Chess Karma

Chess Karma

| 47 | Fun & Trivia

In my last article, I didn't hide the fact that, in my opinion, Magnus Carlsen's tweet before his match with GM Svidler was bad karma which ultimately decided the outcome. The Oxford dictionary describes karma as "the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences." Indeed, I have seen so many examples of how overconfidence and a cocky attitude failed truly great players. In that article, I mentioned that a beautiful combination that checkmated Carlsen's king was very similar to a combo that brought Carlsen a win in his match versus Karjakin. The tactical idea is the same in both games:

In the comment section, our fellow member @kamalakanta correctly noted: "What goes around, comes around," which is a very common expression to describe karma. It made me think about the strange situation in which a chess player executes a combination in one game only to fall victim to the exact same combination in another game some time later. It is difficult to explain to a non-chess player the nature of this phenomenon. He would argue that if you execute a combination it means that you know how it works and therefore would never allow another person to beat you with exactly the same combination. So, what's going on there? Are chess players so absent-minded that they just forget their own combinations?

See more Qh6+!! moves!

Watch our "Magnus Carlsen's World-Championship-Winning Move" video showcasing more incredible games with this idea!

What was this string for? Oh yea, don't allow sacrifices on h6!

Well, for starters, we cannot blame Carlsen for allowing Svidler to play the winning tactical shot 48.Rxh6+ because it was simply unstoppable. But how about the following "twins":

Then seven years later GM Kholmov was on the receiving end of the same combination:

Was GM Kholmov in a time trouble or was our favorite sailor just drunk? Unfortunately, we'll never know the truth.

Ratmir Kholmov
Ratmir Kholmov (left) via Douglas Griffin's blog. | Photo: L. Matt, Edasi

How about the following famous Tal game?

Five years later, the Magician allowed his opponent to execute exactly the same deadly sacrifice:

Before WWII, a young master Isaac Boleslavsky, who later became one of the best players in the world, developed a very dangerous system in the Caro-Kann defense. The key idea of the variation was to chase the black light-squared bishop with a move Nh4 which eventually leads to a crushing attack against the black king. Boleslavsky used this idea and won a very nice game in 1939:

Isaac Boleslavsky
Isaac Boleslavsky via Douglas Griffin's blog. | Photo: Unknown

How could he possibly fell for exactly the same idea just three years later? Beats me!

So, indeed, what goes around, comes around!

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