Death Match Redesign

Death Match Redesign

| 29 | News

PRESS RELEASE -- Starting in February 2015, will alter the format for Death Matches: Events will be quarterly with an open qualifier facing off against an invited player every time.

After the planned January 3 burner between world top 10s GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So on January 3rd, will restructure the Death Matches. Instead of having 10 per year, there will instead be four.

According to Vice President of Professional Relations IM Danny Rensch, the new format is meant to "increase exposure of the event and the quality of the games themselves."

Each match will be a bigger affair and promoted to the greater chess community at least a month in advance each time.

Here's how things will run in 2015:

The top-rated blitz player (minimum 100 games played that month) on at the end of February will qualify to play in March. His/her opponent will be an invited player, usually a strong GM and often one of the world's best. The month of May will qualify someone in the same way for a Death Match in June. August will qualify a player for a September match and November for the fourth match in December.

Players who have competed in previous Death Matches ARE NOW eligible to qualify for another one (maximum one qualification per calendar year).

After reviewing numerous forms of feedback, both from our members and the actual participants themselves, has also decided that a slight change in the format is due. The time controls and section times will be adjusted to:

  • The opening 5+1 segment will be INCREASED from 75 minutes to 90 minutes and will become 5+2. "This is to ensure that the longest, highest quality portion of each Death Match, and often the time where the commentators can provide the most education to the viewers, gets as much exposure as possible,"  said Rensch. 
  • The middle segment will remain 60 minutes but will go from 3+1 to 3+2. "It's FIDE's official Blitz time control right? Gotta be a part of our Death Matches moving forward!" said Rensch.
  • The bullet segment will be REDUCED from 45 minutes to 30 minutes and will remain 1+1. "We considered 1 0 but in the end decided that having higher quality games is still our biggest priority!" said Rensch.

As you can see, the first two segments will be longer and slower, meaning you'll likely learn more as the commentators give slightly more detailed analysis.

This change is coupled with the launching of our monthly "Titled Tuesday" tournaments. Note that players can no longer qualify based on their bullet rating -- qualifiers will only be based on blitz rating.

Who will we see take another stab at Death Match success now that previous participants are allowed to qualify? Let's consider a few candidates!

  • GM Alejandro Ramirez -- surely wants revenge after losing his previous Death Match to GM Parimarjan Negi.
Good friends WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (winner of DM 9) and GM Alejandro Ramirez (loser of DM 10). Both can play again.
  • GM Robert Hess -- he's lost two Death Matches (the only player to have accomplished that) so you know he's eager to win one!
  • GM Valery Aveskulov -- surely it won't get tougher his next time around. In Death Match 15, he lost to GM Fabiano Caruana!
Here's a complete list of past Death Matches and the other two dozen or so players who may want a second chance!
Since winning DM 15 in June, 2013, GM Fabiano Caruana has gained about 75 rating points. Surely he won't forget and he will play again, right?

As always, advanced cheat-detection measures will be in place to ensure qualification and the matches themselves are played fairly. reserves the right to invite or uninvite players as it sees fit.

Good luck qualifying! All matches will be live on with commentators IM Danny Rensch and special guests.

FM Mike Klein

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

  • Email:
  • Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
  • Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

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.

More from FM MikeKlein
Ian Nepomniachtchi On The World Chess Championship

Ian Nepomniachtchi On The World Chess Championship

New ChessKid Adventure App Released

New ChessKid Adventure App Released