itshafu, Forsen, Gripex90 Win In Dramatic PogChamps Opener
Will PogChamps 2 be even bigger than the original?

itshafu, Forsen, Gripex90 Win In Dramatic PogChamps Opener

SamCopeland
NM SamCopeland
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38 | Chess Event Coverage

After the incredible success of the first PogChamps, many wondered if chess would be a short-lived Twitch fad and a fleeting meta. Could chess continue to bring in tens of thousands of spectators, showcasing the joy of a 1,400-year-old game to legions of new fans?

PogChamps 2 definitively answers that question with a resounding "YES." In an exciting day with lots to clip and ship, concurrent viewership peaked around 37,000 just as itshafu won an exhilarating back-and-forth match against David Pakman.

Make sure to tune into Chess.com's daily coverage of the 2020 Chess.com PogChamps at 12:45 p.m. Pacific (21:45 p.m. Central Europe) on Chess.com/tv. The complete show archives are available on twitch.tv/chess and youtube.com/chess.

Cizzorz Slices Gripex90

Gripex90 came into the day as one of the perceived PogChamps favorites with an established rapid rating of over 1300. In the end, he showed his rating to be well-deserved but was pushed to the limit by Cizzorz who came back after dropping a piece in game one to trap Gripex90's bishop. With the game level and tense, Cizzorz had a huge opportunity to pick up a hanging rook!

Despite missing that opportunity, Cizzorz won the ensuing endgame and could have closed out the match with some strong moves in game two, but this time he hung a rook and Gripex90 didn't miss it! In retrospect, Cizzorz had some thoughtful words to share with his chat.

In the final armageddon game, the situation on the board was tense, but on the clock, Gripex90 had a huge edge, having practiced with plenty of blitz chess. He claimed the game on time and took the lead in the group.

CallMeCarson Impresses Against Favored Forsen

The returning Forsen is the pick of many to claim the PogChamps crown, while in this PogChamps opener CallMeCarson's chess level was unclear to many. Despite his unorthodox chess strategies, motivational speeches, and musical taste, his on-the-board moves proved to be consistently sound and well-thought-out. Could Carson be putting us all on, hustling the audience, and masking his true skill to gain the advantage of surprise?

After a solid opening, Carson had a huge opportunity in the second game to play a surprising trap and pick off a piece. With the audience on the edge of their seats, he let the opportunity slip by, and the ever-solid Forsen claimed victory in both games.

itshafu, David Pakman Show Stafford Gambit Chops

As exciting as the prior matches were, the most anticipated match of the day was undoubtedly itshafu vs. David Pakman. These two talented players sported similar skill levels. itshafu earned hers through an intense grind leading up to PogChamps while David Pakman had the advantage of having played chess from a young age.

The opening salvo surely pleased Eric Rosen and /r/anarchychess as David Pakman essayed the famed Stafford Gambit, and itshafu immediately responded with the correct theoretical refutation. The two players proved to be more theoretically knowledgeable than the commentators, including GM Hikaru Nakamura, and itshafu revealed on stream during the game and after the match that she had lost a game to the Stafford Gambit on her alt account the night before and had made sure to look up the refutation (7.c3!) as a result. After many ensuing twists and turns (including a declined piece sacrifice), itshafu cashed in on her opening advantage and won game one.

Despite beginning with the Exchange French, game two proved to be the most thrilling of the day. David Pakman created an incredible attack and nearly managed to sacrifice his queen for checkmate. itshafu dodged this devilish trick, but in time trouble and under pressure, she lost a bishop, and it seemed clear David Pakman would strike back and take the match to armageddon. Unfortunately, the players did not realize that their intense time pressure (around 10 seconds apiece) was mitigated by the 10-second increment. They both began to blitz relentlessly, and itshafu snapped off the extra bishop AND two pawns before a king-and-pawn endgame emerged when both sides were winning at points, but it was ultimately itshafu who claimed the point and the match.

Make sure to tune into Chess.com's daily coverage of the 2020 Chess.com PogChamps at 12:45 p.m. Pacific (21:45 p.m. Central Europe) on Chess.com/tv.


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