What is the worst chess move? – with Gregory Serper

I am unsure if I am worse at chess or at drawing but I enjoy both. Chess.com is a wonderful resource for online play and also for learning. I am afraid I have been lazy at developing my actual play by studying the various resources on the site over the last few years, but overall I have learned a lot.

I always enjoy the columns by GM Gregory Serper . Indeed, I previously posted this, based on one of his articles. He is witty, easy to follow, and vastly experienced as a player and teacher. And chess.com now have very easy to use in-article puzzle boards (don’t know if this is the right term) – so articles like this one are painlessly interactive.

Serper considers what is the worst chess move? Not only the worst opening move, or the worst move in a particular opening sequence, but the worst move tout court. It turns out more than a few of the greatest players of all time have played it – so there is no shame in joining their ranks.

Years ago I visited Russia and, while I didn’t learn Russian (much), I did learn Cyrillic script, which made Russian much less inaccessible and things in general much easier. It is worth the effort if you, like me a few years ago, know how to play chess but find chess notation off-putting, to make the (fairly small) investment of time and mental energy in getting some familiarity with it, as it makes things even easier. Anyway, here is the opening of Serper’s piece:

Chess openings have been analyzed for centuries and yet even today it is still not easy to identify the best and worst first moves. According to Fischer, 1.e4 is “best by test.”

From the other side, when the famous theoretician GM Ernst Gruenfeld was asked why he always started the game with his queen pawn, he answered that he would never make a mistake on the very first move! Statistics from the Chess.com Computer Chess Championship seem to agree with Gruenfeld; through the tournament’s first half, 1. d4 scored 61.2 percent for White, compared to 52.9 percent for 1.e4.

It is probably easier to call the worst first move. According to GM Edmar Mednis it is 1.f3 (called Barnes Opening). Nevertheless, even here we can argue that 1.h4 or 1.Nh3 are probably as bad.

The topic of today’s discussion is different. I am trying to find the worst possible move in chess in general, not just the first move of the game.









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