25th Blitz Death Match: Norowitz vs Avrukh!
A Chess.com veteran and newcomer will contest Death Match 25 - IM Yaacov Norowitz and GM Boris Avrukh. They both qualified based on their play during the April qualification period.
The three-hour match of bullet and blitz chess will be Sunday, June 22. This will be the first Death Match with the new prize system - $500 to the winner, $200 to the loser, with $100 bonuses to the winner of the three time controls (5+1, 3+1, 1+1). So the winner will receive a minimum of $600, since mathematically he would have to win at least one of the sections, and he may win as much as $800.
Norowitz, who had come close to qualifying several times previously, firmly cemented his place in the June Death Match by winning BOTH the bullet and blitz rating categories - a Chess.com first! Avrukh finished second to Norowitz in the Blitz by only four points (2548 to 2544) so he got the invitation to be the second participant.
A special mention goes to FM Borya Ider who ended second in the bullet (2665 to Norowitz's 2723). As this difference in final rating was greater, Chess.com invited Avrukh (in the future, this will be the standard tiebreak in case someone else wins both bullet and blitz).
IM Yaacov Norowitz -- FIDE 2421. Blitz chess specialist? Perhaps, but remember that Norowitz got his IM title by earning norms in the first three norm-eligible tournaments that he played in! To show you his lack of international experience, consider that his United States Chess Federation rating has been as high as 2614, good enough to be invited to last year's U.S. Championship.
Norowitz has been a regular at Washington Square Park in New York City, and when he was younger, he was trained by Chess.com video author GM Roman Dzindzichashvili. He is now a chess coach himself.
This game's several material imbalances may lead you to believe it was blitz. In fact, it was at the classical tournament in which Norowitz got his final IM norm.
He is the current New Jersey State Champion and Norowitz has won the World Open Blitz Tournament no less than five times.
Do you think he has carpal tunnel syndrome? He's played more than 130,000 games on ICC (with a peak blitz rating north of 3400!) and he's becoming just as active on Chess.com - Norowitz played more 524 bullet games and 175 blitz games just during this qualifying month.
Norowitz has a bevy of videos about him online, including this one, where he created a "cheesecake dacha" on the board against a GM!
GM Boris Avrukh - FIDE 2590. A seven-time member of the Israeli Olympiad Team, Avrukh's career is going on it's fourth decade. Where Norowitz is an accomplished blitz player, Avrukh has the obvious upper-hand in international experience.
He is the former Under-12 World Champion, and only five years ago was knocking on the door of 2700 FIDE.
Avrukh has three Olympiad medals. In his first Olympiad, Elista 1998, he scored 80 percent and won individual gold as the second reserve. In Turino 2006, he again took individual honors, this time bronze on board four. The performance included a last-round win as Black against GM Alexander Morozevich as Israel routed Russia 3-1 and nearly snuck onto the podium.
The following Olympiad, he played board three in helping his country earn team bronze in Dresden, 2008.
Avrukh is twice Israeli Champion and also twice the Biel Masters Open Champion.