Top chess players like grandmasters make mistakes in their games too. In fact, they can be just as bad as any of us on their day and that means you can learn a little from their mistakes. So, let’s do just that.
Our top 8 grandmaster blunders of all time include the current world champion Magnus Carlsen throwing a game away, the former world champion Anataloy Karpov doing it twice, and a grandmaster being soundly thrashed due to an unforced error playing a computer and then the computers returning the favor when playing another grandmaster!
This is a must see group of games for any keen chess player.
Do Grandmasters Blunder?
Grandmasters do blunder. Chess wouldn’t be much of a sport or game if people didn’t make mistakes, would it? That means everyone from the world champion down to the newest player is capable of blundering and as you will see, it really does happen to everyone.
How Often Do Grandmasters Blunder?
Not as often as it happens to the rest of us chess playing mortals. If it did, they wouldn’t have the ratings that they have. You only get to be a grandmaster by winning at chess, losing doesn’t help you get better rated.
Why Do Grandmasters Blunder?
For much of the same reasons:
- Their attention slips for a second and by the time they recover, it’s too late
- They are absolutely tired, long games can leave you exhausted
- They’ve got personal problems – how well would you play if your child was sick or your wife was at home packing her bags to leave for good?
- They’re depressed – it’s well-known for depression to interfere with our abilities
- Stress – good old fashioned stress can cause the best of us to make unforced errors, it happens to everyone
The Top 8 Grandmaster Blunders Of All Time
So, let’s take a look at when the best of the best, turned sunshine into clouds. Here are 8 games when grandmasters played at least as badly as any of us can.
Magnus Carlsen vs Merab Gagunshvili
Oh my, you’d expect the world Number One to do better than this, but he clearly lost his mind while playing white against Merab Gagunshvili. Clearly, he should have sacrificed the pawn, but sadly Magnus opted to save it, instead, at the price of, well, checkmate in one!
White: Rook (in H5), Pawn (on E4) and King (on F1)
Black: King (on F3) and Rook (on C2)
Deep Fritz Vs Vladimir Kramnik
Kramnik is one of the grandmasters who has truly loved playing the machines. He probably don’t look back on this game as one of his greatest though. It’s an embarrassing disaster in which the top human player decides to offer a queen sacrifice and instead, allows the computer to go straight to checkmate.
White: King (H1), Pawns (H1, G1, E5, and B2), Queen (E4) and Knight (F8)
Black: King (H8), Pawns (H6, G7, B4 and A4), Queen (B7), and Bishop (C1)
Black: Qa7 – e3?
White: Qe4 – h7 ++
It didn’t take much processing power for the computer to steal that one.
Anatoly Karpov Vs Matthew Sadler
It wasn’t even late in the day when Karpov, the world champion, decided to play this incredibly silly move in the middle of a game against Matthew Sadler. Instead of keeping his eye on the prize, Karpov opted to ramp up the threat in this game and for his troubles, he gifted his queen to a pawn!
White: Pawns (H2, B2, A2, C3, G3, D4, and G5), King (G1), Rooks (A1 and F1), Knight (B1), Bishops (C1 and G2), Queen (D3)
Black: Pawns (A7, B7, C7, F7, G7, D5 and E5), King (B8), Knights (G8 and C6), Rooks (D8 and H8), Bishop, (F8), Queen (D6)
White: Rf1 x f7??
Black: e4 x d3!
Vladimir Kramnik vs Wang Hao
While Kramnik may have found his marbles rolling around on the floor against a computer opponent, it was Wang Hao that completely missed the fork that was coming in this classic tactical blunder against Kramnik. This was a really bad day for him.
White: Pawns (F2, G2, H2 and A4), King (G1), Rook (D1) and Queen (B8)
Black: Pawns (G7, G5 and F7), King (F8), Rook (A2) and Queen (F6)
It was the move Qb8+ from white which ended the game.
