Chess

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The Independent Culture
BLUNDERS are something we all know about, for even the greatest players have never managed totally to eliminate the occasional crass error. The diagram position shows an awful example from a top-board game at the Chess Olympics earlier this year. Yasser Seirawan is a calm and well-balanced player, yet here, playing Black against Predrag Nikolic, he moved 33 . . . Qe4 losing the queen immediately to 34. Bh6+.

How can such a thing happen? A grandmaster, used to accurately calculating ten or a dozen moves ahead as a matter of routine, overlooks something at Move 1. The simple answer blames a lapse of concentration; ch16out-harts-nws the complex answer is that too intense concentration on those 12-move lines interfered with vital mundane considerations; but the honest answer is that there is no simple answer. Blunders happen because our minds are ill-designed to cope with 32 men arranged on 64 squares. Good chess demands a delicate mental balancing act, and sometimes, in the effort, the whole thought-pile collapses.

What is certain is that if White had had a pawn on e4 in the diagram position, Seirawan would never have played 1 . . . Qxe4. It is impossible to make a capture without some saving trace of suspicion.

A little paranoia, it is said, can be of benefit to a chessplayer. Certainly no self-respecting paranoiac would make a blunder like this.

Yesterday's answer: 1. Qg8+] Kxg8 2. Nh6 mate.

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