So I am kind of new to chess and I have been playing online. I have been playing for a year and I consider myself a mediocre player, not too good and not too bad. Recently I got this invitation from someone to play a rated game. This person's rating is around 2100 so I said what the heck. Let's try it. As the game progressed, I saw that he was playing like a child. He made obvious blunders and simply offered me all of his pieces one by one. At first I thought maybe there is some deep strategy that I can't see but no. Now the game is about to end. I have a significant advantage in pieces and he will lose for sure.

My question is, has this ever happened to anyone? Or is this common in the chess community? Is this some weird strategy like how politicians try to throw elections if it is advantageous in that particular voting scheme or how players throw games if money is involved? There is no money involved, no tournament/prestige/title. If anything, he'll lose points and I'll gain them. I don't even know this person. We are just playing anonymously against each other online for the first time. Why would such a highly rated player play against a much inferior player and then lose that game...and it looks like he is deliberately losing.

Quite frankly it is boring and even a little condescending. I was expecting a much more exciting game.

So here is the game. My pieces are white.

[FEN ""]

1.e4 d5
2.exd5 e6
3.dxe6 Bxe6
4.d4 Bb4+
5.c3 Bd6
6.d5 Bf5
7.Bd3 Qe7+
8.Be3 Bg6
9.Nf3 Nf6
10.O-O Nbd7
11.Bxg6 hxg6
12.Re1 O-O-O
13.Bxa7 Ne4
14.Nbd2 f5
15.Nxe4 fxe4
16.Qa4 Nf6
17.Bd4 Qf7
18.Bxf6 gxf6
19.Qxe4 Rh5
20.Qe6+ Rd7
21.c4 Qxe6
22.Rxe6 Rf7
23.Rae1 Bxh2+
24.Nxh2 Rfh7
25.Rxf6 Rxh2
26.f4 Rh1+
27.Kf2 Rxe1

So what do you guys think of this game? Any and all comments welcome.

  • 18
    Now that you've posted the game, I must say that my eyes don't see what you see. Black made a pawn gambit early on, and then made (seemingly honest) mistakes that lost another pawn (and basically put him in a tough spot where losing another couldn't really be avoided). White's play accurately punished Black for those mistakes, and we're left where you stand with a huge 3 pawn advantage. The tricky 23...Bxh2+, say, ultimately doesn't help Black's cause, but in the given situation, it was as good a shot as any. Good players lose games; to me personally, this doesn't look like a thrown game.
    – ETD
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 19:23
  • Well I guess I need to play more games to build my intuition. Just weird perception on my part I guess. I just expected killer play especially since it's a long game but ok. Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 3:01
  • @PrinceAli - Don't let the rating fool you. Rating online can't be trusted to much and you should give yourself some more credit.
    – xaisoft
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 16:58

6 Answers 6


There are some possibilities that I can think of:

  1. His 8 year old sister, dog, neighbor, etc suggested some of these 'great moves'
  2. He was trying to handicap himself to make it more challenging
  3. He tried something new or crazy, possibly to end the game quickly (e.g sacrificing his own pieces to expose your king or free his pieces)
  4. Maybe he tried a chess gambit, first glance it appears you gain advantage, but this advantage is just an illusion.

My favorite is the Danish Gambit (it is rare that someone accepts it completely outside beginner level though)

[fen " w - - 0 1"]

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2

Update: now that I have seen the game, I can confirm it was a mix of points 3 (the move 23...Bxh2) and 4 (but he decided to improvise one instead of using an existing one). Maybe some of point 1 too.

  • 6
    Or maybe he was drunk :)?
    – Akavall
    Commented Nov 11, 2012 at 18:55
  • 1
    HAHA his kid sister playing for him is the only thing which makes sense because the game has been going on for a while (meaning more than a week) and it is about to end. We are wayyyyyyyy beyond the gambit/exposing/trick or the ending quickly stage. Maybe (if I can figure it out how) I'll post the game here when it ends and see what do you guys have to say about it. Thanks. Commented Nov 11, 2012 at 23:58
  • 1
    @ajax I agree. It looks much more like someone trying to experiment and get out of their comfort zone than an attempt to throw the game. Also, unless your 8 year old sister is a prodigy, they are going to play much more stupidly than this.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 19:20
  • @KyleJones: His 23 year-old cousin who never played online could be another plausible candidate. Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 19:51
  • Hmmmmm @Gildas, again this may be ignorance on my part but how can online game playing be so different than correspondence or even playing across the table? I mean would the performance be so different? The only thing I can think of is like having extra time to think and make a move which should only improve your play. Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 3:05

Certainly some of the suggestions listed above are possible, but I believe he played below his best and just lost. I will explain why I think so.

