How To Make Lucky Blunders
These blunders were lucky.

How To Make Lucky Blunders

GM Gserper
Jan 7, 2018, 12:00 AM |
17 | Tactics

For most club players, blunders are a very big problem.

They can ruin a game or even a whole tournament! Besides, they prevent a chess player from getting better results and a higher rating. That's why some time ago I wrote a six-part article on this topic.

There I gave my recommendation and expressed an opinion that if a player manages to decrease his blunder percentage, it will add 200-300 rating points to his strength almost instantly. So, obviously blunders are a very bad thing, right? Amazingly, it is not always the case and sometimes a blunder can actually save you a game!


Surprised? Let me show you an example from a  recent tournament.

Black's position is completely lost. As a matter of fact, an engine suggests that the best solution for Black is to give up his knight by playing 33...Ne2. Of course Black is lost after this move. Yet Mamedyarov managed to save the game by allowing a checkmate in two moves!

I have no doubt that it wasn't a bluff and Mamedyarov simply didn't see the checkmate in the mutual time trouble. Had he seen the checkmate, he would have played some other move and lost for sure. So, he managed to save the game, thanks to the blunder!

Here is a similar example:

Kramnik saw that regardless of how he captures the queen on f8, White's move 32.Qg6 will be very dangerous. But in the case of 31...Rxf8, 32. Qg6 will lead to a forced checkmate in four moves. After 31...Kxf8, 32. Qg6 leads to a bad position for Black, but after 31...Bxf8 32. Qg6 Bg7 the outcome is unclear.

So, naturally he played 31...Bxf8. There is one problem with this move, though. White can either checkmate black king, or win the black queen if the opponent tries to prevent the checkmate.

Now imagine Kramnik saw that 31...Bxf8 loses. Then he would have played 31...Kxf8 and after 32.Qg6 most probably he would have lost the game. But after his horrible blunder 31...Bxf8 he won!

By the way, Mamedyarov recently was on the receiving end of the "lucky blunder" phenomenon.

Being a pawn down, Black is doomed to a long defense of this unpleasant endgame. But wait a second, can't he simply capture the b5 pawn? Try to figure out what happens in this case.

In the game both opponents missed this simple refutation and as a result Black won the game and eliminated his dangerous opponent from the World Cup! Again we see the same situation where the blunder was really golden!

Finally, let me show you a game that proves that humans still have a certain advantage over computers. For years we've heard that human intuition and knowledge of certain patterns in some situations can expose computers to the so-called "horizon effect." The recent achievements in chess programming and especially the mysterious AlphaZero practically put this theory to rest.

Yet I still see one area where computers will never overcome us. They will never blunder as humans, and as you could see, sometimes blundering is a good thing! Here is an old computer game that proves the point. Try to find the best move in the following position:

Did you find it? Was it easy? You can ask how it was possible that a computer blundered a forced checkmate? Good question! Of course the first world computer chess champion didn't blunder the checkmate and preferred to give up a rook instead:

Obviously no human player would play 34...Re8, since it is absolutely clear that after that you have no chance to save the game. He would have either resigned or played 34...Kg7 because there was a chance that White might have missed the 35.Qf8!! combo. As a matter of fact, according to the reports, no one saw this combination during the games and the programmers explained the mistake by a computer glitch.

Of course everyone was shocked when after the game they saw Kaissa's print-out where it pointed to the checkmate as the reason to give up the rook. By the way, according to the same report, everyone's shock was even bigger when it turned out that the program Duchess didn't see the checkmate due to the above-mentioned horizon effect. Therefore a blunder 34...Kg7 could have saved the game!

Even though today we analyzed a bunch of games where blunders allowed to save or even win bad positions, I wish you to make fewer blunders in 2018!

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