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Sharma v. Shahade; Shankland v. Hess; Blitz v. Bullet! Print E-mail
By IM David Pruess   
February 6, 2012
I am thrilled to announce the lineups for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Chess.com Death-Matches! Each match will be a three hour marathon of speed chess, testing the combatants' chess abilities, quick thinking, determination, preparation, and endurance, both physical and emotional, as they compete for a large cash prize.

The format: there is no set number of games: instead there are 3 hours of play, ticking down. For the first 1:15 the games will be played at 5 minutes + 1 second per move; then for an hour they are played at 3 minutes + 1 second per move; and finally the last 45 minutes are played at 1 min + 1 sec per move. The final game is abandoned when the match clock goes down to zero, and the winner of the most games is crowned.

The prize: half the prize fund goes to the winner; the other half is divided in proportion to the match score. E.g. if the winner scores 80-20, they take 90% of the prize fund.

The show: all games can be watched live on chess.com's server; furthermore pre-match show, commentary, and post-match show will all be streamed live!

The match-ups:
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IM Greg Shahade

The Commissioners Clash
International Master Greg Shahade and FIDE Master Arun Sharma have worked together for seven years to grow the US Chess League. They've had a lot of time to build something terrific for chess pros and chess fans alike... and to build up a lot of animosity. Now they'll each have a chance to prove which of them makes all the good decisions, and which one doesn't know what he's doing.

After a five year break from competitive chess, IM Shahade returned in 2011 and rattled off a string of successes that have raised his rating 80 points in a year. Throughout his career he has also been recognized as a tremendous (and intimidating!) blitz opponent. FM Sharma has a remarkably similar comeback story: after a 10-year layoff, he came back in 2010, and gained 110 points in just over a year. He is also a very practical blitz player.

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Arun Sharma
IM Shahade acknowledged that Arun's mouse-abilities might make up for some of the difference in their strength, saying "in person of course I'd win very easily... but online it won't be so simple." But Sharma had no regard whatsoever for IM Shahade's higher rating, telling him not to worry about scheduling future tournaments: "I wouldn't worry about your actual chess career - once I get through with you in this match, you won't have one left, I promise."

Who will be commissioner and who will be assistant commissioner in 2012? Who will take home the bulk of the 800$ prize? Find out on February 26th!

The Future of American Chess

In last year's U.S. Championship, Grandmasters Robert Hess and Sam Shankland contested a match for 3rd-4th place. A year later, both have continued to pile on fantastic results, suggesting that they will be serious contenders in U.S. Championships for years to come, and that this may be an important rivalry at the summit of American chess.

Hess is the higher rated player, at 2625 FIDE, #5 in the country; but last year Shankland prevailed in a rapid tiebreak. After the match Hess vowed to improve his speed play. What will happen this year on March 31st as they battle for a $1000 prize and the psychological edge in their future games?

A Tale of Two Time Controls
Who does the death match format favor, blitz players or bullet players? Which type of player is better at 3 minute chess? We will find out on April 28th when the top-rated (chess.com ratings) blitz player faces off against the top-rated bullet player. The contestants will be announced on Sunday April 15th, based on ratings at midnight pacific time. So if you think you are a tremendous blitz or bullet player, go ahead and try to prove it by boosting up your rating. Eternal fame and a cash prize of $1000 will be on the line!

Final notes: we are planning to hold such events throughout the year, so long as the fan response is as positive as it was to the first event. The inaugural Death Match on January 10 was won by IM Danny Rensch over fellow chess.com content manager, IM David Pruess, by a score of 40-28. If you are a super-strong blitz player (or chess player), especially someone with a compelling arch-rival, please notify Danny or David of your interest in competing in a future match!
 
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