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The King is Dead at Death Match 17

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 9/6/13, 4:17 PM.

After the longest Death Match in history, GM Arkadij Naiditsch of Germany toppled Dutch GM Loek van Wely by the final score of 14.5-11.5. The German grandmaster, playing under the username CaptainJames, took control of the 5+1 and 1+1 segments to overcome a mid-match run and late charge by KingLoek.

The match looked to be lopsided at the outset even though both are Super-GMs and only a few rating points apart. Naiditsch blazed to a commanding 5.5-1.5 start in the opening hour, proving to be the superior player in standard blitz.


GM Arkadij Naiditsch, Death Match 17 winner

The most pleasing game flowed from the typical Sicilian knight sac on d5:


The match gained a lot of drama in the middle 3+1 portion. After losing the opening game to broaden the deficit to five games, van Wely climbed all the way back to even with an impressive 5-0 streak. 

"Everything was going well for me," Naiditsch said. "In the 3+1 I had some nice positions but somehow it got shaky. I was wondering when it was going to end."

"Even players who are equal strength, you see these kinds of runs all the time," GM Ben Finegold said on the live commentary on Chess.com/tv. "That's just the way blitz chess goes."


GM Loek van Wely, who fell just shy of six straight wins

Closing out the run was a topsy-turvy win for KingLoek in Game 13. van Wely stared down the prospect of 20...Qf5 by playing the counter-intuitive prophylactic move 20. Na4! He threatened Nb6 but also opened the third rank for his queen to assist in defense.

CaptainJames spent much of his remaining time drumming up more resources, and consequently was too low on time to see the mate beginning with 34...Qf2+. van Wely eventually won on time.


That was the only real crisis for Naiditsch, who went on to win the final two 3+1 games, then won the opening game of bullet (1+1) to open a lead he would never relinquish. 

Naiditsch seemed resolved to not get behind on the clock in the 1+1. Employing that same resourcefulness he showed previously, CaptainJames netted a profit in the opening game of the final section. Though 30...c3 looks winning for Black, watch how craftily White scares up an attack:


After that, instant karma. Several technical difficulties arose after which Naiditsch graciously asked host IM Danny Rensch to remove two wins due to server malfunctions. He then proceeded to have two losses excised due to the same malfunctions, so all was even in the end (the two wins and losses were removed from the final tally). After the reset, the match continued without issue.

"We're like exterminators here," Rensch said. "We find bugs and we kill them."

The respite did nothing to reinvigorate van Wely, as Naiditsch rattled off 3.5/4 to clinch the belt mathematically. The chasing GM won 4.5 of the final six but ran out of time before having a chance to fully overcome the difference in score.

"A bad start is not lethal, but bullet is not my specialty," van Wely said after the match. "I will [now] finish a cup of poison."

Naiditsch was assisted by his opponent simply hanging mate in one twice. "Loek helped me with some big blunders," he said. "Thanks Loek!"

Tune in to the next Death Match. the 18th edition will take place on Saturday, October 5 at 12 p.m. Eastern, 9 a.m. Pacific, when GMs Nigel Short and Judit Polgar face off in the first man versus woman Death Match! As always, free live commentary to all members can be found at Chess.com/tv.

8601 reads 21 comments
11 votes


  • 2 years ago


    the video is pretty important for those of us looking to watch it even after its over

  • 2 years ago


    @Mike -- Just for the record, I was not at all confused about the viewers' board (operated by Danny) and the players' boards (on their own computers) being quite separate. However, I don't consider our minds to be seperate in the same way. How could they be?

    Anyway, what got me pissed off was always, or mostly, seeing the board on my computer (the public screen) from CaptainJames' POV, since I happened to be rooting for Loek and the mental gymnastics of compensating got tiring.

    Please don't get me wrong: I have no beef whatsoever with Danny. I am really quite a big fan and he does a magnificent job, and actually you all do. But, the fact is, the board issue spoiled the match experience for me as a spectator. So.. it might not be such a bad idea to give it some thought for future matches. That's all.

  • 2 years ago



    get the AdBlock for google chrome, it is free.

