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Triumph of the underdog
Compiled by David2009

Game 1 is a French Defence Exchange Variation. White, outgraded, grabs a pawn - and holds it. Black overpresses.

A difference of X ELO points translates into an expected score of approximately (50+X/8) per cent for the stronger side. So a grading difference of 200 translates into 75%:25% (e.g 1 win 1 draw in two games, or 3 wins 1 loss in four games). So upsets happen - but not all that often.

In Game 2 White is outgraded by 188 ELO points but is not in the least overawed: he takes the fight to his opponent right from the start (accelerated Panov attack) and reaches a difficult N ending a Pawn up, and sacrifices it back to convert the full point.

Game 3 is another French Defence Exchange Variation. White is playing a GM. He tries to take his opponent out of the books and grabs material. By move 14 his position is difficult, by moves 17-22 it looks lost - then Black has an oversight.

Game 4 is a mating attack by an outgraded Black:

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(Black to play, 26...?)

Game 5 shows a logical build-up by the White underdog exploiting Black's ambitious play. The combination proper starts with White to play at move 24:

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In Game 6 Botvinnik, fourteen, beats the World Champion with Black (in a simultaneous). Playing through the game, one asks - where exactly does White go wrong? - he plays natural moves and gets completely smashed (OK, 9.Bxf6 Nxf6 10. O-O-O was decidedly optimistic).

In game 7 the game is heading peacefully for a draw

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when the grandmaster, Black, inexplicably liquidates into a should-be-drawn ending with 51...Qxg4 52.Nxg4 e4 - and then lost it. There was a theoretical draw by the fifty-move rule but the ending is tricky to defend.

A Cherniaev vs S Williams, 2009 
(C01) French, Exchange, 44 moves, 1-0

K Lie vs Bu Xiangzhi, 2008 
(B10) Caro-Kann, 42 moves, 1-0

White is losing all the way - until Black overreaches
J Klinger vs Glek, 1990 
(C01) French, Exchange, 26 moves, 1-0

S Mulligan vs D Foord, 2007 
(A96) Dutch, Classical Variation, 28 moves, 0-1

P Szuper vs N Pogonina, 2011 
(A31) English, Symmetrical, Benoni Formation, 60 moves, 1-0

Capablanca vs Botvinnik, 1925 
(D51) Queen's Gambit Declined, 32 moves, 0-1

A Bebel vs Malinin, 2007 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 95 moves, 1-0

7 games

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