Hammer, Meier Kibitz And Win 1st Streamers Challenge

Hammer, Meier Kibitz And Win 1st Streamers Challenge

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

There aren't many chess tournaments where talking is allowed, let alone required. But that's just what created with the first-ever Streamers Challenge Wednesday. For those of you that watched Norway Chess or the Sinquefield Cup, just think of it like an uninterrupted confessional booth.

Players discussed their games, talked trash, used funny accents, sang, and there was even some dancing! All 25 players broadcast from their own channels, giving chess fans a nearly unending variety of commentary styles to choose from (below you'll see how you can choose the "Fan Favorite" prize -- the full list of players and their streaming channels is in this article -- note that some streams may not be suitable for all audiences).

After seven rounds of 3+2 blitz, the top two seeds held serve, but only barely. GM Jon Ludvig Hammer held off a hard-charging IM John Bartholomew in the final round to clinch a share of first with 5.5/7. GM Georg Meier, one of the Titled Tuesday kings, recovered from an internet disconnection that cost him a game (to Hammer!) to also get a piece of the title. Both men won $750.

When asked by viewers if he was better than GM Magnus Carlsen in anything, GM Jon Ludvig Hammer said, "He's not that good at beach volleyball." Hammer also gets the best of his friend in chess occasionally too.

Besides the "Fan Favorite" prize of $500, also awarded a $500 prize to the player with the most peak viewers in his channel. Numbers kept growing as the event reached its climax, but in the end Twitch streamer "Hutch" narrowly beat out our own IM Danny Rensch. Hutch topped 2,300 viewers late in the tournament, while Rensch could only muster 2,100 (for the record, Rensch said he would have given his prize to charity since he works for

Two other GMs did well -- GMs Max Dlugy and Alex Lenderman tied for third with 5.0/7. They were joined by Bartholomew and untitled Kevin Bordi.

GM Robin van Kampen, one half of the Chessbrah stream, could only get to 4.0/7. If we had a dancing award, his liquor-drinking partner GM Eric Hansen would have been the only contestant. Hansen was up out of the chair in the split-screen while his buddy focused on the games. Make sure you keep reading below to see how van Kampen was hoodwinked in the worst kind of way by IM Greg Shahade, which cause him to want drink more too.

If Tosh.o did chess commentary, it would look something like Chessbrah.

The first round saw lots of lopsided pairings, but no major upsets. Streamer NoJoke (Chris Callahan) thought he might have a chance against Rensch, then realized the problem: "Maybe he'll lose because he's trying to talk, but the problem is I'm trying to talk too!"

The titled player matchups began in round two. Bartholomew quickly asserted himself as a contender by garnering queen versus rook against the former world blitz number one. But Dlugy sagely traded knights and set up a well-known fortress.

The uniqueness of the event was that viewers got to hear Bartholomew's confidence ebb as he slowly lost his advantage. "My conversion is not looking great," he said. Dlugy was on edge too: "I once lost a game like this on by pre-moving."

From my constant toggling to different channels, I witnessed far more self-deprecation than bravado on most channels. The most common sentiment? "Somehow I messed this up."

GM Simon Williams had an additional challenge -- a poor internet connection that resulted in an insurmountable lag. He tried chucking pieces at his opponents to win quickly (well, even more than usual!).

"Things have gone horribly wrong," he said. "I'm smoking again...This is turning into the stream from hell. I've gone mad here!" Williams eventually had to retire from the tournament.

The Ginger GM couldn't put up a fight and lost by technical knockout.

Round three produced a pivotal game, complete with a pretty finish and a complete contrast in streaming styles. Hammer, clad in a suit and talking lucidly about his chances, faced van Kampen, who remained mostly silent while his Chessbra-ther, Hansen, put on some techno and began gyrating. 

"I would have music but I'm slightly embarrassed in my taste in music," Hammer said during the game. "I don't think there's anything wrong with it but when people hear it they're always giggling."

Hammer was the only player unscathed on the scoreboard going into round four's 1-2 matchup with Meier (he drew Lenderman in round three). The game looked level for a while, but Meier refused to settle for a draw. This resulted in him being down a pawn momentarily, but then he got it back and was about to get a dangerous passed h-pawn with 64...Rh1. He disconnected and lost on time instead.

"That was so sick," Hammer said. "And it's really sick that I managed to blunder the position."

"I need to get a better internet connection," Meier said after coming back online.

In terms of to-the-point pedagogy, Lenderman had perhaps the most instructional broadcast. His round four game with Dlugy nearly produced the Saavedra Position, a topic we've even covered on our scholastic site


Another clever position arose in the same round. Shahade's 155-move marathon against the only Russian-language streamer, Evgenij Novikov (not GM Novikov!), included a nice stalemate try by the untitled player.


