Voyboy Defeats Boxbox, Will Face Hutch In Final

Voyboy Defeats Boxbox, Will Face Hutch In Final

ColinStapczynski
ColinStapczynski
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67 | Chess Event Coverage

The Chess.com PogChamps semifinals started Thursday, with Hutch, MoisCr1tikal, and VoyBoy advancing to the finals. In the championship bracket, Hutch defeated NymN in a close match that went to a tiebreak game while Voyboy beat Boxbox. Hutch and Voyboy, two of the pre-tournament favorites, will meet in the final. 

In the consolation bracket, MoistCr1tikal beat SlikeR in an exciting match that also went to a tiebreak game. MoistCr1tikal advances to the final where he will play the winner of the xQc-Ludwig semifinal match which takes place on Friday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time (20:45 Central Europe). With today's results, the PogChamps championship bracket final matchup is set and will be starting on Friday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time (22:00 Central Europe)

Chess.com PogChamps
Voyboy, Hutch, and MoistCr1tikal have advanced to the finals.

Make sure to tune into Chess.com's official semifinals and finals coverage of the 2020 Chess.com PogChamps on Friday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time (20:45 Central Europe) on Chess.com/tv.

Hutch Knocks Out NymN In Tiebreak Blitz

The first PogChamps Semifinal match saw Hutch facing NymN. Both players were undefeated in PogChamps, but Hutch had a 400+ rating point advantage. NymN played a Nimzo-Indian Defense in game one, where he quickly gave up the bishop pair to double Hutch's c-pawns.

Hutch missed a couple of early opportunities to play the strong e4 pawn push in the opening, instead opting for a quieter kingside fianchetto. NymN made the first error of the game and gave Hutch an opportunity to win a piece, but Hutch missed the right idea and instead played 15.Nd2.

After Nd2, some exchanges occurred and Hutch's light squares around his king were very weak. Hutch made a mistake by allowing 18...Ne5 with mating ideas, NymN missed the winning plan but could have won Hutch's d4 pawn. Instead, he opted for 23...c4 creating two passed pawns. After more exchanges and under considerable time pressure, NymN navigated the rook and pawn endgame extremely well and brought home the full point.

NymN remained undefeated in PogChamps, and Hutch was handed his first loss. In game two, Hutch found himself with his back against the wall for the first time in the entire PogChamps event and played the Gruenfeld Defense. Both players navigated the opening well and reached a balanced position early. NymN made the first misstep with 11.b4, which simply lost a pawn:

Hutch won the pawn and had a pleasant position with the bishop pair and an extra healthy pawn. Hutch maintained his advantage and NymN made a second error with 20.Rc1 and lost a piece. The position turned into a minor-piece endgame, and Hutch was able to convert his large advantage to bring home the full point. This game not only leveled the match score at 1-1 but also marked NymN's first loss of the entire event. The game two result also meant that the match was heading to a game three tie-breaker blitz game. 

In the three-minute tiebreak game, Hutch had the White pieces and NymN played the Nimzo-Indian Defense again. Hutch played a much sharper line in this game and had a monster wall of pawns early after 8.f4!

Hutch's control of the center turned into a kingside attack after 12.e5, and Hutch didn't let go—He delivered checkmate on move 26. Hutch won the tiebreak game and the match.

Despite being knocked out of the tournament, NymN played extremely well both today and in the entire event. Going undefeated until his second game against Hutch is no easy task! The chess world hopes to see more of NymN's methodical play in the future. With this victory, Hutch advances to the championship bracket final where he will play Voyboy. 

Chess.com PogChamps
Hutch has advanced to the championship bracket final where he will face VoyBoy.
MoistCr1tical Eliminates SlikeR In Tiebreak Game

In the consolation bracket, MoistCr1tical faced SlikeR for a spot in the final. Ludwig joined the commentators at the start of this match and saw SlikeR play a Philidor Defense as Black in game one. He offered a pawn on move five, which MoistCr1tical declined for many moves. SlikeR started pushing pawns and fell behind in development. After 12...0-0-0 a sharp position arose with opposite side castling—but SlikeR still hadn't developed a single piece on the kingside:

MoistCr1tical made the first blunder of the game with 16.Bg5 which should have lost a piece, but SlikeR missed the shot 16...Bxf3 and instead played 16...Be7. Both players maneuvered for some time, and a level position was reached after 23.Qe4, and then SlikeR hung a forced checkmate with 24...Nc5. Instead of starting a mating attack with 25.Ne7+, MoistCr1tikal initiated a series of exchanges.

Time trouble became an issue for both players, and MoistCr1tikal missed a royal fork on move 29. Despite having multiple opportunities, MoistCr1tikal lost the thread of the game and dropped a piece. SlikeR took over both on the board and on the clock. Then, as SlikeR was starting to make progress, he gave the piece back, but then MoistCr1tikal lost his queen and SlikeR took the game. A back and forth see-saw game, to say the least!

In game two, SlikeR played 2.Qh5 and MoistCr1tikal defended well in the opening. The game developed normally until MoistCr1tikal blundered a piece with 12...Be6:

SlikeR won the piece and continued to nurse his material advantage as MoistCr1tikal desperately tried to keep his hopes alive by attempting to create some counterplay on the kingside. SlikeR's advantage dropped noticeably after 28.h3, a pawn which MoistCr1tikal immediately captured with his rook. MoistCr1tikal created some serious chances on the kingside, while SlikeR started marching his passed pawn down the board.  

