April Fools' Day: Fact or Fiction - Answer 3
Korchnoi,Viktor - Spassky,Boris [B71]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f4 Bg4 [6...Nc6 is widely considered best here.] 7.Bb5+ Nbd7 8.Bxd7+ [Why not 8.Qd3 instead, encouraging Black to first waste a tempo on ...a6?] 8...Qxd7 9.Qd3 e5 10.Nf3 Bxf3?! 11.Qxf3 Qg4?? 12.Nd5!
[Spassky believed he was losing a piece after 12.Nd5!, but the neat 12...Kd8! saves the knight. Nevertheless, the position after 13.Qxg4 (13.Nxf6 Qh4+ is the point, though this position too is miserable for Black: 14.Qg3 Qxf6 15.0-0+-) 13...Nxg4 14.h3 Nh6 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.Bg5+ Kd7 17.0-0-0 is absolutely horrible for Black, so resignation was appropriate in any case.] 1-0
Some readers thought Anatoly Karpov's infamous 12-move loss to Larry Christiansen in 1993 rendered a yes to my question, but that game occurred many months before his FIDE World Championship match with Jan Timman.
Christiansen,Larry Mark (2620) - Karpov,Anatoly (2725) [E12]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (2), 01.1993
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Nc3 c5 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nc6 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Bf4 Nh5 11.Be3 Bd6?? [11...Qb8 and; 11...Bc5 are known theoretical approaches; the first fights for the f4 square, while the latter develops the bishop and prepares to castle. Maybe Karpov thought he was combining the virtues of each, but alas...] 12.Qd1
And this time, unlike the previous game (and also the next one), Black really does lose a piece, so the resignation is appropriate. 1-0
The shortest loss in a serious game by a sitting world champion, then, as far as I'm aware, was Tigran Petrosian's 15-move loss to Vladimir Liberzon in a team tournament in 1964:
Liberzon,Vladimir M - Petrosian,Tigran V [C18]
Moscow-ch Trades Union Moscow (4), 05.12.1964
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Ng6 8.h4 h5 9.Qg3 Qa5 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Bd3 Nce7 12.dxc5 Qxc5 13.Nf3 Bd7 14.0-0
We have a normal position here, and now Black makes a normal sort of move. 14...Bb5?? Very logical. The light-squared bishop is Black's traditional problem piece in the French Defense, so trading it off is logical. Further, by getting rid of White's bishop, Black's chances of fighting for the f5 square are enhanced. Just one problem: 15.Be3! Oops! Petrosian resigned now, believing he was losing a piece after [15.Be3! ; ironically, like Spassky in the game with Korchnoi, he was mistaken, as 15...d4 forces White to either remove the attack on the queen with 16.Nxd4 or to take d4 away from the knight with 16.Bxd4 or the best move, 16.cxd4. White is up a pawn for nothing after the latter move, but at least Petrosian could have played on in that case.] 1-0
Patzers and relative patzers, take heart: no one is immune from blunders!