    It takes a few minutes to download.

  • 2 years ago

    FM MikeKlein

    @Yeshepalden - Danny's screen is not the same screen as the players see. He can put Black on bottom, even if, for example, White is on bottom on Loek's own computer. Remember also Danny was drawing lots of arrows, which obviously the players cannot see. So don't think of the two boards as being the same (players boards and commentary boards could have different perspectives).

    So all the talk of who Danny put on bottom is just superstitious. Not to say there isn't a place for superstition in chess, but the players didn't even know what he was doing, since they had full control of their own screens :-)

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    @Danny -- I gave up watching at 1+1 because of technical problems so don't know how the board was being flipped in that part of the match. However, flipping the board towards the end of 5+1 did coincided with Loek's first win. Also, when you flipped the board back to Arkadij's perspective in 3+1, Loek started losing big time. I got an impression that board orientation was having an effect on the performance of the players.

    Even though Korchnoi would agree with me Cool, we do normally play from the side of our own color, so the combined analytical disposition of 800± viewers oriented in favor of one player rather than the other could conceivably influence the players' states of mind. It may be trivial, or it may not be trivial. Until we test it we don't know, so why not standardizing board orientation anyway?

    @Mike -- My impression was that Danny controlled which player was on the bottom, either CaptainJames or KingLoek. Obviously, the players themselves can control the way they view their own board while they're playing, but are you saying that they can also control the way the viewers see the board, overriding or in collaboration with Danny?

  • 2 years ago


    I watched part of the recording last night. (Not there now) But the Livecast kept getting google adds poping up in front of the game which I had to click to get rid of. It was so annoying I stopped watching. Is there a different portal to get the old videos? The video section on the right of the chessTV screen is always blank now - so I use the LiveCast link at the op of the screen. 

  • 2 years ago


    where is the video

  • 2 years ago

    IM DanielRensch

    @Yeshepalden -- Well, by the end I wasn't even announcing that I was switching and viewing from Loek's side, because he was losing anyway Tongue Out - SO not sure it really works in the long run...

    Everyone who's looking for the video, it will be available in our video archives. Like most TV Shows moving forward, they will only be available for Premium Members.

    Thanks all!


  • 2 years ago

    FM MikeKlein

    Interesting comments on the positioning of the board. I understand what you are saying, but keep in mind that the players can choose if they want White or Black on bottom, no matter how the commentators choose it.

    Glad to see so much interest in watching the Death Match again! The recordings of the livestream broadcast will be available later next week in our daily videos. Please look for them then!

  • 2 years ago


    Yeah, if someone could provide a link for the recording, that would be great. I had to work as well and wasn't able to watch it.

  • 2 years ago


    did they already do a pogania vs nigel short before?

  • 2 years ago


    Yeah I'm looking for the video too. I watched the one in the videoarchive for about one hour last night, then suddenly the video wasn't available anymore. Something seems to have gone wrong. If one has a link to this match please post. I know my fellow countryman lost, still want to see how he managed to do that.

  • 2 years ago


    is there a recording that i could watch? 

  • 2 years ago


    I missed the deathmatch, too bad.  This one was a good one I imagine... I wanted to see it but I was working at the time...  I hope they schedule the upcoming matches on saturday or sunday like they used to...

  • 2 years ago


    It was another fun few hrs of chess. Thanks to the players....so good!!!....and dan and ben. Really looking forward to the next....go Judit!

    Also...further to yesjlhis astute comment...i propose white should be bottom for every game.

  • 2 years ago


    Interesting that KingLoek's fortunes dramatically changed when Danny flipped the board so we started seeing the game from KingLoek's side. I'm wondering if it was a coincidence that Loek's game picked up when 800 viewers plus Danny and Ben started looking at it from his perspective.

    Then Danny switched the board back to CaptainJames' point of view in 3+1 portion and KingLeok's game began to falter leading to his eventual defeat.

    Check it out, it could be worth looking into. If nothing else it offers the possibility of testing the power of collective consciousness - right up Danny's street (and mine), for sure!

  • 2 years ago


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