In mutual time trouble, 43...Qxa3 was a serious mistake from MoistCr1tikal, as he had checkmate in one move with 43...Qxe2#! But several moves later the same theme occurred and MoistCr1tikal delivered checkmate, swinging from the brink of defeat to the top of the mountain of triumph in a single move—an electric game which forced a game three blitz tiebreak.

In the tiebreak game, MoistCr1tikal had the White pieces and SlikeR tried a dubious opening. A comedy of errors started with 12.Qe2, where both players were hanging pieces left and right. After the dust settled, SlikeR was up a piece, but his king was open. SlikeR's queen was hanging after 21...Kd7 and MoistCr1tikal capitalized.

Extreme time trouble reared its ugly head for both players, but it was MoistCr1tikal who kept his head above water with SlikeR eventually flagging (He ran out of time.) in a lost position. With this victory, MoistCr1tikal won the match and advanced to the consolation bracket final.

The post-match interview was lively, and it was apparent that SlikeR was upset that he had been eliminated. MoistCr1tikal spoke highly of SlikeR's performance and is happy to be advancing to the consolation bracket finals after his come-from-behind victory. He will face the winner of the xQc-Ludwig match that begins on Friday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time (20:45 Central Europe).

Chess.com PogChamps
MoistCr1tical defeated SlikeR in the tiebreak game and advances to the consolation bracket final.

Voyboy Defeats Boxbox 

In the second championship bracket semifinal match, we saw the undefeated Voyboy facing Boxbox, who had been wanting this match for the entire event—In fact, Boxbox participated in this event solely to beat Voyboy. In the first game, Voyboy played the Advance variation against Boxbox's Caro-Kann. Boxbox blundered quickly with 8...Nc6, hanging his dark-squared bishop on c5 (8...Nd7 was called for):

Voyboy's advantage was stable, but he got a little too aggressive and made a misstep with 14.Qxb7 (14.Nxc6 was a cleaner way to play the position.). Voyboy got his queen stuck in a precarious position on the a7-square. Boxbox spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to trap Voyboy's queen but bailed on the plan and played 17...Qh4. Voyboy made the decision to give up his queen, even though he could have saved it.

This choice to enter a materially imbalanced position immediately paid off for Voyboy, as Boxbox quickly blundered his knight. The position transitioned to an endgame where Voyboy had two rooks and a knight vs. Boxbox's queen. Voyboy nursed his lead in material and his large lead on the clock to eventually deliver checkmate on move 41.

The second game was a must-win situation for Boxbox, who played a fianchetto line (like he has the entire event) against Voyboy's Pirc Defense. After both players navigated the opening well, the position became closed. The commentators, GM Robert Hess and GM Hikaru Nakamura, both noted that the opening choice by Voyboy played to Boxbox's strengths, as he knows the plans in these types of positions. The position was pleasant for Boxbox after 9.gxf4:

Boxbox found a strong idea with 11.e5, with the dual threats of 12.exf6 (winning a knight) as well as 12. Bxb7 (winning the exchange). Voyboy opted to give up his rook for Boxbox's light-squared bishop, and the position turned sharp with Boxbox ahead on material but Voyboy had very active pieces. Boxbox fell below one minute when he misstepped with 24.e5 (ironically, the same move that gave him the advantage on move 11), allowing his queen and rook to be forked. Voyboy was ahead on the clock and on the board after picking up Boxbox's queen and cruised to victory.

In the post-match interview, Boxbox was all smiles and said that he felt "great" and had a fun time participating in the event. Boxbox said he was down to keep playing chess, as long as there is something to compete for (which there always will be). Voyboy praised Boxbox's play and admitted that he was nervous (possibly for the first time in the event). With this match win, Voyboy is the last undefeated player in the field and advances to the championship bracket final where he will face Hutch.

Chess.com PogChamps
Voyboy advances to the finals of the championship bracket where he will face Hutch.

xQc,Ludwig Fight For Finals Spot

xQc and Ludwig start the action tomorrow in the last Semifinals matchup. Ludwig has been commentating on the event for the past two days and even got a preview of xQc's play when he defeated Fuslie on Wednesday. Will Ludwig's insight into xQc's thought process be a deciding factor, or will xQc's unpredictable play win out? Clocks will start at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (21:00 Central Europe) on Chess.com/TV

Chess.com PogChamps
The xQc-Ludwig match promises to be an exciting match!

Voyboy And Hutch Set For Friday Final

Two of the pre-tournament favorites have made it to the championship bracket final. Voyboy and Hutch have the highest ratings in the tournament, and both were undefeated heading into Thursday's matches. This highly-anticipated pairing will determine who takes home the PogChamps title! Clocks will start at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time (22:00 Central Europe) on Chess.com/TV

Chess.com PogChamps
The highly anticipated Voyboy-Hutch championship final is set!

MoistCr1tikal Will Face Winner Of xQc-Ludwig Match 

MoistCr1tikal already has his ticket to the consolation bracket finals. He can sit back and relax while he watches the xQc-Ludwig match, as he awaits the outcome to see who he will fight for the consolation bracket title. Clocks will start at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time (23:00 Central Europe) on Chess.com/TV

Chess.com PogChamps
MoistCr1tikal will face the winner of the xQc-Ludwig match for the consolation bracket final.

Still deciding who to root for in the first-ever Chess.com PogChamps? Here's a quick sampler of each streamer:

Make sure to tune into Chess.com's official semifinals and finals coverage of the 2020 Chess.com PogChamps on Friday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time (20:45 Central Europe) on Chess.com/tv.


Previous reports:

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