First, I believe you played one of those games with 3 days per move (or similar) online. Am I right? I have played in those places and sometimes you just start too many games. So while you played maybe one or two games, he might have played 30 games or more. Playing so many games leads you to use less time on each move and to forget your plans in between. I know, because I have tried this myself.

Second, the moves he played in the games are not so bad at all. Here is my analysis:

  • 3.-Bxe6 Play through this game between strong players and you will see important similarities with your game (Black castling long for example). Black just gives up a pawn for speedy development.
  • 10.-Nbd7 This is a standard move in this kind of position, with the plan to castle long and attack on the King side. However, I think he misjudged how strong the following Re1 would be.
  • 12.-0-0-0 At this point Black will lose a pawn no matter what and might as well try to unbalance the position by castling the opposite way.
  • After 15.-fxe4 he has achieved what to me looks like a promising position with compensation for at least one pawn. It looks like your Nf3 will have to move soon and that he will break through on h2. In fact, I wonder if he could have followed up with the Bishop sacrifice 16.-Bxh2+. After 17.Nxh2 the move 17.-Qh4 is strong, at least winning back the Knight.
  • 16.-Nf6 and 17.-Qf7 are inaccurate moves and whatever compensation he had is gone. When the third pawn falls the game is over although he tries a last trick with Bxh2 check as had you moved Nh2 you would have been check mated.

Third and last, do not underestimate your own play. I am myself a FIDE master and I recently lost a game in just above 20 moves to a player 800 points lower than myself. Sometimes I play below my best and when a weaker players finds all the correct moves he wins. It did not help me that I could calculate all his winning lines many times faster and more accurate than him.

You played a good game! Don´t think otherwise!

  • 1
    There's hope for us all, Halvard. By us, I mean your prospective opponents, of course.
    – jaxter
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 5:19

It looks like your opponent underestimated you.

He began by playing an inferior opening, sacrificing a pawn to get two "free" bishops. You neutralized his advantage by "opposing" bishops on his diagonals, eventually exchanging them with a pawn up. Then he tried to recoup by O-O-O, sacrificing another pawn.

Given an initial advantage, you played steady, commonsense moves that kept that advantage. Your opponent didn't try to make it a long distance race by playing for the end game, but kept playing "double or nothing" and losing, through sheer frustration.

Once, as a 1500 player, I played White and kept the advantage for 20 moves against a 2100 player before making a mistake on the 21st move that lost. Give my opponent credit for "staying in" the game, but he felt that I was a much stronger player than he had been led to believe. Your highly rated opponent fell apart when confronted by unexpectedly "solid" play by a lower-ranked player.

There may be another reason. Your opponent appears to be a relatively weak player tactically. He may be "no better" or even worse than you at this aspect of the game, while often beating you with superior positional play (where he appears sophisticated). For instance, I have tested as an 1800 player positionally, and a 1400 player tactically, with my 1500 rating being a "weighted average" of the two. My 2100 ranked opponent was apparently facing the 1800 positional player, and not the 1400 tactical player, which is why I was "stronger" than he had expected.


Players who enter prize tournaments may purposely try to lower their rating to have a better chance at a prize in a lower section subsequently. This is known as "sandbagging" and is not condoned. Throwing a game in an online game where there are no tangible rewards wouldn't make much sense to me. But I don't agree that in the game in question your opponent was trying to throw the game. As has already been mentioned, he was playing a gambit, where you give up material for time to gain quicker development with the hope of eventually winning thereby. And as also stated, I wouldn't put too much faith in an online rating either.

