21st Blitz Death Match Player Announcement
Did you try to qualify for February's open competition Death Match? Well here are the two grandmasters who blocked your path - GM Imre Balog and GM Georg Meier.
Balog qualified from the blitz portion of the process and Meier got the nod from his bullet play (the mysterious GM Phoenix declined the invitation). If you'd like to read all about the qualifying rules, which will be in place again in February for the April Death Match, read the new structure for 2014 and the exact rules for this qualification period.
Balog and Meier will thus meet online for Death Match 21 on Saturday, February 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern (New York time), 10 a.m. Pacific - which is 6 p.m. local time in Hungary. Instead of exchanging boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers, they'll be firing arrows not sent from cupid over the course of three hours. The Death Match spans the 5-, 3-, and 1-minute time controls, without a break. The winner takes $750 and the loser $250.
GM Imre Balog -- FIDE 2554. In the heavily chess-infused nation of Hungary, which has 40+ GMs, Balog (b. 1991) is the third youngest. He is currently at his peak rating, though curiously he has had this exact rating on four different occasions, dropping down and coming back up! He joins GM Judit Polgar (winner of over GM Nigel Short last October) as the only other Hungarian to compete in a Death Match.
Shortly after being awarded the GM title in 2011, Balog won the Arad Open in Romania. He lost a game early and then rattled off 6.5/7 to overtake the lead - the kind of streakiness that can happen in Death Matches too.
He then made it back-to-back by winning again in 2012. Late last year, he finished a close second in the Great Hopes Tournament in Budapest, going undefeated over 10 rounds whilst performing nearly 100 points above his rating.
Balog will surely close in on 2600 if he keeps attacking like this against elite players. One could also guess that a flexible setup like this Botvinnik System will come in handy as the time control is reduced:
GM Georg Meier -- FIDE 2631. Meier is the fourth German to compete in a Death Match, and the second straight (GM Daniel Fridman won Death Match 20 earlier this month). He is better known on the world stage than his Death Match opponent, thanks to his four extra years of age (he's 26), his national team experience, and his lofty peak rating of 2671.
Meier has performed decently at various Supertournaments, such as Dortmund. His biggest success may have been his individual and team performance at the 2011 European Championships, where Germany sensationally won gold. Meier played board two and was the only team member to play all nine rounds without a rest. He finished with a 2758 TPR thanks to wins against Super-GM Fabiano Caruana and near-2700 GM Pavel Eljanov. It was his last-round win over another 2700, Armenian GM Sergei Movsesian, that allowed his team to win 2.5-1.5 and secure first place.
Since then his country has entrusted him at even more prestigious events like the Olympiad and World Team Championship.
His exploits in team play continue at Webster University in St. Louis, USA. Meier helped the squad win last year's Final Four of College Chess and last month the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championship. At that event, Webster went 6-0 as not a single game was rested or lost by their top four boards. It helps when your teammates are GMs Le Quang Liem, Ray Robson and Wesley So - that quartet would have been ranked 15th at the 2012 Olympiad!
Meier also came within a game of being crowned World Junior Champion in 2007. Only a last-round loss to GM Ahmed Adly cost him the title.
He seems to have a willingness to offer two rooks for the queen. Why not? It seems to be working. First he beats a future teammate:
And then he beats a Super-GM in somewhat similar fashion, at a future edition of the same tournament:
Log on to Chess.com/TV on Saturday, February 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific for live commentary by IM Danny Rensch and co-hosts.