Who Will Have The Faster Finger In Death Match 32?

Who Will Have The Faster Finger In Death Match 32?

| 24 | Chess Players

We've known for a while that the former world blitz number-one GM Maxim Dlugy would play in this month's Death Match 32. Now we know his opponent: blitz maven and past Death Match champion IM Yaacov Norowitz.

The match will be three hours of blitz and bullet, broadcast live on at 6:30 p.m. Pacific (GMT-7) this Saturday, June 27.

Norowitz is known for his online and in-person blitz sessions. He's often playing on and finished May with the highest blitz rating of those who played 100 games. His return to the Death Match stage will be almost exactly one year after making the biggest comeback in Death Match history.

As previously reported, Dlugy is a past participant of arguably the most famous blitz tournament in history. The two are no strangers to each other, having already played one match in person! Earlier this month, they also played a mini-bullet match on, with Norowitz winning 6-2.

No matter what happens, history will be made. Either Norowitz will become only the second player to win two Death Matches (along with GM Georg Meier) or Dlugy will become the oldest winner (he's one year older than GM Simen Agdestein). asked both about the match and other subjects. We think you'll enjoying reading what they had to say! (Their answers were edited slightly for readability.)

1. Yaacov will have more experience, having played (and won!) a Death Match. How will this be important for the match?

YN: Experience won't matter much for me, it's only a matter of whether I'm ready to gamble or not. If I take risks I'm in good shape; if not I'm in bad shape.

MD: I think Yaacov's experience does count for a lot. So I think this will be a big challenge for me.

GM Maxim Dlugy, 49, playing the youngest American grandmaster, 14-year-old Sam Sevian. Dlugy hopes to become the oldest Death Match champion.

2. In light of recent events in the chess world, a courtesy reminder that the match will be split up between 5+2, 3+2, and 1+1 games. Have you ever forgotten the time control at a critical moment in a tournament or online?

YN: I don't think I've forgotten the time control in a tournament, though in some late-night bullet sessions I've fallen asleep in the middle, which is surely at least as bad!

IM Yaacov Norowitz, hoping to become the second two-time Death Match winner.

MD: I keep forgetting that I am running out of time in live blitz events. But no, I have not had it happen in classical time controls like some high 2800 I know.

3. You've both played some great players in blitz. Who's the most intimidating or difficult player you've faced over the board? Online?

YN: Hikaru of course. He's literally a human engine. Although lately I fear him less, especially after my last bullet game versus him, a 20-move mate (See answer to #6 for the game -- M.K.).

MD: The toughest was playing Vladimir Kramnik playing under Almira Stripchenko's handle just after winning his match against Kasparov. I figured Almira for Joel Lautier, her husband back then, and I was amazed at how he improved. When I sent my congratulations to Kramnik to him (Lautier was his second), Kramnik replied "thank you." Vlad was staying at Joel's apartment in Paris.

(Apparently, the answer "Kramnik" won out over our own IM Danny Rensch, seen here trying to outplay and outtalk Dlugy -- M.K.)

4. You're both renown for your blitz skills. Is there a way to train to be a better blitz player, or do you just have to play a ton of it?

YN: Definitely don't train to be a better blitz player. Just focus on playing good slow chess. With a deep understanding comes a good intuitive sense, which is key in blitz.

MD: Studying tactics and endgames is the best way to prepare for blitz. But playing someone strong just before is important too. I prepared for the World Blitz Championship in 1988 with Rafael Vaganian, then the world's number-six player (and namesake of this opening -- M.K.). We split our matches. He went on to the finals, losing to Tal, while I almost got past Kasparov in a 3.5-2.5 loss, which went into overtime (see #6 for one of the games -- M.K.).

5. Name a way could make Death Matches even more exciting.

YN: I think it's done just fine as it is.

MD: I think the matches are super exciting as they are.

6. What's a great blitz game you played recently?

YN: My latest "NM" -- Nakamura miniature.

MD: (No answer given, so we picked one for him. We are nearly contractually obligated to this pick this one, even if it's not so recent! - M.K.)

7. What are your best conditions for blitz (location, time of day, hunger, type of chair, music, etc.)?

YN: In my office, in the morning, with coffee -- hazelnut or French roast, depending on my mood that day, and soft meditation music. I have a specific eight-hour meditation music video that I listen to regularly, which almost puts me to sleep but not fully. Ideal! The first time I listened to it I outplayed Grischuk in a nice blitz game so I've been hooked on it ever since. I'd be happy to discuss, for a small fee of course!

No music was allowed for Norowitz at the 2013 U.S. Championship.

MD: I need to be well-rested and have no one bugging me.

8. If there was no increment, how much time would you need on for the K+Q mate if White's pieces began on their starting squares and Black's king began on e5?

YN: Against Penguin (penguingm1 -- frequent player IM Andrew Tang) I'd need 4.5 seconds since he's so fast. Against normal speed players probably 3.5. But it's hard to say. A lot depends on how much time the opponent has since sometimes it's difficult to premove 100 percent accurately...Probably five seconds will always clinch it, even versus Penguin.

MD: In live chess it usually takes two to three seconds. Online I would estimate four or five seconds.

9. Complete the analogy: blitz is to chess as ___________ is to life.

YN: Passion. I would also add another thought: blitz is to chess as heart is to brain.

MD: Blitz is to chess as college is to life, especially if you party a lot.

10. What's a bigger handicap -- playing bullet with your non-dominant hand or having someone talk to you during the game?

YN: Non-dominant hand is resignable. Talking actually inspires me, especially if it's someone I like to talk to. The other day I beat up on Genghis ( member Genghis_K -- GM Frederico Perez Ponsa) four in a row while talking to my little nephew on Facetime, but once I hung up, I lost. I will probably speak to my brother and sister-in-law to make sure he stays up for the Death Match so we can Facetime!

MD: Blitz with the non-dominant hand is a bigger handicap. I can usually block out unwanted noises.

11. Hypothetical situation: You're playing a five-board simul in person, with a time control of 3+2. All five opponents are rated 2000 and you're White on all boards. What's your expected score?

YN: Gosh that's a difficult question. Probably I win all but it's hard to say.

MD: I would probably score 4-1.

Don't forget to tune in to at 6:30 p.m. Pacific (GMT-7) this Saturday, June 27. The match will have live commentary from IM Danny Rensch -- and the return of GM Ben Finegold!

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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