Complete Guide About Blunders in Chess

Everyone, even experienced players, is prone to game-changing blunders that can rarely be taken back or are difficult to reverse. It’s one of the worst feelings to have, especially during a crucial game. Strategizing chess moves is critical to winning and preventing your opponent from penetrating your defenses. Studying patterns and taking time to learn techniques, while reviewing your old games makes an excellent strategy for avoiding blunders. The best chess programs can help you avoid likely mistakes and prevent careless chess moves that lead to these blunders. 

For people who live watching chess games or for expert chess players, watching someone make a blunder is one of the most exciting parts of the entire game. Even if you are considered the best at the game, there’s always a chance that you’ll slip up or make a blunder during one of your games.

Chess is very unpredictable till the very last move. This is one of the reasons why there are even more chances for blunders to happen during a game. It’s normal for everyone to face this type of situation at least once in their career, regardless of how experienced they are in the game.

This article will discuss different chess blunders and what you can do to avoid them.

What Are Blunders In Chess?

When it comes to chess, a blunder is a type of move that causes the player to either lose a good position that can either give the opponent an advantage or cost them the game itself.

The blunder is a move that affects the nature of the game negatively for the player who makes the blunder. It’s like a mistake, but it affects the game more significantly than a mistake would.

More often than not, when a blunder occurs, the player will either lose their position in the game or allow the opponent to checkmate them.

Sometimes, whenever the opponent makes a mistake in their move, but the other party fails to notice this, it can also be considered a blunder. This is because the mistake the opponent made in the game could have been used to their advantage, but since this opportunity was missed, it changed the course of the game significantly.

Both parties need to be able to notice the blunders that the opposition party makes. Hence, if you are an experienced player, there is a higher chance for you to recognize minor blunders made by the opponent and use them to your advantage.

This is why it is essential that all players know how to identify blunders and exploit them for their benefit. While blunders are common among beginners, no one is free from committing blunders. Even the most experienced player can commit a blunder at some point in their chess career.

What Is The Difference Between Mistakes And Blunders?

A blunder is a move that can cause the loss of material in the game significantly negatively. It can even be the root cause of why someone loses the game, even if that person seemingly wins the match at the beginning.

Chess is often a quiet yet ruthless game. This is justified by the fact that even if a player is seasoned in the game and has an effective strategy, the player can lose the game in the end because of one single blunder.

A mistake is a move that can cause problems in the game but is not as big as a blunder.

However, it is essential to note that a blunder will not cause you to lose your game immediately but can cause a lot of damage to the game you have meticulously built throughout. On the other hand, mistakes are often easier to correct than blunders since blunders are much more negatively significant than a mistake.

What Are The Causes Of Blunders In Chess?


Players can think they are winning the game when they are losing. Although it sounds elementary, many new players are often clouded by many complex thought processes that make them vulnerable to misinterpreting certain plays and thinking they’re going to win when they are actually losing the match.

List of Causes


Players can often mistake certain winning pieces with their moves without double-checking. Without a blunder check, you miscalculate certain moves as winning moves that can get you to acquire some pawns or pieces of your opponent. However, you make the wrong move and make a huge blunder that sometimes causes you the game.


As obvious as it sounds, being careless in an intense chess game can cause you to lose it. Chess is a game that demands high focus and concentration, so you cannot risk being reckless with your moves.

Pay attention to every little detail of the game to be ahead of your opponent and reduce the chances of causing blunders.


Chess is an intense game because of the sheer amount of thinking you must do before making a single step. Even if it seems unlikely, chess is played with your whole body. So the more uncomfortable you feel in your position, the more likely it is that this discomfort will manifest in your entire body. For example, you’ll become fidgety, leaving you uneasy throughout the game.

Whether the discomfort is a minor or a major one, it can affect the way you think, eventually disrupting your thought process.

Because of the distractions from the rest of your body, like your feet not being in the correct position or the arms of your chair not being in the proper alignment, you tend to lose focus on the game. And the highest level of focus is critical to any game of chess.


Blunders are often the result of panic. Chess players know the time constraints they have to play during every match. But sometimes, when overthinking about making the right moves, they lose much of the time they have to make their move.

Hence, when they’re nearing the end of their time slot, they lose focus and make a quick move, often becoming a blunder or mistake.

When a player faces this, it is termed “time trouble.” This is more popular with games like Bullet Chess, classical, rapid chess, and Blitz.

