Thursday, 22 March 2007

The search for heroic chess failures

Chris Wardle's "Haymarket" post set me thinking about heroic chess failures, those chess players who have achieved a Eurovision style 'null point'. Taimanov and Larsen made a good stab at it in the '71 candidates, but don't really qualify because their opponent was Bobby Fischer on a hot streak.

I consulted my bible on all matters relating to chess statistics (the 2 dozen or so tournament tables in 'Korchnoi's 400 Best Games') and was bitterly disappointed to find the closest contender, Cuellar at the '73 Interzonal, had managed a princely 3 draws out of 18 games; definitely failure, but not heroically bad.

I then remembered I was making up the rules in this game, and could change them with impunity, so I switched tack to heroic blunders. One game sprung to mind immediately, Short marching his king up the board in a 'won ending' and setting up a self mate in the only way possible; fortunately, Streatham and Brixton have already written about this and a host of horrors: "The Worst Move On The Board". In fairness to Short one of his other king marches, against Timman, has gone down amongst the great manoeuvres of chess history.

One thing the S&B site talked about was the difficulty in spotting pieces moving backwards (in Short's case the killer was a Bishop returning to c8 to deliver mate) which made me smile and remember a conversation with Bronstein; David was buzzing with excitement, as he enthused about a position where a Queen had returned to d1 to deliver a knockout blow, and how even some of the very strongest players had failed to spot it.

In a possibly unbeatable bid for worst game by a World Champion, I present:
Viktor Korchnoi - Boris Spassky, Leningard 1948
1 e4 c5; 2 Nf3 d6; 3 d4 cd; 4 Nd4 Nf6; 5 Nc3 g6; 6 f4 Bg4; 7 Bb5+ Nbd7; 8 Bd7+ Qd7; 9 Qd3 e5; 10 Nf3 Bf3; 11 Qf3 Qg4; 12 Nd5 1-0


Anonymous said...

We hope Sophie does well at the European chess championships.
Steve.And all at Forest Hall Chess Club.

Tom Chivers said...

There was an amusing Karpov loss in 12 or so moves, where he missed Qd1 by white (forking his Bd6 & Nh5.) It might fit your theme!


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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.