Thursday, 3 September 2020

Season 8 of the ZH League

Season 8 of the crazyhouse team league played on was the toughest ever with former and current world champions JannLee and IM opperwezen both playing as well as Jasugi99, IM gsvc, TheFinnisher, Kleerkast & VariantsOnly. There were six teams of six players as well as 15 alts playing over five weeks, concluding in the first week of August with victory for ZHit Happens after five hard fought rounds. The winning team was made up of gsvc on board 1, pkr5025 on board 2, team captain pepellou on board 3, jamesog on board 4, earlpurple replacing JoannaTries for the last three rounds on board 5 and kostasvl with colwem subbing in for one round on board 6. ZHit Happens won the season thanks to four 7-5 team wins and was one match away from another 7-5 win in round 5 but denied by my own 2-0 victory against pepellou which clinched instead a 7-5 win for The Glass Bead Gamers against the Season 8 champions, and second place for our team headed up by Kleerkast. Coming in third place in the league was VariantOnly’s team Radical Posture captained by Marlonc.

IM gsvc was top board 1, LegionDestroyer top board 2, Bleichkind top board 3, SRTOBIAUDI top board 4, the_crocodile_hunter top board 5 (although earlpurple with an impressive 2000+ performance over fewer games) and adande1 top board 6 (although kostasvl with the slightly better performance).

Below are two sets of puzzles, one medium and one hard, based from positions in Season 8 of the League. I hope you enjoy them! If you prefer to try them directly in a lichess study, here is a practice with computer study. There is also a solution study with full variations as well as a highlights of Season 8 study with full games at the end of the blog.

Too easy? Try your hand at these instead!

Practice with Computer Study

Solution Study

Full Highlights Study

(includes full games & positions too complicated for puzzles)

The 2020 Candidates are well underway and you can see upcoming matches in the calendar to the right of this blog!

Keep playing and enjoying crazyhouse!


Thursday, 30 July 2020

Crazyhouse 960 Team League (Season 7.960)

As an intermezzo between Season 7 at the end of 2019 and Season 8 in July, 2020, we had a more informal crazyhouse 960 league in which matches against opponents on other teams could be played at any time and match times, game and results were recorded on a zh960 calendar sheet. 

Matches could be played either on ProgramFox’s or on the newer site just created this year by gbtami since lichess does not implement 960 functionality for variant play (although lichess is still useful for post-match analysis). In practice, Pychess proved overwhelmingly popular.

There were six teams of five headed up by Mugwort, JKtheBullfrog, littleplotkin, firefly (aka zyxon), 12teen and Fumitoks. The time control as usual for the league was (4+b)+(4+b) on board b, so 5+5 on board 1, 6+6 on board 2, 7+7 on board 3, 8+8 on board 4 and 9+9 on board 5.

Unlike the standard crazyhouse team league, players could agree to play more than two games and the score they received was the proportion of games they won. Some matches were therefore 4 games instead of the standard 2 and a 3-1 match win would score 0.75 for the winner and 0.25 for the loser. There was also a cutoff point for the season of March 21st after which a match scored d days late would result in a d * 0.01 penalty to the winner and if the resulting winner’s score w were less than 0.5, then a (0.5 - w) penalty for the loser as well, with of course any negative scores rounded up to zero. In practice, no matches were played in this period of slow decay from March 21st till the end of June for two reasons: first, the worldwide outbreak of a pandemic meant some players had more important priorities than crazyhouse 960, and secondly once the 2020 Crazyhouse World Championship kicked off, organised in 2020 by JannLee, all eyes were on the double elimination event. The latter has now run its course and whittled down the more than 128 contestants to 12 Candidates who will do battle over the coming months in “10 games of 3+2” round-robin matches, the winner playing IM opperwezen in a Grand Final at the end of the year for the 2020 Crazyhouse World Championship trophy. To see all upcoming matches both in the CWC and in the league, check out the zh calendar in the right-hand column of this blog.

