"The blunders are all there on the board, waiting to be made." - Savielly Tartakower

I recently played a rather captivating game. It was an engaging theoretical battle that featured unusual tactics, a fine king hunt, measured attacks, and inspired defense. A victory would have left either me or my opponent feeling like a million bucks, and even a draw would have been a satisfying creative achievement. 

The only problem? I blundered the game away in one move!

Black to move and self-destruct!

In severe mutual time pressure, I played the indescribably awful 36...Rb6??, walking straight into 37.Qa4. Game over!

Needless to say, I was upset with myself. How could I labor over a game for hours and blow it with one bone-headed slip? I had never blundered into a mate in one; not even in my early days of scholastic chess.

Then I got to thinking about the contest as a whole. It was actually a rather well-played game! My opponent and I managed to advance theory in a key line of the Anti-Moscow Variation, and the depth and beauty of the struggle was greater than anything I had experienced in my recent games. The blunder only cut the fun short.

I guess my point is that one need not look at blunders in a purely negative light. Mistakes are inevitable in chess, just like anything else. What's important is viewing that blunder as part of your entire chess experience, not just a cringe-worthy moment that needlessly weighs on your conscience. 

Besides, I can take solace in the fact that many a player far stronger than myself has fallen victim to the 'ole mate in one. Observe, for instance, a former World Champion experiencing a memorable lapse:

Blunders happen! Roll with 'em.

That said, to my knowledge Magnus Carlsen has never walked into a mate in one. Based on this stat alone, I'm going on record to predict a Carlsen victory tomorrow to decide who challenges Vishy Anand for the World Championship this fall. Sorry, Vlad Smile


  • 4 years ago



    Would Rook to H6 work?  Which move instead of Rook to B6 would you have played here?

    I thought ...Rac8 to double; prepare to hassle white's strong Q on 7th with Rc8-c7, and/or open ...c6

    Thanks IM Fins0905  

  • 4 years ago


    Without mistakes there would be no point in would be nice if my opponents would be the ones to make them thoughLaughing. I certainly wish that I made so few mistakes that I could write an article when I did!!

  • 4 years ago



    You show a very mature attitude.  It's much harder to disclose to the world a mistake than a great triumph.

    You're right.  We all make mistakes.  Constantly.  Every day.  Why should we expect immunity from being human on the chessboard?

    Many of us love learning from your games, and you surely make mistakes a lot less often than most of us.

    And you must not discount the gift you give to all of us lesser lights..."See, even really great players make mistakes," we say into our muffled sleeve as we console ourselves over a goof that cost us a game we should have won.

    You probably forestalled a few of us elderly Eskimos from seeking out ice floes for a few more days.  

    Best wishes to you!

  • 4 years ago


    Would Rook to H6 work?  Which move instead of Rook to B6 would you have played here?

  • 4 years ago

    IM Fins0905

    @ChocolateTeapot: Indeed!

    @HankAzis: Thanks, Hank! See you in a couple weeks.

  • 4 years ago


    Your blunder was actually a helpmate in one. You found the only move that lost immediately.

  • 4 years ago


    Hi John,

      I was watching this game on Monroi. What an epic struggle. Time pressure makes everyone less strong of a player. Even Carlsen wrecked his game against Ivanchuk in time pressure. Looking forward to seeing you in Okoboji.


  • 4 years ago


    Hi John,

    Good to see you writing. I had a massive blunder in a tournament recently. But not a chess move, a pure idiot move! I knocked the time clock on the floor in my hurry to try not to lose on time in a winning game. The clock kept right on ticking as I tried to pick it up, I knocked it a little further away...several times. I did manage to get it back on the table, but by then I was down to just seconds left and my opponent was very happy to be saved by the clock. 

    This was the first tournament that I have been to since I was teenager. (50 yrs. old now). I have a new respect for the amount of time it takes to move, record the move, tap the clock... Now I have a much better idea of what to be prepared for in the future.

    Truth in Chess


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