Bent Larsen, A Giant-Killer! (Some Victories Against Great Players)

Bent Larsen, A Giant-Killer! (Some Victories Against Great Players)

kamalakanta
kamalakanta
Sep 4, 2018, 7:27 PM |
16

Bent Larsen has a few things in common with our current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen. One of them is that he plays uncommon openings- The Vienna Game, the Old Indian Defense, the Larsen-Tartakower (1.b3).

Another thing that they share is the ability to play, sometimes, an "obscure" kind of chess, where you are not quite certain where the game is going (an offshoot of these uncommon openings).

A third thing in common is that, when they do play regular openings, the foundations of their game are extremely solid, strategically and tactically. Their understanding of the balances/imbalances between the different elements of a position is remarkable.

And the fourth thing in common is that they are both Giant-Killers!

In this blog we will focus on a few of Bent Larsen's games against the strongest players of his era, either present World Champions (Petrosian in 1966), past World Champions (Botvinnik and Smyslov) or future World Champions (Spassky in 1964 or Fischer in 1966).

For the last few months, I have been reading Larsen's book about his best games:

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Now, Larsen's style of play and writing is not my favorite. I enjoy much more books by Tartakower, Tal, Bronstein, Gufeld and Adorjan, to name a few.

But as I kept reading, my curiosity was aroused: could I find one game of Larsen's that I could enjoy? The answer was yes, and this game was his win, with the Black pieces,. against World Champion Petrosian in the 2nd Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica, 1966.

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As you can see, Larsen did quite well! He was in the middle of his career peak (I would say from 1964 to 1967), where all the years of hard work were paying off. His inventiveness and creativity, his deep theoretical knowledge, his capacity to play almost any opening, his tournament experience, all had combined to make him a most dangerous opponent, afraid of none.

Now, regarding this game: Playing the King's Indian Defense against Petrosian was a bold, bold choice. Petrosian was adept at destroying King's Indian Defense players, in much the same way that Kramnik would do in his prime. Let us see:

The next game is Larsen's win with Black against Bobby Fischer....and what a win! Larsen plays the Open Variation in the Ruy Lopez!

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                                                      Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)

The next game is a spectacular win against Tigran Petrosian....in the 2nd Piatigorsky Cup in 1966, Bent Larsen won both games against The World Champion! How sweet is that?

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The next game was played in 1964, at the Amsterdam Interzonal. Although Spassky was on his way to the top, eventually playing Petrosian in the 1966 World Championship, Larsen surprised him with 4.b4! and proceeded to outplay him!

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Spassky-Larsen, Beverwijk 1968

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                               Botvinnik-Larsen, Monaco 1968

Another World Champion whom Larsen defeated was Botvinnik....in the following game, Larsen completely dominates!

In the next game, against Smyslov, Larsen plays the Vienna, and takes control of the centre!

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 Smyslov-Larsen, Amsterdam Interzonal, 1964

The following game is also from the Amsterdam Interzonal in 1964. He won 13 games, lost two and drew 8!

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The last game in this blog is against the great Geller! Larsen starts in the best Hypermodern style, but his pieces achieve maximum activity at the peak of the game!

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                                                              Larsen-Flohr-Geller