Lichess4545 Round 2: Salute the Centurions!
The top match in the second week of Season 35 saw "One Ding to Rule Them All" face off against "i 'an n'epomniachtchi is nobody for me". However, this was decided much earlier than the match in Astana. The Nepo haters dominated from the start to lead 4-0 before Sunday rolled around, and although the Dingers retained some hope with two wins, it simply wasn't enough to stave off defeat, which was confirmed after @SpenserCode gave @electricfalcon a brutal lesson in endgame play. It turns out that misguided pawn pushes are often costly, and rooks belong behind passed pawns. (Ed: if you liked our free preview; send your credit card details to Ledger HQ, Monaco for the full course...rating points guaranteed...for someone)
After the final game, the not-Nepo fans had secured a 6-2 victory and now stand at the top of the table with two wins and an impressive 13.5 game points. Match story seen below (and as always, you can find them all here, thanks to @izzie26)
Another team to achieve similar early dominance is "The Lord of the Dings", who have put on a display that even Sauron would appreciate. Their latest 7-1 rout of "The Clock Crushers: Dangerous in Any Time Control" included three games that finished before move 15! Evidently @wdhorton, @Matt365, and @Vejen had better things to do with the time they were given, leaving LoTD riding high as joint leaders after Round 2.
Meet the latest centurions!
The 100 games club continues to grow this week as four new members are welcomed into its hallowed ranks.
@Pendru, who crossed the mark in Round 1, has returned triumphantly this season (after a year-long break!) with two wins from their first two games. While they haven’t yet managed to win the league or finish on the podium, they have contributed to a unique record-breaking moment: a 10-0 win for “Team 2” over “Better Call So!” back in Season 25, plus they had the best performance on Board 5 in Season 18 (with 5.5 points from six games), and they were one of the ten winners of the “Giri Award” in Season 25 for their four draws.
Our next inductee @M0r1 probably needs no introduction for any 4545 regulars, as they’re a mod for both 4545 and LoneWolf, they do a ton of work on the mod yacht, and somehow they’ve also managed to win two seasons as a player: first in Season 24 with “No BS in Chess” then in Season 31 with “Last Pawn to London”. What’s more, in S24 they won with four teammates from the previous season, where their team had finished dead last! We couldn’t have come up with a better rags to non-riches story if we had tried (and we don’t). See how we covered it at the time in Ledger 138.
And to win it twice! We guess while some dream big, others rig big! (Ed: jk don’t sue us we already can’t afford these harbour fees)
The third inductee, @Kostasvl, is another who’s crossed the 100-game mark after returning from a break. They won the league many moons ago...in fact, in their first ever season (!) with the legendary Dark Knights, who remain to this day the only 4545 team with a perfect 8-0 record. Best team ever? Even the 85 Bears would agree. More curious stats: in Season 28 they achieved six wins or draws from dead-lost positions, which was justly recognised with the “Houdini Award”, and in their debut season S15 (Jan 2019) they spent almost 35 minutes on 9. 0-0 in the game below:
We suspect that internet issues were involved, but even so they richly deserved their “Musing or Snoozing” award for the longest think of the season (and amazingly they managed to draw the game).
Our final new member is @cvillian, who’s been with us since Season 17, although they’re another one who’s returned this season after a short break. Although they’ve not won the league before, they’ve been close twice, winning a silver medal with “Powerful Kingsmen” in Season 28, and playing a game as an alternate for “Knights to Mate You”, who won silver in Season 17. Their best season was probably Season 23, where they scored 6/8 with a 2043 performance rating on Board 5.
We salute all of our newly crowned league centurions and wish them the best in their next hundred league games (against non Ledger editors)!
That’s enough from us this week - see you next week for Round 3 coverage and more! Let’s see what M0r1 and Pendru had to say for themselves in their interviews
What initially drew you to playing in the Lichess4545 league?
Pendru: I started to play in the 4545 league in Season 17 in 2019. Time definitely flies! I was hearing from everybody that playing classical was the way to really make some improvement in chess, but unfortunately the classical pool was full of cheaters, and people that didn't take classical seriously (blitzing out moves like your everyday bullet game) and most of all the playing pool of classical players was very very small at the time. I didn't have the opportunity back then to play OTB or join a club so when I discovered that a group of players was playing classical games online, it was an amazing unexpected opportunity. I only wish I knew about it earlier!
M0r1: I heard about the league from a streamer, but I am not sure anymore who it was - either Eric Rosen or John Bartholomew (I know both of them recommended our league at some point). I can remember that I was very interested in the idea of playing longer games but also worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the time for those games, so I hesitated to join for quite a while.
Actually, as a league administrator I was able to determine that the first time I used the login button on lichess4545.com was in August 2019 but I only submitted my first registration (for Lonewolf) in January 2020. I was really pondering for a long time.