Therefore, time management is a critical aspect of chess that every player needs to master.


Some people are awarded the title of Chess Master, but in a much more literal sense, there’s no one master of chess. Chess is an unpredictable game that can change anytime with a single move. So there’s really no guarantee that just because a player is experienced and good in other games, he or she will win the current one.

Every match is different. Hence, players mustn’t be overconfident about any game. Any type of underestimation against the opponent can be detrimental to the outcome of your game.

You might let your guard down if you’re too confident about your strategy or think your opponent is a newbie. But this gives your opponent a chance to use different tactics to attack your pieces when you least expect it.

What Are Common Ways During Playing And Studying To Avoid Blunders?

Question Every Move

Always ask the question “why” for every move your opponent makes. Try to find out why they moved a specific piece to a different position.

The whole idea of a chess match is you try to understand your opponent’s strategy. This way, you get the upper hand anticipating their next moves and staying one step ahead of the game.

It is important to understand that every move usually has a purpose in chess. So asking yourself why your opponent is making a specific move can help you guess what might be your opponent’s game plan.

Always Double-Check Every Move You Make

Nothing is more important than being thorough about every move you make when playing chess. Being double-sure about every move you make when playing chess is critical in determining whether you make blunders or mistakes.

Many players overlook this importance and end up playing their strategy without studying the nature and flow of the match at the moment. Most blunders happen when you stop double-checking your moves. So save yourself from unnecessary blunders by double-checking your moves.

Try To Avoid Instinctual Moves As Much As Possible

Instinctual moves are referred to as automatic moves as well. Most of the time, these moves don’t benefit you in the long run. Instead, it might become a problem for you.

Experts recommend that you suppress your instincts and stop yourself from making these instinctual moves. For example, sit on your hands so you can’t move your pieces for at least 30 seconds. You can use this time to study the board and think about your moves. It can also save you from a lot of blunders.

Be As Calculative As You Can

All chess players know that every game is about calculating each move. Try to have at least 4-5 combinations of moves already calculated.

It’s always a plus point if you can dig even deeper and calculate every move a step further. Your two or three extra calculated moves can save you from losing the game because the more you study the game, the better your decision-making skills will be in-game.

Focus On Improving Your Tactics In-Game

Anyone who knows how chess works know that a significant part of a chess game is about having tactical awareness. There are a lot of different tactics that people employ for playing chess; some are more common than others.

Try to educate yourself on these basic tactics to know what your opponent might be trying to do. It’s a known fact that most blunders are made because of the lack of awareness about different tactical motifs. So even if the opponent tried to use some basic game tactics, you might miss it or overlook the moves and get trapped in the attack.

Historic Games When Blunders Occurred

In chess, when you hear the word “blunder,” it means that there has been a bad move that was made by either party, which might eventually cause critical damage to the game for one of the players.

Steinitz x Chigorin

Chigorin and Steinitz were up against each other for this 1982 World Title game. By the time the 23rd game came around, it had looked like Chigorin was in for the game-win, but this is when he made the biggest blunder.

The game outcome would have been decided after 32.Rxb7, but Chigorin removed his h2 pawn’s protection with 32.Bb4. After this move, the match eventually ended after the 32.Rxh2+.

Bobby Fischer Vs. Spassky

This blunder is one of the most popular blunders ever committed in chess. Fischer made his biggest blunder when playing his first game in the World Championship Match in 1972.

The game was against Spassky, where Fischer played the black chess pieces. The game ended on Fischer’s 29th move, while Spassky had already played his 29th one. The game would have drawn, but Fischer, because he didn’t want to end in a draw, decided to go for an attack against Spassky.

His blunder move was a 29 Bxh2, after which Spassky played the 30th g3. Because of this, the white trapped the bishop, and only a few moves later, the black faced endgame when Fischer lost his bishop to two pawns.

Christiansen x Karpov

Grand Master Larry Christiansen played against Anatoly Karpov. Karpov was well known for his particular way of playing all of his games but unfortunately, in this match. The blunder was dramatic because he lost the match under just 12 moves.

For some reason, Karpov decided to play 11 Bd6 and had to resign after the 12.Qd1 move.

Gata Kamsky vs. Alexis Shiro

As mentioned earlier, even Grand Master titles can make blunders in some games. As such, Kamsky made the blunder that would cost him the game.

In his game against Alexis Shiro, also a Grand Master proposed an exchange by moving his Queen piece to the Qc5 position. Since Kamsky didn’t want the exchange, he moved his Queen back to the b3 position.

