The Four Most Amazing World Championship Blunders

The Four Most Amazing World Championship Blunders

| 14 | Tactics

The chess world gasped when in game six of this year's world championship match, both Carlsen and Anand missed a simple tactical shot 26...Nxe5! (see #10 in the second part of this series).

Some reporters even rushed to call it "the biggest blunder ever made in the world championships." And the blunder could have cost White just two pawns.

Now imagine what would they say if both grandmasters missed a forced checkmate.  Twice in one game!! But that's exactly what happened in the following game:


Botvinnik missed this golden opportunity, and three moves later it was Smyslov who could checkmate his opponent:

Here is what Botvinnik wrote about this curious moment:

"At first I decided to resign, without even waiting for the reply, but then I changed my mind. To my surprise, Smyslov did not make his reply immediately, but during the game I thought this was just because he had 15 minutes left to reach the time control, and wanted to check the variations, so as to avoid any unexpected surprises. But after six minutes had gone by, I started to hope: What if he doesn't play 26...Rd2? ...Finally, after eight minutes' thought, when Smyslov picked up the rook from d8, I nervously took up my pen to write down my resignation, but then I could not believe my eyes -- Smyslov had played the rook to e8! It can certainly be said that in this game, the two players proved worthy of each other...".

Here is how the actual game ended:

To be fair, the refutations of both blunders required some calculations. Shouldn't be that difficult for two world champions, but that were calculations nonetheless. The next blunder happened when the board was almost empty and literary didn't require any calculations!


The blunder 57.Kc2?? is very difficult one to explain.  It is clear that White cannot stop the pawn without help from his knight, so the move 57.Ne6+ followed by 58. Nd4 should be played without any calculations.

Moreover, after White gives up his knight for Black's dangerous passed pawn, his king must go after Black pawns on the Queen's side. Therefore 57 Kb3-c2??, which moves the King in the opposite direction, looks extremely weird.

You cannot find a reasonable explanation to this amazing blunder (played after 45 minutes of thinking!!) until you read Bronstein's comment where he said that he knew that the game was an instant draw after 57.Ne6+, so he started thinking if he had a win earlier in the game.

After spending 45 minutes analyzing the previous moves, he suddenly realized that the game is still in progress and it is time to finally end it. So he decided to play the intended 57 Ne6+ when suddenly realized that he is holding his king! I know, this explanation might sound fishy: why would you analyze the game blindfold, while it is still in progress, when you can finish the game right away and analyze it on the board?

But Bronstein was known for his quirks! For example, in one of his games in the Soviet championship he spent 40 minutes on his first move!!


This game is very famous for the beginner's blunder committed by Chigorin, so I am sure that most of our readers know it. Had Chigorin won it (and he had a winning position before his horrible blunder) the score of the match would have been even and the last game would have decided the world title.

I can only add that the quality of the whole game was extremely poor, so probably both players were very tired and suffered in the hot climate of Cuba.



So, where is the beef, or in this case, where is the blunder?  That's the point: the whole game is just one big blunder!

The entire line was prepared by Kramnik based on computer analysis!

Just think about it: the world champion analyses a position at home, where he can move pieces, take back moves, etc.  He uses a computer and his seconds assist him. And yet the line he choses to play is losing by force!

Here is what Kramnik said in his interview to the "New in Chess" magazine:

"It was clearly a hole in my preparation, but it was a very strange hole. We analyzed this whole line (...) I was in the restroom and decided to play fast, not to give him time to think. To put further psychological pressure on him by responding immediately. I was checking variations and I already saw queen d3, but I thought it was just a perpetual. After all we had probably checked this with a computer so it shouldn’t be lost, because otherwise the computer would have shown that such a position is clearly lost.(...) This kind of thing had never happened to me before. You are White, you play all moves according to your preparation and you shake hands. This is something unbelievable (...) I don’t know if this ever happened in a world championship match before. "

No, Vladimir, nothing like this ever happened in a world championship match before, and therefore we have a winner of our "the most amazing world championship blunder" contest!


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