The Daily Chess Champs: Fighting a FIDE Master
An artist conception of my match against the FIDE Master.

The Daily Chess Champs: Fighting a FIDE Master

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Hello, my fellow daily players, and welcome to another edition of the Osaka Papers. January 1st saw the coming of a hallowed yearly tradition...that's right, the 2024 Daily Chess Championship, this year's edition included more than 63,000 players, making it the largest correspondence tournament in the history of the world...I assume...

Players are broken into groups of 12 and must play 22 simultaneous games, participants have 24 hours to make one move per game. Only the top player in each group advances to the next round.

I have participated in this tournament for the past 3 years and was able to easily advance to the 2nd rounds with perfect scores, and with my rating hovering around the 1700s, there was no reason to believe that this year would be any different...

So long as there was no unrated master or chess expert who was playing daily chess for the first time ever...but what would be the chances of that?

Let's see the group...

Starting Rank

A proverbial fly in the ointment. FIDE Master Midnight Fox has a provisional rating of 800, since he had not played daily before, yet his bullet, blitz and rapid ratings average around 2375. So, he is pretty much a Giant compared to me.

Nonetheless, daily is not bullet, and in many cases victory doesn't go to the strongest player, rather it goes to the most persistent.

But before we get to the main event, there were a few interesting moments from my games against the other players in my group. 

Abstracted and Distracted

One of the things that makes daily so unique, is the potential for a player to become distracted. If you're sat in a tournament hall playing over-the-board, the chances of you just forgetting key factors in the position are lessened, not so in daily, where you have every opportunity to zone-out and forget what is happening. Case in point, my game against CarloCasteddu, he had been playing well, and we were in a very even position, when he messaged me in the chat to ask me a question about my blogs...he also played g6, a fatal error.

Can you see why g6 is a blunder?

The Weakest Links

Like most warm-blooded chess players, I detest endgames and instead of studying them I would rather spend my time looking up unsound opening gambits. Even so, ever so often, I am able to use sound principles to put pressure on my opponent and win a balanced endgame.

My game against Chrome_Flex was hard fought, but as we entered the third phase of the game weaknesses started appearing in his camp. Although, there was nothing truly definite, I was able to target the weakest links in his position.

The b6 pawn is unprotected, and the loose knight is the only thing guarding the bishop, how can one go about targeting these weaknesses?

Surprise, Surprise

I outranked all of my opponents by at least 500 points, despite this fact, they played surprisingly well. In this particular game Dinesh-Nivi who was rated 956, was able to pounce on a small opening error in order to win material. Gotta give credit where credit is due, some of the best chess in this round was played by my opponents.

My last move, a5, allows White to take advantage of my lack of development in order to win material.

David and Goliath

Nepo vs Magnus, Mr Shaibel vs Beth Harmon, Andrea Botez vs literally any master...there are certain chess matches where you just know who is going to win, the only question is will they go down fighting or fold at the first sign of pressure.

My opponent in this critical match was FM MidnightFox, a player who, despite his 800 rating in daily, actually had a rating averaging around 2375 in all other time controls. Notwithstanding, these facts I was confident, correspondence chess is a different beast than rapid and blitz, openings and attacks that are thought sound are often exposed under the intense scrutiny of access to book lines and the ability to think about a single move for 24 hours...

Yet, as Katt Williams said, "It's a thin line between confidence and self-delusion."

Final Ranking


At the end of the day, it is a disappointing outcome, but there were positives.

Some would say that having to play a 800 rated FM is a case of fraud, but I don't think so, I entered this tournament in order to compete against strong players, and that is exactly what I got. Furthermore, even the 1200 rated players, CarloCasteddu and Chrome_Flex, put up incredible performances and were able to draw and beat me respectively. So, what's to say that I would have qualified if not for the FIDE Master.

My major takeaway from this year's edition of the Daily Chess Champs, is the need to concentrate when playing correspondence chess, we cannot let outside distractions affect our mindset, if we wish to get the best results.

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to share these games with you friends down at the Bar or Comment section.

Cheers, SheldonOfOsaka.

Congrats and Good Luck to those of you who qualified for round 2.