In Season 7.960, unfortunately 17 of the 75 matches went unplayed, with board 1s especially lackadaisical in arranging their matches (only 7 of the 15 board 1 matches were actually played while there was also 1 missed match on board 2, 3 missed matches on board 3, 4 missed matches on board 4, and 2 missed matches on board 5). However, since this was an informal league, there were no penalties and no forfeits for failure to play, although both players would suffer in contributing zero points to their team from the missed match. These unplayed matches were fairly unformly distributed among the teams, with each team missing 5-7 matches, so no team benefitted especially. After all there were 58 matches which did get played and over 128 games of crazyhouse 960 recorded in the following two studies on lichess:

Fumitoks was top board 1, Isachess hero of so many former editions of the league was top board 4 fgalla was top board 5, but the top board 2 the-lone-wolf and top board 3 pkr5025 carried their teammates Mugwort, krxou & colwem to a team Mugwort win in Season 7.960 by the narrowest of margins, a quarter of a single match point! Team plotkin came second, and team FumiLegion a further half match point behind came third. If some of the remaining matches had been played the results could easily have been different. But this to take nothing away from a fantastic win from team Mugwort and a great celebration of crazyhouse 960 on the newly created

Here are 50 puzzles from positions in the zh960 season. You can alternatively practice them directly against computer here.

Level 1.1

Level 1.2

Level 2.1

Level 2.2

Level 3

You can see the solutions in this Highlights from Season 7.960 study, along with annotations of some of the games, or else practice these puzzles for yourself against the computer here.

Enjoy the CWC 2020 Candidates which are about to get underway, have a great summer & keep playing crazyhouse!


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Seasons 6 & 7 of the ZH League

Congratulations to Schaker ZHulu for winning Season 6 of the crazyhouse team league! The members of the winning team were RapidVariants, AmelyPlaying, d4rkn3ss23, MarlonC, Isachess, adande1 & Zher0.  You can find a summary of the season here:

Player of the season was Isachess with 9/10. This is also the second win in a row for both RapidVariants and Isachess who were in the winning team in Season 5 also. Loch Zhess Monsters came second and TwelveTeam third. Well done to everyone for making an exciting and competitive season. 4th 5th and 6th all came essentially equal with only tiebreaks separating them.

As well as doing several recap videos of the season, I also hosted a first ever crazyhouse puzzle battle setting two big-hitters LegionDestroyer & CrazyHome up against each other (and the clock) to solve puzzles based on this Season. Enjoy the puzzles below and watch how the puzzle battle unfolded to see some of the solutions. You can also practice the studies below in the following practice against computer studies:
Practice Against Computer Studies

I will also post links to the solutions at the end of the blog.

Level 1: (1700)

Level 2: (1800)

Level 3: (1900)


Level 4: (2000)


Level 5: (2100)

Level 6: (2200)

Level 7: (2300)

Level 8: (2400)

Level 9: (2500)

Level 10: (2600)

Once you have had a go for yourselves, you might enjoy the puzzle battle between LegionDestroyer & CrazyHome played on April 1st, 2020 on Levels 1-7.

Practice Against Computer Studies

Full Solution Studies
Season 7 of the crazyhouse league finished on Christmas Day 2019 and had six teams with six players on each team and at least one alt on each board in a 5-week round-robin. The teams were one board smaller than in Seasons 5 and 6 but still showcased some of the best players of the game on board 1: JKtheBullfrog, Mugwort and gsvc took turns for Kneel Before Zhod, while the other teams were headed up by TheFinnisher, RapidVariants, LegionDestroyer, vectorveld and CrazyHome.

