Now that we’ve all had some time to reflect and move on with our lives I decided to take a look back at some memorable blunders from the 2013 World Cup in Tromso, Norway. This all got started when I lost a game to an opponent where I was clearly better (+5 for you computers out there) and subsequently completely misplayed the attack and lost. After the game my opponent told me that since he saw some games from the world cup where they had massive advantages only to spoil them fantastically; then it was not such a big deal for mere mortals like us to do so. One thing I noticed in viewing all of these games and all of these blunders was that it seemed to be certain players that kept popping up over and over again on my blunder list; either they were blundering or their opponents were blundering horrendously. The solid guys certainly had their share of mistakes but ultimately I believe (through some unscientific research) that the difference between these guys at their level is technique and winning won games without spoiling them.
Elite players blundering mate in one? Strong players missing fairly obvious continuations? Endgame Meltdowns? You’ve come to the right place! Without further ado I present to you, the viewing public, the worst blunders from the world cup.
1. Tomashevsky (2703) – Morozevich (2739) 1/2-1/2??
In what was perhaps the most exciting and unpredictable match of the tournament Evgeny Tomashevsky needed only a draw to move on to the next round. Up to this point the games had been absolutely wild and during the games I believed that Morozevich should have won each game at least twice. Looking back at the games now I’ve come to the conclusion that Tomashevsky didn’t play as poorly as I originally thought (a thought reinforced by some color commentary by Lawrence Trent). Almost every game between these two had drastic swings from one side having an advantage to the other. In one game Tomashevsky just blunders a piece (as far as I could tell).
The game at hand was a sharp struggle where Tomashevsky seemed to have control throughout most of the game. Needing only a draw and in some time trouble it is understandable for Tomashevsky to look to end the game peacefully; so it came as a bit of a shock when he agreed to a draw with mate in 1 on the board (although perhaps not an obvious one). This is something you definitely do not see everyday.
2. Ushenina (2500) – Svidler (2746) 0-1
Anna Ushenina (former womens world champion) had the misfortune of being paired with last years winner in the first round. The games were far closer than one might imagine with Anna managing to win a must win game with black in the classical time control. After the first game of the rapids (a game won by Svidler) Anna managed to obtain a very promising position and had a reasonable advantage only to spoil it and then blunder a mate in two.
3. Kryvoruchko (2678) – Negi (2634) 0-1
This game follows the familiar pattern; one player gets a fairly sizable advantage, spoils it, gets mated. I’m inclined to recall a game I played with IM Nikoloz Managadze in Maryland a year or so ago. I had a nice position with white and was playing quite well. My opponent was making some strange moves and we reached a position where I actually thought I could win. My attack petered out and he began to throw in some queen checks. Thinking it didn’t matter much I moved my king to h1 instead of h3, whereupon I allowed my opponent to snap up two pawns and eventually mate me. Had I gone to h3 the best he would have had was perpetual. The difference between one square is remarkable in chess and the following game is a prime example of this. Kryvoruchko has the misfortune of walking into a checkmate after getting low on time.
4. Shimanov (2655) – Kamsky (2741) 1-0
The first few games showed us some comical examples of strong players either being checkmated or missing mates. This game was a comedy of errors; one player blunders horribly, another returns the favor until eventually Kamsky loses. In a must win situation Shimanov does the unthinkable and plays the Kings Gambit against Kamsky. Kamsky quickly loses his way and after move 18 finds himself in a fairly unpleasant position. It’s at this moment when things start to spiral out of control. On move 19 Kamsky maneuvers his rook over to the kingside where it creates a nice battery with the queen, and knight… unfortunately white has the shot 20. Nxf7 (the first missed opportunity) and instead opts for 20.Rf2?? Which allows the pretty Qxh2+! (a move it would appear that Kamsky had been preparing). Missing the winning shot Qxh2 Kamsky goes awry with Ng3??. For the next few moves both players play what appear to be the best moves until we start having another blunderfest after Shimanov plays 23.Kf1? which allows Kamsky back into the game and even allows him yet another shot at winning. Kamsky overlooks the best continuation instead opting for 31. … g2?? which swings the game back into Shimanov’s hands. At their level its rare to see so many blunders in such a short span of time, I’ve included the evaluation graph so that you can see what a disaster this game was.
5. Caruana (2796) – Malakhov (2709) 1-0
This has to be one of the most unfortunate games I’ve seen in a long time. Malakhov was one of those guys I mentioned in the beginning when I was talking about people who would consistently blunder or their opponents would blunder horribly against them. Perhaps Malakhov more than any other player in the tournament had some of the most good fortune (if you don’t believe me just look at his games with Fressinet). Karma does tend to sneak up on you and if you find you are getting lucky in many of your games you should be wary because there is a good chance that your luck could run out.
This game I chose as my worst blunder of the tournament. With Caruana on the ropes and mate in five on the board, Malakhov does the unthinkable and not only fails to mate him, but then invariably walks into a checkmate (having escorted whites king up the board).
I hope you guys have enjoyed my top five blunders of the 2013 world cup. At some point in the future I’ll be doing some opening analysis on the world cup for you theoreticians out there. What was your favorite moments from the world cup?