Norowitz Makes Biggest Death Match Comeback in History

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 24/06/14, 15:03.

Everyone and their cousin knew GM Boris Avrukh needed a lead going into the bullet portion of Death Match 25 on Sunday. When he stretched the margin to five games, most thought the distance was enough. All except his opponent, IM Yaacov Norowitz.

The park player and blitz fiend made the largest comeback in Death Match history on Sunday! Norowitz's final surge was about as last minute as it gets. Just a few hours before the U.S. lost a win in the final seconds of the World Cup, Norowitz pulled out a win by taking the final five games to clip Avrukh, 14.5-13.5.

"As soon as I stopped trying so hard. As soon as I just started to play and not care, I started playing better", said Norowitz about his comeback. "That's what I like about Bullet. There isn't a lot of time to 'out-think' yourself. You just have to play and trust your intuition."

All told, he won the bullet 8-2 after losing both of the opening sections. Norowitz didn't even win a single game in the 5+1 portion, and only took two victories in the 3+1 portion.

IM Yaacov Norowitz

Avrukh had said prior to the match that he was most worried about the bullet. He had intended to spend most of his training time practicing that time control. Avrukh said Norowtiz had a "huge advantage" in bullet.

"I have no experience with 1+1 at all," Avrukh said leading up to the match. "Since I am not good with a mouse, I prefer more time."

Here is the deciding game. With the score knotted at 13.5, Avrukh won a pawn for minimal compensation, but pressed too hard on the kingside and allowed Norowitz to waltz his a-pawn down the board. With no mating net materializing, Avrukh had to concede the game, and with it the match.

Prior to the final time control, Avrukh played in a classical style to obtain stable advantages. Take the first game of the entire match. Avrukh built up a strong center, and when it became mobile, his pieces came to life and Black's king's weaknesses proved telling.

GM Boris Avrukh

What's that rule about never resigning if you have a knight in blitz? Norowitz must have done this a thousand times in the park - making his opponent burn precious time analyzing all those horses jumping. Just when you let your guard down, the ponies strike, and Norowitz earned his first victory in the 8th overall game.

The bullet train didn't exit the station right away for Avrukh. He took a five-game lead into 1+1. After dropping the first game, he rebounded by showing that activity is worth more than pawn structure when the pace accelerates.

After this loss, it looked more bleak than ever for Norowitz. "If he's going to make a comeback in this match, it likely needed to start a few games ago", said IM Danny Rensch. "We'll see! I still give Yaacov great chances in Bullet", replied his co-host GM Simon Williams. And though Simon picked his fellow Grandmaster over the IM to start the match, Williams would end up being right that Bullet was just what Yaacov needed to get rolling.

With time running out on the match, Norowitz began the comeback by "breaking" the blitz rule that queens are better than two rooks. Usually the side with the rooks has to burn time examining forks and queen checks, but none were on the table in game 24. Norowitz finished quickly to begin his charge.

Norowitz went on to win games 25-28 to edge Avrukh.

This is the first Death Match under the new prize structure. Since Avrukh won two of the three sections, he takes $200 plus two $100 bonuses for a total of $400. Norowitz earned $500 plus the $100 for winning the bullet for a total of $600.

Letto 13427 volte 24 commenti
9 voti


  • 2 anni fa


    I think bullet chess is real

  • 2 anni fa


  • 2 anni fa


    Faizan_khan Bullet is half the death match almost! It's a really big part of it.

  • 2 anni fa


    unfair win..i wish there is no bullet in Death matches..

  • 2 anni fa


    This was a terrific match, and a lot of fun to watch. The usual snipes and gripes about bullet chess ("it's not real chess", "it proves nothing", etc.) emerge now. Of course it's 'real' chess, it's just real fast chess. I wonder how a 2300+ bullet player would fare against a top player from the past, say, a Morphy or a Steinitz. I suspect today's bullet player would do pretty well at first, but eventually the guys from the 'romantic era' would catch up.

    As the strategies and 'gimmicks' of good bullet players filter 'up' to the higher rated players, even GMs not particularly good at this type of play will adopt them. Then wild comebacks like this may be more difficult for the 'bullet specialist'. At that point, it will be necessary to go to faster time controls, maybe 45 or 30 seconds a game. Eventually, both sides will run out of time before they even touch the mouse......

  • 2 anni fa


    I just realized how crazy this title could be to people who don't know what a death match is!! LOL

  • 2 anni fa

    NM Petrosianic

    It's too bad that the match was decided by who is better with a mouse than who played the better chess;  Avrukh did not show that he could play bullet anywhere near his usual class consequent of his slower movements so it was more or less painful to watch as Avrukh fell apart with more or less random movements to keep time on the clock.  Both fantastic players though.  +5 after the 3 minute segment is pretty convincing so I was sort of cheering for Avrukh to pull it off for that reason.  But Yaacov is a really classy guy and one of the best blitz players without increments so it's great that his blitz prowess proved remunerative.

  • 2 anni fa


    @Adolf_Anderssen... I agree. Personally however I would like to see bullet removed from the deathmatches and even told Mike Klein so ( who vehemently opposed the idea)... I guess part of it is the fun involved, maybe we are taking things too seriously?

    If bullet was not involved, guys like Yaacov and Evan Ju would never stand a chance against 2600 GMs like Boris Avrukh and Ivanov in 5|1 blitz (let alone monsters like Liem Le, Andreikin and Lagrave), and given that the average rating is about 1150, its easy to see why bullet gets the entertainment factor going.

  • 2 anni fa


    bullet will never be chess, its just for fun period.cause you learn nothing.

  • 2 anni fa


    People often say bullet isn't chess, premoves, thumb fest... etc. etc...

    I would like to see whether any of you can beat a 2300+ bullet player in classic time control. Of course bullet is chess, it requires good enough theoretical knowledge of openings, great tactical and positional feel, of course the depth of analysis is lower but I am sure most of sub-1500 noobs would lose to Yaacov if God gave you all the time in the world and he got 1|1. And most likely most 2300+ bullet players play at least 2200 classical chess, maybe I am just dumb but I tend to see a correlation here.

    I am yet to see a 1200 rated classical player get a 2000+ bullet rating because of a quick trigger finger.

  • 2 anni fa


    Nice news!! I, somehow knew my very good friend Yaacov would prevail.  I was able to watch some of the games (mostly the first ones) but sadly I missed the bullet games.

    Congratulation mi amigo Yaacov!!!!

  • 2 anni fa



  • 2 anni fa


    I think $600 v $400 is a pretty even distribution, given there has to be an overall winner, was a good deathmatch and exciting to the end!

  • 2 anni fa


    Thanks for spoliling it for me, was really looking forward to see the recording (couldnt watch it live :[  )

  • 2 anni fa


    @BigChessEnthusiast great job !!! \m/

  • 2 anni fa


    Congratulations to Norowitz on winning the match!

    I would have liked to see a more equal prize distribution since 5/1 and 3/1 games are of higher quality than 1/1 games.

  • 2 anni fa


    It was a splendid Death Match, congrats to the winner and all staff. I was able to record almost all the games, if anyone is interested:

  • 2 anni fa


  • 2 anni fa


    No wonder there is no official FIDE bullet world chess championship. This over-the-board jerking have very little to do with chess. Bring it online with all these pre-move tricks, and the whole thing becomes a two-way thimblerigger game. Add a $1000 prize, and you get a Death Match. Panem et circenses...

  • 2 anni fa


    I think norwitz could have done better but his play was excellent

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