Robert Ris: Top 10 blunders in World Championship matches

by Robert Ris
4/18/2023 – When tension is at its highest, even the very best players in the world can blunder games in one move. Now that four out of six games have finished decisively at the World Championship match in Astana — with no lack of strategic and tactical errors — let us take a look at the top 10 blunders from World Championship history.

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As tense as it gets

Who made the worst blunder in World Championship history? Even the legendary Bobby Fischer grabbed a pawn on h2, inexplicably allowing his bishop to later be captured by Boris Spassky’s king.

Find below the first three blunders that we looked at. Watch the full video, with all ten blunders presented, at the end of the article.

Mikhail Chigorin vs. Wilhelm Steinitz - Havana, 1892 (Game 23)


Chigorin’s 32.Bb4 allowed mate-in-two. Steinitz played 32...Rxh2+ and White resigned, since 33...Rdg2# is coming. Incredible!

Mikhail Botvinnik vs. Vasily Smyslov - Moscow, 1958 (Game 18)


This was not an obvious miss like the previous one, but a spectacular idea that was missed by both players. Here Botvinnik played 23.Bh3, failing to realize that 23.Nd4! is a beautiful, winning move. The idea is simply to open the path for the bishop to give a check from d5 — e.g. 23...cxd4 24.Bd5+ Rxd5 25.Re8 Rxe8 26.Rxe8+ Kf7 27.Qf8#. Of course, Smyslov also missed this idea, as he allowed it with 22...Rcd8.

Boris Spassky vs. Robert Fischer - Reykjavík 1972 (Game 1)


This is one every chess fan recognizes. Fischer inexplicably played 29...Bxh2, giving Spassky the chance to trap the bishop starting with 30.g3. Unbelievable.

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Links - 2023 World Championship

Robert is an International Master who mostly spends his time training and coaching talented youngsters. On the PlayChess server The Fast and the Furious is a popular show where he explains sharp opening lines for a wider audience. He is also a well-known ChessBase author who produced numerous DVDs and regularly contributes to ChessBase Magazine as well. Since 2015 he is the organizer of the Dutch Rapid Championships in his home town Amstelveen. He has started a YouTube channel with chess analysis as well.