xQc Through To Semis After Knocking Out Fuslie

xQc Through To Semis After Knocking Out Fuslie

ColinStapczynski
ColinStapczynski
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18 | Chess Event Coverage

The Chess.com PogChamps quarterfinals concluded Wednesday, with NymN and xQc moving forward to the semifinals. In the championship bracket, NymN defeated Papaplatte and will face Hutch in the Semifinals. 

In the consolation bracket, xQc defeated Fuslie in an exciting match. xQc advances to the semifinals where he will play Ludwig, who commentated today's matches with GM Robert Hess and GM Hikaru Nakamura.

With today's results, the PogChamps semifinal matchups are all set and will be starting on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time (20:45 Central Europe). With only four players remaining in each bracket, the PogChamps semifinals will feature Voyboy vs. Boxbox and Hutch vs. NymN in the championship bracket as well as SlikeR vs. MoistCr1tical and Ludwig vs. xQc in the consolation bracket. 

Chess.com PogChamps
The PogChamps Semifinals are set!

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

NymN Eliminates Papaplatte 

The first PogChamps Quarterfinal match on Wednesday saw NymN facing Papaplatte. NymN was the favorite by over 250 rating points heading into the match, and he started the first game with a Queen's Gambit. Papaplatte surprised Hess by playing 3...e5 quickly (a strong move, possibly indicating some preparation). Both players navigated the opening well until Papaplatte hung a piece on move 10:

NymN capitalized on this mistake and won the piece and then pressed with his material advantage. Papplatte did have one chance to get back in the game with 17..h4 (which would have trapped NymN's queen) but missed it and instead hung his rook. Papaplatte eventually flagged (ran out of time) in a losing position.

In the second game of the match, Papaplatte was in a must-win situation and tried the adventurous Smith-Morra gambit against NymN's Sicilian. After 13.Bg5, Papaplatte had good compensation for his pawn in the form of the bishop pair and lead in development.

Papaplatte made some mistakes on the queenside, and NymN kept a solid position while collecting additional pawns. A series of exchanges aided NymN's position, and once the queens came off the board Papaplatte's attacking chances evaporated. NymN ended the game with strong technique and composure in time trouble.

Papaplatte was defeated, but it is safe to say that his strong overall results have been one of the big surprises of the PogChamps event. In particular, Papaplatte's win over Ludwig was mentioned several times during the broadcast to Ludwig's delight.

With this win, NymN advances to the championship bracket semifinals where he will face Hutch.

Chess.com PogChamps
NymN advances to the semifinals of the championship bracket where he will face Hutch.

xQc Defeats Fuslie 

In the final match of the Quarterfinals, Fuslie battled xQc in a tight match where both players had an almost identical rating. Fuslie began game one with the London System, which xQc called "trash" on his stream. The mistakes started early, with xQc blundering a pawn on move five—Unfortunately for Fuslie, she missed the free pawn which led to her losing a piece on the following move. xQc found the piece-winning 6...e4:

Both players played solidly in the middlegame with xQc maintaining his extra piece. Fuslie blundered a second piece with 18.Nf3, and then xQc exchanged queens to enter a winning endgame where he was up two knights. He played well and planted his king on the b2-square, ensuring the promotion of his a-pawn. Unfortunately for xQc, he could not execute the king and queen vs. king checkmate and stalemated Fuslie, and the game ended in a draw.

Despite playing an excellent game, xQc could not earn his first win in the PogChamps event. After the tough psychological blow, xQc had the white pieces versus Fuslie's Caro-Kann Defense in game two. Fuslie made the first mistake allowing 10.Nxd5, losing a pawn. xQc kept up the pressure and won a second pawn and then a knight. A few moves later, Fuslie was put in check and missed that her king could move to f8 and blocked the check with her queen on d7.  

xQc immediately captured Fuslie's queen and had an overwhelming advantage, but he was behind a couple of minutes on the clock. xQc's advantage continued to grow, but time pressure became an issue while he fell below 30 seconds on multiple occasions. Eventually, xQc used the increment to actually gain time on the clock and Fuslie flagged (ran out of time) in a lost position—an extremely exciting game due to the mutual time trouble!

xQc won the game and earned not only his first game victory but also his first match victory in PogChamps. Although Fuslie's PogChamps run is over, it is clear that her play has improved considerably. xQc advances to the consolation bracket Semifinals where he will face Ludwig. In the post-match interview, Ludwig and xQc made a 100 sub side-bet on their match. An excellent end to an epic day of chess!

Chess.com PogChamps
xQc wins the match and will face Ludwig in the consolation bracket Semifinals.

Hutch, NymN Face Off In Thursday's Semifinals 

NymN is considered the underdog in the matchup against Hutch, even though he has fought his way to the championship bracket semifinals without a loss. Hutch, one of the pre-tournament favorites, is also undefeated and will look to defeat NymN and punch his ticket to the Championship bracket Finals. Clocks will start at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (21:00 Central Europe) on Chess.com/TV

Chess.com PogChamps
Can NymN survive against Hutch?

MoistCr1tical And SlikeR Set For Thursday

This is the closest semifinal match on paper, and the trash talk is real! Both players have been inconsistent so far, but Cr1tical's form against Erobb was more convincing. Clocks will start at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time (22:00 Central Europe) on Chess.com/TV

Chess.com PogChamps
MoistCr1tikal vs. SlikeR should be a close one!

Boxbox Wants Win Vs. Voyboy

Voyboy is the heavy favorite, but this is the pairing Boxbox wanted! Can he deliver when it matters most? Both players have trashed each other on the broadcast, so it should be fun. Boxbox is Voyboy's biggest test thus far, but Boxbox will need to clean up the mistakes from his match against Forsen to have a chance.

Clocks will start at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time (00:00 Central Europe) on Chess.com/TV.

Chess.com PogChamps
Boxbox got the matchup he wanted, but can he deliver?

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 coverage of the 2020 Chess.com PogChamps on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time (20:45 Central Europe) on Chess.com/tv.


Previous reports:

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