2021 Daily Disaster Championship: Round 1

2021 Daily Disaster Championship: Round 1

WCM beccrajoy

The annual Daily Chess Championship is always a fun and chaotic event to take part in – every year’s championship starts on the first day of the new year, players are put into 12-player groups where they play 22 simultaneous games (2 per opponent), with only a single player from each group advancing to round 2 and only 24 hours (no vacation time) to make each move. Traditionally, competition is tough and timeouts are high. Here’s how my Round 1 went in 2021, if you haven’t already figured it out from the title!

Unlike last year, where 5 of my opponents (10 games) timed out without making a single move, this year all 22 of my games began on the 1st of January and the first timeout came on the 4th of January, when one of my opponents timed out in both games. Having not played much daily chess in 2020, and as the top seed in my group, the pressure was definitely on in the remaining 20 games, and I knew there was no guarantee that I would make it to the second round.

My next game to end was one where I was comfortable throughout – picking up a free pawn in the opening, and ending the game with a nice (if not forced) attack. See if you can find a more forcing variation than I did in the game:

My fourth game to finish was also a win, where despite missing some tactics, I was able to pick up first an exchange and then two knights, leaving me with an overwhelming material advantage that caused my opponent to resign.

The 5th game to finish was fairly uneventful, ending in resignation when I was a piece up. My 6th game to end was a much messier win, where after losing a small advantage from the opening, I managed to defend and find counterplay along the g-file after dropping the g-pawn. Fortunately, my opponent blundered with 28. Qc2 – see if you can find the winning continuation, and why my opponent resigned after playing 30. Be3.

The 16th of January brought me my first loss, where an oversight on move 14 out of a comfortable opening lead to a far worse position that proceeded to deteriorate rapidly. My desperado attempt at salvaging the game failed, and I resigned facing mate or large material losses.

The 16th of January also brought me a win by checkmate in a game where I was simply up material, and a loss where I misplayed the opening and was lost for the remainder of the game. Since my opponent was second seed and had not dropped any points yet, progression to round 2 was already looking unlikely, even with 13 games still to go!

Unfortunately, my next game to finish was also a loss. I had picked up a pawn in the opening, and despite some discomfort on my kingside, I evaluated the position as giving me an advantage. I miscalculated a tactic and after instinctively putting my king in the corner for safety, I put the final nail in my coffin with 20. Be3. What should I have played instead, in order to keep fighting (albeit at a disadvantage)?

Game 11 was a comfortable win, and while Game 12 was perhaps not the most accurate, I emerged victorious with both myself and my opponent ending on an accuracy score of 78. The 13th game to finish highlighted the importance of playing c6 as black in the Scandinavian, however in a comedy of errors I missed the free b7-pawn and a8-rook for 7 moves! I subsequently missed a nice tactic that I present below as a puzzle, and eventually I won some material and my opponent resigned.

My next game to finish was against the same opponent whose free rook I had missed for 7 moves, but this time I spotted the trapped rook (on a1) and I converted a fairly easy game. What followed was a game where I survived a strange opening and won my opponent’s queen with a discovered check, two games where I won on time in winning positions (game 1; game 2) and a game where I picked up material with the following tactic, soon after which my opponent resigned:

Game 19 gave me little trouble (although I definitely took the scenic route in converting my advantages throughout the game), while my third-last game to finish was tough, but defendable until I trapped my own rook and lost the exchange. The second-last game to finish was an overall unpleasant experience against the eventual winner of my section, where I did have a brief chance to equalize, but missed the opportunity.

On the 29th of January, my 2021 Daily Chess Champs came to an end with a lucky win. Overall, I had scored 17 points out of a possible 22 which placed me third (tied-second) in my group which was convincingly won by the second seed with full score. Looking back at the games (and dismal accuracy scores throughout!) it is clear that my daily chess can use a lot of improvement, but also that playing 22 games simultaneously is no easy feat. Fortunately, I’ve now had a lot more practice with Daily Chess since I ended up having to play over 40 games simultaneously against HashtagChess viewers, so I’ll be back in 2022 making a concerted effort to reach round 2!

Thanks for reading! If you took part in the 2021 Daily Chess Champs, let me know how your Round 1 went