This is where the blunder happened. In his attempt to avoid the exchange proposal, he failed to see that he had left his knight without protection. After this blunder, Kamsky resigned.

Veselin Topalov vs Vladimir Kramnik

In the 2006 World Chess Championship, Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik played against each other. After the queens were exchanged, Topalov’s move 20 was attacked by a series of better moves by Kramnik, winning him a pawn.

Leaving Topalov in a bad situation, he made another blunder with his move 44, where he went for an Rxc5. This eventually cost him the title.

Carlsen vs. Gagunashvili

Although this was a Blitz game, it was still one of the most talked about blunders of the 2006 World Blitz Championship. When it was Carlsen’s turn to move, he decided to play e5 in an attempt to save his pawn, but it ended up costing him the game and the title.

Kramnik vs. Deep Fritz

This game between man and machine has made history as one of the most popular blunders ever made in a game of chess. This was a World Championship in 2005.

The losing move was decided when Kramnik tried to force a queen’s exchange after 34Qe3. Black could have easily equalized with 34Kg8, but because of the blunder, the game ended after a crushing move of 35.Qh7#.

Capablanca vs. Saemisch

Friedrich Saemisch and José Raul Capablanca’s match was one of the most talked about blunders. Capablanca decided to play 9 … Ba6 which immediately cost him a piece after 10.Qa4.

Have Legendary Chess Players Made Blunders?

Yes. Chess games are very unpredictable, so even if you are a professional or considered a Grand Master, you are not free from making blunders.

Although, with practice, you might develop some skills and tactics that will help you reduce the number of blunders you face, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t face any blunders throughout your career as a chess player.

Even if it does not mean that the player who made the blunder will immediately lose the game, there is a high chance that that one wrong move will cost them a lot throughout the game. There have been many famous World class players who have gone through this ordeal and ended up making headlines because of their dramatic blunders.

For example, Magnus Carlsen, who was the World Number One at the time of playing a match against Merab Gagunshvili, ended up making a colossal blunder that cost him the game and the title.

Likewise, Veselin Topalov, the FIDE World Chess Champion of the time, lost the match due to a surprising blunder during the 2006 World Chess Championship against Kramnik.

As you can see, even Grandmasters and world title holders sometimes make blunders. It’s an inevitable situation that can occur to anyone. But fortunately, there are so many ways you can improve your chess-playing skills to reduce the number of blunders you make.

How Probable Is It To Make Blunders?

Making blunders is all part of playing chess. But you should also note that making blunders can be significantly reduced if you have more practice.

There are different types of blunders that you can make:

  • Allowing stalemate
  • Dropping a chess piece
  • A direct attack from the opponent that causes you to lose your material
  • Becoming the first victim of a checkmate
  • A future attack from the opponent that causes you to lose your material

These are some of the most common blunders chess players will encounter as they move their way through their chess careers. For every move you make in chess, you must do a blunder check to avoid losing your position.

Always make a conscious effort to try and do a blunder check for every move you make with your chess pieces, even if you know it isn’t a blunder. This practice will help you develop a mindset that is always naturally checking for blunders so that you can significantly reduce the frequency of blunders occurring in your games.

Final Thoughts

Below are things you should remember to make your games blunder free:

  • Critical blunders many chess players make can be classified into 5 major categories. This includes dropping a piece, allowing a stalemate, losing material because of a direct attack, losing material because of a failure to anticipate the opponent’s future attack, and getting checkmate. The first step to avoiding these blunders is making yourself aware of them. For chess moves to be blunder-free, you need to make an effort to check every possibility before making a move. Blunder checking is critical to preventing mistakes.
  • In addition to blunder checking, you also need to do a tactics check, which involves visualizing the move you want to make as it plays on the board in order to see if the opponent has immediate resources for a counterattack or has forcing moves that may put you at a disadvantage.
  • Whenever your opponent makes a move, make sure to be sensitive to threat. Threat detection is a critical skill you should learn so you can make chess moves that effectively counters the idea behind your opponent’s strategies. Try to deduce meaning out of your opponent’s every move so you won’t miss any of their tactics.
  • Finally, watch your assumptions and make as few of them as possible. This is important because making too many assumptions in a chess match can restrict your thinking and cause you to mis-evaluate positions. Assumptions often lead to an overestimation of the opponent’s move, which leads to more blunders instead of avoiding mistakes.