This weekend, Chess.com will play host to the strongest matchup -- on paper anyway -- of any Blitz Death Match yet! Unlike any of the preceeding Death Matches, the seats for this match were filled by request from the players themselves (all previous matches were setup by your Co-Directors of Content via invitation).
But not this time! For June's match, we sent out an "open casting call to the chess world" asking for any and all who wish to compete to, well, let us know. We would then pair the two highest rated FIDE Players who requested participation against each other for an all out brawl!
Well, the final tallies were taken, and we have our match! So what does it all mean? Does the format of how this match came about put more or less pressure on the players?
I mean, nobody wants to be embarrassed after "claiming" their right to play, do they?! But can this match, with no previous "rivary" or "bad blood" to speak of (I checked the databases, and these two have never played a tournament game) possibly bring the necessary heat and fireworks to live up to previous Death Matches? I put on my thinking cap to ponder these very questions...
Obviously we'll find out for sure in 48 hours, but for now, we have to settle on my lame "pre-game" predictions of what this match will entail, and whether it will "be all it can be" or fall short of the glory of dogs...
In this preview blog I intend to break down the looming battle between these two chess heavy weights, and ask the 37-Billion Dollar Question: Will it be the best match yet? In my mind (and it's a crazy world in there ) five things should be taken into consideration when comparing this match against its predecessors:
- The quality of the games played?
- The overall competitiveness of the match (ie, how close the final score will be)?
- How scruffy will David's man-beard be ?
- How many times Danny butchers the live coverage with his "makeshift" English/Australian/Cockney Accent?
- And the obvious one, it being Father's Day and all, will anyone in the chat reveal themselves as the unknown child of either player ?
Let's discuss and compare each point one at a time:
I believe the quality of the games will be on par with Hammer vs Hasburn and Hess vs Shankland, and maybe even better! I could be wrong, but I am preparing (and secretly hoping) to be blown away by these two studs, with a level of knowledge, technique, and use of the force on display - not "scene" since Anakin finally snapped and battled that jerk, Obi Wan Kenobi...
So, question number one is a pre-match prediction of yes!
Moving onto our second point open for debate, I have a hard time believing ANY match will EVER be as close or quite as exciting down the stretch as Hess's first battle against Shankland. I could be wrong? I want to be wrong! I need to be wrong !
But in case you've all forgotten, the Hess vs Shankland match was essentially separated by one game until the closing seconds... For realzies! It was totally nuts, in the best possible meaning of the word nuts!
For the record, I prefer a wide variety when enjoying this healthy snack... and by the way, did you notice the absence of peanuts? Did you know peanuts aren't actually nuts? Well, you do now! Bam, you DID learn something today!!!
Besides, neither player could really want the match to be that close, right? Both would clearly hope to establish separation at some point/time control in the match, and I think one of them will (you have to read the whole thing to see my prediction... and don't scroll down... don't you do it... I'm watching you ).
So, question number two is a "thumbs down" in this pre-match prediction.
With the two least important points out of the way, we move onto our third point of discussion. I promise I have no inside information on this one! In fact, David has been hiding himself from me for the last few weeks in anticipation of this question. Wearing a mask in all Chess.com Skype meetings, speaking from dark corners of every room, you know, the basics.
Vegas has its odds at 3 to 1 in favor of David's facial hair being out of control (unshaven for at least three weeks is the "official term" being used) for our televised coverage, making for an awesome "Grizzly Adams" like experience!
I'm gonna guess David delivers, as he always does, and the beard is out of control!
So, question number three is a big time YES WAY!
To answer question number four, all I have to say is "how much wood, would a Woodchuck chuck, if a Woodchuck could chuck wood" in my best "Geico Gecko" voice impersonation (note there will be no picture of the Geico Gecko used here, for copyright reasons ).
Let's just say I plan to bring it in for the real thing! The obvious answer, if it's possible to answer that question, is yes!
Now, before everyone assumes the life of every Professional Chess Player is a galavanting one, full of wild exploits in exotic countries with strange, um, people -- I can honestly say that I have it on good authority that both these men wear their "promise rings" as proudly as any Jonas Brother...
I can't make any concrete predictions of what our members will claim in the chat (lord knows they even claim things as crazy as playing good chess from time to time ) -- BUT I can strongly say I believe in the integrity of both these men, and nothing as promiscuous as that would have ever happened!
I can't take the discussion of this topic any further, for fear that it might mean my job... but I will say what was once illegitimate is meant to stay that way, and what happens on the chess board stays on the chess board! (I'm kidding everyone, take a chill pill!)
Here is my favorite game by each of these players to date:
In the true style of Hess, we see a game that lasts 10 million moves where neither player had any business winning until Hess somehow magically won the game. Doesn't get any better than that!!!
Clearly a win that shows the poise, class, and cunning we can only expect of a proper Englishman of Gawain's standards. Well done chap, well done...
After weighing all the facts, deliberating long and hard in the boiler room, I came to the obvious conclusion that this will indeed be the best Death Match ever! I mean, I couldn't say "no, it won't be that good" could I?
Finally, if for no other reason than the fact that he's been there before, I am taking GM Robert Hess to win this match, and find his separation against his higher rated opponent in the first (5/1) and second (3/1) time controls.