Chess Openings: Larsen's Opening

| 2 | Opening Theory


Category – Flank Opening  

Opening Move Sequence – 1 b3

ECO CodesA01 

This opening is named after the Danish player Bent Larsen. The Larsen's Opening is also called Queen's Fianchetto Opening since the main aim of the move is to fianchetto the Bishop on c1. Grand Master Larsen created this opening under the inspiration of the opening that started with 1.Nf3 and then 2.b3 ( called Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack) used by the Aron Nimzowitsch. Nimzowitsch, who was also of Danish Latvian origin, introduced several other openings to chess usually based on hyper modern opening principles.    

However, 1.b3 is not as popular as the rather similar 1.g3, called Benko's Opening. In fact, analysis of chess databases indicates that 1.b3 is the sixth in terms of popularity as a first move (out of possible twenty, nine of which being sound moves). 1.g3, which is fifth in terms of popularity, is played three hundred percent more in tournament games.   

While he was initially successful in using the opening in tournaments, Grand Master Larsen was beaten in a significant game by Boris Spassky (then World Champion) in a 1970 USSR vs. Rest of the World match held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The game lasted only 17 moves; it is very rare in tournament play for a game to be that short, especially when White is defeated. He was again defeated while using this opening five years later, in a game against Rosendo Balinas Jr in Manila. 

Larsen's Opening is classed with Flank Openings which start with moves other than 1.e4 or 1.d4. It is categorized under A01 code in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings or ECO codes.   

Moves and Variations

1 b3 

This move, as mentioned before, prepares for the Bb2 fianchetto. The idea behind fianchetto is that Bishop can exert influence on the central squares and on Black’s King-side from its position on the long diagonal a1- h8.  

The main weakness of 1.b3 compared to 1.g3 is that g3, in addition to preparing the Bishop’s fianchetto, also has the advantage of preparing for King-side castling  

The main variations in Larsen's Opening depend on Black’s response. By 1…e5, Black tries to take control of center. This is the most common continuation. The second most popular variation is 1…d5 with the similar intent of gaining control of center while also maintaining the ability to fianchetto the Black’s f8 Bishop to g7 to face the White’s Bishop at b2. 1.Nf6 is a piece developing move. It also allows Black the ability to postpone any pawn moves so that he can have more flexibility to choose the correct pawn structure according to White’s moves.  

Black can also select 1…c5 with the aim of …d5 later, or …d6 with aim of …e5 later. A possible continuation will proceed; 2.Bb2 d6, 3.Nf3.

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