Even Masters choke under pressure

Chess Checks
Last Updated : 23 January 2016, 18:33 IST
Last Updated : 23 January 2016, 18:33 IST

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The general perception among chess following enthusiasts is that the Masters play accurately or flawlessly without mistakes in a game of chess. Most often this assumption would be correct but at times with pressure and the clock ticking ominously, mistakes and blunders can creep into any level of the game.

The game which follows is replete with mistakes and blunders from both sides. It is almost amusing to see that the path to victory is missed more often than taken. Ultimately it is White who finds the winning touch

White: Karsten Rasmussen (2417) – Black: Josko Mukic (2278)
Saint Vincent, 2000
Scandinavian Defence
1.e4 d5
The Scandinavian Defence where Black brings his queen early into the game
2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5
More popular options are 3. ..Qd6 or3. ..Qd8. 4.Bc4 c6 5.d4 Bf5 6.Bd2 e6 7.g4
A good aggressive pawn advance. If 7.d5 cxd5 8.Nxd5 Qd8 9.Qe2 Ne7 10.Ne3 Nbc6 11.Nf3 Qc7 12.0–0–0 0–0–0
7...Bg6 8.d5
White introduced a novelty early in the game
8...Qc5. If 8...cxd5 9.Nxd5 Qd8 10.Qe2 Nf6 11.Nxf6+ Qxf6
9.Qe2 cxd5 10.Nxd5 Nf6 11.Bb4 Qc8
If 11...Qd4 12.Nc7+ Kd7 13.Bc3
12.Nxf6+ gxf6 13.Bc3 Be7 14.g5
White can also castle here
14. ..Nc6 15.0–0–0
If15.gxf6 Bb4
15...Qc7 16.Qe3
White can also move his King to 16.Kb1 And if 16.gxf6 Bxf6 17.Bxf6 Qf4+ 18.Qd2 Qxf6 19.Qd7+ Kf8
16...e5. Black had better options in 16. ..Nb4  17.Bb3 a5  18.a4 than this central pawn advance
17.Nf3 0–0. Castling on the King-side is a mistake with the King appearing unsafe here. 18.Rhg1
White should have tried to pile pressure with 18.h4 Nd4  19.gxf6. With the text move her more or less surrenders his advantage
18. ..fxg5. Black also blunders, just when he had a chance to try and get out of trouble to equalize. Correct is 18...Rad8
19.Nxg5 Rad8
Another mistake! If 19. ..Qb6  20.Rd7 And if 19...Nd4 20.Rxd4 Bc5 21.Nxh7 Kxh7 22.Rh4+
20.Rxd8 Bxd8. Another blunder! Black should have captured with the knight 20. ..Nxd8  21. Bb3 Qc5
21.h4. White can try to wrap up quickly with 21.Nxh7 Kxh7  22.Bd2 Ne7  23.Qh6+
21. ..Kh8
Another mistake! He should have played 21...Nd4 22.Bd3 Bxg5 23.Rxg5 f6 24.Rg3
One more mistake! It is incredible to see both sides buckling under pressure and failing to find correct continuations! White should have played 22.h5! Bxh5 (22...Bf5 23.Nxf7+ Rxf7 24.Bxf7 Qxf7 25.Bxe5+ Nxe5 26.Qxe5+ Bf6 27.Qb8+) 23.Nxh7 Kxh7 24.Qh3 Qd6 25.Bd2
22...Qb6 23.Qf3. If 23.Qg3 Bxg5+ 24.Qxg5 Qd8 25.Bxe5+ Nxe5 26.Qxe5+ f6
23...Nd4 24.Bxd4 exd4 25.Bxg6 Qxg6 26.Qxb7 d3 27.c3. One more mistake!  
27...Bxg5+ 28.Rxg5
Another blunder! Correct continuation is 28.hxg5 Rd8 29.Kd2 Re8

Diagram 1

28...Qh6. Another blunder! Black suddenly had chance to gain advantage with  28...Qe6. 29.Qf3 (29.Rg1?! Qe2 30.Qb3 (30.Kb1 Qc2+ 31.Ka1 d2 32.Qh1 Re8) 30...d2+ 31.Kb1 Qe1+ 32.Qd1 Re8 33.Kc2 Qe4) 29...Qe1+ 30.Qd1 d2+ 31.Kc2 Qe4+ 32.Kb3 Rb8+
29.Qe4 Rd8
If 29...f6 30.Qd4 Rb8 31.f4 d2+ 32.Kc2
30.Kd1 Qf6 31.Qe5 Rd6
31...Qxe5 32.Rxe5 Kg7 33.Kd2
32.Qe8 Checkmate. 1–0
Diagram 2
Black to play and checkmate
1 .. Bxg4+ 2.Qxg4
If 2.Kxg4 Qf5 checkmate
2...Qh2 checkmate.

Published 23 January 2016, 17:03 IST

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