Kavalek at Huffington: Chess Great Bent Larsen

9/12/2010 – "I was fortunate to witness Larsen's many victorious drives in tournaments and matches," writes GM Lubos Kavalek in his Huffington Post chess column. "From 1963 till 1986, we played 30 games against each other all over the world." Kavalek show us a game in which Larsen destroys him but wrote "To Lubos, who allowed me to believe in chess beauty." Must read.

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Chess Great Bent Larsen Dies

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

Just one day before the world's top-rated grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway shone in New York, winning the RAW World Chess Challenge, another great Scandinavian chess player quietly left the chess world. Bent Larsen, the legendary Danish grandmaster and world championship candidate, died on September 9 in Buenos Aires at the age of 75.

An optimist by nature, Larsen was one of the most fierce fighters of the last century and one of the few players capable of challenging the Soviets for the world championship title. He came close, participating in seven Candidates matches. But when his chances were the best, he was stopped twice by players who became world champions: by Boris Spassky in 1968 and by Bobby Fischer in 1971. Still, throughout his career, Larsen was considered to be one of the best tournament players in the world. Among his many triumphs were first places at the Interzonal tournaments in Amsterdam in 1964, in Sousse in 1967 and in Biel in 1976.

I was fortunate to witness Larsen's many victorious drives in tournaments and matches. He was the ultimate chess battler, always interested in wins and first places. Sometimes he reached too far, but it never stopped him from reaching again. He played with enormous energy and great fighting spirit. Offering him a draw was a waste of time. He would decline it politely, but firmly. "No, thank you," he would say and the fight would go on and on and on.

Larsen strived in both simple and rich positions, did not shy of complications and it was an honor to play against him. He had deep knowledge of the game and was always ready to go where nobody else dared to tread. He created several original opening ideas, often shocking his opponents with risky and unusual moves in the middle game and scoring many points by grinding down players in long endgames.

From 1963 till 1986, we played 30 games against each other all over the world. It was always a pleasure to meet him at the bridge or chess table. We laughed together, drank together and I loved to listen to his countless stories. Bent was also an outstanding, witty chess writer. He will be missed.

In a double-round tournament in 1970 in Lugano, Switzerland, Larsen destroyed me in both games and on the back of the picture from our first game he wrote: "With best wishes to Lubos, who allowed me twice to believe in chess beauty."

Larsen considered our second game in Lugano as one of his best. In his book Studies for Practical Players, published by Russell Enterprises, the outstanding Russian chess composer Oleg Pervakov introduced the idea performed by Larsen with these words: "During play, situations occur fairly frequently where one side finds its intentions blocked by one of its own pieces or pawns, either occupying a vital square, blocking a line, or introducing some other annoying element into the position. And not infrequently, the speculative removal of such personages from the board alters the assessment of the position completely. Noting this kind of nuance and accurately executing such a liquidation is a sign of the highest kind of mastery." Analyzing the stunning hidden possibilities was as exciting as playing the moves over the board.

Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


Chess Puzzles: A Vodka Escape

Here are the solutions to the puzzles presented by Lubomir Kavalek in his previous Huffington column on the great Adolf Anderssen. Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

Thanks for your comments and ideas. Paul Michelet from London wrote: "The first of the two puzzles by Anderssen in your latest excerpt from Kavalek's Huffington Post column can be presented in a pleasantly improved version, if we start wK on b2 and wR on g2. This gives 1Ka2!! as the only the key, and wK now has eight squares available in the initial position, as opposed to only three in the original (1.Kc2? Ba4+!). Thanks for an excellent chess website!"

The next puzzle is well-known masterpiece, in which white eliminates all threats of stalemates.

Ralf Stoever wrote: "I really liked these problems. The first one got me puzzled for a a few minutes. The original Zugzwang is obvious. Black's only move is Bh5. Tries with the Ne5 all fail. The black bishop always manages to delay the mate until the 4th move and the rook has annoying checks too. Then it dawned on me. Let the black bishop interfere with the black rook and suddenly...it is obvious: Thus 1. Kb1 Bh5 (there really is nothing else) 2.Rg6! Bxg6+ 3.Nxg6 mate. What I like in this problem, is how the black bishop is first brought by Zugzwang past the critical square g6, so that the white rook can be sacrificed on g6 on the second move. The result is a terminal Zugzwang, since the black bishop can not cross g6 gain.

The second one is indeed very nice, but also very easy to solve. Your catch line gives it away, but the moves are mutually forced anyway: 1. Bh5 Kxh5 2.Kg7 h6 3. Kf6 Kh4 4.Kg6 mate. The beauty here is not in the difficulty to find the solution, but in mating with a king march after sacrificing a bishop.

Being impatient, I wanted to check my solutions with Rybka (3 only, but still). What a surprise, when Rybka suggested Bxg7 with mate in 4 in the first problem. Of course, the little fish immediately recognises the mate in 3, once you play Kb1, but it does not seem able to do so itself. Any explanations about that weird behaviour?"

Original column here


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.


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