Nakamura Blitzes His Way to CHOKER Cup Grand Final Victory

Hikaru Nakamura has retained his CHOKER endboss status by fending off the challenge of IM Eric Rosen in the CHOKER Cup Grand Final last night, Nakamura winning 4-1 in the ultimate mixed mindsport showdown…

By: Andrew Burnett

CHOKER’s top ambassador and 5-times US chess champion, Nakamura had been eagerly anticipating the winner of the eight-player Challengers battle, the line-up including Bill Perkins and Matty Staples.

That exhilarating KO qualifying tournament saw Eric Rosen fight his way past three tough opponents to reach Nakamura, but the Olympic chess gold medalist and WSOP poker player would provide a whole new challenge.

Before we get into last night’s gripping action, if you’re not sure of the rules here’s a quick rundown…


  • Players are dealt 5 cards each, from a 44-card pack, with a chess piece on each card
  • The betting rounds occur after 2, 4 and 5 cards are dealt.
  • Once the betting rounds are completed (if neither you nor your opponent has folded) you place the chess pieces you have been dealt in specially-marked zones.
  • After that, it’s a traditional chess game, the winner taking down the pot, checkmate – or CHOKEMATE! – the ultimate goal, though not the only way to win.

Commentators Jeff Gross, the poker guru, and Malcom Pein, the English International Master of chess, were again on hand to talk fans through the CHOKER Cup showdown.

It took no time at all before the illustrious combatants were slugging out the big pots.

A pre-flop raising war saw all the chips in the middle on the very first hand, Nakamura, playing Black, calling off Rosen’s bishop and rook 4-bet with his pawn and queen, the final set-up favouring the Choker endboss…

…and it didn’t take long for Nakamura to land a decisive blow, ‘Chokemating’ Rosen on the back rank…

That set the tone for the rest of the battle, but there was a glimmer of amusement and light for Rosen in the very next hand – Nakamura blundering away a simple win in spectacular fashion!

Unfortunately for Rosen, the clock was his enemy as he attempted to defend a tough position and he was soon trailing 2-0 after Nakamura spotted a neat tactic…

Both chess and poker require great concentration, and Choker is naturally no different.

That was shown most clearly when Rosen somehow ‘switched off’ in the piece placement phase - the result seen in the horror screenshot below…an ‘en prise’ rook on a8 and another game gone west as the challenger blundered horribly.

That led to a 3-0 lead for Nakamura as he once again drew a queen against Rosen’s lesser forces, and with a best of 7 format it put the Choker ambassador on the brink of an incredible whitewash.

The very next hand was perhaps the most exciting of all, with Rosen hunting Nakamura’s king but battling the clock and his own nerves as he teetered on the brink…

A battle of unequal forces brought Rosen his first game win of the match, pulling it back to 3-1, but he still faced a monumental task to overcome the most experienced Choker player and one of the fastest chess minds on the planet…

Nevertheless, he was given plenty of chances, such as the following position with Rosen (Black) to play…

…but with that opportunity missed it was classic blitz technique from Nakamura that took down the pot.

The end was nigh as Rosen’s stack had dwindled to little more than a big blind, and although he survived one all-in, he could do nothing as Nakamura picked up yet another queen in what would be the decisive hand.

Nakamura’s chess technique was enough to finish things off without drama and the 4-1 scoreline meant he had retained his Choker crown, Rosen proving himself a worthy challenger!

If you fancy a go at CHOKER yourself, check out the free to play app links below to get started…


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