Three things I don't mean with super-risky:

  • Tal was a risky player but he could calculate extremely well and had reasons to believe that if a refutation of his sacrifices exist, the opponent wouldn't find it (only today's engines).
  • In a lost position anything is fair game, so no point of thinking about the objective centipawn value of a move.
  • In rapid games you can risk far more anyway.

I thus define a super-risky move as a trap in about equal position in a tournament game that can be seen through by the average opponent (say, GM level) and ends up to the disadvantage of the trapper. (That's surely not 100% objective but shall suffice.)

Have there ever be any GMs (especially including GM-strength players before the title existed) playing consistently super-risky? (I throw at least one suggestion into the room: Dawid Janowski.)

  • That sounds a little like hope chess. I'm pretty sure you can't become a master by consistently doing that (you as a master probably know something about that ;) ). There are likely many GMs who do this occasionally, especially engine-backed opening prep. But consistently?
    – Hauptideal
    Aug 31, 2022 at 10:48
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    could this be GMs whose ratings fluctuate rapidly
    – cmgchess
    Aug 31, 2022 at 13:46
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    Mamedyarov often plays purposefully risky stuff in the later part of the game in order to avoid draws. Carlsen usually doesn't do that, but he plays weird openings, when in the mood (and still outplays his opponents). Aug 31, 2022 at 16:46
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    @Hauptideal: I certainly believe Brian that nowadays this is neigh impossible. But like I said, in the good old days? Aug 31, 2022 at 19:22
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    I nominate Frank Marshall Aug 31, 2022 at 19:37

3 Answers 3


What you describe is called "Hope chess". It is a very common beginner's mistake. To reach any reasonable standard of chess (like strong local club player) the player has to eliminate this basic mistake. So, no, master level players do not do this. If they play a move which looks like this then it was a blunder rather than a deliberate bad move.


Hans Niemann, in his post-Sinquefield Cup interview (the end of his first super tournament) described himself on the opposite end of risk-taking compared to Wesley So, who is very risk-averse. Hans then says for future tournaments he needs to be more risk-averse, and that playing risky is influenced by playing lower rated players but causes unnecessary losses at the highest level.


Is this close even if no cigar? I think of Carlsen in openings.

Larry Kaufman says:

'Magnus doesn't generally play such great openings, he strives to get the game out of book as early as possible usually.'.

Of course, it's not always that an out of book move is far inferior to a book move.

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