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Martinez, Schneider, Ludwig Victorious in Winner Stays

Martinez, Schneider, Ludwig Victorious in Winner Stays

NathanielGreen
| 9 | Chess Event Coverage

July's Winner Stays event occurred on July 9. For the second straight month, streamer Ludwig and Youtuber NM Kurt Hugo Schneider won their matchups, as ChessBrah Aman Hambleton was joined this time on commentary by NM James Canty III. In the Masters section, GM Jose Martinez topped IM Minh Le. The trio of victors will be back in August to face new opposition.In this monthly series, we're seeing superstar content creators in different rating categories face off every month. As the name suggests, each match winner "stays" and plays next month as well, with extra prizes awaiting those players who manage to win three consecutive months.

The matches use Chess.com's regular Speed Chess Championship format but with half the time on each level: 45 minutes of 5|0 chess, 30 minutes of 3|0, and 15 minutes of 1|0.

Masters: Martinez-Le 11.5-6.5 

Winner Stays Jose Martinez
This month's Masters winner, Martinez.

Play in this month's edition began with the Masters division. With last month's winner GM Krikor Mekhitarian in the middle of a difficult trip to Sochi, Russia for the FIDE World Cup, GM Jose Martinez and IM Tuan Minh Le faced off. Martinez won on the strength of a strong 3|0 section, scoring two draws followed by three wins, including a flag with just 0.4 seconds left on his own clock.

He then pulled away early in the bullet portion, reaching a 10.5-3.5 match lead before Le somewhat closed the gap late.

As he discussed in the post-match interview, Martinez's preparation with White for Le's pet lines as Black, the Elephant (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5) and Nimzowitsch Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6), paid off. Le: "I got into some trouble in the opening and that forced me to think for a long time."

All Martinez-Le Games

The Masters division matchup for August is already apparent: Mekhitarian will return to face off against Martinez.

Sweats: Schneider-Botez 15.5-6.5 

Winner Stays Kurt Schneider
This month's Sweats winner, Schneider.

There was a lot at stake in the Sweats this month, with WFM Alexandra Botez trying to avenge her sister Andrea's defeat in June. There was a lot of playful banter throughout but Schneider held for his second Winner Stays match victory. "It was a really fun match. I really enjoyed it," he said at the end. "Yeah it's fun winning, Kurt," Botez jokingly replied.

After Schneider jumped out to a 4.5-1.5 lead in the five-minute, Botez kept it a three-point match with a 3-3 score in the three-minute leading into the bullet section. But Schneider pulled away with an 8-2 edge in the 1|0 portion.

"I want him to hit 2600 [bullet rating] because then I'll just feel better about myself," Botez said with a smile afterward.

All Schneider-Botez Games

Schneider is one match away from becoming the first player in the Sweats section to reach the "Pantheon" of three-time winners. It remains to be seen who will attempt to stop him next month.

Poggers: Ludwig-CDawgVA 9.5-8.5

Winner Stays Ludwig
This month's Poggers winner, Ludwig.

The closest match of the day was saved for last between Poggers Ludwig and CDawgVA, the latter of whom will also be playing in Tournament Arc 2 later this month. It played out similarly to the Sweats, as Ludwig took a 4-1 lead in the five-minute section, which was followed by a 3-3 score at the 3|0 time control. 

The bullet section saw the margin narrow, not expand, however. Both players clearly wanted to win this match as there was minimal chatter during the 1|0 portion. With less than four minutes remaining, it was still a three-point match. CDawg won the next two games on time but the second came only after the match clock expired. The players began another game, but a tie was not to be.

Sharing something in common with IM Le, Ludwig criticized his own opening play. Having played the Dutch Defense several times, he was not pleased with his choice in retrospect. "I think the Dutch is, and I'm gonna say it, a bad defense. I think it's bad," he opined, drawing laughs from Hambleton and Canty. CDawg was impressed that Ludwig could name the openings: "At least you sound intelligent when you're explaining why you lost. I'm like: Yeah, I think I moved bad."

All Ludwig-CDawgVA Games

Like Kurt Schneider, Ludwig will be looking for his spot in the Pantheon in August, against an opponent to be determined.

The winners earned $750 and will play next month as well, while the other players took home $250. If Schneider and Ludwig win again next week, they will take an additional $3,000 and ascend to "The Pantheon."

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