The champions of Season 7 after a hard-fought race were the undefeated Recovering Buggers (2 wins and 3 draws) who won on tiebreaks from Rook & Rollers (3 wins and 1 draw). Both scored 7 match points out of a maximum of 10, but Recovering Buggers’ game score of 35/60 outmatched Rook & Rollers on 32/60. Meanwhile, Kneel Before Zhod recovered from 2 match losses to surge into third place after hammering their last two opponents racking up an impressive 35 game points (equal with the leaders, although with one fewer match victory). 

Congratulations to the MVPs of Season 7: Chronatog and fgalla who both won 9/10. We expect them both to play a board higher in future. But even bigger congratulations to the winning team for an amazing combined effort: Recovering Buggers LegionDestroyer d4rkn3ss23 (7/8) Chronatog (9/10) Isachess (8/10) UpGoerFive & adande1 (7/10). 

Player of 2019 goes to (drumroll) Isachess for winning three successive team seasons of the zh league, and one game short of being MVP for a third successive season. Each season he plays a board higher. He is an inspiration to so many that we can keep improving! Finally thanks to the mods colwem, kostasvl, Zher0 and okei for keeping the show on the road. 

Before we embark on Season 8 of the zh league, we have been enjoying the beginning of 2020 with a  special Season 7.960 of 960 crazyhouse on  This is drawing to a close but the Crazyhouse World Championship 2020 is up and away. See the calendar on the right for upcoming matches and some of them will also be streamed live by myself, Mugwort, Kleerkast, JannLee and others. I hope you enjoy them!


Sunday, 29 March 2020

Mating Nets

Crazyhouse might not improve your chess in the short-term. If you play crazyhouse, you might find yourself considering sacking your queen to go for a huge attack or doubling your pawns for better central control and end up suffering as your opponent trades down pieces into an endgame. It will however improve your mind and your vision of mating nets and in the long-term you cannot help but improve your tactical vision. Extra pieces means extra potential.

Here are some standard chess puzzles that crazyhouse players will enjoy, all from a recent series of 157 bullet games played over the course of four hours after midnight Norwegian time under coronavirus lockdown between Andrew Tang (penguingim1) and the World Champion of classical chess, Magnus Carlsen (DrNykterstein). The Iranian teenager Alireza Firouzja (alireza2003) had just hit 3200 bullet on lichess last week, after a couple of impressive wins over Carlsen in Lichess Titled Arenas. Magnus played a long series with Penguin, probably hoping to overtake the young Iranian, and despite winning the series 100½-56½, Penguin was too good and 3200 remained out of reach. Penguin at 3100 now still holds the all-time peak rating of 3256.

Write down your solutions. Highlight the line below each set to read the solutions. How many did you get out of 12?

Solutions: Rh8; Qg1; e7 Ke8 Bc6; Qxh6 Bxh6 Rxh6; f4 Ke4 Re6; g6 Kh8 (Kh6 Qh3 Bh4 Qxh4) Nf7 Kg8 Nh6 Kh8 (Kf8 Qf7) Qg8 Rxg8 Nf7; Bc5! (the final combo to conclude the series, deflecting the defender Nxc5 Rh2 Qg3 is mating, while Ke1 Qe3 only delays mate a few moves)

Solutions: Qa8; g6 Kh6 Rd8 Kh5 Rh8; f4 Nxf4 Bxf4 Kxf4 Qd2! Kxg3 Qh2; Rd8 Rxd8 Rxd8 Ka7 Bb8 Kb6 (Ka8 Bf4 Ka7 Bxe3) Rd6 Ka5 b4 Kb5 (or Black loses the queen) a4; Kg2! Qc7 Nxf6 with a clear advantage, but Kxh4 or gxh4 both lead to mate: Kxh4 Qg4 while gxh4 Qg4 Kh2 Qg1 Kh3 Qh1 Rh2 Qf1 Rg2 Qxg2

In crazyhouse news, the 2020 Crazyhouse World Championship has started and we hope to keep you updated in future blogs!


Season 8 of the ZH League

Season 8 of the crazyhouse team league played on was the toughest ever with former and current world champions JannLee and IM ...