How to Play Badly

Jul 2, 2014, 12:00 AM 6,198 Reads 7 Comments Strategy

Warning: This trick is performed by trained professionals only - don't try this at home.
While remarking on his win against Conrad Holt in last year's US Championship, Gata Kamsky explained his dubious decision on move 30. "I had a choice," Kamsky reasoned. "Either I could make some move, and the game would be a draw - or, I could make a move, in which my position was worse, but still double-edged." The Super-GM was rewarded for his valiant decision:
Throughout chess's history, many great players have played incorrectly, and, even more amazing, on purpose! Can you play like GM Simagin? Can you play badly?
Vladimir Simagin, famous for his sacrifice/blunder of the exchange with ...Bg7-f8


When interviewed for his choice of the Scotch Opening in the match against Karpov, World Champion Garry Kasparov explained that, "the lines weren't so clear. And besides," he continued, "the positions didn't suit Karpov so well; we could sense that here, he felt uneasy." 
Playing the theoretically inferior move is a common tactic, not only used in Tal's games, but also by positional players aiming to get "their type" of position at all costs. Take, for example, the 2000 World Championship match between our protagonist, Kasparov, and his arch-nemesis, Vladimir Kramnik:
So, the moral is clear: it is okay to be a little naughty! But then again, isn't the correct decision somewhat subjective, since chess is an art, encompassing players with different styles? Anatoly Karpov once said that the best way to learn chess is to formulate a "chess philosophy;" in this way, he explained, the student could understand why things happened better. To leave the reader with a final thought, I present a game, which Aron Nimzowitsch, in "My System," makes an intriguing comment, which elucidates the choice of his 6th move:
Hopefully, this article has better informed you of how to sometimes play unethically, like the Greats - but please, attempt such a perilous endeavor at your own risk!


Online Now