ERRARE HUMANUM EST…
The last tournament game I played was a Croatian league match. I was playing White and played a very good game, untill the following position was reached:
I had around 40 minutes at this point, while my opponent was playing on increment. It goes without saying that White is completely winning, and almost any move wins. The easiest way is taking the bishop on c6 and then continuing with Be2.
Naturally, after contemplating for a couple of minutes I decided to take the rook.
Which was met immediately by
And I had to resign, because I get mated on the next move (2… Qxg2).
Considering that my opponent was female, it was somewhat expected, since I score terribly against women.
And they also often beat me in chess.
…BUT EVEN GRANDMASTERS ARE HUMANS
After that “dramatic” finish to the game, I was so shocked that all I could do was laugh. However, later, after computer showed me that my advantage was worth 13 pawns, I seriously started doubting the ancient “laughter is the best medicine” saying.
In order to make myself feel better, I got the motivation to write this article.
Because something malicious in our subconsciousness makes us enjoy seeing our idols failing miserably.
Or as they say, “There are two types of luck, my luck and misery of others.”
Therefore, without further ado, I bring the compilation of the biggest blunders made by top grandmasters in the history of chess.
1. PETROSIAN BLUNDERS HIS QUEEN
Probably one of the most famous blunders in the history is following blunder by the 9th chess champion Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian.
In his game against David Bronstein in Amsterdam Candidates tournament in 1956, the following position was reached:
Petrosian has managed to completely outplay his opponent. Black has been moving his knight around for the last couple of moves, and with his last move, Nf5, he threatens the queen. However, instead of removing the queen, Petrosian played the surprising:
And resigned immediately after
Someone commented that it is ironic that the fatal blow was delivered by only active Black piece.
2. BACROT BLUNDERS HIS QUEEN
Petrosian is not the only one that commited a one move blunder. Etienne Bacrot, a very strong Grandmaster and seven times French Champion can also join that club.
In his game against Ernesto Inarkiev in the Baku Grand Prix 2008 , the following positions was reached:
Bacrot has been attacking the whole game, and it seems like he was somewhat dissapointed with the fact that he hasn’t gained anything tangible yet. Instead of developing his bishop and remaining in a slightly worse position, he went for the following queen check:
and he resigned immediately, not waiting for the Black g8 knight to take the queen.
3. KARJAKIN BLUNDERS HIS ROOK
Not only World Champions, but also World Champion Candidates are prone to blundering their heavy pieces once in a while. In the game Peter Heine Nielsen – Sergey Karjakin, Corus Chess Tournament 2005, the following position was reached:
To be fair, Karjakin has been defending for 100 moves, and additionaly, here he was only 15 years old.
Nevertheless, from the diagram position, he continued:
And White simply took the rook on a1
Forcing the resignation.
4. KRAMNIK BLUNDERS MATE IN ONE
Another shocking example is the blunder of the 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. In his game against the computer Deep Fritz from the year 2006 a following position was reached:
As you can see, White is threatening the mate on h7 square. However, instead of removing the king (35… Kg8), Kramnik chose the “active”
And got mated immediately
As my friend Sten Boban would say, this is what happens when you play active moves.
5. CHIGORIN BLUNDERS MATE IN TWO
Another famous, and probably the most shocking blunder on this list, is the blunder by the Russian Grandmaster Chigorin in the 23rd match game in his 1892 World Championship Match against the champion Wilhelm Steinitz.
The importance of this blunder can best be evaluated if we consider that the score in the match was standing at 9-8 in Steinitz’s favour. The match was played in the best of 10 format, and the following position in the 23rd game was reached:
We can see that White is a clear piece up. He has some problems in converting his advantage, but with proper played Chigorin could have leveled the score and force the “first to win” scenaro in the match.
However, it was not meant to be, as he played:
Removing the bishop from the defence of the h2 pawn and allowing mate in two:
32… Rxh2+ 33 Kg1 Rdg2 mate.
