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?