Improving Chess: 'How to Blunder' for Dummies

Every day you play a chess game and every day you blunder. Every single game turns from brilliancy to blunderfest after ten moves, twenty moves, thirty. No matter how hard the practice, no matter how much trying, no matter how many lessons "learned" from mistakes, there is just blundering, and blundering, and blundering. There is no progress in sight; each day you mutter to yourself: "into the valley of death rides the 600."

If the above sounds like you, do not despair: this article was written for you! You think blundering is so interwoven into the fabric of your chess persona that it can never be removed, but this is just a facade covering the truth. In simple terms, this means you can break free from your blundering. You have not broken free from you blundering because you have not yet learned how to blunder. This lesson will teach you everything you need to know about how to blunder.

Alright, sign me up; how do I blunder?

Alright, sign me up; how do I blunder?

So, you are still reading; you want to learn how to blunder, eh? Good choice. Luckily for you, I have all the answers; let me share with you my top three tips on the most effective ways to blunder. If followed to the "T," then you will be well on your way to blundering on every move! Just one warning: if these instructions are ignored, or, even worse, deliberately disobeyed, you will see a huge drop in the blunders in your play. Do not forget this. 

How to Blunder: Tip 1

The first way to blunder more often is to focus solely on your side of the chess board. When your opponent is brooding about your demise, ignore him completely! If you want to blunder, just focus on your plans and how you are going to annihilate your feeble foe. There is no time to worry about the opponent's ideas; his could never stand against ours. 

So often you hear the word, "prophylaxis." Prophylaxis is the idea that you could make a good move that actively prevents your opponent's plans before he plays them. Many people think it is important to play both offense and defense in your chess games, but doing so is counterproductive in our pursuit of blundering. Let me demonstrate with a diagram.


Above, white asked himself the critical question we are to avoid in order to blunder more often: what is my opponent's threat?" He found out that he would really like to win the e5 night with something like 1.Ra1 Rxa1 2.Qxa1 and 3.Re1 (if necessary) to pick up the pinned piece. He also realized that his opponent would not like him to do that. Because of this, he realized that his opponent wanted to get out of the pin "with tempo" with the move Nxf3(+). Deciding to avoid that to win the knight, white played 1.Kh1! Suddenly there is no way to avoid the loss of the knight. 1...Rfd8 2.Re1 f6 3.Qe2 N7c6 4.Bxc6! bxc6 5.Nxe5 fxe5 6.Bxe5 Bxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5 8.Rxe5. A pawn was snagged.  

Had our friend not worried about his opponent's ideas, he could have played some beautiful blunders. For instance, the blunderful idea of 1.Ra1?? would be perfect because of 1...Rxa1 2.Qxa1 Nxf3+! 3.gxf3 Qxf4! This type of ignorance is perfect for blundering.

How to Blunder - Tip 2

The second tip you must internalize to blunder on a consistent basis is to NEVER do tactics. If you absolutely never do tactics, you will be well on your way to blundering much more often. The more you do tactics, the less you will blunder (period). If you insist on doing tactics for whatever reason, it is most important to just randomly guess on your first whim as to what the correct move is. Do not spend any time on any problem, do not remember any of the critical patterns, only care about high ratings. 

It is said that tactics are the "oil" to help keep a chess player on top of his game. Tactics that are studied with care (i.e. you are willing to spend a half a dozen minutes to figure out each problem if necessary) and careful consideration of the patterns presented will keep you from blundering. If you like blundering; stay away from this. 

Tactics Training: White to play; what's best?

This puzzle incorporates the two things I just told you to avoid if you want to blunder. This is a tactic, and the correct way to solve it is to ask what is black's idea. Black has decided he wants to run his king away back to h5 when white hits him with f3+. White saw this and played 1.Ng7!! There was no defense:  1...Ne2 2.f3#. The moral of this story is by avoiding tactics, you will dull your mind to seeing tactical shots like this and thus you will be able to blunder more often!

How to Blunder - Tip 3

The third and final tip on how to blunder is a type of binary tip. You get two for one with this deal: always spend too little or too much time on any given move. The first part of this is straightforward; if you move too quickly, you will not have time to see all of the positional nuances and you will be able to more consistently blunder than when spending a larger portion of your time. 

However, the reasoning behind spending too much time on any given move is shrouded in a bit more mystery. There are two reason why spending too much time on a move is beneficial in blundering more often. The first is it will mean you have less time to spend on critical moves down the road. When this comes about, you will tend to spend "too little" time on those moves causing the aforementioned blunders! The second reason to spend too much time on any given move is to give yourself time to forget your opponent's immediate threats. 

If you need to go back and look at tip 1 to see why not looking at your opponent's threats is great at helping you blunder more, then, by all means, do so. But the real genius behind this isn't in that fact, but in how you get to that fact. How does spending too much time on a move give you the chance to forget the present ideas? For that, we need a story!

Nguyen (VIE) vs. Waitzkin (USA)


This is the position from the 1994 World Junior Championship. Playing white was the Vietnamese national junior champion, Nguyen, against the United States junior champion, Josh Waitzkin. Both players came to this position, and both agreed that it was better for black by far. He is up a pawn and has active pieces. Nguyen went into a deep think, a really deep think. After realizing that Qxg2 was no good. He started looking into and eventually played 1.Qf2. Woah!! Qf2 just hangs the rook on h1!! Nguyen just forgot about his rook. 

Waitzkin was not pleased by 1.Qf2 though. He hadn't considered the move as an option, and this troubled him to no end. He sunk into a deep think, one suspiciously like Nguyen's. Apparently, Nguyen eventually saw his mistake, and just walked off in disgust. And what did Waitzkin think about that; he was still deep in thought. After some final calculations, he snapped back his queen with 1...Qg6??, and still played a great game to win.

How white must have felt after 1...Qg6

How white must have felt after 1...Qg6

What did Waitzkin say the key was to his and Nguyen's communal blundering? He made the point that they never "came back to the surface." They looked too deeply and forgot about what was going on in the current position. Spending too much time is indeed a great tool for you to master to ensure blundering more!

I hope you saw through my sarcasm to understand the point behind this article: if you know how to blunder, you will be more adept at realizing when you are on the path to a blunder. If you know you blunder by spending too little time on a move, then maybe you will realize that and slow down. Maybe you have no idea why you blunder, but realize that you aren't studying tactics; that is why this article is here. Do learn how to blunder. However, don't stop there, make sure you are aware of when you are committing those three "sins" of blundering!

Best of luck in avoiding those future blunders!