Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The ultimate ultimate blunder


Tim Krabbé, the Dutch chessplayer and novelist, has on his website a feature The Ultimate Blunder, in which he has collected 35 different examples of players resigning in positions they were winning. He calls this "the ultimate blunder" and it's hard to quarrel with the description.

The ultimate ultimate blunder, presumably, would be one in which a player resigned having mate available on the move, and, through the kindness of our good hearts and a contributor to our comments box, we're able to provide readers with this very specimen, this very day. It was sent to us last week as a comment on the latest in our series The Worst Move On the Board, claiming to trump all other contenders, even, for that title.

For me it doesn't qualify under that rubric, since resignation, by definition, isn't a move: it's a refusal to make any more moves than one has already. But it does fit Krabbe's criteria and, it seems to me, cannot be bettered. White had mate in one: not seeing it, he preferred to resign instead. You can't get any more ultimate than that.

The position at the top of the column is from Anonymous-Crews, Evening Standard, approx 1981. Play continued from the diagram 1.Qh4 Nf1 leading to the following position:


White has mate in one available (I'll not insult your intelligence by pointing it out). But the move was never played - and nor was any other, since White saw fit to resign in the face of what seemed to them to be inevitable defeat.

Magnificent. Naturally I would have preferred the victim - who will remain anonymous unless and until he or she wishes to be otherwise - to be Nigel Short, but magnificent nevertheless. I cannot ask our readers whether they have done any better, since no better than this can possibly be done. But I can ask - can anyone match that?

5 comments:

Jonathan B said...

He failed to see a mate ... I saw one that wasn't there.

Which of use made the bigger mistake?

Anonymous said...

It was definitely 1981 - Summer. It's the name of the tournament I forget. West Centre London I remember it as, but am sure it had an Evening Standard Connection.

Campion said...

What about resigning when you've been offered a draw? I'm afraid I can't remember the match details, but it's listed in The Even More Complete Chess Addict (Mike Fox and Richard James)

Anonymous said...

My sister once played a game with me. She was white, I was black, and I had a heavy advantage against her. But then she made this simple move with a bishop that suddenly turned the game around. I was on the ropes. I had no idea how to counter the threat. It was a brilliant move.

The bishop she moved was black. It took me five minutes to realize that it was my piece. Whose was the bigger blunder there?

Anonymous said...

I also think it's quite weird that black didn't do anything to prevent this obvious mate though, he could have done quite a few things including a very blunt capturing of the queen, then playing on with the knight advantage.