Boris Spassky's Magic Miniature: Every Move Explained
Boris Spassky wins one of the great short games of all time against the great Dane, Bent Larsen.

Boris Spassky's Magic Miniature: Every Move Explained

NM SamCopeland

In 1970, the U.S.S.R. and the Rest of the World played an epic match narrowly won by the U.S.S.R. by the score of 20.5-19.5.

On first board, Boris Spassky won a stunning victory over Bent Larsen in round two, defeating the great Dane in only 17 spectacular moves. To his credit, Larsen recovered, winning both of the next two games, one against Spassky and one against an alternate, Leonid Stein. It says something significant about the depth of the Soviet roster that in a ten-board match, the great Leonid Stein was an alternate!

In addition to the drama on the board, there was great drama off the board as Larsen, ranked third in the world, demanded to play board one over the top-seeded non-Soviet, Bobby Fischer. Fischer, not having played in two years due to "hang-ups," shockingly agreed.


  • Hypermodern openings demand precision; you must get counterplay against the center. 3.c4?!
  • "A passed pawn is a criminal which should be kept under lock and key." - Aron Nimzowitsch

I've annotated the game below. My favorite alternate variations are the beautiful lines with ...Rxd2!! after f4?? They well illustrate how hopeless Larsen's position was after f4.

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