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Bent Larsen vs Robert James Fischer
Fischer - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1971), Denver, CO USA, rd 6, Jul-20
Bird Opening: Sicilian Bird (A02)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: In the opening, Shredder thinks White is a bit better until 16.a3. Instead it likes 16.Bd3 Na5 17.f5 Nc4 18.Bxc4 bxc4 19.f6 Bh8 20.Na3 -- this seems to be the line they were looking at in <Graham Clayton>'s staged photo. But the most you can say for it is that White seems to avoid a disadvantage. Another possibility is 16.Bf2 followed by Ne3.

After 16.a3 Na5 Larsen has real positional problems on the queenside. He comes up with a clever positional trap, 17. e5 Bf8 18.b4. After 18....Nc4 19.Bxc4 Qxc4 20.Bc5! d5 21.Bxf8 Larsen's knight will dominate the board. But after Fischer's simple 18....Nc6, 19.exd6 Bxd6 would just leave White worse. So Larsen sacrifices a pawn...he never has quite enough, but he certainly makes Fischer work.

After 21.Bg5 the reasonable 21....Be7 is met by 22.Bxe7 Qxe7 23.Qf4 and Black has nothing better than ...f6, because 23....Rd5 fails to 24.c4 bxc4 25.Bxc4 Nxc4 26.Nc6.

Instead of 25....Qxc3, I think Brady recommended 25....Qe7. But then 26.Qxe7 Rxe7 27.Nb3 would leave White not too badly off. I point out in passing that the characterization of a move like 25....Qxc3 as "greedy" makes no sense -- greed is considered a sin by some in real life, but there is no moral opprobrium to grabbing material over the chessboard. It's merely a question of whether you can get away with it. Here, it's still not quite clear whether Black can.

After 26.h5 Fischer plays ...gxh5(?), which allows (as <Marvol> already pointed out) 27.Nxe6 with an immediate draw. Instead Black seems to keep the advantage with 26....Rxd4 27.Qxe5 Rd3, though 28.Qf4 Rxd1 29.Rxd1 Bd7 30.h6 f6 could not have been too appetizing for Fischer. It may be that he saw the draw after 26....gxh5 27.Nxe6 but figured it was an acceptable result given the match score.

After Larsen's 27.Kh1 Ng4 28.Bxg4 hxg4 29.Qh6 Bd7 (29....Rxd4 30.Qg5+ Kf8 31.Rc1 Rc7! =) 30.Rxf7 it's still a draw, as <Marvol> already pointed out. And <Marvol>'s 31.Kh2 also seems to draw. It's only after 31.Qf6 that White is clearly lost.

Apr-02-11  Everett: Funny, I spotted 30.Rxf7 as a draw quickly after not looking at this game for 6 years. Still really enjoy Mr. Larsen's play, his career, his attitude.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Everett: Funny, I spotted 30.Rxf7 as a draw quickly after not looking at this game for 6 years. Still really enjoy Mr. Larsen's play, his career, his attitude.>

Incidentally, these two had played a thematically similar Bird nine years before for Danish television.

Larsen vs Fischer, 1962

Apr-07-11  Everett: Incidentally, Larsen had a draw in his position which renders Fischer's "shutout" a bit less legit.
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Everett: Incidentally, Larsen had a draw in his position which renders Fischer's "shutout" a bit less legit.>

Larsen had a slight edge when they sat down.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <GrahamClayton: "Staged" photo, probably taken in the post-mortem analysis:>

Thanks for that.

It says "a 10 game series".
I've never seen the other 4 games :)

Apr-07-11  fab4: < Everett: Incidentally, Larsen had a draw in his position which renders Fischer's "shutout" a bit less legit. >

lol.. You make me laugh. You, and there's a few others circulating on this site, are so uber negative as regards Fischer it's just funny...

And taking YOUR argument further.. well, so many great encounters in chess history would have to be seen in a different light ! lol ..

Apr-07-11  TheFocus: Sure he had a draw, but a draw would still have lost the match, so Larsen "went for broke", a courageous, though hopeless, decision.
Apr-07-11  fab4: <TheFocus: Sure he had a draw, but a draw would still have lost the match, so Larsen "went for broke", a courageous, though hopeless, decision. >

Thanks for that enlightenment.. ZZZ

Apr-07-11  TheFocus: Hey <fab4> just trying to contribute.
Apr-07-11  Everett: <Fab4> I'm simply stating the obvious here. Take it any way you want it.
Apr-07-11  jerseybob: Keypusher: In your analysis, the contention that 25..Qe7 26.Qxe7,Rxe7 27.Nb3 leaves white "not too bad off", just doesn't wash for me. Black's a pawn up, with a 4-2 kingside majority and an unmoveable knight on e5. After 27..R7d7, just what does white have going anyway? After the swap of at least one pair of rooks and possibly both, black should eventually roll it up in the center and kingside. Larsen would not have swapped queens.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <jerseybob>

I think you are right. I relied too much on a computer evaluation. Also, I didn't let the engine run long enough.

Even if the continuation I posted were best, Larsen never would have played it. He was going to win or lose this game, but he wasn't going to take a draw.

Feb-01-12  weepingwarrior: jerseybob, I agree with you about Frank Brady's book "Profile of a Prodigy" and it's analysis being faulty and sloppy. After move 31.Q-B6 it says Incredible! 31.Q-N5 wins. Black plays K-B2 32.QR-KB1...Rxd4 and white is left helpless to a huge Black advantage!
Jul-16-13  newzild: <GrahamClayton> The photo was almost certainly taken during the post-mortem analysis, as the postion does not occur during the game (eg, Black's bishop never goes to h8, White never gets his pawn to f6).
Jul-16-13  newzild: It looks to me as though they are analysing the position after 16. a3 Bb7 (instead of 16...Na5) 17. f5 Ne5 18. f6 Bh8 19. h4:

Nov-20-13  jerseybob: newzild:I remember clipping this photo from the Stars & Stripes(my main paper during my East Africa army days). It had the caption:"Grand Master Bobby Fischer looks as if he's in trouble during the sixth and deciding game of a 10-game World Chess Championship semifinal challenge series in Denver. He's not. He neatly beat Denmark's Bent Larsen 6 straight, forcing Larsen to resign as champ." I taped the photo into my copy of 60 Games and wrote underneath: "Champ of What?"
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < GrahamClayton: "Staged" photo, probably taken in the post-mortem analysis:>...

Don't care if it is staged. It is a photo from the era and I am grateful to see it!

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <<jerseybob:> ...

I taped the photo into my copy of 60 Games and wrote underneath: "Champ of What?">

Good question! Denmark, maybe? But then, Larsen would still be their champ after resigning because this was not a contest for the Danish championship.

Aug-09-17  Toribio3: Larsen was already in desperation mood! He wanted to surprise Fischer by playing Birds opening which was rarely played in strong tournament.
Aug-10-17  ughaibu: Larsen had played Bird's against Fischer before, we had won games with it against Petrosian, Spassky and Gligoric.
Aug-10-17  ughaibu: Hmmm. . . . the "w" is nowhere near the "h" on this keyboard.
Dec-30-20  areknames: I don't know if Larsen ever played, or even knew about cricket (most Europeans don't, not really) but he must have been devastated by the outcome of this match. So, "Knocked for six".
Nov-14-22  SeanAzarin: Bent And Broken
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Larsen played chess his whole life, played past his prime. So did greats like smyslov and Korchnoi.

Fischer was emotionally disturbed. He quit chess at age 29. Who was bent and broken?

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