Negreanu busts out of POGChamps

Jon Pill
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Posted on: February 24, 2021 8:42 pm EST

Negreanu’s run in POGChamps3 is over. After winning a game each, he and his opponent “Benjyfishy” played a tiebreaker with 5 minutes each on the clock.

With the tighter time constraints, Benjyfishy was just about able to sneak a win in a clock v. clock finale. He had just 1.2 seconds left on his own clock when Negreanu’s flag fell.

“Insane finish!” tweeted Negreanu. “Lost with 1.2 seconds on the clock in the tie breaker match. This was an exhilarating experience and had my heart pumping in that last minute. Thanks to @chesscom for having me and good luck to @benjyfishy in the semifinals.”

Benjyfishy tweeted back “GGS.”

Card shark v. Fortnite fishy

Negreanu managed a respectable showing in the group stages. He beat “Pokimane” and “Rubius” 2-nil in his first two matches. In his third and final bout, “xQcOW” turned the tables on him though and managed to oust Negreanu in both matches.

The upset against xQc put Negreanu in second place in his group and determined his opponent for the quarter-final: Benjyfishy.

Benjyfishy is a Twitch gamer who plays Fortnite. Though he had a much lower rating than Negreanu going in, POGChamps3 has shown how little that means in a two-game match. At this level, the winner is the player who makes the second to last mistake.

The first match was an odd one, seeing both players open away from the center on opposite sides of the board. Negreanu, playing black, orchestrated a long distance defense on his queenside. Neither black nor white crossed the board much until a series of sudden exchanges left the board almost empty. The ensuing board was a scattering of pawns that were clogging up an otherwise simple rook v. rook endgame.

Negreanu’s extra pawn gave him an edge in this situation. After an incredibly long series of finicky tactics, Negreanu was finally able to trade off the rooks. The game then slowed even further as Negreanu methodically pushed his way towards a pair of promoted pawns.

Negreanu was then able to walk his newly-promoted pair of queens down the board to mate Benjyfish on move 72.

Game 2

The second game was a little more succinct. It took Benjyfish just 26 moves to even the score. When the hammer came down and Negreanu’s king fell, both players still had more than five minutes on their clocks.

Ten moves in, Negreanu had the lead in development. But around move 18 Benjyfish was able to create a double attack against Negreanu’s queen and rook. Negreanu saved the wrong piece and lost his queen.

A few moves later Negreanu had to leave a bishop hanging or risk checkmate, and Benjyfishy’s advantage became overwhelming. Nothing short of Benjyfishy melting down could save the Canadian poker-pro.

Unfortunately, the meltdown didn’t come, and a few moves later Benjyfishy had evened the match out, one-all.

Sudden death

With a tie in place, a blitz game was put on to settle the score. In the main matches, players had ten minutes on the clock and gained five seconds for every move they made. Here they got five minutes flat each.

Once again both players came out of the gate with some cautious moves. They avoided each other’s spheres of influence for a short while, then the game became a rush of violence and Benjyfishy managed to get a bishop ahead in the ensuing exchanges.

With less than a minute on the clock and visibly stressed, Negreanu wasn’t able to think his way back to even.

He was literally just playing for time. As a result, the last ten moves came in a panicked rush as both players found themselves with less than ten seconds of thinking time. Benjyfishy promoted a pawn, but it mattered less than his dextrous eSport fingers which kept just ahead of Negreanu until the flag fell.

Negreanu timed out when Benjyfishy had just 1.2 seconds left on his clock. That 1.2 seconds made all the difference. Benjyfishy is through to the semis. Daniel will be watching as a spectator.

Hopefully by then Negreanu’s heart rate will have returned to normal.

Featured image source: Twitter