2020 Chess.com Award Winners
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2020 Chess.com Award Winners‎

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126 | Fun & Trivia

Chess.com is excited to announce the winners of the 2020 Chess.com Awards. These awards are an opportunity for the Chess.com community to recognize and celebrate some of the great games, players, creators, moves, and more from 2020.

The awards also serve as an opportunity to reflect on a year that will always be remembered for both the immediate and long-term effects of the pandemic. Everyone reading this has surely seen their lives altered in numerous ways by the pandemic, and many have tragically lost loved ones. The chess landscape has been completely transformed in ways that are sure to have long-term impacts. The Candidates tournament was halted mid-event all the way back in March, and since then there have been almost no major in-person tournaments. Norway Chess stands as a rare exception. Almost all major chess tournaments this year have been online.

Additionally, lockdowns and "The Queen's Gambit" have generated an online chess boom that is surely the largest one since Bobby Fischer. Many reading this have discovered or rediscovered chess in the past year, and the chess community has never been more vibrant, creative, and diverse.

In total, 5,280 votes were cast in the 2020 Chess.com Awards. We were thrilled to see this level of participation and look forward to continuing these awards annually!


Game of the Year: Dubov vs. Karjakin, Russian Superfinal

Chess.com Game of the Year 2020, Dubov vs. KarjakinWinning game of the year in an absolute landslide is the masterpiece of Daniil Dubov vs. Sergey Karjakin from the Russian Superfinal. Dubov received much acclaim for his brilliant and innovative play in 2020, and no game better demonstrates his creativity than this masterpiece featuring a novel delayed Evan's Gambit and a thrilling queen sacrifice. The game featured high stakes as well as Karjakin was in contention for first place in the final round before this game halted his efforts.

  1. Dubov vs. Karjakin, Russian Superfinal
  2. Anand vs. Nepomniachtchi, Online Nations Cup
  3. Naroditsky vs. Gareyev, U.S. Chess Championship Online Qualifier
  4. Dvirnyy vs. Shirov, Online Olympiad
  5. Carlsen vs. Giri, Chessable Masters

Player of the Year: Magnus Carlsen

Chess.com Player of the Year 2020, Magnus CarlsenPlayer of the year was an incredibly close vote between World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura. In fact, Nakamura even received more first-place votes than Carlsen (1640-1567), but Carlsen picked up far more second-place votes and is the 2020 Chess.com Player of the Year. You can't question results, and Carlsen won the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, Clutch Chess, Chessable Masters, Legends of Chess, The Magnus Carlsen Tour Grand Final, Champions Showdown (with Nakamura), St. Louis Rapid and Blitz (with Wesley So), and Norway Chess. Simply incredible. Carlsen played in almost all of the super-tournaments that took place online and offline this year, which means he won the majority of ALL super-tournaments in 2020. Carlsen also founded his own tour, serving as host for a string of online tournaments that generated incredible drama and chess enthusiasm.

  1. Magnus Carlsen
  2. Hikaru Nakamura
  3. Alireza Firouzja

Creator of the Year: Hikaru Nakamura

Chess.com Creator of the Year 2020, Hikaru NakamuraHikaru Nakamura comfortably won the Creator of the Year category. While 2020 was a breakout year for all sorts of creators in chess, no one else had the completely radical impact of Nakamura. His Twitch and YouTube channels garnered huge followings, regularly hosting tens of thousands of live viewers. Nakamura also effortlessly combined being an elite player (winner in 2020 of the Speed Chess Championship, Bullet Open Championship, Champions Showdown (with Carlsen), and numerous Titled Tuesdays) with content creation, streaming dozens of hours every week while playing in most elite chess tournaments. He also became the first elite chess player signed by an esports organization, TSM, and was at the heart of the creation and success of PogChamps.

  1. Hikaru Nakamura (Twitch, YouTube)
  2. Levy Rozman (Twitch, YouTube)
  3. Samay Raina (YouTube)
  4. Sagar Shah (YouTube)
  5. Antonio Radić (Twitch, YouTube)

Move of the Year: 19.Qxg6!! from Dubov vs. Karjakin

Chess.com Move of the Year 2020, Daniil DubovDubov is the only candidate to win in two categories as he also picked up Move of the Year for 19.Qxg6!!, the dramatic and eye-catching move at the heart of his Game of the Year victory. About his queen sacrifice, Dubov said, "I saw the idea of 19.Qxg6 and first of all, I thought, I'm not worse, and second, in principle, why not make myself and the spectators a gift? It'll be an interesting game!"

