Daniel Negreanu wins POGChamps chess match against Pokimane

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 02/16/2021

Daniel Negreanu did the poker world proud over the weekend. In his first match of 2021’s POGChamps3, he beat Twitch gamer Pokimane 2-0. But the Canadian poker pro wasn’t competing in his usual game. POGChamps3 is a chess tournament for Twitch personalities.

If you spend much time on Twitch or at the chessboard you are probably already aware of POGChamps. However, for those who haven’t come across it before, POGChamps is a chess tourney in which non-chess playing Twitch streamers are coached for a few weeks by professional woodpushers. After their coaching, they play each other for glory and a share of $100,000 donated to a non-profit of their choice.

Negreanu starts the group section in Group B with Pokimane (Twitch gamer), Rubius (Twitch gamer, comedian), and xQc (professional Overwatch player).

On Sunday, Negreanu had his first match in which he managed a clean board against Canadian-Moroccan Twitch broadcaster Pokimane. The board might have been clean, but the play was messy. Negreanu Tweeted about his performance, saying. “My God I made more mistakes and blunders in those two games than I have in a week of play. Weird spot when you have a much higher rating than your opponent and I’m playing from fear. I won, but felt like a massive choke job!”

1.0 – 0.0

Negreanu has just come off playing some of the best poker of his life. In a matter of months, he went from an enormous underdog against Doug Polk to someone who could broadly hold his own against one of the best heads-up specialists on the planet.

Negreanu still ate a $1.3 million dollar loss in the game. But he did so without batting an eyelid. In the process, Polk and he seem to have stitched up their decade-long sniping match.

Day-after-day, Negreanu dumped cash into the back of Polk’s truck, and day-after-day his game got better. But put him heads up against a chess player with half his years and half his Glicko rating and Negreanu gets performance anxiety.

In the first match, Daniel took black.

Pokimane came out of the gate strong and Negreanu’s coach GM Hikaru Nakamura had to watch from the commentator’s box as his student got schooled. Pokimane took the Englund gambit Negreanu offered her, and followed up by winning the exchange and a pawn. All the while, she managed to stay ahead in development. Her coach IM Anna Rudolf must have been proud.

It wasn’t until the endgame that Negreanu managed to take some material back and creep ahead of his opponent. He managed eventually to get his pawn down to the back rank to promote it and Pokimane resigned. She was a queen, bishop, and pawn behind when she toppled her own king.

See the first game record here.

2.0 – 0.0

The second game started with a mass of pawn moves for a relatively slow opening. Daniel managed to find an edge playing defensively as white, but found himself having to counter Pokimane’s aggression.

After a speedy first game, both players spent a lot longer in the tank for game two. That extra thinking time is what cost Pokimane in the end. With twenty seconds left on the clock after move 27 (and five seconds Fischer time per move) Pokimane had to rush the rest of her game while Negreanu still had time to plan.

Within a few more moves, Pokimane was down by ten points worth of material. Negreanu flagged her a few moves after that, winning on time. Both players tweeted “GG” to one another and got down to studying for their next games.

The full game record for game two is here if you feel like reviewing it.

Negreanu’s next match is on February 17th against Rubius and can be watched on this chess.com page. Hopefully, he’ll have gotten over his nerves by then.

Image source: Twitter