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 http://chessvariants.training or on the newer site just created this year by gbtami https://www.pychess.org 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 https://www.pychess.org.

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!

—okei

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