  • +1 I agree with you that the play seemed reasonable. See my analysis in my own answer.
    – Halvard
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 17:26
  • A variation of this is the so-called "Swiss Gambit", where (in a Swiss system tournament) a player purposely loses their first round game, in the hopes that this will cause them to be paired against easier opposition in later rounds. Though since this was (apparently) not a tournament, that's not likely what happened here.
    – patbarron
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 20:03

Black played the Scandinavian Defense, with a stab at the Icelandic Gambit. Normally, before he plays ...e6 in that gambit, he plays ...Nf6, i.e.

[FEN ""]
[White "Scandinavian Defence"]
[Black "Icelandic Gambit"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. dxe6 Bxe6 *

Black plays ...Nf6 first, to provoke 3.c4. That way, there's a target on c4 he's hitting with the bishop, and he prevents White from meeting ...Bb4 with c3 (which he failed to do in this novelty/blunder). The goal (as with most gambits) is to accelerate his development.

So, I'd say Black misplayed his opening choice (badly).

Otherwise, other than slight missteps, I'd say the only other poor move by Black was missing ...Bxh2 on his 16th move (he found it later). He could have equalized with that.

[FEN ""]
[Event "?"]
[White "Fixed Point"]
[Black "Some Dude"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 e6 3. dxe6 Bxe6 4. d4 Bb4+ 5. c3 Bd6 6. d5 Bf5 7. Bd3 Qe7+ 8. Be3 Bg6 9. Nf3 Nf6 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Bxg6 hxg6 12. Re1 O-O-O 13. Bxa7 Ne4 14. Nbd2 f5 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. Qa4 Nf6 (16... Bxh2+ 17. Nxh2 Qh4 18. Kf1 Qxh2 19. Be3 Qh1+ 20. Ke2 Qh5+ 21. Kd2 Qxd5+ 22. Kc2 Qd3+ 23. Kb3 Qd5+ 24. Qc4 Qxc4+ 25. Kxc4 Ne5+ 26. Kb3 Nd3 27. Rh1 Rhf8=) 17. Bd4 Qf7 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Qxe4 Rh5 20. Qe6+ Rd7 21. c4 Qxe6 22. Rxe6 Rf7 23. Rae1 Bxh2+ 24. Nxh2 Rfh7 25. Rxf6 Rxh2 26. f4 Rh1+ 27. Kf2 Rxe1 28. Kxe1 1-0

So, no, I don't think he threw this game at all.

If you want an example of an allegedly thrown game, try this on for size:

[FEN ""]
[Event "8th ch-Euro"]
[Site "Dresden GER"]
[Date "2007.04.05"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Khairullin, I."]
[Black "Kalvaitis, S."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B07"]
[WhiteElo "2586"]
[BlackElo "2216"]
[Annotator "Mutual Blunders, Thrown Game?"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 Nc6?? {This just drops a piece.} 
(4... Nf6 {is correct.}) 5. O-O?? {And this just gives it back. Amazing - White's a GM!} Nb4?? (5... Nf6!) 6. c4?? {The same blunder, twice, for each player.} (6. Bxe4! d5 7. Bd3 Nxd3 8. Qxd3 {White has a piece for a pawn.}) 6... Nc3?? 7. Be2?? (7. Nxc3 Nxd3 8. Qxd3 {leaves White up a piece (again).}) 7... Nc6?? 8. Nbd2?? (8. Nxc3) 8... Nxd1 {Finally, a sensible move. But this won't last.} 9. Rxd1 Nb4 10. Nb3 Nd3?? 11. Be3?? (11. Bxd3) 11... Nxb2 12. Rd2 Nd3?? (12... Na4) 13. Rad1 (13. Bxd3) 13... Nb2?? {Black is up a queen and 2 pawns for a knight. And the players agreed a draw??} (13... Nb4) 1/2-1/2

Shocking. Just... shocking.


In your specific case, maybe they felt sorry for you and wanted to increase your rating so you would feel better.

Maybe they were drunk and did NOT throw the game.

Online ratings are not that meaningful. Maybe they were not as good as it appeared.

Maybe their kid hacked their account and played with their parent’s rating, which was much higher than theirs.

And no, this is not common. Cheating is common. But throwing games like this is rare.

  • 1
    Hmmmm............. Somehow I got a new account when I answered this one. Go figure.
    – yobamamama
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 16:23
  • It was me. I only saw where to put in my info again not how to sign in which I thought I already was. Bug in stack software??
    – yobamamama
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 19:22

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