Who Is The Bizarre Grandmaster?

Who Is The Bizarre Grandmaster?

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It's a shame that the grandmaster Nigel Short is not as well known to the general public as much as he used to be.  

In the 1990s he was one of the best chess players in the world and even played a match vs. Garry Kasparov, trying to seize the chess crown in 1993.


Today he is mostly famous for his eccentric articles and interviews. Google his name and one of the first hits will be his quote from the Telegraph where he claimed that "girls just don't have the brains to play chess." And I cannot even repeat what he wrote in his obituary of GM Tony Miles. I guess the editor of the Sunday Telegraph had a day off when this infamous obituary was published.

Even if you are enraged by what Nigel Short says and writes, I hope that doesn't distract you from the games he plays. Nigel Short's chess is entertaining and always full of interesting ideas. He plays what the late Mikhail Tal called "tasty chess."

Just like any strong grandmaster, Nigel Short has dozens of brilliant combinations. What distinguishes him from other strong grandmasters is the abundance of bizarre games that will be remembered for a very long time!


Nigel Short.

Today I want to share Nigel Short's chess kaleidoscope.

The king walk:

The most famous game by Nigel Short is truly unique. In a position full of pieces, his king marched from g1 to h6 and helped to deliver a checkmate! This game has its own Wikipedia entry

In this article we discussed this game and at the end I put a warning about how dangerous such a king walk can be. Apparently, my disclaimer wasn't strong enough as the following game demonstrates.

So, here is my new disclaimer for the game Short-Timman: It was done by a professional; don't try it at home!

The unbelievable move never played:

Nothing extraordinary happened in the next game, or at least that could be your first impression.

Now look at the next diagram, and try to answer a simple question: why did GM Miles allow the basic knight fork 22. Nb6, and why did GM Short decline the invitation?

Did you find the answer? Good! Now try to figure out why both grandmasters were wrong and 22.Nb6! was actually a winning move!

We already discussed a similar unbelievable queen move in this article.

Eight passed pawns:

Have you ever seen a position with eight passed pawns? One passed pawn on every single file! While it might be not a world record, it is definitely a unique occurrence in a game between super grandmasters playing a world championship candidates' match!

Of course Nigel gets major bonus points for smashing the Berlin Defense before it became mainstream!


All chess players blunder here and there, but the blunders of mere mortals cannot be compared to what we see in numerous Nigel Short games. It looks more like he executes a ritual suicide! Judge for yourself:

The final position reminds me of some famous chess problems by Leonid Kubbel or the Platov brothers. Indeed it looks like the ideal checkmate, which is a dream of every chess composer!

While this checkmate is not as beautiful as the previous one, could you expect that a very complicated middlegame would end that abruptly? Short's ritual of harakiri doesn't always allow his opponent a checkmate in one. Sometimes it is something even more unexpected:

Can White possibly lose this position? Yes, he can!

I really feel sorry for GM Short here! To lose like this in the world championship is excruciating! Especially after such long, hard work, when the win was getting close. Here is what GM Short wrote in his column in the Telegraph:

White has edged closer to victory. With correct play he should be able to convert this advantage. 121. Re6?? Not with this, however. The right plan was to penetrate on g6, as I had seen. 121. Ra6 Kf8 122. Ra8+ Kg7 123. Re8 Bd6 124. Bc2 Be5 125. Bb3 Bd6 126. Rg8+ Kh7 127. Rg6 followed by Bc2 wins. Black has numerous ways of trying to prevent this, none of which works, as far as I can tell.

I cannot help but admire a person who annotates this painful game for everyone to see his tragedy -- and he uses some humor to boot! 

The shortest win over a grandmaster:

Nigel Short won the shortest game ever against a grandmaster (no pun intended). I am talking about a game where the opponents actually started playing the game, unlike the famous "no-show games" from the world championship matches Spassky-Fischer or Kramnik-Topalov.

Puzzled? Here is a short description of this incident from Wikipedia:

During the 2008 Corus chess tournament, Cheparinov's game in the eighth round of Group B against Nigel Short was declared a forfeit after the first move because he had twice refused to shake Short's hand at the start. After Cheparinov refused to shake hands, Short informed the arbiter that in such cases, the rules prescribe an immediate forfeit.

The following video shows the whole episode:

After GM Cheparinov apologized for his behavior, the two players sat at the board one more time next day. GM Short won again, though it took more than one move this time:

The shortest win over Kasparov:

Not only did Nigel Short beat the world champion Garry Kasparov in just 15 moves, he did it with the King's Gambit!

As always, the devil is in the details! It was an exhibition game where the opponents played an opening chosen by the audience. Kasparov was very upset by their choice and later said that he wanted to resign immediately after he was told what opening he had to play. Nevertheless, try to beat Kasparov in any opening, and then you'll appreciate the Short's accomplishment!

Nigel Short is 51 years old now but still can defeat pretty much anyone at the chessboard!

I hope he stays active for a long time and will give us more material for future editions of the Nigel Short's chess kaleidoscope!

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