Hammer thus retained his perfect score going into round five. He had six chasers on 3.0/4 (and Meier was not one of them -- he fell to 2.5/4 but won his final three to jump back into first).

Rensch's self-described "bad German accent" wasn't enough to bamboozle Meier. Rensch gave himself a pep talk: "Focus Danny. You have a chance to beat one of the strongest players in the tournament." Alas, the grandmaster won out.


GM Georg Meier, just before playing his winning move in the final round (at end of this report).

Hammer allowed the field to catch up by dropping his game to Dlugy. For a while, his only hope was that Dlugy had too many avenues to finish him off. "He's probably having a lot of fun," Hammer said. "He's winning any way he wants and that is his problem."

Dlugy nearly allowed too many pawns to leave the board, but eventually he turned the Hammer into the Nail.

The most electric finish of the afternoon came in van Kampen-Shahade. "Damn, that felt good!" Shahade screamed after he did this:


"I have no words," van Kampen said. "It's been a long time since I got mated like that. That's so shameful. I'm going to do a couple of shots."


GM Robin van Kampen (right) tries to focus while GM Eric Hansen (left) dances.

In round six Hammer got back on track by beating Lenderman but Meier kept lurking a half-point back by beating Dlugy. Twitch star Hutch forgot to take his opponent's queen, causing him to yell, "I'm an idiot! Just a big, stupid, dummy, idiot. What is happening to me?"

Despite explaining that his musical taste was not going to be shared, Hammer came just short of singing while melodically saying, "Nothing like a good trick" after this little combination:

The final round still left everything to play for. Bartholomew would win first if he upset Hammer; the Norwegian would take clear first with a win of his own. Neither would happen, even though the IM missed a knight fork in the waning moments!

"I really felt like I was outplaying him for the majority of the game," Bartholomew said. Overall, he was pleased to be playing for first in the final round.


Prior to the tournament, Bartholomew gave himself a "10 percent" chance to win. Then he saw the full list of players and downgraded himself to a "puncher's chance."

Meier caught up with a queen sac to remove the blockade:


Hammer and Meier split the $1,000 and $500 first and second prizes for paydays of $750 each. Dlugy, Lenderman, Bartholomew and Bordi get a four-way split of third-fifth prizes ($250, $150, $100) for a total of $125 each.

As mentioned, Hutch won the most peak viewers prize ($500) but members get to pick "Fan Favorite" (also a $500 prize). The winner will be decided via the poll on the homepage, which will remain active for one week. The top nine streamers are listed, but you may use the "other" selection to vote for a write-in. Remember that links to all streams can be found here.

Feel free to leave any additional comments about the Streamers Challenge in the comments below. Streamers Challenge | Final Standings

# Rk Fed Title Username Name Score SB
1 2 NOR GM SultanOfKings Hammer, Jon Ludvig 5.5 23.5
2 1 SWE GM GeorgMeier Meier, Georg 5.5 22
3 3 USA GM Dlugy Dlugy, Maxim 5 21
4 4 USA GM AlexanderL Lenderman, Alex 5 20.25
5 7 USA IM Fins0905 Bartholomew, John 5 18.25
6 10 RUS   Blitzstream Bordi, Kevin 5 16
7 5 CAN GM Kempsy van Kampen, Robin 4 15
8 9 DEU IM Chessexplained Sielecki, Christof 4 14.5
9 12 USA IM Greg_Shahade Shahade, Greg 4 14
10 11 USA IM DanielRensch Rensch, Daniel 4 12
11 13 USA FM MattyDPerrine Perrine, Dalton 4 11
12 19 DEU   Syromer   4 9.5
12 22 GBR   prismchess   4 9.5
14 14 AUS   snoooze   3.5 8.75
14 20 USA   somuchbetterthanu   3.5 8.75
16 8 RUS   ShahMatKanal Novikov, Evgenij 3 8
17 23 USA   NoJoke   3 4
18 24 USA   BrotherJosh Sampson, Joshua 3 3
19 16 USA   rynos0411 Hamley, Ryan 2.5 7.25
20 15 USA   jdcannon Cannon, Jonathan 2.5 3.25
21 18 USA   BulletKID100 Howard, Landon 2 3
21 17 BGR   dreamwalker3   2 3
23 21 USA   TheIMightyHutch Hutchinson, Shaun 2 1
24 25 USA   timalick Reis, Mike 1 0
25 6 GBR GM Ginger_GM Williams, Simon 2 4
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