After only three games of Death Match 23 on Saturday, the Chess.com live chess server failed and the match was postponed. IM Marc Essserman and FM Evan Ju were tied 1.5-1.5 at the time of the technical issue.
IM Danny Rensch, commentating live, speculated that the issue was the patch required by the recent Heartbleed security bug. No time has been set for the resumption of the match.
Chess.com's live server is back up and running as of the time of this writing.
Fans no doubt left disappointed, as two of the most accomplished blitz players on the site played a tactical melee in game one. First Ju offered a piece, then Esserman offered his queen. When she wouldn't be captured, the IM forced the issue. White's king never escaped the awesome power of two bishops working together!
Ju struck back in game two. It was not a Smith-Morra, rather Ju played his standard French (he promised before the match that he did have one line prepared aginst Esserman's favorite opening if the need arose). Esserman went for the gusto again, this time with a pawn storm. But after the queens were traded, White's weak f-pawn spelled doom and Black converted without issue.
In game three, a double bishop ending nearly earned Ju another point. His tactic 42. c6 didn't completely work, as Esserman saw the charade and calmly declined the "free" bishop. In the end, Ju decided not to attempted a queenside invasion with his king and risk abandoning his kingside.
Several minutes into game four (in which Ju again played the French), the live chess server crashed. Attempts to fix the issue on the air were not successful, so Rensch decided to delay the remainder.
"This is about as frustrating as it gets," Rensch said. "Apologies on behalf of Chess.com. Apologies specifically to Mr. Evan Ju and Marc Esserman who were absolute champions. We were on pace for one of the best Death Matches ever. I really had that feeling."
There has never before been a postponement to a Death Match. No date has been scheduled for the match's continuation. "We will find a date that works," Rensch said.