I decided to join Lonewolf first, and the 4545 league as an alternate, to see if I can make it work. Despite what I thought could be quite limited availability / flexibility on my end, there was only one pairing I can remember where I couldn’t agree on a time with my opponent. I think my initial motivation to join the league was the hope that playing longer time control games would improve my chess.
How has your approach to playing chess evolved since you started playing in the league?
Pendru: It’s changed EVERYTHING. I thought I understood a little bit about chess... but I was so wrong! I only saw the tip of the iceberg. I could never imagine I could lack time in 45+45, I mean I discovered chess while playing blitz and bullet so that was unthinkable for me at the time. So yeah 45+45 introduced me to classical chess and also chess books, prep and chess theory, which drove me from my beginning on Board 4 in S17 to today on Board 1.
M0r1: Nowadays I am putting more emphasis on trying to find a way to play chess games that I can enjoy even if I lose them. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about winning or losing - I want to win every single game I am playing - but when I choose my opening, for example, I am not so much looking at best winning chances according to some database or my past records or such things but more at whether I think I will enjoy playing the resulting game.
Related to that, I want to mention that some seasons ago I disabled the engine support in the lichess analysis window and since then I enjoy my chess much much more. The impact of not having a blunder pointed out by the engine is huge. I might see it myself later during an analysis, or during the post mortem, or I will never find out. It is so much more fun for me that way. I have never switched on engine analysis [after the game] for any of my league games and never looked at my blunder/mistake rates since then.
Which game from your 100 played in the Lichess4545 league stands out the most to you and why?
This is by far the most memorable game I had; it’s from three years ago (Season 18). My first queen sacrifice! I can still remember clearly being super excited and shaking from the adrenaline rush. We all play great and amazing games throughout our lives, but only very few are gonna stay memorable a few years later, and for me that's one of them.
M0r1: If I have to single out one league game, it has to be this one due to my blunder on move 24:
I surprised my opponent with the Evans Gambit and eventually managed to get this winning position where I could simply win a full rook. Without any thinking whatsoever I just took one of the rooks, not realizing that I have to take the other one. It was such a painful loss but also a quite good lesson. I still play very impulsively and haven’t mastered my time management, but I think especially when I am winning I am taking more time to reduce the chance of such a huge blunder.
What is your favorite chess opening and why?
Pendru: My favorite opening is obviously the King's Gambit...what else could it possibly be?
M0r1: I don’t really have a favorite chess opening. I have enjoyed playing some of the gambits that come out of the Italian Game (shout out to Han Schut and his Chessable courses) but I don’t get the chance to play those in the league very often. Nowadays I am trying to change up things from time to time and accept that neither me nor my opponent are in their prep for very long.
Do you have any specific pre-game rituals or routines that you follow? Do you do anything to prepare for a game (beyond opening prep)?
Pendru: Well I do try to stay focused 5-10 mins before a game, not doing anything else other than putting full blast drums and bass or Nightcore music in my headphones (Ed: <confused.gif>) and obviously a big cup of coffee.
M0r1: Most of the time I play my games in my late evening so my pre-game prep is mostly to make sure everything at home is taken care of so that I can go to bed soon after the game and the post mortem.
Which chess player, past or present, do you admire the most and why?
Pendru: One player I do admire...well I could name many great chess players that have inspired me but if I had to choose it would be the one and only german11 - it's incredible to love the game of chess at such point...that's the issue with too many chess players...they focus too much on performance, rating, victory/defeat and not enough on what really matters: the love for the game.
M0r1: Although I join the elite chess discussions in our league slack from time to time I actually do not have a lot of interest in elite level chess. I only join for the drama ;-). I don’t have any reasonable knowledge about the playing styles of the famous modern players. I think I am much more interested in the chess journeys and struggles of some former league opponents or team members to whom I built some kind of relationship. I feel for them in times when they struggle and cheer for them in times when they have a successful season, and their successes give me more joy than seeing any elite player - even the most charismatic ones - succeed.
If I had to pick actual elite players I have to say that the games I enjoy most are the classics that we still teach 100+ years after they have been played. The famous games by Adolf Anderssen (the immortal and the evergreen), by Paul Morphy (Opera game and many others), and Wilhelm Steinitz (against von Bardeleben in Hastings). I believe I would particularly enjoy Steinitz’s games and how he moves from the romantic to the classical era of chess.
Outside of chess, what are some of your other hobbies and interests?
M0r1: I play football with my kids and enjoy camping vacations. I am also a sourdough homebaker. (Ed: ET TU M0R1E?!)
What advice would you give to aspiring chess players who are just starting out in the Lichess4545 league or in chess in general?
Pendru: Well first of all welcome to all newcomers - I hope you will have a wonderful time in the 4545 League just like I did. It’s a wonderful community with players from all around the world. I would advise you to get your seat belt and your calculation goggles on because we don't take prisoners around here! All jokes aside, I recommend De la Villa’s book "100 Endgames You Should Know", also know your theory, lots of tactics, analyze your games without the engine and most importantly develop nerves of steel.
