Fall Blitz Death Matches: Top Players Confirmed

Fall Blitz Death Matches: Top Players Confirmed

45 | News

Sit on your chair and hold tight, because we have some very exciting news regarding our Blitz Death Matches scheduled for this fall... Editions #17 and #18, in September and October, will have four absolute world class chess players: GMs Arkadij Naiditsch, Loek van Wely, Judit Polgar and Nigel Short! These four players are known by face and name around the chess world, have played in countless elite events, and so to say we're happy to have them playing here at would be an understatement!

Here are the details of these two Super-GM Blitz Death Matches:

Friday, September 6th, 2013: GM Arkadij Naiditsch vs Loek Van Wely - 10am Pacific Time

Saturday October 5th, 2013: GM Nigel Short vs GM Judit Polgar - 9am Pacific Time

Although these four players hardly need an introduction, we'll do that anyway! Let's start with the September match-up, between two very sharp players; it's Germany versus Netherlands: Arkadij Naiditsch versus Loek van Wely.

Arkadij Naiditsch, FIDE 2710, is Germany's strongest grandmaster by far. Born in the same city as Mikhail Tal - Riga, Latvia - he moved to Dortmund, Germany with his family in 1996. He quickly rose to fame when he scored a sensational victory, in his home town, at the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in July 2005 ahead of top GMs Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler, Vladimir Kramnik, Michael Adams, Peter Leko and... Loek van Wely!

He has been playing for the German national team since the Olympiad in 2006. In November 2011 Germany, with Naiditsch on first board, won the European Team Championship in Porto Carras, Greece. In January of this year, Naiditsch won the B group of the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.

Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Loek Van Wely, FIDE 2693, is the strongest active Dutch grandmaster since Jan Timman, although Anish Giri has outrated him slightly for a while now. On the FIDE rating list of October 2001 Van Wely was the world's 10th best player. He won the Dutch national championship six times straight from 2000 through 2005.

Like his opponent in this Death Match, Van Wely led the national team to victory at a European Team Championship: the one in 2005 in Gothenburg. Van Wely is a frequent participant in Wijk aan Zee: he played this major tournament a record 21 times!

The Dutch GM is also famous for his online blitz play under the name KingLoek. And, again like his opponent, he his known for his uncompromising chess style. This means that this match will surely be one of the hardest fought, exciting Death Matches to date and a great "appetizer" for October's matchup!

Photo courtesy of FIDE

Then, not more than a month later, two chess legends will meet up for Blitz Death Match #18, the strongest female player ever, against a former World Championship contender: Judit Polgar versus Nigel Short!

Judit Polgar, FIDE 2696, well, who doesn't know her? By far the strongest female chess player in history, Polgar earned the GM title in 1991 when she was just 15 years and 4 months old, breaking Bobby Fischer's record. For many, many years she has been the only female player in the world's top 100. She grew up in Budapest, Hungary with her parents and her two older sisters Susan and Sofia, who are both strong players as well.

Polgar has many tournament victories on her CV, and defeated nine current or former (FIDE) world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky, Vassily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

In recent years Judit has been less active in tournament play, dedicating much of her time to her family. She is married with two children, a son and a daughter. At the moment Polgar is in the middle of a project that involves an autobiography in three parts: part one was published last year, and IM Danny Rensch's glowing review can be found here.

Photo courtesy of FIDE

Nigel Short, FIDE 2682, is regarded as the strongest English player of the 20th century, until he was surpassed by Michael Adams in the ratings. From January 1988 to July 1989 Short was ranked third in the world, behind Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. In the early 1990s he defeated Boris Gelfand, Jon Speelman, Anatoly Karpov and then Jan Timman to earn the right to meet defending World Champion Garry Kasparov. This match was played in 1993 in London, not under the auspices of FIDE but of the newly formed Professional Chess Association (PCA). Short lost the match 7.5-12.5.

Short has won dozens of tournaments in his career, for instance the British Championship (three times), the Commonwealth Championship (three times), Wijk aan Zee (two times), Sigeman & Co (two times) and Gibraltar (three times), to name just a few. Short has been very successful for the English team over the years, and is also famous as a chess columnist in newspapers and magazines.

Photo courtesy of ChessVibes

In both matches, the two top GMs will face off in three hours of intense blitz and bullet chess until a clear winner is determined. The victor will get the fame, the glory, and a large chunk of the $1000 cash prize!

Us usual, live coverage and in depth commentary will be provided by IM Danny Rensch and company on! Look for a more detailed breakdown of each match as we get closer to the match dates.

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