"My favourite game by Bent Larsen"

by ChessBase
5/7/2022 – Bent Larsen is the "hero" of the new issue of ChessBase Magazine. In CBM #207 our authors — among others Emanuel Berg, Jan Markos and Yannick Pelletier — comment on their favourite game of the great Dane. CBM readers can expect a collection of 19 special encounters from the period 1956 to 1998. In addition, Mihail Marin presents Larsen as a "universal player" in his strategy column and Karsten Mueller analyses a selection of Larsen's best endgames. You can watch the Larsen-Andersson game (1982) with Jan Markos' analysis here. Enjoy!

ChessBase Magazine 207 ChessBase Magazine 207

FIDE Grand Prix 2022: Esipenko, Giri, Vidit, Oparin, Predke, Shankland, So and Vitiugov comment + videos by Rogozenco. "Special" on Bent Larsen. Opening videos by Kasimdzhanov, Ragger and Marin. 11 opening articles with new ideas for your repertoire!


The "Special" of ChessBase Magazine #207

CBM authors comment on their favourite game of Bent Larsen

Bent Larsen was born on March 4, 1935 in the Danish village of Tilsted (North Jutland). Achieving his playing strength almost exclusively as an autodidact, Larsen matured into a top grandmaster in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Dane was considered the best Western player alongside Bobby Fischer, having won the Interzonal tournaments in 1964 (Amsterdam, shared first), 1967 (Sousse) and a number of other major events. In the 1970 Interzonal Tournament, he finished in a tie for second behind Fischer, whom he defeated in their personal encounter.

20...g5! marked the turning point in Fischer,R - Larsen,B 0-1 (annotated by Igor Stohl).

In 1965 Larsen lost to Mikhail Tal and in 1968 to Boris Spassky in the candidate matches. In 1971 he suffered a crushing defeat against Fischer (0:6). In 1976 Larsen also won the interzonal tournament in Biel once again, but was eliminated in the candidate matches against Lajos Portisch. His last participation in an interzonal tournament was in 1982 in Las Palmas. He gradually retired from tournament chess in the early 1980s. Larsen's play was characterized by great fighting spirit. Garry Kasparov recognized in his games an "inexhaustible optimism" and a "specific style that cannot be imitated".

In this issue our authors – Emanuel Berg, Jan Markos, Yannick Pelletier et al. – comment on their favourite games by Bent Larsen (a total of 19 encounters played within the period from 1956 to 1998). In addition, Mihail Marin and Karsten Mueller each contribute an article (including a video) on the strategy and endgame art of the Dane.

Jan Markos comments on Larsen-Andersson (1982)

Playing against the Swedish grandmaster Ulf Andersson, Larsen had to solve a difficult riddle: How to win against a top GM with an exceptional positional intuition? Larsen´s solution is very interesting: he does not go for the main lines and decides not to fight too stubbornly for an opening advantage. Instead, he chooses a less-known pawn structure, in which it is not easy to release the tension. In asymmetrical pawn structures, the better player usually wins. In the following game, Larsen was the one with the better understanding of such an atypical structure.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.g3 e6 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0–0 Be7 7.d3!?

Most players opt for the Hedgehog structure here. After 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6; or after 7.Re1 d6 8.e4 a6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 theoretical tabyias arise. However, Larsen is not interested to test his skillful opponent in these typical positions, where plans of both sides are well known for decades. His seemingly timid move asks Black a question: Do you want to stop e2–e4, or not?

7...d5 Andersson chooses to stop e2–e4 with the most natural move. However, this move leads to an assymetry, so much awaited by White.

8.cxd5 Nxd5 After 8...exd5 9.d4 White can play against the hanging pawns. The lost tempo (d2–d3–d4) is not very significant.

9.Qa4+ Nd7 After 9...Bc6 10.Qc2 the bishop feels vulnerable on c6 and will have to retreat soon.

10.e4 Nxc3 11.bxc3

This is the type of position Larsen was aiming for. Black has got a majority on the queenside, White has his chances in the centre and on the kingside. Objectively, Black is OK, but he will need more than just simplifications and precise defence to stay in the game. He will need to play actively, otherwise White will simply roll with his pawns in the centre and on the kingside.

11...0–0 12.Re1 Covers the e4–pawn and thus prepares d3–d4.

12.Bf4 Qc8 13.Rfe1 Bc6 14.Qc2 Qb7 15.h4 was played more than two decades later in Shchekachev - Delorme, Rohde open 2006, 1:0 (30)

12...a6 13.Bf4 b5 14.Qc2 Nb6 15.h4!?

