Find The Worst Move

In an attempt to obtain concentration from a recalcitrant student I have occasionally resorted to the proverbial bamboo stick across the brain by shouting, “FIND THE WORST MOVE!” It has yet to fail me when in need. Once the student has offered his suggestion for the worst possible move I say, “That should make finding the best move much easier.” The student will then invariably ask, “Ugh, coach, you want me to find the best move?” The answer will come rapier-like, “No dummy! I want you to find the second worst move possible, then the third worst move possible, all the way to finding the BEST MOVE!” The look on the face of the student says, “You’re kidding, right?” Nevertheless I wait until he actually says it to say, “Only partially…”

Find the worst possible move for Black:

GM Pia Cramling vs IM Jovanka Houska Black to move

The English player Jovanka (“Jovi”) Houska holds the titles International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is a nine-time British Women’s Chess Champion. (

“Jovi” has had a novel published

and I have read she is hoping it will be made into a movie, possibly following the moves made by the recent screen version of the Queen’s Gambit book by Walter Tevis.

The Queen's gambit | Open Library

I read the latter book many years ago and after finishing wondered why I had wasted my time. Ms. Houska had a bad tournament, winning three, drawing three, while losing five. After the loss to Pia Crambling, Jovi lost again, to 2305 rated WIM Divya Deshmukh. Then Cassia smiled on Jovi by pairing her with the rated bye, WIM Jesse Nikki February, rated 1857. Someone please explain how anyone rated 1857 “earned” a WIM title? Ms. February was by far the lowest rated player in the field. She had lost all ten games and was doing the “goose-egg shuffle” when the last round began. After the ten losses her performance rating was somewhere in the 1500s. In the last round, facing IM Alina Bivol, rated 2392, from Russia, Ms. February reached the following, winning position after her opponent played 88…Kg8.

White to move

Jesse Nikki February 1857 (RSA) vs Alina Bivol 2392 (RUS)
FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss 2021 round 11
B15 Caro-Kann, Tartakower (Nimzovich) variation

  1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. Be3 Bd6 7. Bd3 Nd7 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Ne2 Re8 10. O-O-O Nf8 11. Ng3 a5 12. Nf5 Bxf5 13. Bxf5 a4 14. g4 Qc7 15. h4 c5 16. dxc5 Bxc5 17. Bxc5 Qxc5 18. a3 b5 19. Rhe1 Rxe1 20. Rxe1 g6 21. Be4 Rc8 22. Re3 Qc4 23. Qd3 Qa2 24. Qxb5 Qa1+ 25. Kd2 Qg1 26. Qe2 Ne6 27. Rg3 Qb1 28. Qb5 Kg7 29. g5 fxg5 30. Qe5+ Kg8 31. hxg5 Nc5 32. Rc3 Qg1 33. Ke2 Qg4+ 34. Bf3 Qd7 35. Kf1 Ne6 36. Rxc8+ Qxc8 37. Bd5 Ng7 38. Qe7 Qh3+ 39. Ke1 Ne6 40. Bxe6 fxe6 41. Qd8+ Kf7 42. Qc7+ Kg8 43. Qe5 Qg4 44. Kd2 Qc4 45. f4 Kf7 46. Qf6+ Kg8 47. c3 Qc6 48. Qe5 Qg2+ 49. Kd3 Qc6 50. Kd4 Qb6+ 51. Kc4 Kf7 52. Qf6+ Kg8 53. Qd4 Qb3+ 54. Kc5 Qxb2 55. Qd8+ Kf7 56. Qf6+ Kg8 57. Qxe6+ Kf8 58. Qf6+ Kg8 59. Qd8+ Kf7 60. Qd7+ Kf8 61. Qxa4 Qxc3+ 62. Kb5 Qd3+ 63. Kc5 Qe3+ 64. Kd5 Qd3+ 65. Qd4 Qf5+ 66. Kd6 Qb1 67. Qh8+ Kf7 68. Qxh7+ Kf8 69. Qh8+ Kf7 70. Qh7+ Kf8 71. Qe7+ Kg8 72. Qe6+ Kh7 73. Ke7 Kg7 74. Qf6+ Kg8 75. Qf7+ Kh8 76. Qd5 Qc1 77. Qe5+ Kh7 78. Kf6 Qc6+ 79. Qe6 Qc3+ 80. Kf7 Qc7+ 81. Ke8 Qb8+ 82. Ke7 Qc7+ 83. Qd7 Qxf4 84. Ke6+ Kg8 85. Qd8+ Kh7 86. Qe7+ Kg8 87. Qe8+ Kg7 88. Qe7+ Kg8 89. Kd7 Qa4+ 90. Ke6 Qe4+ 91. Kd6 Qd4+ 92. Kc6 Qa4+ 93. Kb6 Qb3+ 94. Qb4 Qe6+ 95. Kb5 Qd7+ 96. Ka6 ½-½

With this last round draw Jesse Nikki February finished with a performance rating of 1870, 17 points higher than her actual rating, which was, BTW, about 150 points lower than the second lowest rated player, Madara Golsta, of Latvia. She has no title and I cannot help but wonder why?

After losing the back to back games in rounds six and seven, Caissa smiled on Jovi, pairing her with the “rated-bye”, Jesse Nikki February:

One thought on “Find The Worst Move

  1. […] a WGM and was the subject of a previous post ( Jovie, as she is known, has been a prolific writer about Chess, such as opening books and even a […]

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