Who knows how chess history would have went if not for this blunder.
6. KORCHNOI BLUNDERS MATE IN THREE
Viktor Korchnoi is widely considered as the best chess player ever never to become a World Champion. The closest he ever came to winning the title was the 1978 Baguio city World Championship match against Anatoly Karpov. I remind the reader that at one point the score in the match was 5-5, and Karpov managed to prevail by the closes possible margin by winning the 32nd game and thus the match.
However, everything might have ended differently if 17th game of that match went differently.
In that game, the following position was reached:
Korchnoi has missed a couple of wins along the way. The diagram position should be drawn with best play. But it was not meant to be as Korchnoi played the howler:
And he resigned as he gets mated:
40 gxf3 Rg6+ 41 Kg1 Nf2 mate
7. FISCHER BLUNDERS HIS BISHOP
The Fischer – Spassky “MATCH OF THE CENTURY” is probably most famous chess event of all times. However, it would be a big blunder not to include the events that occurred in the game one of that match in this list.
In the following position, Fischer as black decided to grab a pawn:
And after the forced sequence
30 g3! h5 31 Ke2 h4 32 Kf3
He realized that his planned 32… h3 would be met by
33 Kg4 Bg1 34 Kxh3 Bxf2 35 Bd2!
Trapping the bishop. Thus, he lost his bishop, and went on to lose (after some further adventures, though).
8. BOGOLJUBOW BLUNDERS IN A DRAWN ENDGAME
For the next blunder we go back to year 1929 and Alekhine – Bogoljubov match. In the game 19, the following endgame occurred on the board:
Here, Bogoljubow played
70 … Kg4??
moving the king away, and after
71 b7 f5 72 b8Q Rxb8 73 Rxb8 f4 74 Kd5 f3 75 Ke4 he had to resign:
However, if he went:
70 … Ke4! instead
71 b7 f5 72 b8Q Rxb8 73 Rxb8 f4
White can’t approach with his king with the d5 (the so called SHOULDER PRESS), and the position is drawn.
9. BRONSTEIN BLUNDERS IN A DRAWN ENDGAME
The long list of blunder in the World Championship matches continues with amazing Bronstein blunder in the 6th game of the Botvinnik – Bronstein World Championship match from the year 1951.
In the following position, Bronstein’s brain tilted:
Instead of bringing his knight, which would result in a draw, Bronstein played:
57… Kg3!! he resigned, since White knight can’t come back to stop the pawn from queening.
The blunder is even more significant if you bear in mind that the match ended with the 12-12 score, which allowed Botvinnik to retain his title, according to the match regulations.
10. ANAND NAIVELY BLUNDERS TWO PAWNS
The last, but not the least on this list, is the Indian superstar and World Champion Vishwanathan Anand’s blunder in the 11th game of his 1995 World Championship match against Garry Kasparov.
It has to be said that up to this point it has been a very close match. Both players have scored one win, and Kasparov was unable to break through Anand’s deep opening preparation.
In the 11th game he decided to play the Sicilian Dragon for the first time in his life, and the following position was reached:
Kasparov is slightly better here, and his last move was moving the rook to c4. Here Anand played the amazing and greedy:
And was immediately punished with
30… Rxb4 31 Ka3 Rxc2!!
And here Anand resigned, because he remains two pawns down in any case:
a) 32 Kxb4 Rxd2
b) 32 Rxc2 Rb3+ 33 Ka1 Rd3+ and 34… Rxe1
After this game, Kasparov steamrolled Anand in the remainder of the match.
To conclude, this list could probably continue further. These are some of the most vivid examples of the grandmaster blunders in the history of chess. If you have your favourite, or your own thoughts about the theme of this article, feel free to comment below 🙂
Therefore, next time you overlook your queen, don’t give up your hope of becoming a GM.
After my atrocious Nxg6, I certainly haven’t. But as my favourite band Architects sing in their song, “HOPE IS A PRISON.”