Eight egregious elite errors

by Jonathan Speelman
11/18/2018 – This week, in honour of the Carlsen vs Caruana match, GM JON SPEELMAN examines eight blunders from World Championship history. One of them features Magnus himself! But, dear regular column readers, do continue sending in your own games! Jon can always use more material from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

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Speelman's Agony #87

In the middle of the World Championship, I'm breaking off from this column's normal business today to consider the Agony of blunders at the highest level.

The title of Grandmaster was reportedly (though there has been some dissent about this) first conferred by Tsar Nikolas II on the five finalists at the St Petersburg tournament of 1914: Emmanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Siegbert Tarrasch and Frank Marshall.  But it wasn't until 1950 that FIDE, which had been greatly boosted by acquiring control of the World Championship in 1948, first formally awarded the GM title to 27 players.

In that arguably halcyon time, Grandmasters were quasi-mythical beasts and there was a fond belief among the chess public that they were almost immune to blunders. Nowadays with chess engines in the background as games are transmitted live over the net, the reverse is true. And spectators regularly berate the players for missing tactics which in reality are extremely obscure to the human eye.

The truth, of course, is somewhere in-between. Grandmasters are very much flesh and blood and we can play horrifically and miss almost anything. But we also know a huge amount about chess and on good days can create real beauty.

On Friday, I canvassed the press room in London regarding massive blunders in World Championship games. Many thanks to FIDE Press Officer Daniel King, Jonathan Tisdall, Dominic Lawson and Kedar Lele from the Marathi newspaper e-Sakal for their input which together with mine generated these eight howlers:

 

Click or tap any game in the list below the board to switch games


Magic of Chess Tactics 2

FM Claus Dieter Meyer has put under the microscope a comprehensive fund of topical and timeless games / fragments. On video Hamburg GM Dr. Karsten Müller has outlined corner points of Meyer's work and created 14 tests plus 10 interactive test sets.

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.
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Peter B Peter B 11/19/2018 05:43
I think it is telling that there is no "?" in the Kramnik Leko annotation. It is a mistake, but not a blunder like all the others, which a 2000ish player like me could probably find the response to, given enough time. It's more a preparation error than a blunder. Perhaps a better example is Anand's 30 Nb6? against Kasparov's Sicilian Dragon in game 11, 1995, missing a fairly simple combination in reply.
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