Even the Gods Can Blunder
The unfortunate, but universal truth is that we have all lost games by blundering. The reason for it is that we are human, mortal and fallible, as the great writers since Sophocles have well documented.
Thus, when we see the games by masters like Petrosian, Karpov and Kramnik we are transported into the realm of the gods where it seems that only beauty is allowed to exist. This comforts us even as it saddens us, knowing that we will never share boards such as these.
But do not despair. These gods of chess can comfort us in more than one manner for even they can blunder. As it turns out, the gods of chess are mortal after all, and thus we can at least share that most human quality with them. Yes, you and I can lay legitimate claim to a commonality with World Champions.
Let me first give you solace with a spectacular blunder by Joel Benjamin, a Grandmaster since 1986. In his 2000 game against Boris Gulko, the only Grandmaster to have won both the championship of the Soviet Union and the United States, he demonstrated his solidarity with the rest of us patzers.
You may play through the following game from the first move where Benjamin plays the crushing 1. e4 to which Gulko feebly responds 1…c5 in the beginning of a Richter-Rauzer variation of the Sicilian. Slightly less exciting action begins near the end with Benjamin doubling his heavy pieces on the open g-file with 31. Qg1. I will let you savor for yourself Gulko's mate on move 32.
A game such as this is as much a thing of beauty as Adolf Anderssen’s famed Immortal Game.
Not quite as spectacular, but no less decisive is this blunder by Anatoly Karpov, who became a Grandmaster the year I graduated from high school, himself graduating a few years later to the title of World Champion following Bobby Fischer. In this game, Karpov resigned after he left two pieces en prise, and Grandmaster Larry Christiansen forked them on his 12th move.
Next we turn to a delicacy served up by no less than Tigran Petrosian, who attained the title of World Champion in 1963. During his climb to the peaks of Chess Olympus, he played a more modest game in 1956 against GM David Bronstein, himself a two-time champion of the Soviet Union. Chessgames.com characterizes Petrosian by writing, “His defensive playing style soon earned him the reputation of a player who was nearly impossible to defeat.” The following game validates their use of the word ‘nearly’.
Petrosian is White against Bronstein’s Black. I suggest you follow the action from move 35. Qd6.
Vladimir Kramnik is a more recent World Champion, though he lost the title just last year. You might enjoy seeing how Kramnik played the same year that he won the World Championship in 2006 in this famed game against computer Deep Fritz. Watch what happens after Herr Fritz recaptures a rook with 34. Nxf8.
Beauty cloaks herself in many guises, and in this game she casts her delicate glow upon a humble woodpusher such as myself, proving that even I can play as well as World Champion Kramnik on his final move.