Worst Game Ever!

by admin on February 13, 2020

I’ve got lots of candidates for the worst game ever played against the computer, but this morning I played one that has to be near the top of the list. I went from much better to checkmated in the span of six moves!

I was White, Fritz 17 was Black, it was set at a rating of 2025, and we were playing a time control of 40 moves in 10 minutes.

Dana Mackenzie — Fritz 17

1. e4 d5 2. ed Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe6+

You might remember that Fritz played this ugly-looking move in the first game I played against it. I’ve since come to realize that it almost always plays this variation, at least at this rating level. Perhaps if I set the rating higher it would play something different.

Still, the advantage of 3. … Qe6+ is that White is placed into completely unfamiliar territory. The best policy for White is just to stick to rapid development and not worry too much about chasing the queen around.

4. Be2 Nf6 5. Nf3 g6 6. O-O Nc6 7. d4 Qf5 8. Bc4 …

Because Black has lost a couple tempi with his queen, I felt it was okay for me to lose a tempo with the bishop. It was awkwardly posted on e2, while on c4 it makes some concrete threats, as we’ll see.

8. …a6?!

Losing another tempo to defend a threat (Nb5) that I don’t think Black needed to defend. Now I thought that I must be much better, and launched a full-scale attack.

9. Ng5 e6 10. d5!? …

So far, so good. The center is already opening up. However, I’m committing myself to a win by tactics, and that’s always a little bit dangerous because the computer is so much better than me at tactics. Usually the way to beat the computer is to slowly accumulate positional advantages.

10. … Ne5

Position after 10. … Ne5. White to move.

FEN: r1b1kb1r/1pp2p1p/p3pnp1/3PnqN1/2B5/2N5/PPP2PPP/R1BQ1RK1 w kq – 0 11

Now comes the key move that motivated me to play the 9. Ng5 variation.

11. de! fe

The computer of course doesn’t fall for 11. … Nxc4?? 12. ef+ Ke7 13. Re1+ Ne5 14. f4, recovering the material with interest. Now my adrenaline was pumping and I was looking for a Morphy-esque win. And that was my downfall! White has no immediate breakthrough. The computer says that White’s best line here is 12. Be2! h6 13. Nf3 — a psychologically impossible variation for me to play because I have to suppress all that adrenaline and calmly consolidate my position. And yet this is exactly how you beat a computer. The little skirmish has created a permanent weakness for Black, the pawn on e6. In fact, White would be way better here because Black has weaknesses all over the board and a still unresolved situation with his king and queen in the center.

Computers have no adrenaline. That’s one of their advantages over humans. I’d like to think that in a long game I could have calmed down and played 12. Be2, but in a rapid game there was no way.

12. Bb3 h6 13. f4?? …

This terrible move shows how I was fixated on my attack, to the point where I was blind to Black’s counterplay. White had to play the humiliating retreat 13. Nh3, with maybe a slight advantage.

13. … Bc5+

When I play rapid chess, this is the sort of move I constantly overlook: the in-between moves.

14. Kh1 hg 15. fe Qxe5

Position after 15. … Qxe5. White to move.

FEN: r1b1k2r/1pp5/p3pnp1/2b3p1/8/1BN5/PPP4q/R1B1QR1K w kq – 0 18

Absolutely crushing. White can’t defend the kingside without major material loss. Probably the best is to give up the bishop with 16. Bf4, but come on … I might as well resign.

16. g3 Qxg3

And now a funny thing happened. I was all set to play 17. Qe2 but I saw that 17. … Ng4 was lights-out. So then I thought, wait a minute, why not play 17. Qe1 and at least get queens off the board? So I played

17. Qe1 (?) Qxh2 mate!

Oh, that’s why not.

A pretty humiliating display of anti-chess. But there were some good lessons about controlling your emotions and looking at the position objectively. Also, the game shows (for the n-th time) that it’s risky to launch an attack (as I did) before all of your pieces are developed.

Hopefully I’ve gotten all the bad moves out of my system, so that I will play well this weekend in the U.S. Amateur Team Championship. Mike Splane has tried for years to recruit me to play on the Kolty Club team. Now that I’m actually the Kolty Club champion, I could hardly say no!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Yamil Duba February 14, 2020 at 3:24 am

This is great stuff as always Dana! Thank you. When I saw your move Ng5 I thought ‘Oh please don’t go on full-scale attack against Fritz without deceloping your pieces!’. Machines can be quite insulting at beating us. Nice conclusions to learn from your game. Thanks again!


LARRY SMITH February 14, 2020 at 10:42 am

Note that Carlsen has toyed with 3 … Qe6+ in some of his blitz games, even against strong competition. Reinfeld and Horowitz are turning over in their graves…

Good luck at the team tournament! Do your old Stean Punks teammates proud!


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