M0r1: Chess should be fun for you, so playing in our leagues (or chess in general) should be also be fun for you. Chances are pretty much zero that you will ever become an elite chess player (this is particularly true for people who join our league - by the age you can join our league you would already have to be so good at chess that you wouldn’t enjoy our league if you ever have the chance to become an elite player). If you don’t enjoy playing the league, just take a break and come back when times are better.
This is not very creative, but find a way to win with humility, and to lose with grace. Due to how our league works two things are pretty certain: (1) you’ll probably meet some of your opponents multiple times - either as future opponents or as future teammates; and (2) as soon as your rating stabilizes, your league performance will tend towards a 50% score...maybe some seasons will be better but then others will be worse. You will lose a lot of league games and there will be painful losses. And your wins will be painful losses for your opponents. The opponent that destroyed you in one game might get destroyed by you on your next encounter - and vice versa. Keep things positive and don’t burn bridges.
Ultimately we are all dependent on our opponents in the game and in some sense we are all members of one team. There’s no game if we don’t have anyone to play against.
And the last more important question: How would you react if your opponent suddenly turned into a pumpkin mid-game?
Pendru: Rather obvious to me - guess I’m gonna go home with the win and some pumpkin soup for dinner!
M0r1: I have not played OTB in the last 20 years and online I wouldn’t notice. On the other hand I have watched some “10 tips for your first OTB tournament” videos on YouTube and my take from those is that if my opponent turned into a pumpkin I would probably call the arbiter and make it their problem.
Tales from Infinite Quest by @Silkthewanderer
We are still clearing a bit of a backlog from the ledger pause during the offseason. These are the most important talking points of Weeks 119 + 120.
There is no such thing as a truly neutral observer: As sole administrator and nonparticipant in Quest, I would like to think of myself as indifferent towards results - but I am however quite fond of Quest producing tough matches and close results. Which Week 119 was quite strikingly unable to deliver as all matches were decided with a margin of 3:1 or clearer. We had weeks without tiebreaks before but none as one-sided, even in matches that were very closely matched in rating. Most notable among them might be ngucphu winning their match 3-0 as the (slight) rating underdog and continuing their path back to the top after just returning from a seven month break.
Making your mark on the standing surgically: Speaking about blowout matches - these are something rare for @Rcyx. In 26 completed matches, only one each ended 3-0 and 0-3. They have been in the shadow of the top 10 for a while - despite their impressive 2379 rating performance - as they ‘only’ joined the second year of Quest and play a bit too infrequently to catch up to the top more quickly. Nevertheless @Rcyx is always good for spurts of impressive quality. They joined us for a week in Round 119, broke the winning streak of the highest rated active player with a safe 2.5:0.5 victory then checked out. It’s only a matter of time before they strike next.
Whatever your strengths, pairing logic will find a way to act funny: Another perpetual guest in our leaderboard Top 20 is @pulsar512b - here recurringly since Week 5, though not quite consistent enough to approach the Top 10 (yet?). pulsar is notable for a very respectable 7-11 in matchups as the rating underdog... alas, pairing logic didn’t play to her strengths and delivered a mix of very much higher rated opponents, or slightly lower ones. pulsar still collected a bunch of points and just a few days ago clinched ascension to Level 8. Which means that pairing logic will dial up opponent strength a (small) notch - let’s see what that means starting next week.
I hope we didn’t blink and miss it: My unhealthy fixation on arbitrary milestones is tickled by the arrival of our 300th ever participant. Which actually happened in Week 118 and went unnoticed until now. amgazapob has the distinction of being our 300th player - they also made the same experience as many players before them and got early losses against slightly higher rated opposition. Currently they are checked out again, making them one of 25 players on record who paused without a match win. Fingers crossed that this will change soon, as my fixation on round numbers is not strong enough to begrudge anyone a breakout win.
Other laudates: Besides these major highlights, we also celebrate new Levels attained by @moistvonlipwig (11) and @LunarAmbrosia (9). Besides the level up, @LunarAmbrosia also has the 50th match completed, among them 25+ wins.
Interviews edited slightly for clarity.
Lichess4545 is an online chess league for people who like playing long time control games online. Players are assigned to teams and play one game per week with a 45+45 time control. For more information visit our league home page.
LoneWolf is a side league of the Lichess4545 league. It is an 11-round Swiss tournament where players play one game per week with a 30+30 time control. For more information about the LoneWolf tournament visit the LoneWolf homepage.
Infinite Quest is a perpetually ongoing 4 x 15+10 rapid side league of the Lichess4545 league where everyone collects XP and gains Levels at their pace. Players can join, pause and resume anytime, a new round starts every Wednesday with pairings for everyone checked in for that week. More information is available from the league Slack or this summary.
This Ledger post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA).
This week's contributors: @Tranzoo, @izzie26, @SilktheWanderer, @Pendru and @M0r1
Match stories image by @izzie26
Title image created by Midjourney