Short Losses by World Champions, Part 5

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

This week we finish up with World Chess Champions Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

Deep Blue (computer) – Kasparov, Gary, 1:0, 1997

Caro-Kann Defense


Perhaps it is unfair to include this game in this series since Kasparov’s opponent was a computer.  But make no mistake, Kasparov took the match against Deep Blue very seriously.  It is also one of the most famous games ever played.  It put to rest the question of whether or not a computer program could beat the best human players.  This is also one of just two cases where the shortest loss by a World Champion happened while he was World Champion.

Anand, Viswanathan – Kramnik, Vladimir, 1:0, 5/19/2005

Petroff’s Defense

The future and current World Champions face off in a mega tournament in Bulgaria.  In addition to being one of only two games in this series where the winner and loser are both World Champions, this is also one of only two games in the series where the loser is the World Champion at the time of the game.

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 Nb4 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nc3 Bf5 11. a3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Nc6 13. Re1 Re8 14. cxd5 Qxd5 15. Bf4 Rac8 16. Qc1 A little off the beaten path.

[More common is 16. Bd3 Qd7 17. Rb1 Bxd3 18. Qxd3 b6  +0.16|d17 Rybka4]

Up to here this has been a solidly played game by both sides, but now Kramnik plays two bad moves in a row.

16… Na5!? How many times must it be said – even to World Champions – “Knight on the rim spells a trim.”

[16… Bf6 17. Qb2 Na5 18. Rad1 Qb3  +0.25|d18 Rybka4]

  1. c4! Anand sees that the three undefended pieces on the 5th rank are vulnerable and plays to exploit them.

17… Qe4?! Since it is so obvious that you shouldn’t put your queen on the line of attack of your opponents pieces, I can only conclude that Kramnik miscalculated.

[17… Qd8 18. Qc3  +0.53|d16 Rybka4 His position is a little disorganized, but at least it is safe.]

  1. Bd1 Qd3

[The only other move that saves the queen 18… Qc6 drops a piece for a pawn. 19. Re5 Nxc4 20. Rxf5  +2.43|d16 Rybka4]

  1. Re3! The zwischenzug that Kramnik apparently overlooked on his last three moves.

[Not 19. Re5 ? 19… Nxc4 20. Be2 Nxe5 21. Bxd3 Nxd3 22. Qd2 Nxf4 23. Qxf4  -0.37|d17 Rybka4]

19… Qxc4 20. Re5 Kramnik has to lose either the knight or the light square bishop.  He chooses to resign instead.

[20… Qxc1 21. Bxc1 g6 22. Rxa5 a6 23. Ne5 Rcd8 24. Bb3  +1.53|d5 Rybka4]


Zapata, Alonso – Anand, Viswanathan, 1:0, 1988

Petroff’s Defense

This game was played in a minor tournament twenty years before Anand won the World Chess Championship, but even so he was already a strong player.  His opponent is a Columbian grandmaster.

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Not the usual move, but perfectly good.

5… Bf5? At least Anand was aware that his knight was under attack.  Unfortunately this move falls short.

[5… Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Bd3 Nd7 8. Be3 Nc5 9. Bxc5 dxc5 10. Qe2 O-O 11. O-O-O Bd6 12. Rhe1 Qf6 13. Kb1 Be6 14. Qe3 Rfe8 15. Qg5 Be7 16. Qg3 Bd6 17. Qg5 Be7 18. Qg3 Bd6 19. Qg5 1/2-1/2, Radjabov Teimour (AZE) 2756  – Topalov Veselin (BUL) 2813 , Nice  3/14/2009 It “Amber” (blindfold)]



  1. Qe2

[The only plausible defense to the threat to win the knight, 6… Qe7 , fails to 7. Nd5 Qd7 8. d3  +3.04|d5 Rybka4]


Pelletier, Yannick  – Carlsen, Magnus, 1:0, 7/24/2005

Nimzo-Indian Defense

Yes, even Carlsen has been known to have a bad day.

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 Classical Variation. A very solid system which is very popular these days. White avoids doubled pawns on the c-file, prepares to attack the bishop with a2-a3, and takes control over the important central e4-square. A drawback of this plan is White’s slow development.

4… d5 5. cxd5 c5 6. dxc5 Nxd5!? Certainly aggressive, but this has the drawback of leaving the queen bishop hemmed in.

[6… exd5 7. Bg5 h6 (7… Nc6 8. O-O-O Bxc3 9. Qxc3 d4 10. Qa3 h6 11. Bh4 g5 12. Bg3 Ne4 13. e3 f5 14. f3 Nxg3 15. hxg3 Be6 16. exd4 Qd5 17. Ne2 Qxa2 18. Qxa2 Bxa2 19. d5 Nb4 20. Nc3 Rc8 21. Rd4 a5 22. Rxb4 axb4 23. Nxa2 Rxc5 24. Kb1 Rxd5 25. Nxb4 Rd4 26. Nd3 Kf7 27. Kc2 Kg7 28. Be2 Re8 29. Kd2 Kf6 30. Ra1 Re7 31. Ra5 Kg6 1/2-1/2, Sumets Andrey (UKR) 2595  – Matnadze Ana (GEO) 2413 , Palma de Majorca 11/22/2009 It (open)) 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4 10. e3 Qa5 11. Be5 O-O  +0.00|d16 Rybka4]

  1. Bd2 Bxc5 8. Nxd5 Qxd5 9. e4 Qd4 Again, this certainly is aggressive, but the trouble with making aggressive moves with your queen in the opening is that you leave it vulnerable to attack.

[Safer is 9… Qc6 10. Rc1 Bb6 11. Qb1 Qd7 12. Nf3 O-O 13. Be2 Nc6 14. O-O  +0.49|d13]

  1. O-O-O! White immediately takes advantage of the exposed queen.

10… Nd7 11. Bb5 O-O? Noooo!  Not only does the king need to stay on e8 to defend the knight, but the queen needs to get off of the d-file to get off the line of the rook.

[11… Qe5 12. Bc3 Qg5 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Nf3 Qe7  +0.56|d17 Rybka4]

  1. Bc3 Qxf2 13. Qxf2 Bxf2 14. Bxd7 Be3 15. Kc2 Rb8 Carlsen, down a knight for a pawn, resigned without waiting for a reply. [1:0]

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