Haxton and Leonard in thrilling chess-poker swap with Grandmasters

Jon Pill
Posted on: March 12, 2021 08:02 PST

Partypoker is joining the current trend of poker players taking up chess. In partnership with Magnus Carlsen's chess24, Party has arranged a festival of freerolls for chess24.com players.

Partypoker has linked the freerolls promotionally to a pair of exhibition games. In these games, Isaac Haxton and Patrick Leonard will play each other at chess. They're teaming up with Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler, both Russian chess Grandmasters, who will be playing each other at poker. Chess24 and partypoker are calling the exhibition "Battle of the Minds."

The gimmick will be that Grischuk and Haxton will pair off to train each other in their respective games, while Svidler and Leonard do the same.

"Always wanted to watch Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk play poker?" asks chess24.com on Twitter. "They will respectively be paired with Patrick Leonard and Isaac Haxton to battle in a poker & chess match!"

The two lessons went out as live streams. You can view them in the embedded videos below. The matches will appear as live-streams today, Friday, March 12th, 2021, starting at 8 PM CET on the same channel.

Formatting questions

In the match, the pros in each competitive sphere won't be sidelined.

Instead, players will be competing at chess in a hand-and-mind format. Hand-and-mind chess pits pairs of players against one another in a format where one player (the "mind") chooses the piece to move, while the other (the "hand") chooses where the piece goes. The poker pros will take the "hand" role in these games.

The poker coaches won't be hanging about on the sidelines of the hold'em games either. In the poker games, the chess player and poker player on each team will play alternate streets.

The poker will be played as a turbo heads-up sit'n'go. The chess will be played with 12 minutes on the clock and ten seconds of Fischer time. The amount of the Fischer time is added to a player's clock every time that player makes a move.

Just to make things interesting, both matches will be played simultaneously. There will be three rounds, with each round consisting of one chess game and one simultaneous sit'n'go.

Each team will be streaming separately so you can pick a side and watch them play on the chess24.com YouTube channel.

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Free rollers and wood pushers

Netflix's blockbusting adaptation of Walter Tevis's The Queen's Gambit hit our laptop screens late last year. Since then, chess has been enjoying one of its periodic resurgences in popularity. And because poker players already have one foot in the sea of mind sports it should come as no surprise that there's a fair amount of this kind of crossover.

Time has moved on from Allen Cunningham's forgotten prop bet to beat Howard Lederer at chess in a year. Now Daniel Negreanu plays chess in front of tens of thousands of twitch fans. Hikaru Nakamura spends time coaching him. Negreanu and a dozen or so big-name pros will be duking it out over the sixty-four squares in the upcoming Joker's Gambit tourney.

Chess players who want an easy way to make a move in the other direction and like the idea of learning poker can give chess24's free rolls a try. The freerolls run every Sunday in March and April at 8 P.M. CET/CEST. Prizes are a mix of chess24 vouchers and Partypoker tournament tickets.

The free rolls will also earn entrants points on a leaderboard, with a further heads up free roll for the top performers.

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Featured image source: Twitter