Hao followed this by moving his King to H7 and this allowed Qb1 forking the rook and the king. Game over for Hao.
Larry Christiansen Vs Anatoly Karpov
Karpov appears to have been a world champion with an appetite for chess blunders. In this game, very early on in play, Karpov throws a bishop into the center with careless abandon and completely misses the fact that Christiansen has an easy fork and then picks up a free piece. Karpov was so appalled by his foolishness that he immediately threw in the towel. There can’t be many people who’ve beaten a word champion in 12 moves, can there?
White: Pawns (A2, B2, C4, E4, F2, G2 and H2), Rooks (A1 and H1), Bishops (F1 and E3), Knight (C3), Queen (C2) and King (E1)
Black: Pawns (A7, B6, D7, E5, F7, G7, and H7), Rooks (A8 and H8), Bishops (C6 and F8), Knight (H5), Queen (D8) and King (E8)
Black then moves Bf8 – d6??
That opens the fork and white duly hits up Qc2-d1!
Black resigns in disgust.
Dimitar Donchev Vs Veselin Topalov
The prize for the blunder between the two grandmasters with the hardest to spell names goes to this game. Here Topalov misses a very straightforward attack that will result in the loss of his queen and as you might expect, once his opponent takes advantage of the attack – Topalov’s king fell over. This is almost comically bad.
White: Pawns (H4, G2, F2, D5, C3, B2, and A2), Rooks (A1 and E1), Bishops (C1 and C2), Knight (G4), Queen (D1) and King (G1)
Black: Pawns (H7, G7, E6, D5, C7, B5 and A6), Rooks (E8 and F8), Bishops (B7 and E5), Knights (D7 and F5), Queen (H5) and King (G8)
White to move: Ng4 – h6+
This, of course, opens the black queen to being captured by the white queen and because black must move out of check, the best black can get in trade is a knight but this means opening up the king and doubling the pawn, a catastrophe at this stage of the game.
Pablo Lafuente Vs Shredder
Yes, we’re back to computer chess but this time, it’s not the human being that made a clown of themselves, it’s the computer. Shredder is theoretically meant to be able to calculate the equivalent of up to 20 moves ahead and as such, you’d think that it would have seen Lafuente’s bishop wouldn’t you? But no, it didn’t. So, what was meant to be a bishop exchange turned out to be a free bishop for Lafuente. The machine’s loss was blamed on a “hash table error”, which is programmer speak for bad programming.
White: Pawns (A3, B5, C4, E3, F2, G2, and H2), Rooks (D1 and F1), Bishop (E3), Knight (D2), Queen (C3) and King (F1)
Black: Pawns (A7, B6, C5, E6, F7, G7 and H7), Rooks (F8 and D6), Knight (F6), Bishop (B7), Queen (E7) and King (G8)
White moves: Bf3 x b7
Black should take the bishop with his queen but instead plays: Rf8 – d8??
This means black throws away a bishop and it never recovered. Lafuente would gain a decisive advantage in this game about 30 moves later.
Peter Heine Neilsen vs Sergey Karjakin
Chess players never have easy to spell names. These two linguistically challenging giants of the game must have been exhausted when they reached the 100th move of the game with this position on the board.
White: Pawns (G2 and H3), Bishop (C5), Knight (B3) and King (F3)
Black: Rook (A1), Pawns (F4 and F6) and King (F5)
For some reason despite having his rook under threat from the knight, Karjakin goes with Kf5 – g6?
Nielsen thanks his lucky stars and captures the rook giving him more than enough material advantage to finish the game off to his satisfaction.
There is no such thing as a superhuman chess player. Even the greatest player to have ever taken up the game, Magnus Carlsen, has committed the occasional howler. You can’t avoid making mistakes in chess, if you could, the game would no longer be any fun.
What you can do, however, is study hard and practice hard to keep your mistakes to a minimum, then you too might find your mistakes held up for critical study like the ones above, rather than for you to rage over in private. That’s chess for you!