Long before the AlphaZero chess programme played similar ideas in many of its games, Larsen knew how annoying can such a march of the h-pawn be.

15...Rc8 Perhaps Black should have fought for the centre more. After 15...Bd6! White has to choose: the e4–e5 advance would give up the d5–square and make Bb7 and Nb6 happy, whereas the exchange of the dark-squared bishop would harmonize Black´s heavy pieces.

16.Rac1 Re8?! Again, 16...Bd6 was preferable.

17.Qe2 Na4 18.h5 With every move, Larsen builds up his presence on the kingside.

18...Qa5?! Andersson is ambitious too!

However, much safer was 18...h6! White´s pieces are not prepared to organize a sacrificial break on h6, and Larsen´s attack would thus be slowed down. After 19.Ne5 Bd6! (Yes, this move again!) Black is fine, perhaps even a little bit better.


No time for wavering!

19...g6? Again, Andersson chooses the more dangerous path.

Sure, 19...Nxc3? is weak. The exchange sacrifice 20.Rxc3! Qxc3 21.Be5 Qa5 22.Bxg7 is very dangerous for Black. His king is naked.; However, 19...c4! 20.Ne5 (20.d4? Nxc3?) 20...cxd3 21.Qxd3 Nc5 22.Qe2 f6 23.Ng4 e5 24.Be3 g6 leads to an acceptable position for Black. With the centre open, he does not need to be afraid of a direct kingside attack.

20.c4 The weakness of the d4–square does not bother Larsen at all, as no Black piece can make any use of it.

20...b4 21.a3

21...bxa3?? Well, it is quite rare to see such a player of Andersson´s level to play such a huge positional mistake. Perhaps time pressure is the only suitable explanation. After ...bxa3, Black´s majority on the queenside is corrupted, and the c3–square is lost. From now on, Larsen is objectively winning.

After the humble 21...Qd8 White is already much better, but Black can fight, E.g. 22.Qc2 Nc3 23.Qb2 Ba8 (Rxc3 was a threat.) 24.axb4 cxb4 25.Rxc3 bxc3 26.Qxc3 Bf8 27.Ra1?

Now a series of energetic moves by Larsen will follow:

22.Qc2 Bc6 23.Bd2 Qb6 24.Rb1 Qa7 25.Rb3

The a4–knight starts to feel uncomfortable as well. Andersson tries to evacuate it quickly.

25...Nb6 26.Qc3 f6 27.Bh3 Bd8 28.Rxa3

After a series of threats, the smoke has cleared. White is simply strategically winning: Andersson´s army is scattered and uncoordinated, and there are many weaknesses in his camp.

28...Nd7 29.Qa1! An exclamation mark for aesthetic appearance!

29...Bb7 30.g4 Rc6 31.g5 Bc8 32.d4! Finally, this move was also played!

32...cxd4 33.Nxd4 Rb6+–

There are simply too many vulnerable and unprotected pieces in Black´s camp.

34.Ba5 Another nice finish could be 34.c5!? Nxc5 35.Rc3 , and it transpires that the c5–knight can´t be covered in a convenient way. After 35...Be7 36.gxf6 wins an important pawn and the game.

34...Nc5 35.Rf3 Of course, Larsen could take the rook as well, but the threat is often stronger than its execution!

35...Rf8 36.gxf6 Rxf6 

37.Bxb6 Qxb6 38.Nxe6 Larsen finds his own version of the knight jump, fearlessly entering the most covered square in Black´s camp. Black´s rook is underdefended and can´t move. Andreson resigned.

38.Nxe6 Kf7 39.Ng5+ Ke8 40.Bxc8 and White is a rook up. I remember how I was impressed when I saw this game for the first time several years ago. I am sure that Andersson would not succumb so quickly and completely in any of his pet lines. However, Larsen lured him onto an unknown ground and confused him completely. Of course, such a strategy is not without risks (computers suggest that Black was slightly better for a couple of moves), but might be highly effective for creative players. And Larsen definitely was one of the most creative players of his times.


The complete collection of 19 annotated Larsen games can be found in the new ChessBase Magazine #207!

ChessBase Magazine #207

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Content of ChessBase Magazine #207 (May 2022)


The home page of ChessBase Magazine #207 welcomes you with the highlights of the issue!  Just click, replay the annotated games or watch the videos and enjoy!


