Sometimes upsets occur because the lower-ranked player simply played better, as in the following game.

Upsets happen, of course, but it is usually because the higher ranked player makes some big errors. In the following game, the higher-ranked player, Ivan Saric, a Croatian grandmaster, does make some strategic mistakes in the opening, but White, Luca Shytaj, an Albanian-born international master who now plays for Italy, plays particularly energetically to take advantage and rolls over Black.

Shytaj, L. vs. Saric, Iv
Bundesliga 2016-17 | Hockenheim GER | Round 6.4 | 04 Dec 2016 | ECO: B51 | 1-0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 This move has largely been supplanted in favor of attempts to play a Spanish-like middlegame with c3, Ba4-c2, and d4,but as this game shows, 4. d4 remains a dangerous idea.
4... cxd4 5. Qxd4 a6 6. Bxd7+ Bxd7 7. O-O Rc8 I dislike this move.
7... Nf6 Would be my preference.  )
7... e5 Has also been played frequently.  )
8. c4 Nf6?! This is mixing plans a bit too much for my taste.
8... e5! 9. Qd3 b5 Ive always thought that these type of positions are risky for Black, but practice has shown Black is fine.  )
9. Bg5 Qc7
9... e6 Looks more natural to me. Still, after
10. Nc3 Be7 11. Rfd1 I would prefer to play White.  )
10. b3 h6? I don't understand this move. White clearly wanted to take on f6, why force him to do so?
10... Qc5 11. Qd3 e6 White would be a little better but the game goes will continue.  )
11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Nc3 Black's bishops are not very useful and the White knight on d5 will be awesome. Black also has less space, no good place to put his king and no way to connect his rooks.
12... Qc5 13. Nd5! Rg8
13... Qxd4 14. Nxd4 This move at least leads to an exchange of queens, reducing the pressure, but White will have a pleasant edge after he plays Nb6.  )
14. Qd3! Now White naturally declines to trade queens.
14... Bg7 15. Rac1 e6 16. b4! Qa7 17. Nf4 Now the pawn on d6 is a target.
17... Bf8 18. Rfd1 Rd8? A bad move in a bad position.
19. Nh5! Be7
19... Rg6 20. Nh4 Was even worse.  )
20. e5! First the queenside, then the kingside and now the center! Black is being attacked from all sides.
20... fxe5 21. Qh7 Kf8 22. Qxh6+ Ke8 23. Ng7+
23. c5!? This would be an amusing move, patiently blasting open even more lines. Of course the move played by White is also good.  )
23... Rxg7 24. Qxg7 Bf8 25. Qf6
25. Qg8 This was even stronger, as White would then be threatening Ng5-h7.  )
25... b6 26. c5! Rooks like open lines! Black is getting torn apart. If it were not for the fact that Black is much higher rated than White, I might have expected resignation sometime soon.
26... Ba4 27. cxb6?
27. Rxd6 This move looked pretty effective.
27... Bxd6 28. cxd6 There is nothing that Black can do about Rc7, since
28... Rxd6 Fails to
29. Rc8+ Kd7 30. Qd8#  )
27... Qxb6 28. Rd3 e4 29. Ng5 Qb7 30. Rdc3 Qe7 31. Nxe4 White did not end the game as fast as he could have, but Black's only salvation was to reach an endgame down an exchange and pawn, which also did not offer any real drawing chances.
31... d5 32. Rc7! Bd7 33. Qxe7+ Bxe7 34. Nc5 The rest of the game was easy for White.
34... Bb5 35. a4 Be2 36. Nb7 Rb8 37. Re1 Bc4 38. Rb1 Bd3 39. Rb3 Bg6 40. Nc5 d4 41. Kf1 Rd8 42. Ke2 e5 43. b5 axb5 44. axb5 e4 45. Rxe7+ Kxe7 46. b6 Ra8 47. b7 Ra2+ 48. Ke1 Ra1+ 49. Kd2 Ra2+ 50. Kc1

Editor’s note: This article has been changed to include the information that Luca Shytaj was born in Albania. 


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.