The Worst Chess Game Ever

The Worst Chess Game Ever

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Throughout our entire lives, we keep looking for the best. The best colleges, best workplaces, best vacation spots, etc. The list is endless. Of course, in our chess universe we also follow this same trend and search for the best games and best players of all time.

I wonder, why is no one looking for the worst? [Ed. Note: We are sometimes!] Well, there is no point to search for the worst chess player since he is well known. At least, it is if we trust U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1972, who called GM Bobby Fischer and introduced himself as "the worst chess player in the world... calling the best player in the world".

But what about the worst chess game ever played? You might wonder why we would even need to look for such a horrible game. Well, besides the obvious human curiosity, there is a clear utility such a game might provide. Say you are a beginning chess player: Which game would you rather prefer to analyze, one by two super GMs played with nearly 100% accuracy, or the following game, which I saw as a kid in one of my first chess books?

I don't know about you, but I smiled when I saw this game for the first time. Meanwhile, the near-perfect game played by two super-GMs would have just bored me at that time. Besides, learning that outrageous game, where Black got checkmated in just three moves, assured that I would never lose a game the same way, as happened in the Chess Olympiad not so long ago:

So, what criteria should we use to determine the worst game ever played? If it is just educational value that demonstrates what you should never do in chess, then the following "game" would be close to the top of my list of worst ever:

To be fair, these horrible king moves didn't lead to excessive damage (most of us would still lose to GM Magnus Carlsen even after he plays 2. Ke2??). Should we then consider the degree of damage caused by a bad move? If so, not many games can compete with such ultimate blunders as the following well-known examples.

We are all guilty of saying something like "I just played the worst game in the whole history of chess" after losing an especially painful game. GM Tigran Petrosian probably thought the same way after he made an outrageous blunder in a very important tournament.

I just don't think it is fair to call a game 'the worst ever" based on a single blunder, no matter how bad it was. For example, the Petrosian game above is actually an excellent example of constricting an opponent. As a matter of fact, if not for the tragic blunder, it would have been added to Petrosian's collection of positional masterpieces. 

It is obvious that in order to be considered "the worst ever," a game should be played consistently badly, from beginning to end. Take the following game, for example:

When one of the world's best grandmasters performs like an amateur player, we know that the game is very bad. By the way, my apologies to amateur players—I know that many of you can play better than that!

Yet even games where truly bad moves were played from beginning to end might not always be good material for our contest. Take, for example, the following notorious game:

It is a well-known fact that this game was played under protest, as was this infamous contest:

And I don't even want to know what kind of events forced two masters to produce the following recent gem:

As you can see, it is not easy to determine the worst chess game ever played. Therefore, when IM Ali Mortazavi tweeted that he would like to nominate the worst game of chess I was quite skeptical. However, upon looking at the game, I think he has a valid point. Judge for yourself:

While blunders are an integral part of bullet chess, here it was a bit too much. Six consecutive blunders of checkmate in one within three moves, by players rated above 2400 must be the world record. Seven blunders like this in a game that lasted just 15 moves is also a tough record to beat!

So, is this indeed the worst game ever played or do you, my dear readers, have your own nominations? Let us know in the comments below!

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