FIDE Grand Prix 2022: Analyses by Andrey Esipenko, Anish Giri, Vidit Gujrathi, Grigoriy Oparin, Alexandr Predke, Sam Shankland, Wesley So and Nikita Vitiugov. Dorian Rogozenco presents two selected games of the winners, Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport, in video format. Or jump straight into the training and play through the game Aronian-Keymer from the Grand Prix "Move by Move" with Robert Ris! A complete repertoire against the Sicilian Alapin Variation? Markus Ragger presents his recommendations in his half-hour opening video. Don't miss it: The "Special" on Bent Larsen with 19 commented games as well as analyses + video on the strategic skills of the great Dane!

Special: My favourite game by Bent Larsen


CBM authors analyse their favourite Bent Larsen games. An exclusive collection of 19 annotated games from 1956 to 1998 awaits you!

Top games and master analyses

 FIDE Grand Prix 2022: The Grand Prix was held as a series of three tournaments from 3 February to 4 April, the first and third of which were held in Berlin, the second in Belgrade. As overall winners Nakamura and Rapport qualified for the Candidates Tournament 2022. In this issue Andrey Esipenko, Anish Giri, Vidit Gujrathi, Grigoriy Oparin, Alexandr Predke, Wesley So, Sam Shankland and Nikita Vitiugov comment on their best games. And Dorian Rogozenco shows two games by Nakamura and Rapport in video format.

Airthings Masters 2022: Anish Giri comments on his short wins against Hans Niemann and Ding Liren

All in one

Everything you need to know about a specific line in one extensively annotated game - that is the concept of "All in one". Igor Stohl examines the early advance of the h-pawn against the Indian King's Fianchetto: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!? Bg7 4.Nc3. Tanmay Srinath tests the London System against King's Indian: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.h3.

Opening videos

In the English Four Knights Game, the move 4.e4 is very popular. Rustam Kasimdzhanov examines the sometimes very sharp complications after 4...Bc5 and shows new ideas in his analysis, especially for Black. Markus Ragger presents a complete repertoire against the Alapin Variation with the side line 3...Nf6. And Mihail Marin shows an opening idea by Bent Larsen in the Sicilian Dragon Variation, which is still well playable today!

Rustam Kasimdzhanov: English Four Knights
1.c4 Sf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e4 Bc5
Markus Ragger: Sicilian Alapin Variation
1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Nf6!?
Mihail Marin: Sicilian Dragon Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Qa5 10.0-0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Be6

New ideas for your repertoire

CBM #207 offers many new ideas and concepts for your next games with 11 opening articles:

Yago Santiago: Benko Gambit 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.e3
Spyridon Kapnisis: Modern Benoni Fianchetto Variation
Andrey Sumets: Caro-Kann Advance Variation 3…Bf5 4.h4 Qc7
Martin Lorenzini: Sicilian Alapin 6.Na3/8.Nb5
Petra Papp: Najdorf Polugaevsky Variation 7.f4 b5 8.e5
Tanmay Srinath: French Tarrasch 3…Be7 (Part II)
Krisztian Szabo: Philidor Reversed 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3
Robert Ris: Ruy Lopez 3…Bc5 (Part II) 4.c3
Lars Schandorff: Slav 4...dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.Be2 e6 7.a4!?
Alexey Kuzmin: Anti Gruenfeld 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nbd2
Sergei Grigoriants: Gruenfeld with 4.g3 and 7.Na3 c5

Topical opening traps

"Deceptive security and new insights" - Rainer Knaak takes a close look at 10 traps from current tournament practice three of which he also presents in video format.

Move by Move

Test your chess move by move with Robert Ris! Levon Aronian's strategic brilliancy against Vincent Keymer from the first FIDE Grand Prix is on the programme. Can you find the moves of the super grandmaster?

"Bent Larsen - a universal player"

Mihail Marin sheds light on the strategic skills of the most important Danish grandmaster of all time. Incl. detailed video introduction (playing time: 34 minutes).

The Classic

Aron Nimzowitsch described his game with the black pieces against Paul Johner at the anniversary tournament of the Dresden Chess Club in 1926 as "one of his most beautiful blockading games". Enjoy Dorian Rogozenco's presentation!

Tactics: "Magnetic square h7!"

In Oliver Reeh's tactics contribution with 34 games, everything is about the attraction of the square h7 on the attacking white pieces. Incl. interactive video training!

Excelling in endgames - "Endgame highlights by Bent Larsen" and much more.

Karsten Mueller provides comprehensive training material for the highest demands: the most beautiful endgames by Bent Larsen as well as highlights from the first Berlin Grand Prix 2022. The endgame expert from Hamburg opens both contributions with a detailed video introduction. In addition, he provides further analyses in "Readers write"




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