Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Video Blunder

You have to be terribly careful these days. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, there could be someone pointing a camera lens at you. I read a statistic recently about the number of times you appear on CCTV every time you walk down the street (I cannot recall the number but it was surprisingly large).

This even applies when you play chess... click here to watch me leave a rook en prise. I had no idea someone was videoing this, during a recent light-hearted rapidplay match between The Guardian and The Capablanca Club. With the help of the video I was able to reconstruct the finish. Don't bother setting up a chessboard because it is not terribly educational, but it might help to explain what is going on in the video clip.

John Saunders - Jovanka Houska, Guardian v Capas, 18.04.2007

39...Rh2+ 40 Kg1 Kxf4 41 exf6?? (Calmly blundering a whole rook! 41 Rd4+ Kxf3 42 Rd3+ should draw) 41...Rxd5 42 Re1 (A long pause as the awfulness of the blunder sinks in. Poker face – but I was screaming inside) Rdd2 (42...Rdh5 mates) 43 f7 Rdg2+? (Jovanka only had a few seconds left: 43...Rh8 wins) 44 Kf1 Rf2+ 45 Kg1 Rhg2+ 46 Kh1 Rh2+ 47 Kg1 Rfg2+ 48 Kf1 Rf2+ 49 Kg1 ½–½

I think I mumble something about “missing a win” (earlier in the game) but fail to mention missing a loss! Not sure the game merited a round of applause. Thanks to Arne Hagesaether, who took the video. More still photos of the event can be found at Jovanka's excellent website -

But here's what can happen in similar circumstances if you fail to keep your feelings in check. Not for the squeamish.


  1. My German doesn't extend beyond "zugzwang" and "elfmeter". What's he saying?

  2. She tried to talk about the game, but He said "it will be the first and last time you will beat me." Watch it with sound or headphones if you can- it is in English.

  3. Can I just clarify (for anyone reading the blog who has not clicked on the links to the two video clips) that the "he" and "she" referred to in the above comments are Viktor Korchnoi and Sofia Polgar. Saunders v Houska ended in smiles and good humour, I'm glad to say.

  4. I've seen the Korchnoi v Sofia Polgar clip before and it shows how intense Korchnoi is about the game!!! He clearly finds it hard to keep his feelings in check sometimes!!

    I recall playing once in my youth in a team event where South Wales took on North Wales in Llandrindod Wells, which was covered by a brief bulletin on the local news. By the time the cameras were recording, I had already lost my game, so was asked to play another casual game with a different player so as not to leave 2 empty seats on the end of a row of players!

    I could be clearly seen in the news report, but for the brief few seconds the cameras rolled I was frozen - I didn't want to play a move in case I was caught on camera making a horrendous mistake. lol