Alexandra Botez Beats Alessio Gallucci in the Challengers CHOKER Cup

The exciting Challenger Cup match between Alexandra Botez and wildcard Alessio Gallucci has ended in a victory for Fide Master Botez.

By: Mark Patrickson

Alexandra Botez, a master level player from the USA defeated Italian Alessio Gallucci by three wins to nil. Gallucci was the wildcard for the event and while neither a world class chess or poker player, he is extremely competent in both disciplines.

Mixed Mindsports

When somebody came up with the idea of mixing poker and chess together the purists cried out in anguish. Two beautiful games in their own right should never be spoiled in such a way.

That was before they actually decided to give it a go.

Now we can see that many hardcores fans of one game actually spend a lot of time on the other. Mind sports players tend to love different variations of trying to prove themselves over their rivals.

The rules are incredibly simple and haven’t spoiled either game at all in the fusion.

Each player gets five cards displaying a chess piece. After players hold two, four, and five cards there is a betting round in the NL style.

If neither player folds during the betting then the next round consists of placing the chess pieces from the cards that each player holds.

Then it’s straight on with the chess under an extremely fast time control. It doesn’t matter how good your chess position is if the clock runs out - you lose! (well, providing that there is still enough material on the board to force checkmate.)

Round One

The first round was a tight affair with both players ending up with similar hands. Gallucci was lucky to have caught up at the end, drawing a queen as his final card which saved the day in an already big pot.

Botez: B P N Q P

Gallucci: B P B P Q

With an even position, queen and two minor pieces each, this was Botez’s time to shine and outplay her weaker opponent. Although she did put him under serious time pressure the result was a draw when Gallucci’s clock ran out with no checkmate possible.

Round Two

Round two was another even affair, both players drawing equal hands with another minor piece imbalance. Would Botez’s bishop exert its superiority over the knight.

Botez: P P N Q R

Gallucci: P P Q R B

Botez was quick out of the blocks putting pressure on her opponent’s position with the queen and rook. Incredibly she allowed a three-fold repetition while her queen was being harassed to allow another draw.

This was surprising from the stronger chess player who surely could have done more to regroup and keep the game going.

Round Three

Botez: R R P P Q

Gallucci: Q N P R P

Round three saw some great imagination from Gallucci but he found himself a knight for a rook down and with 20 seconds less on the clock.

Amazingly, Gallucci had connection issues at a key moment and with both players all-in Botez took the first win of the match.

Round Four

Botez: P B P B N

Gallucci: N B R R P

Round four was the first that didn’t see any chess. Botez had complete junk and decided to treat her Twitch followers to the first real bluff of the match. Neither player had a queen and Gallucci folded to the aggression.

Round Five

Botez: Q R N N P

Gallucci: Q N P R P

Gallucci made a fast start with his rook for knight advantage. Botez did her best to stir up trouble but just as she looks to have found a way out of the mating net she runs out of time handing the pot to Gallucci.

Round Six

Botez: P B N N P

Gallucci: R N P P R

This was another round Gallucci had to make count. With two rooks to Botez’s two knights this should be a straightforward win. Botez does her best to hold before missing a simple tactic that leaves her with a bare king against a knight and three pawns.

Incredibly Gallucci seems to lose the plot and fails to checkmate in time with a queen and spare pawn, ultimately running out of time.

Round Seven

Botez: B P R P R

Gallucci: P P B R N

Round seven was a travesty. Gallucci while having a material disadvantage was holding his own until once again he was disconnected. The rules state that even though he had more chips behind he forfeits the second match making it 2-0 for Botez.

Round Eight

Botez: N N P B Q

Gallucci: Q P N P R

Clearly fired up from the last round Gallucci gets all the chips in with the weakest hand, hoping his queen will be enough.

Botez didn’t miss her chance with the extra piece quickly invading her opponent’s position and winning more material. After defending well Gallucci once again falls victim to time pressure and Botez takes the third match to make it 3-0.

It was great to see Gallucci show that you don’t need to be a master at either game to compete. One point of note is that chess certainly seems to be the more important discipline overall, but a great poker player could still make their skills felt.

Thrilling stuff that you can watch for yourself in full on the CHOKERchess24 coverage.

Full results and updates on the CHOKER Cup are available here... and a FREE Rules Download can be found here.

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