I saw the idea of 19.Qxg6 and first of all, I thought, I'm not worse, and second, in principle, why not make myself and the spectators a gift? It'll be an interesting game! - Daniil Dubov

  1. 19.Qxg6!! by Daniil Dubov
  2. 18.Qc6!! by Luis Supi
  3. 47.b4!! by Levon Aronian
  4. 39...Qh1+!! by Alina Kashlinskaya
  5. 37...Rxb2+!! by Magnus Carlsen

Computer Game of the Year: Leela vs. Stockfish 11, CCC 13 Finals

Chess.com Computer Chess Game of the Year 2020, Leela StockfishThe year 2020 was also big for computer chess as audiences hungered for the elite and deep strategic play that would normally be found in classical chess tournaments. They found it in the games of the strongest chess engines as in games like the victorious Computer Game of the Year, Leela vs. Stockfish 11, from the 2013 Chess.com Computer Chess Championship. The engines eschewed material and pursued deep strategic and tactical compensation with thrilling sacrifices.

The engines also made radical strides in chess skill and understanding as the two core engine technologies (neural networks and brute force computing) were melded with Stockfish NNUE. This technological advance was fully integrated into Stockfish 12 and showed its capabilities by winning multiple Chess.com Computer Chess Championship as well as the TCEC.

  1. Leela vs. Stockfish 11, CCC 13 Finals
  2. Leela vs. Stockfish 11, TCEC 18
  3. Stoofvlees vs. Stockfish 12, CCC15 Preliminaries
  4. Stockfish 12 vs. Leela, TCEC Finals
  5. Stockfish 11 vs. Komodo, CCC13 Semifinal

Book of the Year: Bobby Fischer and His World

Chess.com Book of the Year 2020, Bobby Fischer and His World
Chess may currently be experiencing the largest boom since Bobby Fischer, but that doesn't mean the eleventh world champion isn't also still relevant in the modern era. Fischer still intrigues audiences as was shown by the clear winner of the Book of the Year. "Bobby Fischer and His World" is a deep dive by IM John Donaldson, long-time coach of the U.S. Olympiad team. Donaldson presents previously unseen games and interviews along with many long-buried stories and writings by those in Fischer's orbit. Ultimately, Donaldson puts together the most complete picture yet of the complex person who was Bobby Fischer.

  1. Bobby Fischer and His World by John Donaldson
  2. Decision Making In Major Piece Endings by Boris Gelfand
  3. Technical Decision Making by Boris Gelfand
  4. Sultan Khan: Chess Champion of the British Empire by Daniel King
  5. My Chess World by David Navara

Event of the Year: PogChamps

Chess.com Event of the Year 2020, PogChamps

Chess audiences had lots of great events to watch this year, and numerous events from 2020 would have been the largest event by viewership in almost any previous year. In June 2020, our Event of the Year, PogChamps, set a record for concurrent viewership with just over 85,000 concurrent viewers at peak and over a million viewers for a single stream. When considering the viewership of co-streamers participating in the event, the total number of viewers watching PogChamps at its peak was more than 150,000. There's been a lot of enthusiasm for a third edition of PogChamps in early 2021, and happy to say that PogChamps 3 is coming. Watch for a release soon. 

Story of the Year: PogChamps 2

Chess.com Story of the Year 2020, PogChamps 2

The Story of the Year (as measured by readership in Chess.com/news stories) was closely tied to the Event of the Year as the announcement of PogChamps 2 received more reads (134,000) than any other news piece this year, even more than the announcement of the original PogChamps (106,000). Even more attention was paid to the information article that received 639,000 reads in 2020.

The runner-up may surprise many, but the Online Nations Cup announcement caught the imagination of many national fans and accrued 134,000 reads. Finally, a little article interview announcing a delightful new Netflix show called "The Queen's Gambit" was read 94,000 times. Soon after this article was released, the show rocketed to number-one on Netflix, and it hasn't left the top 10 since then.

Clip of the Year: xQc vs. MoistCr1tikal

Chess.com Clip of the Year 2020, xQc vs. MoistCr1tikalThe Clip of the Year was another contest with an extremely clear winner. The hilarious six-move battle between xQc and MoistCR1tikal in PogChamps spawned many memes, broke all chess video records on our platforms, and was a trending video on YouTube. Ultimately, on YouTube the video received 6,833,000 views and on Twitch, the clip received 1,900,000 views.


Thank you to the 5,280 voters who submitted ballots in the 2020 Chess.com Awards; you can see all of the candidates and the voting form here. All voting was by rank-choice. For example, for Player of the Year, a first-place vote earned three points while a third-place vote earned one point. Creator of the Year and Book of the Year were awarded exclusively by community vote. In the other voting categories, the community vote counted for half of the weighted vote, and an expert panel vote of Chess.com contributors and staff counted for the other half. The expert panel consisted of GMs Krikor Mekhitarian and Jonathan Tisdall; IM Rakesh Kulkarni; NMs Jeremy Kane, James Canty, and Sam Copeland; Peter Doggers, Grant Oen, and Simon McNamara. The panel and community votes differed primarily down ballot and in the computer chess category where the panel strongly preferred the ultimate victor, while the community slightly preferred the third-place finisher.

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