For the third season in a row, okei (that's me!) finished in first place, and clear first as in season 2, but for the first time with 7/7. In Season 1, I had scored 6/7 tying for first with FischyVishy, despite losing 2-0 in our head-to-head, while in Season 2, I had scored 1-1 draws against both Antic and yago666 to finish a half-point ahead of the former on 6/7. Again in Season 3, yago666 proved to be stiff competition, a mate in 3 away from tying our head-to-head (see game below), but he missed a couple of chances and then missed the final two rounds of the season, so it was FiveKnights on 5/7 who was the runner-up and colwem on 4/7 who came in third.

In March 2019, the crazyhouse league will be entering a new era, trialing a team format and with a special website on which it will be organised created by colwem. Again, all communications will take place over the Lichess4545 Slack and players must abide by the Slack’s rules. In particular, players under the age of 16 are unfortunately not entitled to participate, and all player alts will be vetted by Lichess mods to make sure they have an impeccable record of fair play. We will also have some big names signing up including JKtheBullfrog, TheFinnisher and VariantsOnly. The time control will also be changing to meet the preferences of the participants, so players on board 1 will likely play 5+5 while players on lower boards may still play 10+10 as in previous seasons.

As a review of season 3, here is the decisive game between myself and yago666 with detailed annotation, followed by a series of 15 crazyhouse puzzles taken from this season’s games. 

This series of puzzles is aimed more at the beginning crazyhouse player, unlike some of the tougher puzzles we have shared previously on this website. However, we still hope it will prove enough of a challenge that even an elite player might struggle to get a perfect score. It is followed by hints, first moves, and links to a study where full variations may be found.

Basic Crazyhouse Puzzles

Puzzle 1: White to play (kostasvl - Forhavu)

Puzzle 2: Black to play (UpGoerFive - colwem)

Puzzle 3: White to play (yago666 - kostasvl)

Puzzle 4: White to play (halloway - HighonPotnUse)

Puzzle 5: Black to play (Forhavu - colwem)

Puzzle 6: Black to play (GardenPlant - FiveKnights)

Puzzle 7: White to play (kostasvl - UpGoerFive)

Puzzle 8: White to play (halloway - okei)

Puzzle 9: White to play (colwem - yago666)

Puzzle 10: White to play (Zher0 - yago666)

Puzzle 11: Black to play (okei - Zher0)

Puzzle 12: White to play (kostasvl - colwem)

Puzzle 13: White to play (okei - halloway)

Puzzle 14: White to play (colwem - kostasvl)

Puzzle 15: Black to play (gokuba - GardenPlant)


1. Magnet Mate (disturb the king to a checking square)
2. Smothered mate
3. Take pieces with check
4. Queen & Knight mate
5. Block the King’s escape route
6. Queen Invasion
7. Activate pieces followed by Diagonal Mate
8. Create Weaknesses
9. Is there any threat to White’s king via d2?
10. Defend with tempo
11.  Counter-Attack
12. Deflect Defender
13. Keep Initiative
14. Attack on a Colour Complex
15. Treble Knight Smother

First Moves

1. R@h8 followed by R@h7 or N@f7 followed by second rook@h8.
2. N@h3 followed by Q@g1 and Nf2 smothered mate, found by colwem.
3. Bxf7 (taking the rook later whenever the king takes on g5) and N@h8 (distract the defender of f7) both mate. The former mate was executed by yago666.
4. N@b8+
5. B@g3+!!
6. Qh4 (Ke2 R@g2 followed by Qf2) Kg2 Qg3 Kf1 Qg1 Ke2 R@f2
7. Qe4+!
8. e6!
9. RxR. d2 is exposed, but there is no imminent threat.
10. B@a4+ defending c2 with tempo. If @d7, exNf6 exf6 Bxd7 Qxd7 QxRa8+ B@d8 R@e2+! again defending c2 with tempo.
11. There are many decent moves attacking directly the White King: N@h4, N@g5, B@h5, B@g4, R@g6,  each with an imminent threat. For example, N@h4 BxQf7 B@f3 wins back the White Queen with an unclear position because if gxf3 N@h3 followed by R@g1 leads to a smothered mate. However, any Queen move for Black is bad because it loses initiative. Even QxBe5 allows dxe5 and White has initiative.
12. N@f3 (threatening Q@h2 mate) gxf3 Q@h3 mate. The g2 pawn is overloaded.
13. Qxd5! Unlike in puzzle 11, there is not enough material in hand to counter-attack and the pawn on e5 will be recaptured.
14. B@f6 and B@h6 are both strong. Black’s knight has guard duty on g7, so B@f6 hitting the queen is probably a smidgeon better.
15. N@f3 and N@h3 both mate in 6. If N@f3 Kh1, there is the beautiful treble knight mate with N@g3 fxg3 (hxg3 R@h2 is mate) R@g1 Rxg1 N@f2 mate with the third knight. So N@f3 forces gxf3 and the king is exposed. There follows: N@h3 Kh1 @g2 Kxg2 Nf4 Kg3 (Kg1 or Kh1 are no safer) Qxg5 @g4 @h4 mate, found by gokuba.

Here is a lichess study of highlights of the 3rd crazyhouse ZH-ero league, including all the above puzzles, mostly with full variations, some to practice with the computer. If you prefer to look at these highlights in video form, here is the video recap of season 3:

We look forward to great things in season 4. You can register here by inserting your lichess username and then clicking on the link again.


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