Bent Larsen, 4 March 1935 – 9 September 2010
A picture of Bent Larsen, taken in January 2010 at his home in Martínez,
A career in chess
Bent Larsen was born in Thisted, Denmark, on March 4th, 1935. He was the greatest
chess player his country has ever produced, and was among the top ten in the
world for fifteen years. He started slowly, but in 1954 at the age of 19 he
won the Danish championship, and did it again every time he entered for the
next ten years. He also became an International Master in 1954. He played for
his country at the Olympiads and in 1956 obtained Gold for his +11 =6 –1 on
board one. That earned him the title of International Grandmaster and the suspicion
of the Soviet chess functionaries as the first Western player to present a serious
challenge to their dominance. He was awarded the first Chess Oscar in 1967.
went on to win three Interzonal tournaments – 1964 in Amsterdam, where he shared
first with two former and one future world champions, 1967 in Sousse and 1976
in Biel. He and Mikhail Tal were the only players to achieve this. In the 1965
Candidates matches he lost in the semi-final to Mikhail Tal, and in 1968 he
lost the semi-final to Boris Spassky, who went on to win the title. In 1971
Larsen infamously lost the Candidates semi-final to Bobby Fischer with a devastating
0:6 score. Fischer went on to win the title in 1972. In 1988 Larsen lost a game
to Deep Thought, becoming the highest FIDE ranked player (at 2560) and the first
Grand Master to be defeated by a computer in tournament play.
Larsen was always an uncompromising, fighting player, and also famous for using
unusual openings. He was one of the very few modern grandmasters who regularly
played Bird's Opening (1.f4), and the opening move 1.b3 is called the Larsen
Opening in his honour.
In the USSR
vs Rest of the World match at Belgrade 1970, he played first board for the
World side, ahead of Fischer, and scored 2.5/4 against Spassky and Leonid Stein.
In the latter part of his life Larsen lived in Buenos Aires with his Argentinian
wife Marta. He continued to play occasionally in tournaments – In 1999
he finished 7th out of 10 in the Danish Championship, and he was 4th in the
2002 Najdorf Memorial knock-out in Buenos Aires. His final Elo rating was 2415.
Bent and Laura Larsen in January 2010
In memoriam: pictures from a lifetime in chess
Presented by Edward Winter in Chess
Bent Larsen on the cover of the US chess magazine in 1964
Second Piatigorsky Cup (published in Los Angeles, 1968), page xv
Chess Review, July 1968, page 195
Schweizerische Schachzeitung, November-December 1968
Larsen's book of "50 Selected Games 1948-1969"
Palma de Mallorca, 1969 tournament book
Chess Life & Review, October 1970, front cover
A few copies of this book are still available at the London
Also read – big ChessBase report on Larsen's birthday
||Chess legend Bent Larsen turns 75
03.03.2010 – An all-time great of chess, Bent
Larsen, was born on March 4th, 1935. He is the greatest chess player of
Denmark, and the strongest ever Scandinavian (before Magnus Carlsen).
As a world top ten GM he beat many legendary world champions and was greatly
feared by the Soviet chess hegemony. Today Bent turns 75. We have some
and historical pictures.
ChessBase / Chess