Kidding aside, we all do this, probably much more often than we’d like! To add insult to injury, you sometimes get one of those opponents who talks trash after he gets lucky. Yeah, you know the ones. Now, I don’t mind some trash talk–that can make the game quite fun. But sometimes you wonder if these people are convinced that they were actually winning when really they just got lucky.
Yes, Sometimes There Is Luck in Chess
Yep, I said it–there is luck in chess. If you are winning the position so much that only a big blunder on your part can let your opponent back in, then he is lucky if you do.
Sure, most of the time we’re not talking about luck. Most of the time we pressure our opponents into making mistakes. But that is different.
If you are one of those people who recites the adage “there is no luck in chess,” you are reciting nonsense. Before you start arguing with me, let’s check in with the world’s most elite chess players on their take on luck. Quick searches for quotes from the world’s best players easily turned up hits of them mentioning getting lucky one time or another.
Carlsen on Luck in Chess
For instance, in one tweet in April, current world champion Magnus Carlsen mentioned getting lucky to hold a draw against Anand:
It’s not the first time the world champ has cited luck in his games. He mentioned getting very, very lucky against Aronian last September. And he said he was lucky against Nakamura when he was dead lost (see very end of interview). Perhaps Carlsen is selling himself short a bit in that final game though because it was only partly lucky. That is, Carlsen kept putting pressure on Naka to force the final mistakes. But in the interview, Carlsen was referring to Naka not finding the killer blow, because he usually does, even under pressure.
Now, please don’t understand me. I’m not saying that Carlsen thinks that luck is common in chess at his level or that it is a major part of the game–not at all. But that’s not the point–the point is that, once in a while, it happens, and Carlsen, like many others, has admitted it.
Other Super GMs on Luck
Other elite chess players have claimed luck as well:
- Former world champion Vishy Anand citing luck against Carlsen, who claimed luck in the same postgame press conference as well.
- Vishy also talked about getting lucky in a game versus Gelfand in a previous world championship match.
- Former world champion Veselin Topalov cited luck in multiple games in a tournament win in 2012.
- Potential future world championship contender Fabiano Caruana talked about being lucky in the 2013 Grand Prix.
In any case, those are just a few examples. It is easy to find more. Search for other members of the world’s chess elite from today and before and you’ll find plenty of other quotes.
If former world champions and many other super GMs think that luck sometimes exists in chess (not that it usually guides games, but that it does exist once in a while), then who are we to say otherwise?
In any case, it doesn’t matter whether there is luck in chess. But blindly repeating the “there is no luck in chess” is simply illogical.