‘Robson Is the Mittens of Puzzle Rush’

'Robson Is the Mittens of Puzzle Rush'


Puzzles are one of the first tools for improvement introduced to a chess player. Our first chess books are full with dazzling mating combinations to solve and worlds of tactical themes to explore. Our early jumps in ability are almost always due to increases in tactical awareness. Despite the universality of puzzle solving, the same player has won the Puzzles World Championship four years in a row: GM Ray Robson.

This year, Robson defeated his main rival, FM Dimitrios Ladopoulos, in both the Winners Final and the Grand Final, to continue his reign. Further, Robson won not just every match of the knockout but also won nearly every single individual battle. 

After solving countless puzzles in the Puzzle Rush Royale and head-to-head battles in the quarterfinals, four players emerged in the semifinals: defending champion Robson, Ladopoulos, GM Christopher Yoo, and IM Dimitar Mardov.

Meanwhile, four more players dueled in the Losers Bracket for a second chance: GM Andrew Tang, GM Raunak Sadhwani, IM Andy Woodward, and GM Frederik Svane.

Winners Semifinals

In the first semifinal, Robson went 5-0 vs. 15-year-old Mardov. Even with the trickier puzzles, such as the one below, Robson wasn’t afraid to spend a little more time to find an answer he was confident in.

The second semifinal featured one of the closest matchups, Ladopoulos vs. Yoo. Ladopoulos started strong, matching Robson’s highest score with a 56 in the first round. In round four, the players tied with the same score, getting the same final puzzle incorrect with different answers. Can you find what they both overlooked?

Ultimately, Ladopoulos prevailed after seven rounds to reach the final while Yoo joined the Losers Bracket to fight for a second chance.

Winners Final

In the final, the unshakeable Robson went undefeated in five rounds vs. his closest competitor, Ladopoulos. Again, his high score was 56 while even his lowest score was a formidable 52.  He had unbelieveable accuracy, achieving a 137-puzzle streak before getting his first strike. 

Here is one of the puzzles that set Robson apart.

Losers Final

Yoo resurged back into contention with victories in the Losers Bracket quarterfinals and semifinals, defeating Svane and  Mardov along the way. 

With renewed vigor, Ladopoulos also bounced back. He outsolved Yoo again in four close battles: a tie, two wins by just one point, and just one victory by a two-point margin. 

In their final battle, Ladopoulos solved this critical puzzle to gain the upper hand against his opponent:

This victory set up a rematch between the two front-runners of both this year and last: Robson and Ladopoulos. Would jimis98
 make his second chance against the spicycaterpillar count?

Grand Final

Robson kicked off the grand final with a perfect 53 score and yet another win, continuing his undefeated run. In round two, Ladopoulos reached a 54―his highest score in the knockout so far. In the last seconds, relentless Robson prevailed regardless.

As commentator Naroditsky stated: “This is insane. Jimis’ best run of the day, and it’s still not enough. Ray Robson is unbeatable.”

Robson won the next two battles, giving him a 4-0 score―just one more victory away from the championship. 

In the must-win fifth round, Ladopoulos tied the highest score of the day (56) and gave Robson his only loss. As Naroditsky put it: “Only one person can give Ray this kind of competition. Jimis is the only one in the world who can make Ray work for his money.” 

Only one person can give Ray this kind of competition.


In this amazing battle, Ladopoulos even outscored Robson in accuracy. Can you follow the Greek master’s footsteps and solve the puzzle that Robson missed?

Perhaps stunned by his astonishing win, Ladopoulos struggled in the last round. He gained three strikes unexpectedly early, reaching a score of 42. Here is the puzzle that ended his run:

With his opponent’s score frozen, Robson coasted to victory, earning yet another 54 score. This won the match and clinched his fourth title. 

What’s the key to Robson’s success over the other top-notch competitors? Accuracy over speed. Though Robson was often behind in score in the first couple minutes of each battle, he would maintain higher accuracy. In the grand final, there were 12 puzzles that Robson solved accurately that Ladopoulos missed. Conversely, there was only one puzzle where Ladopoulos found the answer and Robson didn’t. 

Robson’s higher accuracy in the early stages of a battle gave him more leeway to guess later with the most difficult puzzles. His competitors, on the other hand, often had to invest a lot of the time towards the end to avoid a third strike. Robson even achieved perfect scores in 11 of his knockout battles, often achieving streaks of 100+ puzzles before missing one. Commentator Kazarian summed up his performance: “Robson is the Mittens of Puzzle Rush.”

Robson is the Mittens of Puzzle Rush.


Can you solve the unsolvable?

Challenge yourself and try your hand at a few of the puzzles that stumped both competitors.

#1 Grand Final: Robson vs. Ladopoulos, Round 4, Puzzle 54

The players each missed this puzzle in a similar way. Can you avoid their misstep?

#2 Grand Final: Robson vs. Ladopoulos, Round 3, Puzzle 41

Endgame understanding was paramount in a number of puzzles, including this one:

#3 Losers Final:  Ladopoulos vs. Yoo, Round 4, Puzzle 51

This advanced puzzle requires precise attacking play as the last seconds of the battle tick away.

2023 Puzzles World Championship Bracket

The 2023 Puzzles World Championship is a competition for the best chess puzzle experts in the world. The event is part of the 2023 Puzzle Week celebration and took place on January 12 and 13. Players rush and battle for their share of the $25,000 prize fund and the title of fastest puzzle-solver in the world. 

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