A Brilliancy Blunder, A Wine-Infused Shut Out, And Heaps Of Hanging Pieces

A Brilliancy Blunder, A Wine-Infused Shut Out, And Heaps Of Hanging Pieces


It was a day of mercilessness and confusion at PogChamps 5

Most of the matches were 2-0 sweeps. I did a thing did tricky things to defeat Fuslie. CDawgVA daydrank as he beat Franks-is-heres. xQc gained winning positions by move eight in both his games vs. Squeex.

In the only match that went into overtime, Ghastly combined genius and obliviousness to take down Wirtual.

PogChamps 5 continues Wednesday, August 2, starting at 4 p.m. ET/22:00 CEST.


Wirtual 1-2 Ghastly

This was the closest match of the day: Wirtual, one of the top seeds, faced Ghastly, who’s had an incredible run so far. 

Showing a surprisingly high understanding of the King’s Indian Defense in game one, Wirtual created an extensive pawn center while Ghastly countered by pushing his own pawns, trying to chip away at his opponent’s setup. 

Ghastly succeeded in cracking the center open and created a menacing threat, which his opponent missed. Wirtual’s king and queen sat ready to be forked when Ghastly declined the Botez Gambit and chose to capture a free pawn instead. 

Enjoying the bliss of ignorance―with no idea that his strongest piece could’ve been ripped away from his hands just moves ago―Wirtual began to surround his opponent’s open king with his own forces.

Wirtual’s queen chased Ghastly king out of its castle, through the center, all the way to queenside, chopping away many of his pieces in the process. With a mountain of extra pieces in the ending, he hunted down the enemy king, unfazed by only having a minute left on the clock. 

With white in a must-win position, Ghastly went for glory, targeting his rival’s f-pawn weak spot in the opening. Just like the previous game, Ghastly gained a huge time edge, perhaps fueled by the rapid tempo of his EDM creations. But this time, he was also the one on the attack, ripping open Wirtual’s kingside and going on the hunt with his queen and knight.

Just as his attack was paying off, Ghastly missed mate in one. Yet, he eventually got his man. After capturing all of Wirtual’s pieces except a few pawns, his rooks chased down the enemy king.

In both rapid games, BPM outpaced MPH: Wirtual trailed greatly on the clock compared to Ghastly. In the blitz tiebreaker, would Wirtual’s racing instincts kick in?

The answer was yes. A new, much faster Wirtual appeared. Ghastly’s queen and knight eyed the black king’s pawn cover, but Wirtual kept a careful eye, kicking back the eager horse. 

In a promising position, Wirtual suddenly blundered a bishop. Ghastly ate it up, singing aloud as the clocks ticked under one minute. Wirtual countered by winning a rook. 

In an instant, the fates spoke again. Ghastly played a move that was both an utter blunder and a brilliant bullet trick. 

Without his queen, Wirtual’s king was not long for this world. This game, Ghastly zeroed in on checkmate, even ignoring a hanging rook to go after the fastest win.

Ghastly shared the deep interworkings that led to his brilliancy blunder.

With this win, Ghastly leapfrogged Sapnap to the top of Group B.

I did a thing 2-0 Fuslie

In game one, Fuslie experienced one of a chess player’s greatest fears: the dreaded mouse slip. Luckily, the slip didn’t cost her any material. In fact, I did a thing blundered himself just after, possibly distracted by Fuslie’s expression of sheer panic from her innocuous slip. 

Both players eagerly pushed many of the pawns in front of their kings, generously offering each other the chance to attack. I did a thing seized this opportunity, setting a devious trap for Fuslie.

After Fuslie blundered her rook too, I did a thing cornered her king and mated. 

In the second game, Fuslie opened up her kingside to recapture a pawn after losing her bishop. Seeing her opponent castle queenside, she felt inspired to castle herself. Unfortunately, Fuslie castled to her doom, choosing the wide open kingside. I did a thing checked her king along the open g-file, and then his queen swooped in for mate. 

Fuslie shared her thinking process, offering insight into what can happen when a chess player faces a web of variations. 

Now leading Group D, I did a thing’s chess thinking process has started to extend far beyond the 64 squares.

CDawgVA 2-0 Frank-is-heres

In the first game, Franks gained a strong position in the opening with black, taking over the center. Then, he discovered perhaps the fastest way to a losing position, moving the pawn in front of his king to leave his knight hanging and create holes all over the dark squares of his kingside.

After taking the knight, CDawgVA finished off the game with a brilliant bishop sacrifice, distracting the black queen so he could set up an unstoppable checkmate. 

During this match, pro gamer SonicFox joined the commentary team via VR chat. Bizarre characters like a duck in a tuxedo and a dancing stick of butter appeared in the background as the commentators analyzed chess like normal. 

In the middlegame, Franks met a harsh wake up call when he tried for a tactic that actually hung his rook.

Confident that victory would be his, CDawgVA focused on his chess coloring book as he set up the final checkmate.

With this wine-fueled win, CDawgVA has cemented himself in first for Group A.

xQc 2-0 Squeex

From the get-go, four-time Pogchamps competitor xQc had Squeex outgunned, snatching his opponent’s queen in the opening with a premeditated discovered attack. 

Needing a win in the second game, Squeex opted for a super-gambit version of Fried Liver Attack, drawing out the black king at the cost of both his knight and bishop. 

xQc chopped away all the rest of Squeex’s pieces except a few pawns, created a new queen, and soon his army checkmated the lonesome white king, winning the most lopsided match so far. 

xQc had much to say after the match.

He also had words for his upcoming match vs. Tyler1, the current leader of Group C.

Little did he know, Tyler1 was watching.

All Games: Day 5

PogChamps 5 is Chess.com’s most popular chess event for creators. Featuring 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund, the event starts on July 26, 2023, and ends August 18, 2023, with live in-person finals happening in Los Angeles, United States. Creators are divided into groups of four and play a single round-robin before moving on to either a Championship or Consolation bracket.

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