Welcome, once again, to the familiar world of Blunderland, a place we have all visited far too often but which never fails to entertain us when it is someone else’s misfortune we are witnessing. If you have ever been in this situation and thought to yourself, ‘Why doesn’t this ever happen to top players?’, take heart from this excruciating oversight from the Women’s US Championships currently taking place in St Louis. In the black corner we have the top seed IM Anna Zatonskih (2451) and in the white corner, the 16 year old WIM Jennifer Yu (2196). It is Round 1 and perhaps Anna viewed the pairing as a gentle full toss to get off the mark. It clearly was not that but at least she had a draw. White had just played 57.d6 and the following position occurred:
At this point the computer has the position as 0.00 i.e. dead equal. What could possibly go wrong? That pesky pawn is uncomfortably close to queening but dealing with that shouldn’t be a problem. Well, have a look at the position and be honest – how many of you would have played the seemingly logical 57…..Rd1+?? That is precisely what Anna played and who knows what was going through her head were she able to see the computer’s analysis jump from 0.00 to ‘White can mate in 8 moves’ ! What had she overlooked? Why, of course, 58. Kc2! Black resigned. To Anna’s credit, she won her next game in 23 moves, has won three out of her four games since this defeat and is currently joint leader with 3½/5 while Jennifer, notwithstanding her good fortune in Round 1, has only won once since and is on 2½/5.
If you come across any similar blunders worth sharing – either your own or any you have seen or read about – please send them in so that next time we are feeling miserable after our latest disaster, we can console ourselves that even the best in the land get it wrong sometimes.