Top 10 Biggest Blunders Grandmasters Made at Chess

I have decided to do a little research and to compile a list of  the biggest blunders made by top chess players in the world for last 20 or so years.

If you think that 2700 – 2800 rated players and the World Chess Champions don’t blunder at all, or if their blunders require a microscope (aka Houdini)  to be spotted you definitely need to read this!

Note:  the blunders are not sorted by their sizes, since it’s difficult to judge whose missed mate in one is a bigger blunder: Carlsen’s or Kramnik’s.

Chess Blunder #1. Magnus Carlsen – Merab Gagunashvili

Carlsen decided that saving a pawn is more important than preventing the checkmate, so he played

65. e5?? and ofcourse got mated 65…Rc1#

White to move

Chess Blunder #2. Larry Christiansen – Anatoly Karpov

L. Christiansen never became a world champion, but he has beaten one in just 12 moves. In this game Karpov played 11…Bd6?? without and sense of danger.  Now Christiansen is winning a piece with a nifty queen fork 12. Qd1. Karpov did not bother to continue the game and resigned immediately.

position after Karpov played 11…Bd6??

Chess Blunder #3. Deep Fritz – Vladimir Kramnik

Kramnik offered a queen exchange to a  German computer program Fritz, by playing 34…Qe3??. I bet the computer did not take long to find mate in one, which Kramnik has missed: 35. Qh7#.

position after Kramnik played 34…Qe3??

Chess Blunder #4. Donchev – Topalov

In this position Topalov missed a simple discovered attack with a check by Dimitar Donchev: 19. Nh6+ winning the queen.  Black resigned a move later.

position after Donchev played 19. Nh6+!

Chess Blunder #5. Anatoly Karpov – Matthew Sadler

In this game Karpov did not notice a subtle threat after Sadler played 12…e4. Karpov responded with pawn capture via 13. Rxf7?? losing his queen to a pawn (!!) 13…exd3.

White to move

Chess Blunder #6. Garry Kasparov – Vladimir Kramnik

In this game Kramnik offered a queen exchange once again playing 35…Qf8?? but here he did not get mated in one like in the game before. That still loses the game though, 36. Bd7+ winning the queen.

position after Kramnik played 35…Qf8??

Chess Blunder #7. Vladimir Kramnik – Wang Hao

Wang Hao missed a two-move tactical hit by Kramnik 26. Qb8+ followed by 27.Qb1 winning the rook via the fork.

position after Kramnik played 26. Qb8+

Chess Blunder #8. Pablo Lafuente – Shredder

In this game the player who blunders is surprisingly… a computer.  After the bishop exchange 19.Bxb7 Shredder calculated its variation 20 moves ahead and interestingly enough decided to ignore the white’s bishop whatsoever. Shredder played 19…Rfd8?? not regaining the material. Laufente won some 30 moves later.  The Shredder’s lose was later explained as ‘hash tables error’, with one in a million chance.

Shredder about to play 19…Rfd8??

Chess Blunder #9.  Alexander Morozevich – Boris Gelfand

In this game Gelfand played 30…Rd6?? missing the hidden pin and tactical hit by Morozevich ended the game quickly 31.Rxe4 winning the knight.

position after Gelfand played 30…Rd6??

Chess Blunder #10. Peter Heine Nielsen – Sergey Karjakin

Here Karjakin played 100…Kg5?? hanging the rook. Nielsen was happy to finally finish off this long game with 101.Nxa1.

Karjakin is about to play 100…Kg5??

Conclusions

1. Grandmasters and World Champions are human. They do make mistakes and blunder like 1500 rated players… not as often though.

2. Computers can blunder too! That was actually a big surprise for me.

Question?

Which one in your opinion is the biggest blunder from these 10?

Credits:

The image of Kasparov is taken from the public domain.

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Updated 01.06.2024

Comments:

Paul:
The Carlsen blunder is the biggest, but I would like to have some context about these games. Were these classical or much shorter time controls? Were the players in time pressure if it was a classical game?
Lucifer:
Kxa1 is Nxa1. Obviously, this person doesn't know what the knight's notation is.
bob:
Karpov-sadler - there is a white pawn missing on e2
Mr Portunity:
Maybe Nielsen 101. Kxa1 is a blunder too.....
Renan Prasta Jenie:
About Shredder "blunder", That technically is not a computer blunder, but more like mishap in logical coding by the programmer. Back then, processor and memory storage capacity is not as big and cheap as current computers, so, We programmers are trained to algorithmically keep the processor and memory burden small. One methods to do that is called "pruning", like bonsai pruning, which, in short, omit less logical move, we called it "garbage move", from equation, like freely let go of bishop to be "eaten" by the opponent queen. That is why Lafuente move goes unpunished, because that move is not even present in Shredder memory (or reference table). I have a hunch that may be Lafuente have a little grasp on how computer works. We chess programmer learn from past mistakes like this, and, due to cheap prcessing power and memory, now decided to omit pruning progress completely. Renan (´ ∀ ` *)
Mdnss:
I'm not a GM, but I think 101.Kxa1 is illegal in the 10th match.
david gohre:
so, the first time i loaded this page, ony phone, android 4.2.2, Chrome, the pop up ad scrolled past my field of view, and of course i had to reload the page. let's see if it happens again.
Yury:
But whose blunder is that? Anand's for letting be mated in one, or Ivanchuck's for missing it? ;-)
silveira:
There is also Ivanchuk missing mate in one against Anand.
rcnatarajan:
Karpov's oversight about his Queen is almost childish.
Carlos Morales:
Sorry I got confused. Isn't it 11...Fd6 rather than Bd6?2. Larry Christiansen - Anatoly Karpov
Arya:
Carlsen's blunder is great!!
Chava:
I think Kramnik's blunder was the worstmissing mate in 1 with few pieces on the board.
Gas:
You forgot ivanchucks misses mate in one. Theres a video on youtube
top vid:
Extremely invaluable helpful hints in this blog post!Thank you for writing about this!
Yury:
Hello Thor, that's a big blunder indeed, but it will go to the next list :-)
Thor:
you forgot kasparov's blunder vs Deep Blue
Yury:
Good point Martin Matthiesen, the Karpov's game was blindfold. Also, the Carlsen's #1 position is taken from the world blitz championship 2006. I think the rest are played with standard time control and conditions. :-)
Yury:
It maybe a little confusing but in the position 10 it's black to move. So, they blundered, playing 100...Kg5?? Then white take the rook with 101.Nxa1
Kyle Rasmussen:
You should change the last one to 101.Nxa1
Gaurang:
Thats a blitz game. Does not count.
Martin Matthiesen:
Karpov-Sadler was a blindfold game, but still..
Yury:
Hello Jagadish Dube, it's actually a double blunder since Anand allowed mate in 1 and Ivanchuk did not find it. Thanks for sharing!
Jagadish Dube:
Dear Sir, You have missed an important blunder.Anand Vs Ivanchuk Game.Here is the Link.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5YKoL4QKic
Yury:
Actually most of the games were played with classic time control except for 1 or 2 :-)
suyog wagh:
All the blunderd tskes place in blitz!!!!!!
Andrew J.:
Oh my god, I like #1,3,5 the most. I vote them to be the biggest blunders of the century in professional chess!
Yury:
Losing a Queen for a pawn is quite an unpleasant experience, especially in the more or less equal position. ;-)
Shubham Kumthekar:
According to me, the blunder in Karpov-Sadler is really horrifying!