The crazyhouse spin-off of the Lichess4545 league completed its 4th season a couple of weeks ago and we have 48 players already signed up for the 5th season which is will start soon. Like Lichess4545 on whose Slack the league operates, the ZH-ero league encourages the play of online chess at a slower time control. So while the zh standard is 3+2, with elite players often relishing 1+0, the league games are 5+5 or slower. The first three seasons were all individual leagues, but Season 4 trialled a new format with a team league (4 teams of 5 players) played over three weeks with players facing off against their opponent on the corresponding board each week. Each match comprised two games of (4+b) + (4+b) crazyhouse on board b, which meant board 1s played 5+5 while board 5s played 9+9.
Four top players of the game were recruited in to be the board 1s of each team in JKtheBullfrog, TheFinnisher, Mugwort & RapidVariants, and among other invites were the Dutch International Master VariantsOnly who proved to be a strong board 2, and the popular streamer pepellou from Spain, a recent crazyhouse enthusiast who would go on to stream all his matches on board 3. Team selection was done by board 1 players choosing their board 2s in reverse order of strength, then board 2s selecting their board 3s in the reverse order in which they were selected and so on. As well as the league founder, Zher0, kostasvl, colwem, FischyVishy & I (okei) were introduced as crazyhouse mods to help run the league. We are particularly grateful to colwem who has spent hours programming the crazyhouse team league website to do clever things like recognise when participants schedule or start a game and automatically post up the schedule, the game link and the result on the website. It is not yet perfect, but we are confident enough to roll out Season 5 to as many people as want to join.
Now, for the rest of the blog, we will recap what happened in Season 4 and share a plethora of puzzles for your enjoyment. Here were the rosters of the 4 teams, with PawnInTraining and fgalla also subbing in as alts on boards 2 and 3 respectively:
In the end, FinnishThem, led by TheFinnisher came home victorious, but only on tiebreaks thanks to game points won. So every game mattered! TheFinnisher was equal top-scoring board 1 with 4/6, okei scored 2/6 on board 2, ErinYu and colwem both scored 3/6, and asian42, learning crazyhouse for the first time, was top scoring board 5 on 4/6. Congratulations to everyone for such a well-fought season.
Special congratulations to IM VariantsOnly for being the man of the season with a perfect score, winning 6/6 on board 2 with a performance rating of 2994 — echoes of IM lovlas who in Lichess4545 once scored 8/8.
He will be joining TheFinnisher, RapidVariants, Gene_Simmons and the attacking legend xuanet among others as board 1s in Season 5.
As a curious statistic, Black won 58% of the games on board 1 and the White advantage in crazyhouse (+1.9 according to Stockfish) which forces us to play 2-game matches was in fact most pronounced on board 5.
For a recap of the games and positions in Season 4, check out the end of season recap stream, embedded at the end of the blog. You may also be interested to check out the playlist of previous recap videos as well as live streams of zh league matches. In the video, I discuss a couple of the games and I spoil most of the puzzles below. To practice them yourself against the computer, click here, or to see the solutions with full variations click here. At the end of the blog you can find hints to these puzzles and the video recap.
Level 1 (1600 zh)
Level 2 (1800 zh)
Level 3 (2000 zh)
Level 4 (2200 zh)
Level 5 (2400 zh)
Level 6 (2600 zh)
Non-Mating Puzzles 1 (2000 zh)
Non-Mating Puzzles 2 (2600 zh)
Level 1: The king is in a mating net. Seal the mate!
Level 2: Tighten the mating net!
Level 3: Create the mating net! If necessary, draw the king to the mating square.
Level 4: Deflect defenders & calculate.
Level 5: Calculate deeper.
Level 6: Sacrifices, intermezzo moves & discovery ideas.
Non-Mating Puzzles 1: be aware of forks!
Non-Mating Puzzles 2: the bishop is the most dangerous attacker!
Keep playing crazyhouse!